Last Saturday, my sister and I attended Adam Lambert’s concert at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. Having been die-hard fans since his first audition on American Idol (which he should have won!) this is my second (her third) time seeing him perform.
When we saw him last, he was touring with Queen (there’s an earlier post on that concert). He was brilliant – the vocals so beautifully echoing the magnificent, gone-too-young Freddie Mercury. Bliss.
This time, Adam performed his music including a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” which rocked the house. Adam is a natural and gifted performer, singing and dancing, while flashing that gorgeous, mega-watt smile – truly riveting to watch.
As mentioned in my last post, we were traveling in Laughlin Nevada last week when quite by accident (or fate…) we learned about Oatman Arizona. Neither of us knew anything about it but our new friend Gary, a former Michigander, highly recommended it.
Gary had told us some of the history of this old mining town and how Clark Gable and Carole Lombard had honeymooned at the Oatman Hotel in an effort to avoid the paparazzi. Gary said “you HAVE to go to the Oatman Hotel!” but he didn’t want to elaborate as to why. “You’ll see” he promised.
I googled Oatman to get a bit more background:
Oatman is a former mining town in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona, United States. Located at an elevation of 2,710 feet (830 m), it began as a tent camp soon after two prospectors struck a $10 million gold find in 1915, though the area had been already settled for a number of years. Oatman’s population grew to more than 3,500 in the course of a year.
After a few other names, Oatman was named in the posthumous honor of Olive Oatman, a young Illinois girl who was taken captive by (presumably) Yavapai Indians and forced to work as a slave. She was later traded to Mohave Indians who adopted her as a daughter and had her face tattooed in the custom of the tribe. She was released in 1855 near the current site of the town.
In 1863, mountain man and prospector Johnny Moss discovered gold in the Black Mountains and staked several claims, one named the Moss, after himself, and another after Olive Oatman. For the next half century mining waxed and waned in the district until new technology, reduced transportation costs, and new gold discoveries brought prosperity to Oatman early in the twentieth century. The opening of the Tom Reed mine followed by the discovery of an incredibly rich ore body in the nearby United Eastern Mining Company’s property in 1915 brought one of the desert country’s last gold rushes. The boom of 1915-17 gave Oatman all the characters and characteristics of any gold rush boom town. For about a decade, the mines of Oatman were among the large gold producers in the West.
In 1921, a fire burned down many of Oatman’s smaller buildings, but spared the Oatman Hotel. Built in 1902, the now-Oatman Hotel is the oldest two-story adobe structure in Mohave County, a Mohave County historical landmark and is especially famous as the honeymoon stop of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard after their wedding in Kingman on March 18, 1939. Gable fell in love with the area and returned often to play poker with the miners. The Gable/Lombard honeymoon suite is one of the hotel’s major attractions. The other is “Oatie the Ghost.” “Oatie,” actively promoted by the hotel’s current owners, is a friendly poltergeist whose identity is believed to be that of William Ray Flour, an Irish miner who died behind the hotel, presumably from excessive alcohol consumption. Flour’s body wasn’t discovered until two days after his death and it was hastily buried in a shallow grave near where he was found. (source Wikipedia)
Today’s Oatman is rustic……
With the mines long since closed, what remains of Oatman is about a city block long of old wild west style buildings with all manner of souvenirs as well as leather goods, silver and beaded jewelry and antiques. There are several saloons housed here including The Oatman Hotel. It was the hottest day of our trip and so we made a bee-line to see it and quench our thirst.
When we stepped into the bar and the restaurant further inside, we saw what Gary had eluded to – every square inch of wall and ceiling space was covered by $1 bills, generally with a message or at least the name of the donor. Needless to say, there were hundreds of thousands of dollars on display making it a one of a kind place. The waitress (they call me “Dallas” she revealed) was quite a character in her mini dress and western boots. I asked what kind of wine they had “Red, White and Pink” was Dallas response. (I chose white) As we sat at the bar, Spence ordering a cup of their famous chili with his Miller Lite, a fellow patron remarked that the burros, (who roam the streets freely) were a bit frisky that day. She said, “Oh that’s our only male – the one with the broken ear. He’s been a real asshole lately.” At this point, everyone at the bar burst into laughter. She went on to say “He gets whatever he wants, he’s the daddy of all the young burros.”
Oatman has undergone a renaissance of sorts in recent years thanks to burgeoning worldwide interest in Route 66 and the explosive growth of the nearby gaming town of Laughlin, Nevada, which promotes visits to the town. Wild burros freely roam the town and can be hand-fed hay cubes otherwise known as “burro chow,” readily available in practically every store in town. Though normally gentle, the burros are in fact wild and signs posted throughout Oatman advise visitors to exercise caution. The donkeys are descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors, and are protected by the US Department of the Interior. (source Wikipedia)
It was a fun spot to visit, only about 45 minutes drive from Laughlin and a step back in time. Spence bought me a lovely pair of garnet and turqouise earrings set in silver….which was very sweet.
