Sunday, May 08, 2011

Day 13: Old West

Since we spent the evening doing laundry, we had to repack a couple of our clothing bins this morning. We didn’t get out of the hotel till 9:40. It was chillier this morning than yesterday, only 66 degrees with an expected high in the low seventies. This shot is taken from our hotel balcony this morning. See how we were suffering?

We drove just half an hour to Calico Ghost Town.

I loved all the costumed characters.

We spent a little time shopping in the stores and pressing pennies.

At one point our browsing was interrupted by a gun fight going on outside. I herded both the kids out to watch, but Sweetling quickly went back inside to escape the noise. Toa and I stayed to watch the drama. At the end of the fight, the dead men got back up and took a bow, the players introduced themselves, and then the sheriff invited all the kids to come forward and get sworn in as deputies. Toa scored a cool metal sheriff’s star.

It wasn't enough to keep him out of jail.

We also spent some time panning for gold, which was one of Toa’s wish list items for the trip.

And the kids made rope with period tools and methods.

Sadly, the real mine tour was closed,

But we did get to take a short train ride.

The tracks took us past some old miner’s shacks.

As well as a few of the many mine openings.

Under the hills around Calico there are nearly thirty miles of tunnels on fourteen levels.

The mine shafts were too small for any animals to pull carts, so the miners pushed and pulled the tiny little carts around the tunnels by hand. (I wish I had something near the cart for a scale reference. When the train went past it, I thought it was just a prop, it was too small to be taken seriously. But it was an actual recovered mine cart.)

The area is completely dry. When the town was still operating as a mining town, barrels of water had to be shipped in. Still the dessert hills were lovely in their own right.

In the fields were the round remains of when the Native Americans used the hills to collect the many colors of clay and minerals they used for their pottery.

When we got off the train, we took a few minutes to climb the hillside and explore the inside of the houses that remained.

I was surprised at how tiny they were. I didn’t take any pictures in the more intact houses, since they were so small and dark inside.

I got a glimpse of a lizard on the walk back to town, but he was much too fast for me to photograph.

Back in town, we took a moment to check out the bottle house, built in 1950 when the town was privately owned, but a popular feature despite its non-historic nature.

And I made the kids sit still for a picture. I'm so mean that way.

We ended the day having lunch in a saloon, complete with swinging wooden doors and a big mirrored mantel behind the bar. Personally, I got a giggle out of the fact that I took the kids to a saloon on Mother’s Day.

We spent a total of four hours in the ghost town, and yet, I was constantly glimpsing some other cool thing to look at.

Still, we weren’t sorry to leave the dry air and the blowing dirt behind when it was time to go. I couldn’t imagine living there in the late 1800s with no water except the barrels that were shipped in.

We stopped in Needles, California to get the oil changed on the van. We had put 3700 miles on it since leaving Cincy, so it was do. While the van was being serviced we went to the Jack in the Box next door for an early dinner. We need a Jack in the Box chain in Cincy. It beats Steak N Shake hands down.

On the road from Calico to Needles, and from Needles to Kingston, I sat in the back with the kids. We turned the middle seats around and popped the table up and spent a good 3 hours playing with and doing the activities in Cranium’s Big Book of Outrageous Fun.

A bit of our drive today took us past a few Rt 66 stops. I didn’t grab many pictures, but I nabbed a few.

Now that we’re on the return leg of our journey, the Jedi suggested we make a few notes of lessons we have learned, so “we know what to do differently in a year or two when we take another road trip.”

The sun went down around 7:30, and we popped some penguin episodes in for the last part of the drive.

Read from Day 1
Back to Day 12
On to Day 14

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