My nephew got married in Bullhead City, Arizona in October. What’s Bullhead City? It’s a small town on the Colorado River — rather pretty if isolated — with absolutely nothing going for it Tourist History-wise. And not much of anything else going on either.
So I and all the other out-of-town wedding guests stayed across the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nevada. Laughlin is a sad and shabby casino town — a poor man’s Las Vegas made up of one main street with four or five casino hotels. No glitz and glamour there, just lots of old people feeding their social security into slot machines.
I am not a gambler and was desperate to find something to do during the 30 seconds that we weren’t occupied by a wedding-related activity. Lake Havasu and its incongruous London Bridge were about an hour south and the Hoover Dam was about an hour north. But I didn’t have a car and was at the mercy of my brother for transportation, and he was the father of the groom with wedding responsibilities. Left to my own devices, I found a car museum at the casino next door, and I thought about crashing a psychic convention happening at our hotel. Then I found an actual History Tourist activity.
whining cajoling, I managed to get my brother and a few other family members out one morning to see the petroglyphs at Grapevine Canyon. They are on the National Register of Historic Places and were less than 10 minutes from our Laughlin hotel. There are about 700 petroglyphs in the canyon and no one knows who did them or what they mean. What they do know is that Grapevine Canyon, in the Spirit Mountains, was sacred to indigenous tribes, so they guess that the petroglyphs might have been done by them and had something to do with religious ceremony. The National Park Service cites research that estimates that they are between 800 and 150 years old (not that they couldn’t date them with more certainly, it was that the oldest of them are about 800 years old and the newer ones are about 150 years old). We had very little time, so we only went the quarter mile from the parking lot to the entrance of the canyon, where we found more than enough to satisfy my curiosity.
A couple of hours before we left town, the bride’s uncle told me that parts of George Patton’s WWII Desert Training Center — created to train soldiers for the North Africa campaign — was in the area. They left buildings and equipment behind, in the middle of nowhere, when they were deployed. It’s hard to find their locations but if you can, visitors are welcome to poke around. I’m definitely finding them and poking around if ever I’m back.