A Day Off In Kingman

After some discussion this morning, we decided to take a day off the road and stick around Kingman a bit longer. There are plenty of sights to see here, and they wanted to get some things done that they haven’t been able to in a while, since we haven’t been in a major town for a while. We also declared “every van for itself” and did our sightseeing separately today.

Fortunately, pretty much everything there is to see is within walking distance of each other. I parked at the visitor’s center, which is in the old power station that provided electricity for Kingman until the Hoover Dam replaced it. Signs, murals, old buildings, classic cars — it’s all here.

I also enjoyed Locomotive Park, with an actual steam engine on display. While I couldn’t go inside this caboose, I could climb up either side, as well as to the business end of the locomotive. It’s gated off so you can’t play with things (I wouldn’t know how to drive this thing anyway), but through the power of photography I got a gate-free shot of the controls.

I tried to visit the railroad museum, but unfortunately it’s closed during the week. What I found most interesting, though, is that this is still an active train station today. Every other old train station I’ve seen of this trip has been bypassed, moved, or converted for another purpose.

It’s conveniently across from the Hotel Beale, which was apparently a big deal back in the day.

It didn’t take long to see all the Route 66 sights in Kingman, so I wandered back to Chateau Walmart, then walked next door for my first Del Taco experience for lunch. Thankfully, it was MUCH better than Los Pollos Hermanos. Admittedly, that’s a low bar. While it doesn’t hold a candle to the genuine Mexican food we had in Santa Rosa, it was quite good, and certainly better than Taco Bell.

Since I had the afternoon to myself, I decided it would be a shame to bring my off-road capable motorcycle across Arizona without doing a little desert riding. I unloaded it , then headed for nearby Clanks Canyon, just because the name sounded cool. I found myself on dirt roads even before leaving Kingman, and was on and off pavement the whole time. There looked to be a extensive trail system just off a dirt parking area, but the trail going off toward the cliffs looked a bit more technical than I felt comfortable riding, particularly alone, so I skipped it.

I found the dueling monuments at Camp Beale Springs to be a fascinating juxtaposition of two different sides of history. The one on the left is a standard one you’d expect to see at a place like this, commemorating the fort that was here in the mid-1800s, and how it was used to deal with the Natives. The one on the right is a Hualapai memorial to their ancestors who were interred in a temporary concentration camp here after a forced march down the La Paz Trail of Tears in 1874. Same place, two very different stories, and both valid.

On a more positive note, my ride back along some power lines gave me a great view of Kingman from above. We’ll spend one more night here, then continue down 66 in the morning toward Needles, California, our final state on this journey.

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