Monday, June 3, 2013

Desert Oddity - Shaffer Fish Bowl - Route 66

I've run across a lot of odd things in the desert, right? Today's installment isn't just one of the oddest, it is one of my all time favorites as well.  It's called "The Shaffer Fish Bowl." I've spoken to many people who know a great deal about Route 66 and not a single one had actually seen it. I found the directions to it on the internet.  We went there in late March. I knew that photos wouldn't reflect just how isolated this place is. So, If you don't mind, please watch this very short video. I apologize in advance for my nasal sounding and spontaneous narration. 

I hope the feeling of pure solitude comes through in this video.

Route 66
Nothing as far as the eye can see. It's that way in the other direction as well.  Kingman Arizona is on the other side of the far mountain range. 

Shaffer Fish Bowl
The Shaffer Fish Bowl
Moss grows in the tank, the fish eat the moss and the spring keeps the tank full.  Add to that the fact that goldfish can live for up to and beyond 20 years under the right conditions. The can even survive under ice. I'm still thinking that somebody replaces the fish if they die.

The hike up to the spring is short, but kind of steep.  After checking out the fish bowl, I noticed that there was another trail leading around the rocks.

I'm no geologist, but I'm pretty sure that there aren't any square caves in nature.  I'm thinking that maybe this was going to be a mine shaft and was carved out by the same person who created the tank to catch water from the natural spring. It might have been Shaffer, or maybe he came along later. It's a mystery to me (for the time being anyway).

I always have to do this to show you how steep a drop off is.

The trail abruptly ends at that large rock. Another mystery.



  1. Great photos, but not finding any video link.

  2. Amazing! You all fin the most intriguing things to explore. The pic where you show how deep the drop off is made me gulp...

  3. Amazing view! And windy. Yes, I could hear it. Really wild someone put goldfish in that water - and that they are still alive.

  4. The Geezers - Thanks! I just tried the link a few times and it is working now. Never know about blogspot!

    Shelly - Thanks Shelly! This is one of my all time favorites. I have no idea when the fish were put here. I also have no idea who Shaffer is.

    Alex - Thanks! Goldfish can live for many many years. Even if the water freezes (to a point).

  5. Wow, I bet March/early spring is best time of year to go. I'm adding it to my list!

  6. Thanks for posting the video Pat. I do not recognize this area but I know I traveled it as a child with my parents as we took Route 66 every summer from California to Oklahoma. It's hard to believe that this was the major highway in the US...just two lanes. Love the photos too.

  7. You do find the most awesome places, Pat!! Love you captures today -- as always! Fascinating place! Hope your week is off to a great start! Enjoy!!!

  8. Loved the video, Pat---and enjoyed hearing your voice. Thanks!!!!!

    Great place.. WOW.. I cannot believe that fishbowl. Amazing....

    Thanks for showing us that great place to us... Gorgeous!

  9. That fish bowl is so amazing Pat!

  10. The view towards the mountains is so beautiful. I love that there is a spring there with goldfish! I remember the TV show 'Route 66' and I'm sorry the road is pretty well deserted. What fun it must be to drive it.

  11. wonderful and interesting post and photos, pat!

    thanks for sharing it.
    great views, too.

    have a lovely week ahead~

  12. Awesome Pat...I really enjoyed the video, it does give a better idea of the lonesomeness and isolation and mystery. I never really thought about still photos not showing those qualities to the best effect, because we've spent time in the desert and know what it's like (not as well as you do). But for people who've never been there, the video would really get the feeling across better!

  13. Now I see the video. Thanks.

    Some people find the desert landscape stark and intimidating, but whenever I see your photos, the feeling I get is one of spacious calm.

    I have to find an excuse to get back to your part of the world, while I'm still ambulatory enough to hike.

  14. That is a neat spring! Wonder if it was originally used for drinking water?

  15. Hi Pat, well your video says it all- you two are definitely in the middle of no-where USA.
    I enjoyed the uniqueness of the square cave and watering hole with fish included- go figure!

  16. I jumped from Brenda's blog just for kicks and have found you in my stomping grounds. Desert road trips and Route 66. My favorite city is Gallup NM. And some sweet motels left in Albuquerque.

    I want to go here. My favorite place to camp is on a tiny sliver of arizona after you leave Nevada headed for St George. It's in a gorge and it says rest stop but it's a full camp area. Like 2 bucks a night. Few take advantage. Great area to explore. Loooove. You have me in the mood

  17. Thank you so much for sharing this! So the fish are reproducing and not eaten by hawks. that's so interesting.

  18. You're crazy like my wife...standing on the edge of steep drop-offs. She did that once at the Grand Canyon ya know...freaked me out.