Forty second thing: For my next entry in this series about things that make me happy I want to talk about traveling with my soulmate and husband, Spence.
In my almost sixty years of life, I’ve gained a substantial amount of wisdom. Many times I’ve shared this vital relationship litmus test with my girlfriends.
“Find out early on if you travel well together. If not, the relationship is doomed”.
I have more than a few painful-at-the-time, hilarious-in-the-retelling stories from my pre-Spence dating/travels but this post is about the joy of travel when you find a partner that is simpatico. It truly makes every trip better.
Spence and I will celebrate 25 years as a couple later this week. During that time, we’ve traveled extensively both across the USA and internationally. Spence’s fearless nature and grasp of languages has afforded me great adventures with lots of off the beaten path experiences. Ever flexible, we don’t overthink where a trip will take us. Less interested in tours, we’re inclined towards finding where the locals go and our own spontaneous exploration. What I love about travelling with Spence is that we feel the same way about places, frequently going back to destinations that hold happy memories.
Last week, we went back to Laughlin Nevada. We’d last travelled there for a few days when en route from Las Vegas to a rental in Sedona. We liked the laid-back vibe in Laughlin and in particular, the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino. The hotel had sent us offers since our last visit and a few weeks into 2016, we booked a 6 day/5 night free stay. Using Delta SkyMiles, we snagged two free tickets flying direct from Detroit to Vegas. We did tons of walking checking out other casinos, solidifying that the Golden Nugget is our favorite. While strolling along the Riverwalk (which is on the Colorado River), Spence struck up a conversation with a guy wearing a U of M t-shirt. Gary, who’d moved there from the Detroit area a few years back, was a wealth of knowledge, sharing local history and enthusiastically suggesting we visit Oatman, Arizona.
“Oatman?” we asked. He told us how to get there and since we had a rental car, we decided to take a road trip the next day.
We started the day with a delicious breakfast, mine – breakfast soft tacos with avocado, eggs, cheese, bacon, sour cream and pico de gallo, Spence – two fluffy scrambled eggs and a dish of fruit. Driving across the Colorado River to Bullhead City Arizona, we continued out of town and into the desert in search of this old mining town. It was a fun day in a unique old west town (I’ll be blogging about Oatman in the next post) and a fine diversion from the casino action.
My favorite thing about trips with Spence is that we make our own fun, enjoying each other in the process. Our expectations are alinged, the delight in places we love is shared and our flexibility to spontaneous side trips and discovery of hidden gems creates new memories.
What works splendidly in travel for us, may not work for others but isn’t that what makes our world an interesting and diverse place?
I hope that you find that soulmate who can make your journey better just by being part of it.
For more on my series, 59 Candles, 59 Things, check out “59 Things” under Categories. What makes you happy?
On our return from Jasper to Banff, we stopped off to see these spectacular falls. The power of the rushing water was awesome.
Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park is not the highest or the widest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies but it is the most powerful. The full width of the Athabasca River is funneled into a three metre gap and over the brink of the falls. Despite what the interpretive signs say, most of the rock is not limestone, it is actually gog quartzite, and ounce for ounce it’s as strong as steel.
Over the eons the waterfall has moved back and forth in it’s search for the path of least resistance, cutting and abandoning channels as it goes. One such channel has been developed with stairs and trail for easy exploration. It also gives access to viewpoints at the bottom of the main canyon and to the river bank beyond.
The trip to Jasper, from Banff is one of the most stunning. With many turnouts for breathtaking photo opportunities, it took us hours to drive it. As a result, we opted to stay in Jasper for a couple of days to enjoy this charming town. It is a higher elevation and was a bit cooler than Banff. We enjoyed not only it’s beauty but the pubs, restaurants, shops and the people here.
“Jasper is a specialized municipality in western Alberta, Canada. It is the commercial centre of Jasper National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies in the Athabasca River valley. Jasper is approximately 362 kilometres (225 mi) west of Edmonton and 290 kilometres (180 mi) north of Banff, Alberta at the intersection of the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) and the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93).” source Wikipedia
The Canadian Rockies are magnificent to see and the Icefields are beautiful. Due to the relatively short time we would be there, our photos of the Icefields are from the turnouts. You can pull off Highway 93 and go out onto them via a specialized vehicle. It is a popular tourist spot as we could see from numerous vehiclesparked and people waiting for the tour.
Banff is a gorgeous spot to visit. Surrounded by mountains, the air is pure and the people are friendly. There are great restaurants, gardens, Banff National Park and every type of activity embracing the outdoors.
One of the recommendations we were given by locals was to drive up Tunnel Mountain to the Hoodoos, which we did.
Hoodoos are composed sedimentary rock covered by harder rock that is harder to erode. Once softer sediment erodes rock needle, or tower like natural obstacles are left. The Hoodoos are awesome to see as are the views from this elevation.
Keep watching for more on my Travels in Canada….more to come on Banff, Jasper, Canmore featuring the beauty of Alberta.