Sunday, January 18, 2015

See a giant-sized meteorite in Barstow, California

Trip Update: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2015

If you happen to be in Barstow, Calif., which is in the desert northeast of Los Angeles, you should stop by the California Desert Information Center to see the Old Woman Meteorite. It's the second largest meteorite ever found in the USA, weighing about three tons. It's mostly iron, which accounts for much of its weight. It came from the Asteroid Belt, which is located in an orbit around the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

There is no need for a burglar alarm on the rock because nobody could ever pick it up without going to lot of trouble. It look a huge effort by the U.S. Marines and a helicopter to lift it onto a truck to bring it to the museum, where it is a big attraction. Three prospector's found it in 1975 in the Old Woman Mountains in San Bernardino County. So that's how it got its name.

PART OF THE METEORITE was sawed off and taken away to be studied. But most of it is still here.

Chances are, this is the oldest thing you will ever see or touch in your life. It's not pretty. It's just a big rock. Still, it's impressive.

Now, your science lesson: All meteorites were once a meteor. They became a meteorite if they made it to the ground without vaporizing, as most do. Most meteorites are dust particles and weigh about .0005 ounces. So the Old Woman Meteorite is a biggie!

The largest meteorite ever found was in Africa and weighs 60 tons. The largest one in the United States, at 15 1/2 tons, landed in Oregon.

Admission to the see the Old Woman Meteorite is free. There are other things to see, too, plus a gift shop where you can buy some cool rocks, but no meteorites.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Wickenburg's Gold Rush history, Western Sculpture Walk = fun Snowbird RV Short Stop

"Jail Tree Felon" by J Seward Johnson.  (Julianne G. Crane)
RVing Snowbirds who are roaming the southwest Arizona byways will soon discover Wickenburg, once voted the "Most Western" town in the west. About 60 miles northwest of Phoenix, True West magazine put Wickenburg in the "Top 10 List of True Western Towns of 2008."

It seems in the mid-1800s Henry Wickenburg came to the area in search of gold and discovered the Vulture Mine, where over $30 million in gold was found. There are still relics around the area that stand as a tribute to these early adventurers as well as a walking tour around Vulture Mine, according to the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce.

Each year the town celebrates "Gold Rush Days" (Feb. 12-15, 2015). "The heritage event was founded 67 years ago, and today Gold Rush Days draws tens of thousands of visitors, during the 3 ½ days of activities. Gold Rush Days most significant recognition is from the Library of Congress, whereas Gold Rush Days is one of America’s Living Legacies," says the Chamber.
"Vaquero with Guitar" (Julianne G. Crane)

To add a contemporary touch to Wickenburg's western attractions, with an affectionate nod to its history, the town commissioned realistic life-size bronze sculptures that are threaded through the old section of town.

The sculptures are a series of six old western characters and 16 linking animal pieces by renowned artist J. Seward Johnson. The artist's work is in private and public collections around the world.

An added feature is that each large sculpture includes a button with a narrative on the history of the area.

The public art includes "Jail Tree Felon" (top) that depicts "the use of the large mesquite tree as a place to chain prisoners in early Wickenburg days until they could be transported to the nearest jail in Prescott. It is located at the Jail Tree Park on Tegner Street (Hwy-93) by Chaparral Ice Cream Parlor and Circle K."

"Vaquero with Guitar" (above right) provided "an evening serenade to downtown visitors in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. He strums on Wickenburg Way (Hwy-60) in front of the Gold Nugget Lounge."

Gila Monster (Julianne G. Crane)
The 16 smaller bronzes "depict local desert creatures including gila monsters (left), roadrunners, tarantulas and rattlesnakes. They provide linkage between the six major pieces."

If you go:
Sculpture Walk
Cost: Free
Hours: 24/7
Phone: (800) 942-5242

For more articles by Julianne G. Crane about RV lifestyle go to

Click on photos to enlarge: From top: 'Jail Tree Felon,' 'Vaquero with Guitar,'and 'Gila Monster.' (Julianne G. Crane)