Lunch and a tour: Grand Canyon Caverns;Peach Springs, Arizona

Located just off of Route 66 in either Peach Springs Arizona (according to their website) or Seligman, Arizona (according to Google) is a rather unique tourist trap that’s kind of hard to explain because it can’t really make up its mind what it is.

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The first thing you’ll encounter is a gas station/laundromat and gift store that calls itself Radiator Springs and claims to be the inspiration for Pixar Movie of the same name. (I have NOT found any external verification of that claim)

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what I was interested in was NOT the gas station, although it was a little cute, what I had come for was about a mile behind the building, via a private road

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there, above ground, you’ll find a restaurant, motel called the Caverns Inn & RV park, Restaurant and gift-store… but I didn’t take a lot of pictures of that cause it wasn’t what I was there for…

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Read the transcription below

In 1927, Walter Peck, a cowboy and woodcutter was walking through this area on his way to a poker game, when he nearly fell into a hole in the ground. The next morning Peck and his friends returned to the hole with lanterns and ropes. Peck was lowered into the hole. He purchased the property and began making preparations for a gold mining operation. Once the assay reports were completed, he learned that his potential mother load was iron oxide. Peck, being an entrepreneur then began charging 25 cents to lower early travelers and explorers down into the caverns. Today travelers worldwide come to visit these dry caverns

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The offerings, and the elevator you take to get down there… yes it’s an official fallout shelter

What I was there for, were the aforementioned underground caverns… and more specifically, to eat in the underground restaurant and see the motel (but no I did not stay the night, it costs $975/night. Too rich for my tastes.)

 

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The view of the restaurant from the path to it
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A view of the restaurant from my table, I managed to get a booking at the last minute

 

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So there I sat, in the Grand Canyon caverns eating one very expensive grilled chicken sandwich, which was at best, ok… I asked around and pretty much everyone was underwhelmed with their food.

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But, of course what you’re paying for is the view, and the experience

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The view of the cavern from my table, and a group of four people who were touring

I suppose it would have been cheaper if I drank cause you can have 2 glasses of wine, and it comes with all-you-can-eat dessert. But I don’t drink, and I’ve finally managed to lower my blood sugar, and I had places to be later that day… so I must definitely did NOT get my money’s worth in terms of the cost of lunch… in my own opinion. But it was worth doing once… and after lunch came the tour

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At this point we ran into a 2nd family which was doing the more “challenging” tour. They were actually climbing through tunnels in the walls, and we ran into them as they were climbing up through one of these deep gaps. (They were wearing helmets with built-in lamps, like what miners wear.)

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And then we watched them climbing UP a staircase that later in the tour we’d be going down (we would ultimately be going up to that same point, but via a gentle twisting slope so that you barely notice it), … in other words our tour was negotiated so as to limit our level of physical effort, while this other group was being made to do it in the most demanding ways possible

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This is when we got to see the hotel room in the Cavern….

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Two double beds, a bathroom, and a big screen TV, and along side it a stone dog to protect you

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This is a location where they hold weddings, it is up the slope from the hotel room (a little stage and rows of seating; if you look past the stage area you see the big screen TV very clearly, and the wall that it’s held up by is for privacy in the bathroom…

Much Later, after we finally came back DOWN the stairway the others had gone up, (I’m jumping forward, but will cut back after) we were led to the opposite side of this same ‘auditorium’ where we saw these…

IMG_0252.JPGThe chairs used for 60 years in the American Film Institute in Hollywood and when they replaced, the caverns bought them. So your guests at your wedding can sit in chairs that MAY have had very famous movie stars and directors sitting in them at one point.

So, back to the tour…. After we first saw the hotel room and the wedding venue, we walked along the path to the Fall-out Shelter storage area of the cavern.

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We walked through the winding paths of the cavern, and came to a low ceiling point where everyone but me had to stoop to pass it… the d

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The mystery room (upper right corner, above) is called as such because fresh air comes into the cave, but scientists have not been able to verify how. They do know it is coming in from there… but not how it’s getting into there… hence the mystery. There are apparently special tours you can take that take like 5 hours, where you can go spelunking into that part of the cave…. but it’s only for serious caving people

Once we got up to the top we began to going down, via a path that took us OVER the stored supplies for the fall-out shelter

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Apparently when they brought in the pallets, they forgot to measure the size of the pallets versus the size of the entrances… and found they had to take all the supplies OFF them, bring them in, then reload them back on to them.

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I particularly loved the giant sloth figure, apparently they found the bones of one in the cave

At the end of the tour, which took a little over an hour …. the Dutch visitors who were in my tour group started telling me how much they loved Trump, and how they’d have voted for them if they were Americans…
no words

 

 

 

 

The Road Kill cafe and bar in Seligman, Arizona on Route 66

After my post about Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse in Paxton, Nebraska, off of I-80, one of my friends on Facebook said that if was doing Route 66 on my return trip, I should check out the Road Kill Cafe and bar in Seligman, Arizona, that I’d love it. But I’m afraid that after Ole’s it was HIGHLY unimpressive.

