Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck Visit Oatman, Arizona

Route 66 led us from Cool Springs, Arizona into Oatman, Arizona.   Oatman was a gold mining town, but now this is a great tourist town–for humans, ducks, and wild burros.

Oatman, Arizona

Many stores sell burro food, so tourists and human residents do feed the burros.   But be careful.   We were told if there are more than 1 or 2 male wild burros, they may fight and you may get bitten or kicked.   We were careful.   Soapy’s mom is feeding one burro.

Soapy’s mom is feeding a burro

As you can see, this is a popular destination for motorcycle riders to stop also.   Is he watching the burro, or Soapy’s mom?  The names of the stores are different than the stores in Denver.

Stores here have interesting names

We feel like tourists in the Old West.   And we are.   This restaurant and saloon is named for Olive Oatman.

Olive Oatman store and restaurant

This town, Oatman, was named for her family.   In 1851 the family was attacked by Tonto-Apache Indians.   The parents and 4 children were massacred.   Two girls, Olive, 16 and Mary Ann, 10 were taken captive.   Lorenzo, a son, 14 was clubbed and left for dead.   Lorenzo recovered and received help from the friendly Pima villages and found safety in Fort Yuma.    After one year the girls were sold to the Mohave Indians.   Mary Ann died.  Olive was held captive near the town of Oatman until her release was negotiated in 1856, when she was reunited with her brother in Fort Yuma.   The Indians and the white settlers had some rough times, and the town of Oatman was named for this family.   Interesting, but we are happy those wars are now ended.   We talked to this man and do you know what those things hanging down are?

Rattlesnake skins??

Rattlesnake skins!   He was very nice and suggested that we go the Oatman Hotel for lunch.   After a little more looking, we headed there for lunch.

Oatman Hotel

This hotel was built in 1902 and is recognized by the National Historical Society.   A famous Hollywood couple, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon here on March 18, 1939.   But let’s go in the restaurant and see what is so special.

Order here, or have seat and a waiter will come.

Wow!   There are $1.00 bills everywhere.   Tourists visit the restaurant and often someone in the group puts a $1 bill on the table and everyone signs the money.   The $1 is given to the waiter and the money is hung on the wall, on the counter, on the windows.   Often a real person performs on this stage.

Money everywhere. Look but do not touch!

The stage is even covered with $1.   The estimate of $1 bills is about $250,000.   That is a lot of money.  We love this place!   When in Oatman, Arizona, stop in the Oatman Hotel for lunch, and add a $1 near your table or booth.   It is fun.   And, the food was really good.

Lunch with Burro Ears

Those large potato chips are Burro Ears.   According to the menu they are homemade seasoned potato chips, sliced thin and fried to a golden crisp and served with a salsa/sour cream dipping sauce.   The menu adds “No Burros Were Harmed for These Ears.”  They were very tasty.   After lunch we visited the jail.

Jail

Rather small, so not many criminals in Oatman.   Then we saw the Oatman Theatre Building.

Burros like the theater, or the food?

It seems that the wild burros also like the theater, or the food on the porch.  We learned a lot while in Oatman.

Bee information. Really are busy bees

Did you know this about bees?   We did not know all of it.   Interesting.   But, how hot does it get in Oatman during the summer?   Well, we are not sure of the temperature, but on July 4, our Independence Day, it must get hot.

Fry eggs on the sidewalk? How hot does it get here?

They fry eggs on the sidewalk here.   Keep your shoes on–that sidewalk must be really hot.   We hope you visit Oatman, Arizona.   We had a good time and we think you will also.

Cool Springs, Arizona on Route 66 with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

During the 1920s Americans were eager to drive and explore the United States.   The road to take was Route 66.   We, Zeb and Soapy, with our moms are driving Route 66 in northwest Arizona.   At the entrance to the Black Mountains we discovered Cool Springs Service Station.

Cool Springs, AZ A service station?

