Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kicks On Rt 66 ... OR... Jackass:The Slide Show

"Cookie. Cookie. Lend me your comb." Remember? An old TV show about Rt 66. Get your kicks on Rt 66! From Chicago to the Pacific. America's Main Street. Travel it today and you will see it is NOT a super highway. More like a little back country road. But nostalgia lives in the old buildings and businesses and venues that still survive along its original winding way. And nowhere is that more visible than in Oatman, Arizona. It was a boom and bust mining town several times over. A few of the old road houses are still beside the highway, though they serve a different purpose now than they did then. And when the mining cycle gave up its last big gasp around WWII, when mining of gold was declared a non essential service and essentially ended for the time being, the burros that were hauling the ore carts from the mine shafts were released into the desert to fend for themselves. It could have been the end of the burros just as it was the end of the mining as it had been known. But that is not what happened at all. The burros adapted to the desert and thrived out there. And the town of Oatman, which for all intents and purposes was a one horse (uh, make that one burro) economy, could have and probably should have become a mere ghost town---but didn't. The town refused to die. It embraced its past and the burros, and rather than eliminating them and driving them off, they invited them into town and built a tourist economy around them. Carrots are orange, not gold, but they sell enough of them so folks can feed the burros (more promotionally referred to as jackasses) and they have become the new gold for the old town. Bank heists and gun fights still happen in the streets (about every hour and a half and on schedule if the ambulance doesn't need to drive down main street). It's just plain fun.

You can buy hot sauce that is "whoop ass", "kick ass"...and every other phrase you can come up with along these lines. Same thing with t-shirts. You get the idea, smart ass? It's a town built on burros and donkeys, the old west, and the gold rush. Is it worth a ride out Rt 66 on a winding road around mountains and spectacular desert scenery? Well, you bet your ass it is! And don't forget to try a real buffalo burger with a side of burro ears!

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