[Sunday, November 11, 2007. 12:30pm]
I’m writing this as I sit in the second bench in our van, driving on I-10 toward Mesa, Arizona. We have the day off tomorrow, and then we have a show in Phoenix on Tuesday before we saddle up again and head off to California. For the past 600 miles, we’ve been driving through some amazing country. Mountains and rocks rise out of nowhere and then disappear, and at other times you can look to the horizon and see nothing to disturb the plains. It truly is a pretty wild west out here, but the scenery is incredible. This morning, we stopped at a rest stop in Arizona, which advertised itself as the home of The Thing (the mystery of the desert.) We paid our dollar to get into the museum, and it proved to be a private collection of various historical oddities. There were some amazing old cars to start off, including a 1939 Rolls Royce that is rumored to have been used by Adolf Hitler. We then moved into the wine press, telegraph machine, scales, dating from the 18th century, Chinese artifacts from even earlier, and what the signs claimed is the only example of a “Matchlock,” a type of rifle that seemed to be mounted for use on a fort. Then there was The Thing itself, what appeared to be a mummified Native American, placed inside a wooden coffin with a child. The trading post also had souvenirs and such, but we passed on them and got back into the van to continue our travels.
As we pulled out of the lot, we were discussing whether or not everything we had seen was real. It was a strange collection to be located in desolate Arizona and not in a museum somewhere, but we started talking about “collectors” who buy and find pieces like that and put them on display. Ultimately, I think we decided that all of the artifacts we saw were real and authentic, but the truth on them could have been stretched a little. I don’t doubt that we saw a real fringe-topped carriage from the 1860s, but I question whether or not it was the one used in Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration parade as the sign claimed.