The original burned to the ground in the mid 1960s.   This building was rebuilt from vintage photos.   However, in 1991, the old burned ruins were featured in the film, Universal Soldiers, starring Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme.   In this film, the ruins were blown up.   This restoration, completed in December 2004 looks great.  Outside the station, we admired rocks and marveled at the honor system for paying.

Buy Arizona gems. Pay on honor system

It is nice!  This sign post has names of home towns of visitors.   Most also include the distance traveled to reach Cool Springs.

Where from and how far?

Inside we loved this car.

Great car. The Pierce

This sign explains the Pierce Arrow car and what people thought at the time.

About the Pierce Arrow Car

Inside the Cool Springs Service Station, there is a small museum and many Route 66 souvenirs. Just know that this station does not sell gas.   They sell souvenirs, a few cold drinks and a few snacks.   And, they accept cash only.   No credit cards as they do not have reliable internet.   Valerie, the lady in Cool Springs, explained much of the history to us.   She also said that Cool Springs was in the movie Cars.   Outside we found the restroom.

Interesting. Outhouse

We ducks are sitting on the sink.   The toilet is in a special room behind the wall.   So cute and rustic.   Looking behind the station, we realize we really are in the desert mountains of northwest Arizona.

Arizona desert

We, Zeb and Soapy, met Valerie’s dog, Pearl.

We are watching Pearl, the dog

Pearl, this dog, is writing a book.   Here, Pearl is telling us about her book.

Pearl is telling us about her book

Route 66 was the most famous road and connected Chicago, Illinois with Los Angeles, California.   The section including Cool Springs was narrow and featured steep inclines through the Arizona mountains.   When driving here, caution is still needed to safely arrive at your destination.   Zeb and Soapy liked these Route 66 chairs.

We are on Route 66

When driving historic Route 66 stop at Cool Springs Service Station.   You can enjoy a cool drink and pet Pearl.

Grand Canyon Caverns of Peach Springs, AZ with Zeb and Soapy

Let’s see the largest dry cavern in North America.   Here it is, Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona.

Let’s go in the caverns

What is this?

We like petrified logs

A petrified log, a place for us to rest and look at the desert scenery.   We are not very far from the Petrified Forest National Park, also in northern Arizona.   Remember, this was once a tropical rain forest, now a desert climate.   Inside, our moms purchased tickets for the one hour tour.   When is time, we get inside an elevator and descend 210 feet (64 meters) below the earth’s surface to enter the caves.   We are the only tourists on this tour.  This cavern has been dry for thousands of years, so nothing new has formed.   This is called the Cathedral Dome, which is really an ancient waterfall, 90 feet above our heads.

Cathedral Dome

On either side of the walkway we observed ancient waterways, or floor drains, descending 35 feet (10 meters).  Really ancient, as this is a dry cave–no water enters this cave now.  So, there are no stalactites and no stalagmites in this cavern.

Dry cave. No stalactites, no stalagmites

Here we viewed a rare form of Selenite, called Helecite, meaning “hollow inside”.

Helecite, a rare form of selenite

It is very fragile, and sitting on Redial Limestone with Calcite Crystals.   Traveling here, in the southwestern United States, we are learning a lot about geology and learning lots of new words.   We learned that only 3% of all caves are dry.   Some of you may remember in the early 1960’s the United States had a Cuban Missile Crises.   The United States and Cuba appeared close to going to war.  Both countries, and the entire world, were scared.  Bomb shelters were built, but this cave was declared a natural bomb shelter and in October, 1962 civil defense supplies (food, water, medical, etc) were brought here, to the largest room in the caverns.

Civil Defense Emergency Rations

There is still enough supplies to support 2,000 people for 2 weeks.  Due to the dry conditions in the cave, no rodents or other animals live here, and supplies do not deteriorate easily.   Food is nutritionally complete, but may not taste real good.   Next we entered the Snowball Palace which nature worked on for 6 million years.

Our guide explaining the Snowball Palace

Humans and ducks are not to touch the walls or any formations, as the dryness makes everything fragile.   Now, the Mystery Room.

