Friday, February 21, 2014

Family Road Trip: Calico Ghost Town

Although me and the minions have been studying the American Revolution, when I heard that a Civil War re-enactment was taking place at Calico Ghost Town, I couldn't miss it. So we took the drive to the  ghost town and former mining town  in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert. Calico was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, and today has been converted into a county park.  Thus making it historically inaccurate as a Civil War setting, because the war actually took place in 1861 to 1865.  Either way it sounded like fun and I have never been so it sounding like fun.
When we drove up I have to admit that I wasn't every impressed, because there was nothing really to see except the mountain with CALICO on it. My husband, being that he has been before wanted to take us to see the cemetery first.  I was happy to do so until I saw the hill we had to hike up in ballet flats (bottom left photo), which are no where near proper hiking shoes, we did it anyway and I snapped the picture of the graves (top left photo) . Also once getting to the top of the hill we realized that we had to parked in the lower level parking lot and had a very, very steep walk up a narrow shared road (pedestrians and vehicles).  Once we got to the top we walked through another parking lot and to the entrance.  It was like being transported back to the past! Everyone one was dressed in era clothing due to the Civil War reenactments.  
The "war" started with a parade of Confederate soldiers through the streets of Calico. The battles were pretty interesting, the kids were complaining the whole time waiting for the battle to start, but when they did, they had their full attention.  But be forewarned it was LOUD!!   There was tons of gun fire and cannon fire as well.  
After the reenactment we hit up the train, which is an interesting and informative tour of the park.  There are some really gorgeous desert views and some great views of the park.
We went to the leather shop and Teenie make a stamped bracelet. We also visited the Lane house and Maggie Mine, were you go on a self guided tour of an old mine shaft. Then the kids took a picture when we got outside the mine (all of the pictures I took inside did not turn out,)  We ate lunch at the Old Miner's Cafe, then checked out R&D Fossils & Minerals shop.  We hit up the popcorn cart, the Sweet Shop and stood in line to pan for gold for so long that we almost missed our appointment to visit the Mystery Shack.  The kids were disappointed they couldn't pan for gold, but the Mystery Shack was the highlight of our trip!
The Mystery Shack was really cool but be forewarned that it will mess with your equilibrium big time, so you might experience some dizziness and nausea.  Try figuring out the science behind these "mysteries."  You will see some pretty neat stuff like a broom standing on end, balls rolling uphill and water running uphill as well.  The kids had a ball thanks to our fantastic tour guide Dano, who was great with the kids and very entertaining.

By the time we left we were very tired, it was a lot of walking in not very ideal situations, but I would definitely go again.  Next time I visit I will try to go during a "non-event day" where it is less crowded and admission is cheaper.  It is a small park but there is a lot of walking uphill, downhill and steep areas. I highly recommend bringing your own food and water (which like most places is very overpriced and kinda blah), and of course wearing comfortable shoes!  Calico is a great place to go if you are in the area, and makes for a fun but expensive, (there are a lot of really cool shops with lots of really cool stuff) educational family field trip.