Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ghost Towns, Rattlesnakes and Dirty Laundry

Gas is gold... never return a rental with fuel.

With five suitcases full of dirty laundry, we headed for our personal oasis in the desert: the Curtis family vacation home near Phoenix, Arizona.  Our good friend Anne's parents' offered their home for our southwest trip and their generous hearts are a big part of why we loved Arizona.  With only 5 miles of gas left in our tank (philosophically and literally) we arrived at their lakeside home just in time.  After 11 days of traveling in the same clothes and sharing a different hotel room night after night, we needed personal space and a washing machine like cowboys needed water and whiskey after a long trail ride.  The automatic dryer and swimming pool with jacuzzi were added bonuses for these tired travelers.

Arizona Paradise
Clean and rested, we followed our tour guides, Anne and Jackson, into the Superstition Mountains just outside of Phoenix.  We discovered that even the names of places out west have a haunted sound to them which was perfect for out first stop at the ghost town of Goldfield, AZ.

Located on the historic Apache Trail, Goldfield sprang up thanks to the nearby discovery of silver.  The folks named the town Goldfield in hopes of throwing other "get rich quick" folks off.  Between you and me, they should have chosen something less desirable like "Tar Town" or "Freon Field", but who am I to judge...  Just kidding.   I shouldn't rewrite history like that.  I was just trying to be a little more creative than the people who actually settled there in 1893 and named their town Goldfield for the nearby GOLD ore mines.  Anyway, visiting this fun-filled ghost town made me a little playful, too.

Going from boom to bust in just 5 years, the town resurrected itself in the 1920s trying to use new technology for mining the gold ore.  Bust again by 1926, the town lay in waste until Bob Schoose and wife, Lou Ann, saw value in creating a tourist attraction in 1988.  This boom stuck and the ghost town has grown with relocated preserved and refurbished buildings that include a saloon, boarding house, brothel, jail, museum and general mercantile store.  They also reopened one of the Superstition gold mines for tours and offer train rides and horseback guided tours of the area.

Treasure Maps leading to the Lost Dutchman Mine
In the museum, we learned about the legend of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine, the most famous lost treasure in the West.  Jacob Waltz, a German immigrant so "Deutchman", prospected for gold during California's gold rush and moved to the Arizona and the Superstition Mountains in search of more.  Legend told he found the mother load, but kept the mine a secret until his death in 1891 when he gave a roughly drawn map to his friend and nursemaid.  She searched for years to no avail, but sold copies of the map for others to try their luck.  To date, thousands have searched for it, but no one has discovered its location.  I thought it was amazing that the details given are just enough to have people continue to search even in the 21st century.

Kids try their luck at the museum's poker table.
The kids' card game was broken up by the sounds of a gunfight outside.  We quickly made our way to the street to see old west justice first hand.  The players acted out a full scenario of someone accused being brought in to jail only to have the town citizens take justice into their own hands.  Lots of loud bangs and smoke later, all lay dead on the ground save the sheriff.   When the smoke cleared he yelled, "You dead?"  and they shouted, "No, sir!" and sprang up to the applause of the crowd.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with the family!

Before heading out of town for dinner, Greg and Wyatt had to check out the Reptile Exhibit (the girls and I waited patiently outside.)  According to Wyatt, they saw "super cool scorpions and awesome rattlesnakes!"  Did someone say rattlesnake?  Let's eat!

Fried rattlesnake, anyone?
Our intrepid tour guides next stop was the famed Rustler's Rooste Restaurant on South Mountain overlooking beautiful downtown Phoenix.  After our fried rattlesnake appetizer (yes, Wyatt got the t-shirt), we dined on fine cowboy fare of steak, beans, corn and ...cotton candy.  With its indoor slide, live band, free cotton candy desserts and wandering balloon animal troubadour, Rustler's Rooste is the best family restaurant we have visited this year.
Thank you, Anne and Jackson, for taking the reins from this road weary mom and planning a fun-filled family day!

1 comment:

  1. Howdy Jenny!
    Thank you so much for sharing your blog with us! Next time y'all want to head back just let me know so i can make sure yer all VIP "Very Important Pardner"

    Be sure to post your pics on our Face book page so we can "Share" them with all our cowpokes! Plus you have a chance to WIN FREE dessert!

    Happy Trails!
    Social Media Wrangler
    Ashley Allen


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