Mystery Room

And an explanation for the name, Grand Canyon Caverns.   Previously called Dinosaur Caverns as they expected to find dinosaur fossils, but no indication of dinosaurs here.   In 1958 smoke bombs were set off in the Mystery Room, and scientists discovered the air enters and leaves the cavern from this room.   The air comes from 40 miles (64 km) away, near Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon.   This is really clean air, being filtered through limestone and various rocks for 40 miles!   These caverns are now known as Grand Canyon Caverns.   A natural opening to the caverns once existed.   This is how, in 1927 Walter Peck discovered them.   When he sadly realized there was neither gold nor silver here, he lowered tourists, attached to a rope, into the hole in the ground and into the caverns.  We now know, unfortunately, not only tourists entered the cavernous through that hole.   This is a mummified bobcat.

Mummified Bobcat

Bob, as he is called, fell into the natural entrance about 1850.  Due to the dryness of the cavern, as he died he became mummified.   Another victim fell through the natural opening.   This is a life size replica of a giant ground sloth, or glossotherium.

Giant Ground Sloth

This sloth has been extinct for at least 11,000 years.   When she fell in, she tried to climb back out.   Her claw marks are visible on the wall of the cavern.   She lost a claw, embedded in the rock, in the process.   Discovered in the late 1950’s, her bones were sent to the University of Arizona for identification.   They, in trade for the bones, built this life size replica for the caverns.  She was 15 feet 4 inches (3.1 meters) tall and weighed 1 ton (1,000 kg).   She entered the cavern between 11,000 and 20,000 years ago.   There are many formations here. These are called grape clusters formed from mixtures of Calcium Carbonate and Lime.

Grape clusters of Calcium Carbonate and Lime

We, Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck liked this in the caverns.  Now we see Winter Crystal, the rarest form of Selenite in the caverns and the only spot it is found down here.   Looking like a wall of snow is why it is called Winter Crystal.   We, ducks and humans, really enjoyed our underground tour.  And we are going underground again tonight.

Black poker chips. Our tickets for tonight’s ghost tour.

These are our poker chips, our tickets for tonight’s ghost tour.   There is a cavern suite which can be rented for about $850 US dollars per night.   The room, 220 feet below ground, is 200 feet wide, 400 feet long and has a 70 foot ceiling.   It was rented last night, again tonight and also reserved for tomorrow night.   All by different people.   Several weddings have been performed here in the caverns.   The first was April 15, 1977.  Some brides left their bouquets and the dry, cool air keeps them preserved underground.   These Grand Canyon Caverns are located in Peach Springs, Arizona, on historic Route 66.   We just had to include this photo of a chair, reminding us of the iconic Route 66 connection.

Route 66 chair

And, in case you are wondering, we did enjoy our ghost tour, but no ghosts appeared that night.   But this was another interesting hour underground.   The electric lights were not turned on and we were all given small flashlights.   For more information visit http://www.gccaverns.com   When in northern Arizona, we believe you would enjoy visiting the world’s third largest, and North America’s largest dry cavern.

Grand Canyon Hiking with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Let’s do some hiking today.   At Grand Canyon National Park there are so many opportunities to hike.   And so many great trails for our enjoyment.   Before we start down Bright Angel Trail, we visit two historical buildings in the immediate area.   First we enter Kolb Studio, built in 1904.

Kolb Studio built in 1904

This was the Victorian home and photography studio of the Kolb brothers, Emery and Ellsworth.  They were pioneer photographers and filmmakers.   Inside the studio today, you will find part gift shop, part museum and part movie theater (where you can watch their film that played continuously for 61 years).   Be sure to walk on the decks and balconies for fabulous views of the Grand Canyon.  Nearby is Lookout Studio.

