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Mark Twain: Hannibal, MO: Day 8–June 22, 2016

Huck Finn Home

Huck Finn Home

Louise Speaks:  We did a bit of back tracking today based on where we camped last night, but with the rain and weather, it was not a bad thing.  We headed back to Hannibal, MO the home of Mark Twain and Huck Finn.  This really is what Hannibal is about.  Everything in town is some how related to Mark Twain…Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  Half of the town bears the name Mark Twain and the name is on every street and business.  The other half of town bears the names of his fictional characters.

100_9510Right on Main Street,  in the center of town, is a “Bronze statue of Mark Twains’ fictional heroes”.  The statues were sculpted in 1926 by Frederick Hibbard.  This statue was actually the first US statue erected to fictional characters.  It marks the beginning of the Mark Twain home and museum tour.



As you enter the Mark Twain Museum there is a time line of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain’s) life.  There are many photos and a short video telling his story.  The museum houses a collection of 15 original oil paintings by Norman Rockwell, who was commissioned in the 1930’s to illustrate special editions of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

100_9511Once outside and to your left is the “Tom Sawyer Fence”. The fence is called “crowd sourcing” as it tries to get people to work for free.  In the story, Mark Twain’s character, Tom Sawyer, tricked people into painting a fence for free.  Today at the fence is a bucket of paint brushes, trying to lure people to pick up a brush and paint.

20160621_165619Next to the fence is Mark Twain’s boyhood home.  The tidy two story white clapboard house where the family lived in the 1840’s is open to tour.  You are able to tour both floors of the home and 100_9550several of the items in the home are authentic pieces that belonged to the Samuel Clemens family.  A half dozen other buildings line the street of Mark Twain Village.  Becky Thatcher’s home, Mark Twain’s first love, is directly across from Mark Twain’s home.  The other buildings include the office where Sam Clemons father practiced law, and the Grants Drug Store.

There is much more to see about Mark Twain, like the Mark Twain Cave.  We did not take the tour and almost camped here, but they were closed when we arrived.  One interesting fact about the RV Park and the Cave is that if and when there is a tornado warning, all the campers from the RV park are rushed to the cave for shelter…even if it is in the middle of the night…now that would be an experience, and it has happened more than once.

Patricia list Hannibal all by itself in her book “1000 Places To See Before You Die”.  Since I was one that was not raised on Mark Twain or Samuel Clemens, this was not an attraction that I could say I was dying to visit..but it is always fun to visit original buildings or see a town that is so dedicated to one famous person.  That being said, I would rate Hannibal, and Mark Twain a B…it was a fun stop and a great town.

AM…Page 449



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Hopi Cultural Center: Day 2: June 16, 2016

Louise Speaks:  Along with doing some “quirky” things we are still trying to complete Patriacia’s book “1000 Places To See Before You die.”  The last thing in the book before we complete Hopithe state of Arizona was the Hopi Cultural Center.  I know now why we hadn’t visited this attraction before.  It is 60 miles north of Winslow in the middle of very flat land and with nothing around for miles.  There are three “mesa’s” (table in Spanish) on the Hopi reservation.  The cultural center is in the Second Mesa so pretty much in the center of the reservation.

100_9310Today there was not much going on, but there are many activities and pow wows on the weekend.  The cultural center itself has a museum, a hotel, a restaurant and three gift shops.  From what we were told, I’m sure that when there is an event; the restaurant is hopping and the hotel has no vacancies.  Three gift shops are needed to supply crafted items to all the visitors.

giftWe were fortunate to meet with the daughter of one of the store owners who was very knowledgeable about the Hopi tribe and it’s past, present and future.  Although the gift shops had many items from the Hopi tribe, there were also pieces of jewelry from the Navajos, Zuni’s and Apache’s.  The tribes do not barter, but they do buy from one another so that they give their shoppers a very unique variety.

