Friday, November 29, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0076 - Lost City Museum, Overton, Clark County, Nevada

As we were driving past the Lost City Museum in Overton (Nevada), we notices a sign indicating that November was Native American Heritage Month and there was a special celebration at the museum featuring Navajo dancers. This seemed like a great unplanned RonnieAdventure, so we decided to stop and watch the dancers perform.

It turned out to be a great stop because the dancers were just starting their performance and other members of their tribe were serving Navajo Tacos. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of standing in line to purchase food while my wife looked at the handcrafted Navajo jewelry, so the stop turned out to be more expensive than I had anticipated. Oh well! The money went for a good cause!

The Anasazi people occupied this area from about A.D. 200 until about A.D. 1800, and then for some unknown reason they abandoned the area. No one knows for certain where the Anasazi people went, but it is believed that they became the Pueblo people of Arizona and New Mexico.

In 1935 the CCC built the current museum building on an Anasazi site that had been excavated and the CCC also reconstructed a pit house and other pueblo dwellings on he site.The museum primarily contains Anasazi artifacts, but there are also spear points and other hunter artifacts dating back almost 11, 500 years. However, little is known about the early hunters, or their culture, that used this area before the Anasazi.

Friday, November 22, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0075 - Valley of Fire State Park, Clark County, Nevada

If you ever visit Valley of Fire State Park at sunset, it becomes obvious how the park got its name. As sunrays low on the horizon strike the red sandstone, the rocks give off a brilliant red colors and appear to be on fire!

The red sandstone was deposited about 150 million years ago and then over the years the wind and water have eroded the rock deposits, creating the picturesque landscape that can be enjoyed today. The erosion has also exposed a number of petrified trees that can be reached easily by short walks from paved roads.

Starting as early as 300 BC, Native Americans visited the area for hutting and food gathering purposes and  possibly for religious ceremonies. Consequently, very nice examples of rock art can be found at several locations throughout the park, particularly where there are springs or tanks that collect water.

In more recent years, the CCC built various improvements in the park that include some stone cabins for passing travelers to use as emergency shelters. The stone cabins stand vacant today, but are a great reminder of a time when transportation between cities was much less reliable and travelers never knew where they may have to spend the night.

The CCC also built roads to more remote parts of the park so that travels could enjoy the unusual rock formations that are found farther from the main highway. Many of the formations take on shapes of birds, animals, and even an elephant's head!

At the north end of the interior park road is the White Domes hiking trail, which leads to a small slot canyon and an old movie set that was used in The Professionals with Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin and Claudia Cardinale. Other films that used the Valley of Fire landscape include Airwolf (TV show 1984-1987), Total Recall, Star Trek Generations, Domino, Angel of Fire, and Transformers.

At night, the rock silhouettes are intriguing and the park is far enough from Las Vegas that there are beautiful view of the moon and stars. I finally broke down and bought a Valley of Fire annual pass, so I'll probably spend more tine out here in the next twelve months.

Friday, November 15, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0074 - Lone Mountain, Las Vegas Metropolitan Area, Clark County, Nevada

As I sat on the peak of Lone Mountain contemplating the view of downtown Las Vegas, it reminded me of the view of Phoenix from Piestewa Peak (Squaw Peak). I also felt a tingling in my left foot, which reminded me of a similar injury that occurred to me a number of years ago while I was at the Salt River near Mesa, Arizona.

It was one of those nice spring days when I thought it would be fun to drive the old Jeep out to the Salt River and play in the sand; but, unfortunately, the sand was very soft and I got stuck. And when you get stuck with a 4-wheel drive, you are really stuck!

After jacking up the vehicle several times and placing any debris that I could find in the area under the tires, I was about to make it back to a hard surface when a big green scorpion came out of the sand and stung me in the foot. My mind immediately flashed back to an old Marlon Brando western movie when Brando gets into a fight with some bad guys in a saloon and they tell him that he can go free if he can win at an arm wrestling match with their biggest, meanest bad guy. The only problem was that a scorpion was tied at each end of the table, so the looser was going to get stung by the scorpion and probably die. Of course Brando looses, gets stung by the scorpion, immediately goes into shock and falls unconscious to the floor. The bartender drags his limp body to the alley, where he is left to die. Fortunately, a friendly Indian maiden finds him, loads his body onto a donkey, and takes him to a secure place where she treats him with natural herbs until he recovers and he can go back take care of all of the bad guys.

My eyes immediately scanned the horizon for an Indian maiden that could save my life by treating me with natural herbs, but no one was in sight. Fortunately, I was able to get back in the vehicle and with enough debris under the tires I made it back to hard ground and then back home before I went into shock and expired.

As soon as I arrived home, I called the hospital and described what had happened. They asked me what the scorpion looked like that stung me, and after giving a detailed description of the deadly killer, I was surprised when the nurse told me I would live and I didn't even need to come into the Emergency Room. I was instructed to just elevate my foot, apply some ice packs, take two aspirin, and call back if I started having trouble breathing. After about an hour the small red lump where I was stung didn't get any bigger than a mosquito bite, so I decided that I was going to live and went swimming in the pool. .

