Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Ghost town, A hot air balloon festival and caverns

Over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend, I started working on exploring Arizona. First on Sunday we went to Oatman, a ghost town, on Route 66. It is advertised as the ghost town that won't die. It kind of reminds me of Keystone in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It has a main street and little shops all up and down the street. We pretty much went in every shop and looked around. There were lots of donkeys that are loose on the street. People take pictures with them and feed them food. I am not really sure why there are all these donkeys. Oatman is located on Route 66. After that we drove to Lake Havasu. They were having a hot air balloon festival. We saw the London Bridge and actually drove over to it. I was so not impressed. I thought it would be much more elaborate. We also walked under the bridge and along the river down to a park. We were trying to figure out where the hot air balloons were because we couldn't see them. We ended up getting back in the vehicle and driving a little bit before we got to the place and then we had to walk a long way to get to the place where they were. There was also a band that was playing and lots of food and vendors selling different things. When the sun started going down the balloons started landing and some they inflated again. When it got dark they had the glow event. We were able to stand in the middle and watch the balloons light up. Sometimes they flickered, sometimes they went in time to music and other times they did full on blasts. It was so awesome. We were surrounded by these huge hot air balloons and just watching them light up was awesome. We eventually left after watching for a long time and they were still going when we left.

On Monday we went to the Grand Canyons Caverns. It was awesome. There were no stalagmites and stalactites. The crystals weren't as impressive as in some of the caverns I've seen in South Dakota but it was still interesting. I liked learning the history of the caverns. It is a dry cavern 220 feet below the earth's surface. There aren't many dry caverns in the world. The guy who discovered the caverns thought that he had discovered a mine that had silver, gold and diamonds all together but after it was tested found out it was just crystals. After that he started setting up tours for $00.25. The person was given a lantern and lowered into the cavern by hanging onto a rope. This is where the saying "dope on a rope" originated. Later he had a swinging  bridge and stairs that people used for $00.50. The humidity is only 3%down there. At one time they were trying to figure out where the air was coming from, so they released red smoke and waited up top to see where it came out. Two weeks later they got a call from people that work at the Grand Canyon saying that red smoke was coming out of the walls. That is why they changed the name to Grand Canyon Caverns.

There is a mummified bobcat in the cavern. She had fallen down the hole and broken her hip but still tried to get out. Since there is so little moisture down there and nothing grows she ended up mummifying and they left her down there for people to see. They also have a replica of a huge sloth that also fell down the hole and tried to get out. One can still see the claw marks that she made. She broke her back. They removed her to investigate what happened to her so she didn't mummify, but they wanted a replica made so people could see how huge she was. There have been some people that have gotten married down in the cavern. They also have a suite set up so people can stay the night there. They have a band stage and they used to have concerts down there and said they plan to start again. It is also set up as a shelter. They set it up as a shelter during the Cuban missile crisis. They still have supplies there and could still use it as a shelter but because the population of the near-by towns have grown they wouldn't be able to accommodate everyone like they used to be able to do.  We had a great tour guide and he was very informative and funny.

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