abWhile at the cultural center, I noticed a life line of the Hopi tribe and discovered that they are the only tribe that has voted AGAINST gaming.  When I asked the young woman about this, she said some are trying to have that changed but the older members of the tribe council are still against gaming.  Apparently gaming and alcohol go hand in hand and it is against the law to have alcohol on the Hopi reservation.  I found it very humbling to hear this story.  The Hopi tribe seems to live very poorly.  The fact that they are willing to give up the income and job opportunity that gaming could bring to the tribe, they instead are choosing to follow their beliefs and live as there fore fathers have lived.  The tribe sees the connection between gaming and alcohol and feel that both will lead to crime.  It will be interesting to see if the younger tribe members can convince the older tribe members to break tradition and open a casino.

adWe saw many flyers about different events coming up and even though it seem pretty dead today, it would be interesting to come when they have one of their ritual ceremonies.  Apparently this weekend was going to be a weekend of praying with the Kachina dolls.  Because corn is a major crop for the Hopi’s and the land is dry and cracking, they are praying for rain.  So they place Kachina dolls all around the crops with their wings spread wide in hopes of a good rain.  I’m sure to see this process up close would be very moving…as without the rain their crops will die.

This would have been a very boring stop had it not been for the young lady who took so much time out of her day to share with us the tale of her people.  If you are ever traveling on Hwy 264 between Tuba City and Window Rock make sure you stop.  You’ll be glad you did.

The Cultural Center gets a B rating.  Not because of it’s location or of what it has to offer, but because of it’s culture.  And in all three gift shops as well as the restaurant, the people working were the friendliest and most willing to help that I have seen in a very long time.


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Wickenburg, Wickenburg, AZ

Louise Speaks:  Believe it or not we only live about 50 miles from Wickenburg, but have never actually toured the town and seen the sites Patricia mentions in her book “1000 Places To See Before You Die”.  Today, as we are heading back to Phoenix, we decided to take the back road and go through Wickenburg so we can complete one more page in Patricia’s book.

100_6314Wickenburg is a true Gold Town.  Gold was discovered here in 1863 by Henry Wickenburg…hence the name of the town.  There are over 80 mines throughout the hillsides of Wickenburg and was one of the richest territories during it’s time.  Most of the mines no longer exist, but one that does is the Vulture Mine.  This mine offers tours but only during the cooler 100_6315months, as Wickenburg can get quite hot.  We toured this mine a few months back when my grandson was visiting.  The mine began in 1863 and became the most productive gold mine in Arizona history. From 1863 to 1942, the mine produced 340,000 ounces of gold and 260,000 ounces of silver.  Historically, the mine attracted more than 5,000 people to the area, and 100_6313is credited with founding the town of  Wickenburg.  In 1942, the Vulture Mine was shut down by a regulatory agency for processing gold.  This was a violation at the time because all resources were to be focused on the war effort. The mine appealed the shut-down order and reopened, but with less vigor.  A few years later, the mine closed permanently.  Today the mine and ghost town are privately owned, but tours are offered.  Two-hour, dirt path guided walking tours at the historic Vulture mine offers a glimpse of the olden days through a tour of some of the remaining buildings of Vulture City, a booming mining town.  The guide is very informative and there is lots to see.  The mine was actually on Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel on October 29, 2010.

Wickenburg tries to keep the look of the town as it was back in the day.  Along the town’s main historic district, early businesses built many structures that still form Wickenburg’s downtown area. The abundant clean air and wide-open spaces attracted new residents.  Guest ranches offered a unique experience to tourists who fell in love with the West.  Shortly after 1913, the Kay El Bar and Rancho de los Caballeros, opened as two of the top Guest Ranches in the area.  Many others followed making Wickenburg the Dude Ranch Capital of the World.  Wickenburg Dude Ranches is even a trip destination on many TV game shows like Wheel of Fortune.  We were fortunate enough to visit both of these “Dude Ranches” today.