Fast forward about 35 years! I wake up in the middle of the night and go downstairs to find something to eat, get stung in the foot by a small, light brown translucent scorpion, and then go back to bed. In the morning I wake up and realize my left leg is swollen and paralyzed below the knee. I can't even move my toes and the pain in my foot is extremely excruciating when I even try to touch my foot. I finally regain some movement in my foot but it is about three weeks before I can even put on a shoe. After hobbling around for about another five weeks I can now finally walk standing up, so I decided to take a short hike to see how my foot woild work going up and down hills. Thus, the trip up Lone Mountain. The foot seems to be getting better, so a longer hike is planned for the not too distant future. Stay tuned!

Friday, November 8, 2013

RonnieAdventure #0073 - Missouri, 2013 Part II / Kansas, 2013 Part II / Oklahoma, 2013 Part I

On the way back to Wichita we decided to catch old Route 66 at Springfield and then drive westward through part of Kansas, with some side trips along the way.

The first stop was at a historic Sinclair gas station located west of Halltown. We had a nice visit with the owner, Gary Turner, and he allowed us to walk around the property to take pictures. He also drew us a map on how to find Red Oak II, which is conglomerate of old buildings and other artifacts relocated to a site north of Route 66, about 30 miles farther west.

The next stop was Spencer, which is just down the road and mostly deserted.

The owner of Red Oak II is a private collector and has reportedly spent over $2 million collecting historic artifacts, but he doesn't charge a fee to come in and walk around the property. He even had a homemade Ozark limousine. Interesting place!

At the outskirts of Carthage, I had to stop and take a picture of the World Famous Flying Manure Spreader. Since this is a family site, I can not disclose the Manure Spreader's nickname; but you can probably find it on the internet.

In Carthage we toured the "Battle of Carthage" Civil War Museum, then decided to take a side trip to Lamar to visit the Harry S. Truman's birth place (he was born at home) --- and another quilt shop!

Returning to Carthage we toured the Powers Museum that was featuring, you guessed it, a traveling national exhibit of Route 66 quilts. A side trip was also made to the George Washington Carver National Monument, but it was closed.

Before the movie Cars was released, Riverton and nearby Galena, Kansas, were not known tourist destinations. However, when the Pixar staff was making a research trip on Old Route 66 for the movie Cars, they just happened to stop at a country store in Riverton and met a man that could twist his feet backwards 180 degrees and walk in reverse. This became one of the inspirations for the Mater character in the Cars movie and his ability to drive backwards. The other inspiration for Mater was a rusty old boom truck that is currently based at a restored Kan-O-Tex Service Station in Galena. After the Cars movie was released, the Pixar working model make-up truck (now called "Tow Tater") was moved to Galena and parked next to the original boom truck that was the inspiration for Mater.

Continuing westward on Route 66, we encountered a detour that went north for a number of miles and placed us in the vicinity of "Big Brutus," the second largest electric shovel in the World. Since we had stopped at a number of quilt shops on this trip, it was time to stop at male-type attraction.

Big Brutus can be seen from miles away, as it stands 16 stories tall, weighs 11 million pounds, has a 90 cubic yard dipper (approximately 150 tons capacity, which is enough material to fill three railroad cars), and it can reach speeds of up to 0.22 miles per hour. The inside of the cab is larger than the inside of most houses.

The shovel was originally used to remove overburden that covered the subsurface coal deposits, but in 1974 it became too expensive to operate the shovel; so the shovel was donated to the State of Kansas, along with 16 acres of land and $100,000 for restoration work. (Yes! That is a person standing in front of the dipper! Put on your glasses and get up close to the screen!)

When we arrived in Oswego, the streets were blocked off because they were having a marathon race with other celebrations to follow in the afternoon. While we were driving around the downtown detour, I had to stop to photograph a beautiful red tree in someone's front yard (Sorry! The picture does not do justice to the beauty of the tree.)

Our last stop in Kansas was in Coffeyville to visit the famous site of the October 5, 1892 Dalton Gang raid, when they attempted to rob two local banks at the same time.  Unfortunately for the Daltons, they were recognized by local citizens when they rode into town, so the local citizens armed themselves and were waiting for the gang when they exited the banks. The ensuing gun battle left eight men dead and four wounded. All of the gang members except Emmett Dalton were killed. Emmett was severely wounded and not expected to live, but he recovered and spent the next 14 years in prison.

 In Nowata, Oklahoma, we stopped by the Nowata County Historical Society Museum, which contains a lot of old mining and well drilling equipment. It was interesting to note that they had an old steam boiler that was very similar to the one at Lees Ferry in Arizona (see RonnieAdventure #04, May 13, 2012), except this boiler is in much better condition.

Woolaroc is located about 12 miles southwest of Bartlesville (Oklahoma) and was established in 1925 on 3,700 acres of land as a wildlife preserve and a museum for the Phillips collection of "one of the world's most unique collection of Western art and artifacts." And the original herd of buffalo came from Pierre, South Dakota.

The collection of artifacts includes one of the finest and most complete collections of Colt Firearms in the World, and the Woolaroc aircraft that won the 1927 Dole Air Race from California to Hawaii. The day we visited the museum, there was a traveling Lewis & Clark art exhibit that was very informative and well displayed. As an added bonus, when we walked out of the museum, one of the bushes in front of the building was covered with butterflies!

After 11 days and 1,452 driving miles, we arrived back in Wichita in time to catch our flight home!