Friday, April 15, 2016

Well, that was something

I always try to find something new to do or see when we are here in the Phoenix area. This is not always easy to do since I grew up here and we have spent a lot of vacations here. When I Googled 'fun things to do with kids in Phoenix,' I kept seeing Goldfield Ghost Town on the lists that came up. I had never heard of it nor been there, so my mom and I loaded up the van and headed out to it.


Wow. Sometimes that's about all you can say. Having gone back and looked at their website, it's not as though it was out and out wrong, but it was misleading. I read it pretty carefully and missed some key points.

Key point #1: There are not shoot outs on Main Street every day, but only on weekends. I missed the weekend part. L., all the way to Arizona was convinced she was going to see a cowboy and I thought this would be a fun way to take care of that. (L. is so all engrossing with her fantasies that everyone else was as excited for L. to see a cowboy as L. was.) Thankfully, there were a couple of people on horseback whom we say from the train and since they were wearing cowboy hats, L. thought she had seen cowboys. Bullet dodged.

Key point #2: It's not an actual ghost town... at least not how I define it. Looking back at website, I realized that it does in one little line on one page mention that the buildings are recreations, but the rest of the information does give the impression that these are renovated actual buildings rather than new buildings made to look like who people expect Western ghost towns to look. The original town burned due to a weapons mishap during WWII, when the military had taken it over.

Key point #3: I knew a lot of the attractions were ticketed, but it seems that I missed the fact that aside from those gun fights we didn't see, there are no other free activities. If you are not interested in buying Western tourist swag or looking at Western-ish buildings, well, there is not a lot here for you.

Key point #4: I expected a 20 minute train ride to really take you out into the desert. I think it would if the train was going faster than walking pace, but this was the slowest train I have ever been on and at various times it actually stopped for a bit as we were told what we were looking at. I'm pretty sure I could have run the route faster than the train took it and I'm not a very fast runner.

Key point #5: This is not something I missed, but it still made for a less-than-spectacular outing. Some places handle school groups better than others, this place ranks at the very bottom of all of our "battle the school groups" experience. Essentially, the school groups shut down everything for the public for the entire morning. The venue just couldn't handle the numbers with the size and staffing available. In reality, if they are going to do school groups, they should be up front and close the park to the public in the mornings.

Key point #6: It's cash only. Really? With the ticket prices they have? Cash only? And people kid me I live in the previous century. At least they helpfully provided ATM machines. Well, machine. In one building at one end of the venue.

There were a couple of things going for it. The staff were very friendly and most apologetic about the shut-down to the public due to the school groups. It seems the staff didn't even know ahead of time they were having these groups come in. The other is that the scenery is gorgeous. It's the biggest draw in my opinion. After I show you some pictures, I'll tell you what I think is a far better way to enjoy the scenery.

One of the views, looking to the north

Playing on one of the old train cars as we waited to be able to do things.

G. and K. waiting to board the train.

On the train

Views of the Superstition Mountains

P. waiting to go on the mine tour

More waiting to go on the mine tour.

Inside the mine tour

Now, the mine tour was the best thing of the day. It was interesting and some of my people really enjoyed it. We've done more with coal mines so gold mining was a little different. But, once again, it wasn't actually a mine tour. It was a tunnel tour. The actual mine it turns out was flooded in the late 19th century and the water could never be fully pumped out. 

The back view of the buildings.

L. and my mom. That's D. carrying Y. in the distance.

After we left Goldfield, we decided to go and drive through the Lost Dutchman State Park. It is right at the base of the Superstition Mountains and has trails going up into them. It is beautiful. Sometime when we are hear in the cooler months, I would love to go out and go hiking.

So, if you are in the Phoenix area and want to get a real Western feel, buy a book that tells about all the stories that surround the Superstition Mountains and spend some time actually hiking around in them. 

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