Lookout Studio

For many years there was rivalry and mean competition between the two studios.   Lookout Studio was designed by famous architect, Mary Colter.   Lookout Studio was meant to blend into the walls of the canyon.   The studio does appear like part of the canon wall.   She also designed the building at Hermit’s Rest that we showed you last time.   Be sure to visit both studios.   Please take time to fully appreciate the views of the Grand Canyon from each studio.

View from Lookout Studio

We loved to sit and look for a long time.   After an ice cream snack, we are ready to hike Bright Angel Trail.   This trail descends 4,500 feet (1360 meters) in 7.8 miles (12.6 km) to the Colorado River.  Bright Angel is the most traveled trail in Grand Canyon National Park.     This is where we are going.

Bright Angel Trail from studio

We are not going to hike the entire distance, but we will hike part of the trail.   We soon go through this arch.

Archway on Bright Angel Trail

You can see, the canyon walls are steep.

Steep wall of Grand Canyon

Further down the trail, we look up to see Kolb Studio.

Kolb Studio from the trail

We were there, and moms, we have to hike back up out of the canyon and reach Kolb Studio again.   Of course we did it.   We are not still in the canyon.   We enjoyed the hike and the views looking into the canyon and the views looking up, out of the canyon, are beautiful.   We would love to see your Grand Canyon photos also.   Back to the top of the canyon, we take the shuttle bus to Pima Point.   Leaving the shuttle bus, we again hike a section of the South Rim.   We will hike 1 mile or 1.6 km to Hermit’s Rest.   Hermit’s Rest is the end of the South Rim trail.   There are many stops for us to gaze at and admire the beauty of the Grand Canyon.   Five or six million years ago, the Colorado River cut through the rock and carved the Grand Canyon.   Here is the Colorado River, still changing the landscape of this canyon.

Colorado River cutting the canyon even deeper

However the geology of this canyon tells of a time when the tectonic plates moved slowly across the earth’s surface.   Some rock at the bottom of the canyon is almost two billion years old.   Each time we stop we are in awe of the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

Every view is magnificent

Continuing along the South Rim Trail, we reach Hermit’s Rest.

Hiked to the end of Rim Trail. Arriving at Hermit’s Rest

And one of the official greeters is here enjoying a snack.

Elk, Official Greeter at Hermit’s Rest

Tonight we ride the shuttle bus back to Maswik Lodge for dinner.   The humans had Navajo tacos and spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.   We ducks also liked the dinner.   While visiting The Grand Canyon, sampling food at the various lodges and shops is also fun.   There are many things to see and do here.   You can come for a few hours and see the canyon or you can stay for weeks and never be bored.   This is a great place.

Exploring the Grand Canyon’s South Rim with Zeb and Soapy Smith

Leaving Williams, Arizona.

Williams, Arizona

Driving north on Route 64, through beautiful tall pine forests, we reach Grand Canyon National Park.   We are entering the park through the South Rim entrance.   This is the most developed area of the park, and provides the most amenities for visitors.

Grand Canyon National Park

First stop is always the Visitor’s Center, then a short walk to Mather Point.

Mather Point, Grand Canyon

This canyon is huge!

Panorama can’t begin to cover it all

It is rather crowded here, so we begin following the Rim Trail.   A very short distance, and we found a new friend.

Our new friend, the elk

This park is full of elk.   It is spring, and the male elk are just sprouting new antlers.   Hard to know if we are seeing male or female elk, but they don’t seem to have any fear of humans, or ducks.   Of course, they are protected in the National Park.   Continuing along the Rim Trail, we must stop for many photos.

Like the red here

Soapy’s mom is holding us.

Every view is breathtaking.

If we fall, we are gone forever.

If we fall, we are gone

This canyon averages 10 miles wide (up to 18 miles across, or wide, at places) and 277 miles long.  And it averages one mile deep, but deeper in places.   We reach Yavapal Point and Geology Museum.   Geologists decided this was the best location for the museum.   This is a great view from the Geology Museum.