100_8951Our first stop was the Rancho de los Caballeros.  The venerable story of The Ranch dates back to 1947, when Dallas Gant, Sr., had the dream to build a dude ranch resort that would not only make him proud but would also stand the test of time.  That dream came true a year later in 1948, when Rancho de los Caballeros (Ranch of the Gentlemen on 100_8961Horseback) gallantly opened its doors to guests.  As the reputation of The Ranch’s outstanding service and accommodations grew through the years, so did its facilities.  The Ranch currently features 79 guest rooms, a 200-seat dining room, a full-service saloon, a full-service spa, meeting spaces, 20,000 acres of land, tennis courts, trap & skeet range, a horse stable, and an 18-hole golf course consistently ranked in national lists as a top 75 resort course.  This must be true because as we were leaving at about 11:30 a.m. we were greeted by no less than at least 10 Porche convertibles entering the golf course.  It was either a club or some very 100_8950rich guest with a 12:00 tee time. Besides the golf course there are some unique bits of history about the ranch.  In 1947 he pearl-shaped teardrop swimming pool for The Ranch was dug by hand.  It was the first non-rectangular pool in Arizona.  Architects at the time were concerned that the shape was too daring, but the pool has remained to this day, undergoing its first resurfacing in 1990.  Also in 1951, an airstrip was added to accommodate guests’ private planes.  Today, private planes land at nearby Wickenburg Airport, but you can still see part of the runway and an old hanger between the 17th and 18th fairways.  Yes, only in Arizona would you get rid of an airstrip to add a golf course.  In 1987 telephones were added to the guest rooms and finally in 1991 the guest rooms were furnished with a TV set.  Credit Cards were not accepted until 2004.  Today this dude ranch is known as a desert home away from home.  Rancho de los Caballeros offers modern comforts in a historic Arizona dude ranch setting.  With whitewashed walls, wooden beams and colorful Mexican tiles, The Ranch has the elegant ease of a traditional hacienda.  And with the wide open sky over head and the stunning desert vistas all around, The Ranch offers a welcoming oasis where you can trade in your cell phone for some reins, and make life-long memories.

100_8968We had tried to call the Kay El Bar Ranch many times to get directions, but although the phone rings, we are asked to leave a message and no one ever answers.  We did have an address, so we trusted our handy GPS and went on an adventure.  We did find the ranch but it appeared to be deserted.  However, we had done our homework so knew a bit about the ranch.  The 100_8969charming adobe ranch was built in the late 1800s, and, like all the early dude ranches, began as a working cattle outfit. The building’s adobe walls built of sun-dried brick are 12 to 18 inches thick.  Each brick was made by hand by the Maricopa Indians who lived on the nearby reservation.  In 1925 Kay El Bar was renovated, and the ranch began welcoming guests in 1926.  The ranch appears completely up to date in its comforts, including a new pool, and a whirlpool spa,   However, as we walked around all the windows are covered in dark plastic and every door was locked.  The ranch consist of 13 rooms and wonderful, well kept grounds. 100_8972We finally found some ranch hands tending to the horses and asked what was going on.  It turns out the lodging part of the ranch no longer exists although they are open for trail rides and a true western experience.   We were told they are an authentic, historic dude ranch.  They offer an affordable, all-inclusive vacation experience, with a peaceful setting and friendly, experienced staff.  We were told many of their guests return every year to visit just because they can take a trail ride into the beautiful landscape with a wrangler-led horseback guide.  Today they had the horse and buggies out as they were preparing for the Spring parades.  Kay el Bar is a winter ranch, open October through May.  This dude ranch is a hidden gem.  I don’t understand why it isn’t open for a true dude ranch experience.

100_8965Our last stop of the day in Wickenburg was the  Desert Caballeros Western Museum.  Founded in 1960, it is Arizona’s most western museum. The museum was created for the purpose of preserving and exhibiting the art and history of the rural Southwest and the desert frontier.  Here world renowned art collections complement historic displays.  The museum offers self guided audio tours that tell the fascinating stories of the American West.  At the core of the museum are prized works from artists that offer an enriching contemporary perspective.

Back in the day, the only way to get to Los Angeles or Las Vegas was to go through Kingman, but back then it was just to drive through.  Today we actually took the time to drive through the town, see a few of the Dude Ranches and visit a part of the old West.  The more time I spent here, the more I thought about taking a vacation to a Dude Ranch.  They offer girls weekends so how fun could that be.  Maybe even a Mother / Daughter weekend.  The wheels are turning.  I’d rate all of Wickenburg an A.  It was a fine day and it gave me enough curiosity to want to come back.

AM…page 701