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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Wild Burros of Oatman

On our agenda today was to drive about 13 miles southeast of our campground, to the small historic town of Oatman, Arizona. Oatman began in 1906 as a tent camp, then prospered as a gold mining center. It almost totally collapsed in 1942 when Congress declared that gold mining was no longer essential to the war effort.

Films such as "How the West was Won", "Edge of Eternity", "Universal Soldier", and "Foxfire," were all filmed in the area.

Each year over 500,000 people come to this small town, mainly to see the wild burros. Every day the burros come down from the mountains and walk up and down main street. Although they live in the wild, they are actually very tame. Some of the shops sell bags of carrots. I brought my own from home.

A friend of mine who had been here before advised us to arrive early to see the burros since they retreat back into the mountains once it starts to get warm. So right after breakfast Jim and I headed out to the town. It was a beautiful ride through open range country. No cows in sight, though. Just beautiful scenery.





The road into town is actually on Route 66.



I noticed all these small piles of rocks (which could be considered "cairns" I've learned).





So while Jim patiently waited in the truck, and I'm sure let out a few big sighs, I made my own cairn.



We spotted this cute little front yard display before entering the town.



When I say Oatman is small, I mean it's about one block long. Jim parked the truck on the main street. We saw just a handful of tourists walking about. Not all the stores were even open. And not a burro in sight! What was this all about? We began browsing in the shops at the one end of the block. And that is where we met John Wayne.



You were expecting someone else? He's the town cat that everyone has adopted. He wanders from shop to shop and they all feed him. He was in a fight a couple of weeks ago and is healing from that, but otherwise he's no worse for wear.

I wasn't impressed with the shops - the majority of them had the usual touristy stuff. Only one store that I was aware of had things from four local artists. Some of the stores had their wares in front of their place as well as inside. One guy had small gold metal bells stapled to a piece of cardboard paper that was folded in half. The bells were supposed to "ward off gremlins" and were, in fact, called "gremlin bells". I picked one up for closer inspection and was trying to read the story behind the bell. I knew that the paper was stapled together. I was maneuvering the paper back and forth, but NOT BENDING IT. All of a sudden the owner came rushing over to me and began yelling at me!
"Ma'am! Ma'am!No! No! No! Don't open it!" He said real snotty.

"I'm not going to open it," I said, referring to the little card.

"You're going to BEND it!" He said, ripping it out of my hand!

"I'm NOT going to bend it!" I said, this time with force!

He said, "It's all RIGHT HERE!" and pointed to a paper that was taped to the wall. It had the whole story there.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't see that!"

"Well, you come along and read this and bend the paper, and then I can't SELL it!"

Sheesh! Talk about winning friends and influencing people! I almost wanted to cry! There was a much better way that he could have handled the situation. He was such a crab ass. And I, being a wuss, just stood there and took it. I finished reading the story. But what I wanted to do was throw the bell in his face and say something like, "Lighten up, a-hole!" But I didn't!

So by now I'm in a foul mood. I got yelled at and then there were no burros. Welcome to Oatman. We continued on down the street. I saw this nice mural.



Then I saw this motorcycle and this brought a grin to my face. Notice the name on it. Instead of "Harley" it says "Hardley".



Oatman is a motorcycle town. Especially during ride week in April. Then about 50,000 bikers come into Laughlin, NV, and almost 20,000 ride in to Oatman. Can you imagine what that must be like? One woman working in a store told us that it gets so crowded that they actually have to close the town until some of the cyclists leave, before letting in more people. Here are some riders from today.



I didn't want to leave the town without seeing the burros. A salesperson told us that the burros were coming into town later and later each day because the mountainside was so green from the rains and they weren't as hungry. Jim and I decided to kill some time by grabbing an early lunch. We decided to eat at the Oatman Hotel.



This is a sign in the lobby of the hotel. Unfortunately, the room that Clark Gable and Carole Lombard slept in was off limits due to remodeling of the upstairs.



This is inside the restaurant. You may notice that the walls are covered with dollar bills. Customers leave dollar bills that they have written on for their server to tack up on the wall.





As soon as we left the building after lunch, I was happy to see burros! Right there! Yippee! I whipped out my bag of carrots and started feeding one.





I took a gazillion pictures of the burros, but I'll only share a few of them.















Signs were posted throughout the area saying that if a baby burro had a sticker on their forehead, we weren't to feed them carrots because they could choke. Here are two babies; the white one has the sticker, the brown one must have lost its sticker.



Here are some of the shops:





Here are a couple of signs that were posted on the bulletin board in town.





Several times during the day there is a "gunfight" right in front of the hotel. It's a little bit hokey, but funny.






What's even funnier is this burro watching the show.



Oatman boasts some funny annual special events like Bed Races in January.



or the Sidewalk Egg Fry at High Noon on the 4th of July. I wonder if you could get a side order of hash browns?

12 comments:

Rae said...

What an interesting place. Thank goodness they have friendly burros to draw visitors because their shopkeepers are lousy. No wonder they don't have much going on with that attitude.

Brian Miller said...

you travel to the most interesting places...lots to do of a one lane town...end everyones so nice...smiles.

Steven Anthony said...

what a quirky zanny town....love it...the burrow pics are priceless....you have an amazing life my friend;)

A New England Life said...

Hi Pat,

I love the way you show us around. You really tell the whole story!

Sorry about the guy being so mean. I've had that happen before too and it's very upsetting. I always think of what to say later on!

Great little town. The burros are adorable! And oh my goodness, good old Rt 66!! We traveled on that road when I was a kid, heading out to California. Oh the memories.

Thanks for showing us around. I REALLY enjoyed it along with all the photos : )

Sharon

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That was a fun tour! I was holding my breath for you the first half of the post; sure glad those burros made their appearance! And aww they are so cute. I never understood the way of those cairns exactly either, but I've done the same thing as you and made our own in places where we've seen them. In case it is good luck or something. ;>)

Snowflake said...

Now I feel bad telling you to go early!!! Glad to hear the burros finally made an appearance. Love your photos!!!!

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

Great photos (as usual)! You do a phenom job of 'splaining things and showing pictures. Love to be a part of your travels!!!

Keep it up. You have knack and a great talent.

Wendy said...

Thanks once again Pat.
I love living vicariously through you.
=-)

Ruth said...

I got a feel for everything, almost think I can smell and hear it all too. What a place!

misslynda said...

Another fun day of travel for all of us. I wish someone with GOOD local crafts would open a shop in that town. It sounds like they could make a good living.
The burros are too cute - - kind of like overgrown dogs.

WhisperingWriter said...

How cool!

I would love to go there.

SquirrelQueen said...

That was a fun tour Pat. In all the times we have been to Laughlin we never made the trip to Oatman.

The burros are cute and they look like they are friendlier than the shop keepers.