Beautiful canyon

They appreciated the view, showing several layers of rock.   Private cars are not allowed on these roads during main tourist season, so we ride the free and frequent park shuttles.   Cars are only allowed to lodges and camp grounds.  We leave our shuttle at The Abyss and hike more of the Rim Trail.   There are very few humans on our trail.   Although there are over 5 million visitors each year, the park contains 1,217,403 acres.   Avoiding the crowds is really not that difficult.  The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River over several million years.   As you notice, the erosion process in still happening.

Watch for falling rocks

When will these huge rocks fall?   And these pretty wildflowers can grow in this rocky desert climate.

Cheerful wildflowers

Aren’t they beautiful?   This is Hermit’s Rest.

Hermit’s Rest

The shuttle buses end here and Hermit Trailhead will guide climbers to the bottom of the canyon.   We hiked a short distance on this steep trail.

Rather steep trail

This trail is recommended for experienced desert hikers only.  We didn’t go very far.   Only about 15 minutes down the trail.   The inside of the lodge is beautiful and huge.

At Hermit’s Rest

This photo should give you an idea.  Hermit’s Rest is a National Historic Landmark.   The gift shop was nice.   We purchased ice cream from an outside window.   So good!  On the way back to Mather Point and our car, we stopped at Yavapal Lodge for dinner and these delicious pies.

We loved these pies

Hiking and admiring the Grand Canyon makes humans and ducks hungry.   We will show you more of our Grand Canyon experience next time.

Bearizona with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Williams, Arizona, often referred to as “the gateway to the Grand Canyon”, also houses wild bears and other wild animals.   We visited Bearizona, a drive-thru wildlife park in Williams, Arizona.

Bearizona at Williams, AZ

The brochure promises Spin It, which is the drive-thru portion.   You drive your own vehicle and view North American animals in their natural forested environment.   Also, Stroll It, the walk through area for a close up look at many animals.   This resembles a zoo.   And, Soar It, where visitors witness the High Country Raptors show. Our moms wanted to see bears walking and playing in the woods, so we started the drive-thru portion.  Our first animals, Rocky Mountain Goats, were eating.

Rocky Mountain Goats. Fine dining.

We liked them.   They are losing heavy winter coats, preparing for summer.   The mule deer wanted to meet us.

Mule deer wants to say hi. Or looking for a free snack?

We were told not to feed the animals.   So we didn’t.  These crows, or ravens, appear to be grooming each other.

Crows grooming

Next, we saw burros.

Burro

Of different colors.

Burros are different colors

Tundra wolves are next.

Tundra wolves

Definitely keep windows up around the wolves.   The white bison were new to us.

White bison

Brown bison are also losing winter coats.

Brown bison also losing winter coat

These baby Big Horn Sheep were so cute.

Young big horn sheep. One practicing climbing and other practicing walking

Seemed like it was just learning to walk.

Very new Big Horn Sheep

This is what our moms love.   They are fascinated by bears.

I am watching you humans and ducks

Is he watching us?   Yes, we live in Colorado and bears live in Colorado also, but they still love those furry, adorable bears.    This is a younger bear.

Looking for fun. Or trouble?

He is still playful  and unpredictable.   He must be hungry.

Snack time

Time to pick his own tree branches.   The preserve is about to close and this handsome guy is ready for a nap.

Time for a nap

Parking the car, we head to the Stroll It section.

Entering Stroll It section

Look at this beautiful pure white peacock.

White peacock

This beauty had no fear of us.   We had to walk around him.   Moms just thought this bird was fabulous.   Hey moms, remember we are birds, also.   After a quick walk through the gift shop, and a few purchases, we left Bearizona.   The wildlife park was closed and the employees were ready to go home.   When you are near Williams, Arizona, stop at Bearizona.   There is so much more than we saw and showed you.   You will find something to love.   For more information visit http://www.bearizona.com     Tell the animals we still remember them.

