AMERICA! Day Three

America Day 3 – Las Vegas, Nevada, to Flagstaff, Arizona

Up early and out. What a night! They certainly don’t want you to be anywhere but at the gambling tables or pokie machines… no free WiFi, pay $12 for access, it’s crap. No TV in your room unless you pay. Have to find your way through banks of pokie’s to exit the building. Inhabited by zombies and drunks. No, Vegas wasn’t for me. It’s parting shot was when I stopped to get petrol on the way out towards Hoover Dam, possibly in the seediest part of town.. homeless people, broken down buildings and streets, failed businesses, hookers, it’s all very very shabby and seedy in the cold light of day. Scary looking but very helpful dude helped me sort out the fuel – have to pay before you fill up – and I was gone!

That’s it, way behind me, you can just see the tower of the Stratosphere.

So I head for Hoover Dam, taking the scenic route through the Lake Mead Recreational area. It’s not till I get to the dam itself that I shake off the dregs of Vegas and get excited again – but I am more impressed by the bridge spanning the gorge! These Americans certainly don’t shy away from putting a road where they want one and to hell with the terrain, more examples of this later!

Spans the gorge just downstream from Hoover Dam and carries Interstate 93 across. It’s an impressive sight! Prior to it’s construction the highway ran across the top of the dam wall, which you can still drive. That’s the hydro-electric stuff underneath it from the dam itself.

I’m in Arizona now, heading for Kingman and Route 66. The mountains gradually give way to a vast valley between two ranges, and after a couple more hours I turn off the main road and head into the southern ranges on…. ROUTE 66! It’s an old section, single lane, and well used, there are Longhorn cattle for the first time, little dusty tracks leading off the side to properties, trailer homes some loved and some unloved. My eye is caught by the ranks of mail boxes, must be more people than it would appear living out here, and there is hardly any traffic.

Travelling through scrubby country heading for a range of mountains, the highway crosses many “washes” or dry creek beds – from the look of them a lot of water goes through from time to time

Mailboxes, lots of them

All of a sudden I’m in the foothills, the road narrows, and I start a winding nine miles up the side of canyons and eventually through a pass at the top of the range, past mining claims and encampments, and reach Oatman. Mining town from way back, and another example of “We want to get there so we will build a road”!!!

There are timber board sidewalks, lot’s of dust and burro shit, crumbling adobe buildings and rusting sheds, it’s really rather lovely!

It’s a tiny mining town, little shacks perched here and there, and lots of bikes about now, it’s a popular stop for the bikies riding the route. There are wild burro’s (donkeys) wandering the dusty road being fed by tourists, and the old shopfronts are doing a good trade in teeshirts and artefacts. The hotel is an old adobe building that leans decidedly to the right, it’s claim to fame is that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard spent their honeymoon night there and visited frequently afterwards as they loved the isolation and Mr Gable liked playing cards with the miners! Lunch there in a room lined with dollar bills. It’s nice, I like it.

Look closely, there’s a burro heading in through the front door

Back to Kingman and I take a loop section of Route 66 to Seligman that runs north of the Interstate. I pass through another enormous valley with a reef of mountains to the north, but it’s dark by the time I reach forested country as I start the climb up on to the Arizona Divide atop which sits Flagstaff. Flagstaff is about 7000 feet above sea level and it’s crispy cold by the time I reach my motel. Lovely day!

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