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Located half way (1 hour in either direction) between the larger towns of Kingman and Flagstaff, Seligman Arizona takes its place on route 66 VERY seriously… it sort of has to, it’s really got not much else going for it. (even if you needed gas, odd are you filled up Kingman or Flagstaff). It’s initial claim to fame was as a stop on Beale’s Wagon Road, a trade route from Fort SmithArkansas to Los AngelesCalifornia … and then as a stage-coach stop. When the railroads replaced the stage coaches, it was lucky enough to be chosen to be a railroad town, complete with a Harvey House (closed in 1955, demolished 2008), but in 1984 passenger trains discontinued service to the town entirely, and now just pass it by. Cars don’t really stop there much either, as while it had been on route 66 (obviously), when I-40 came through in 1978, it by-passed the town by a few miles — and like I said, most I-40 travelers are far more likely to pit stop at Flagstaff or Kingman, than they are Seligman. As such, all traffic in the town virtually disappeared on that day, according to Angel Delgadillo, a local businessman. To its credit however (you’ve got to work with what you’ve got) the town earned itself the name of “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” ten years later, when through their successful lobbying efforts they managed to convince the State of Arizona to make 66 a “Historic Highway” — and hence spend money on creating the signs that line the 66, and the big printed out 66 symbols in the middle of it.

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From the outside, the Roadkill Cafe (above) is way more about shtick than Ole’s was.

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While on the inside, the road kill cafe (above) comes in a sad second to the festival of death that could be found in Ole’s (below)…  because Pretty much everything in the photos from Road Kill is in the gift store section of the restaurant, with the eating area looking just like your average diner — it was SO mundane looking that I didn’t even bother to photograph it …. while at Ole’s there’s way more of it and it is in every spare nook and cranny the restaurant had to offer

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The Rusty Bolt, a really good store on 66 in Seligman, Arizona

The Rusty bolt is an exception among the collection of stores that line 66 in Seligman that for the most part only sell the obligatory (along route 66) mass-produced stuff that glorifies the road itself.

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These tend to include T-shirts, stickers, mugs, patches (mostly purchased by motorcyclists) that says Route 66, or that glorify the post WWII/50’s time period… and offer up various impulse purchases of that sort (most of it probably made in China), most of which could, at this point, probably found easier by shopping on Amazon.  Of ALL the stores it was the ONLY one I found that actually bothers to sell art produced by local artists that isn’t a trading post (most of whom essentially make their livings by taking advantage of the local native American populations). Although they sell some of that too, because it’s what the customer expects.

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Located half way (1 hour in either direction) between the larger towns of Kingman and Flagstaff, Seligman Arizona takes its place on route 66 VERY seriously… it sort of has to, it’s really got not much else going for it. (even if you needed gas, odd are you filled up Kingman or Flagstaff). It’s initial claim to fame was as a stop on Beale’s Wagon Road, a trade route from Fort SmithArkansas to Los AngelesCalifornia … and then as a stage-coach stop. When the railroads replaced the stage coaches, it was lucky enough to be chosen to be a railroad town, complete with a Harvey House (closed in 1955, demolished 2008), but in 1984 passenger trains discontinued service to the town entirely, and now just pass it by. Cars don’t really stop there much either, as while it had been on route 66 (obviously), when I-40 came through in 1978, it by-passed the town by a few miles — and like I said, most I-40 travelers are far more likely to pit stop at Flagstaff or Kingman, than they are Seligman. As such, all traffic in the town virtually disappeared on that day, according to Angel Delgadillo, a local businessman. To its credit however (you’ve got to work with what you’ve got) the town earned itself the name of “Birthplace of Historic Route 66” ten years later, when through their successful lobbying efforts they managed to convince the State of Arizona to make 66 a “Historic Highway” — and hence spend money on creating the signs that line the 66, and the big printed out 66 symbols in the middle of it.

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Walking around Seligman I was starting to get kind of annoyed at the sheer rapidity of the goods for sale, and extreme tourist trap sensibility of the place. That was until I walked into the Rusty Bolt, which while it has some of the same, there’s actually MORE to it, even though the shelves aren’t as packed full as some of the other stores.

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Walking around I immediately spotted these little sculptures which in my opinion cross the line to art — they have such a feeling of movement to them, and then when I saw the price (they were selling for $26.75 each), I HAD to have them.

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I learned later that at the Rusty Bolt the price includes the tax!!!

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Not only that but, I was slightly amused by the coin descriptor the owner has taped to her checkout counter (see above photo bottom right). You can tell from it that she gets a lot of foreign visitors who aren’t familiar with our currency.

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The bottom right one is made with a tea strainer, and you can open the mouth

They are all made by a guy who lives in Golden Valley and just sits around making stuff by the name of Frank McKee. I looked for him on-line afterwards but couldn’t find him. According to the woman who owns the shop, he shows up from time to time at a nearby flea market that she goes to looking for merchandise for her shop. He’ll usually approach her first, sell her enough to be able to afford his hotel room for the night, and then he sells the rest at the market the next day.

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I went a little bit overboard in the shopping — I bought five of them…  I think they sort of look like a baseball team. The little route 66 magnets are removable. She had added them after the fact thinking they’d sell better if she did that.