Northern Arizona’s Meteor Crater with Zeb and Soapy Smith Duck

Fifty thousand years ago, a meteor ripped through the skies over the land we now call Arizona. Traveling at roughly 40,000 miles an hour (64,000 kilometers an hour)–11 miles per second (18 kilometers per second), it smashed into the surface of the high plateau.  Within a few seconds, the resulting massive explosion threw millions of tons of rock over the surrounding area, opening a crater three quarters of a mile across and 700 feet (210 meters) deep.  A shock wave of hurricane force winds flashed out in every direction, causing destruction for miles.  So reads the sign, The Birth of Meteor Crater, at Meteor Crater Visitor’s Center in northern Arizona.

Let’s go inside and learn about the meteor

We visited this site in March 2016, but it is definitely worth another look.   After watching the short movie, we spotted this, the Holsinger meteorite, weighing in at 1,406 pounds, and the largest known piece of the 150 foot (45 meter) meteorite that caused this crater.

Largest piece of meteorite found

The meteor, before impact, was estimated to weigh 300,000 tons.   Let’s go outside to see the crater.   It is really windy here, so again the walking tours on the crater’s rim have been cancelled.   This is a big crater.

Meteor Crater

The impact resulted in a crater 750 feet deep.   Due to erosion of the surrounding land, and sediment at the bottom from a former lake, the crater is now 558 feet (170 meters) deep. This crater could hold 200 football fields with 2 million fans watching the games.   Wow!   There are 3 levels of viewing platforms at the crater and some free telescopes, pointed at various places in the crater.   We saw drilling sites, astronaut training sites and fault lines.  This is a simulation of what the bottom of the crater is like.

Simulation of bottom of crater

We could not go to the bottom, but this is what it is like.   You will like this place.  But be prepared for high winds.    For years it was believed that this crater was formed by a volcano.   Even though there was no lava found here.   Scientists did not know how to prove a meteorite landing then.   In the early 1900’s Dr. Daniel Barringer, a geologist, believed this crater was formed by a meteorite.   From 1903-1905 he actively mined inside the crater.   He believed he would find a large part of the meteorite below the surface of the crater and he wanted to mine, find and sell the iron.   He continued to believe he would find the meteorite, but he never did.   He died in 1929, nearly bankrupt.   Later Dr. Eugene Shoemaker, another geologist, visited the crater.

Meteor Crater  Panorama

He had been studying the craters after underground atomic bomb tests in Nevada.   Dr. Shoemaker recognized the signs of high temperatures and pressure.  He discovered the expected material, including shocked quartz (coesite), a form of quartz that has a microscopically unique structure caused by intense pressure and high temperature.   Dr. Shoemaker proved Dr. Barringer’s theory of a meteorite impact.    These are the same tests still used around the world to identify meteorite craters.   And meteorites are shattered and do not survive the impact.  The surface of the crater seemed to be very similar to the craters on the moon, so US astronauts trained here, at Arizona’s Meteor Crater before the first lunar landing. The astronauts scheduled for the Apollo missions to the moon, trained here, under the guidance of Dr. Eugene Shoemaker.   Among those training here were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first humans to walk on the surface of the moon.  Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, in Apollo 11,  landed and walked on the moon July 20, 1969.   This is the type of capsule the astronauts lived in during their time in space.

Space capsule

A little small for several days, but they did it.  We ducks wrote about our first visit to Meteor Crater in March 2016 if you care to read that post also.   Just click on March 2016 in the right side of your screen.   When driving to Meteor Crater, drive slowly as this is a private working cattle ranch and this is free range country.

Free range cattle next to road

We don’t want any person or animal to be injured.    Our Meteor Crater is not the largest and not the oldest, but it is considered the best preserved and the first to prove a meteor impact.   And some scientific trivia.  An object traveling through outer space is an asteroid.   When it enters the earth’s atmosphere it becomes a meteor.   Upon impact with earth, it is a meteorite. We were confused and this is what we were told at Meteor Crater.   For more information visit http://www.MeteorCrater.com   When you are near Winslow, Arizona stop to visit Meteor Crater.   We enjoyed it.   We even enjoyed it twice.