January 6, 2014

route 66 & local turquoise

Kingman Turquoise
During the kids' Fall Break last October, we had originally planned to visit the Grand Canyon. Due to the government shut-down affecting national parks, we had a change of plans. My parents took the boys and I on a short road trip to see some of Route 66. Since we live in that part of the country now, it sounded interesting. We headed up from Prescott, and our first stop was Ash Fork. We continued on I-40 to Seligman, and took Route 66 from there.

We stopped the first day in Kingman. Suddenly I realized I hadn't thought ahead of time to find out if there were any stores selling the local Kingman Turquoise. (how could I have missed that?!) I had just gotten a smart phone for an early birthday present, so I put it to use with the motel's free wi-fi. We ended up at the showroom of Colbaugh Processing, which makes cabochons and beads from the local Turquoise. I was awed by the variety of material that comes from the local mine, and had a hard time picking just a few strands to bring home. (my favorites were "New Boulder" which has vibrant turquoise color with lots of earthy brown matrix, and "High Blue" which is very intense blue with some brown matrix, both shown in first photo, above left.) Their Kingman Turquoise is stabilized only (as all Turquoise needs to be for durability), not dyed. I decided right then that once I use up all the Turquoise I have, I will probably only buy directly from them. (a return trip is expected, whenever I have more funds to seriously stock up!)

a wall of Arizona Turquoise! (Colbaugh Processing)

Their gravel parking lot is littered with scraps from the processing, and they gladly hand out bags to kids of customers to gather some up. My boys love rocks and had a great time doing that while I shopped. After that, we drove farther out and went by Mineral Park mine which is where the Kingman Turquoise comes from, and visited the little old mining town of Chloride.

rock hunting for Turquoise scraps in the parking lot

The next day, we left Kingman on Route 66 to Oatman, a little old mining town with burros that roam freely. Then it was out toward the Colorado River and onto I-40 again for a bit. We stopped to see the London Bridge at Lake Havasu City. Then we drove through some very drab land, and then some stereotypical Arizona desert with lots of Saguaro cactus, to get to Wickenburg where we spent the second night. The next day we went to a small plane and car show at their airport, where the boys got to sit in one of the flight training planes from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (which happens to be right next to our neighborhood). We also visited the western museums, lots of cowboy stuff there. Then we headed back home through Yarnell (and saw the damage from the fire earlier this year), and up through the area where the Doce Fire started below Granite Mountain on our way into Prescott.

It is fascinating to see more of the region where we live now. In addition to enjoying the historical sights, I was also continually amazed by how many mountains there are in Arizona. Lots of flat valley land between, but so many hills and mountains (in this part, anyway). It was a beautiful time to tour Arizona, everything was about as green as it would be because it was not long after monsoon season (except the grasses had already turned golden again).

Watch for new jewelry pieces featuring the Turquoise I bought in Kingman! (those pieces will be clearly described as such.)

old cars in Ash Fork

Route 66 outside Seligman

Route 66 between Kingman and Oatman

Route 66 almost to Oatman

burros roaming the main street of Oatman

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