    What a desolate looking part of the desert...although I guess that is what a desert really is...desolate.

    How do you find these out of the way places?? Thanks for the trip, Pat.

  19. Breathtaking views, I love your pictures!Thanks for sharing this special adventure!

  20. So imagine how many other places there are like this? Someone spent time and money and it makes you wonder why and what happened.

    I like the video, cool idea.

  21. Goldfish?!! That was a surprise! I love "beautiful nothingness."

  22. great photos, Pat!Although I must admit - I think I'd be scared to be so far from any city or town ;)

  23. beautiful photos! I sort of like the adventure of a hike like that.

  24. You make us all want to become adventurers! Especially seeing those incredibly expansive, clear vistas, only possible where the air is so clean. The beautiful blue sky against the muted landscape is glorious!

    P.S.: Yes! Hsi Lai Temple! Can't believe I just recently found it...

    Happy Trails!!

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  26. Nasal?

    Heck no.

    You sound like a great tour guide!

    I totally want to go here...but I bet it's too hot now.

    I'm going to send this to my husband who tends to be my personal geographical guide.

    Head up to Ely Nevada one day soon.

    Man, that place is fascinating!

  27. We are totally on the same page in seeking out dying history.

    You guys are cool!

  28. I didn't think you sounded nasal. Not how I pictured you sounding though. I figured you'd have a gruff voice like Robert Duvall gargling acid (just kidding).

    I rather enjoyed the video and think you should do more. A nice accompaniment to the pictures. I will say the video doesn't do justice to the fish bowl the way that picture does. The picture just takes the reflection and makes it gorgeous.

  29. It's amazing how much of CA is desolate and, like you say, "beautiful nothing." It's great to hear your kind voice, Pat. This was fascinating.


  30. Now if it could have just been a hot spring, that fishbowl would have made a fine bathtub!

  31. Wonderful pictures, I like the desert, it reminds me a western!

  32. A pretty amazing sight Pat, you really will have to get back to us if you find out a bit more about the why's and when's of this area. It sort of reminded me a bit of the vast stretches of 'outback' here in Oz..minus that obviously well prepared road :) My vertigo tum also did a bit of a lurch at your 'standing on the edge' shot..the video was great to watch, more would be nice!

  33. Hey Pat-that is a really good report! Video and narration were good, you know, you ought to take Huell Howser's place...just saying!

  34. I have always wanted to drive Rt 66.

    For the time being I will live vicariously through your adventures.


  35. Oh wow, now that is steep. It's a beautiful place!! That fish bowl had me laughing. I'm impressed it still has water.

  36. If I was a goldfish, that is where I would want to live.

  37. I like enduring mysteries -- the Lost Dutchman's Mine, for example.

    Another great tour, Pat -- tip the guide for me, will you? Enjoyed the movie and sorry I spilled my popcorn. Also tip the janitor for me, ok? I'll pay you back when we catch up.

  38. Who can resist a mystery like this - what a great place.

    Another trip added to the bucket list.

    Thanks for the multiple comments and the email (I have replied)

    Cheers - Stewart M

  39. My stomach actually tightened when I saw your foot at the edge!

    The video gives me a feeling destitution but the photos give me the feeling of solitude.

  40. What a neat spot. Although we are on opposite ends of the western desert, I love it for its solitude, too. It's just fantastic to sit somewhere so devoid of humans and so quiet, you can hear the Earth hum. Great photos. Thanks for sharing the video, too.

  41. That is a unique place, I've never heard of it (not surprising). Nice shots of it - it does look like it's in the middle of nowhere. My wife would kill me if I took her to see something like that!

  42. Brenda's Arizona - More flowers during that time period, that's for sure! I'd like to see those orchids in bloom.

    becca - Thanks becca!

    Kay - My pleasure Kay! Crazy isn't it? I guess that is why John Steinbeck named it "the mother road." Thanks!

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! We sure try!

    Betsy - Thanks so much Betsy! I really don't like the sound of my voice. My pleasure!

    Brian - That's what I thought Brian!

    Belle - I also think that area is beautiful and it is a great drive. Route 66 was my favorite show for a while. I'm kind of torn about the road being deserted. I really do love the desolation of the desert, but I hate to see things deteriorate.

    Betty M - Thanks Betty! I'm glad you think so. It was my pleasure.

    Sallie - Thanks Sallie! I guess it's kind of like the Grand Canyon. Photos just don't really show how amazing it is. A lot of people don't understand why we like the desert so much. I guess you have to spend some time there to appreciate it.

  43. The Geezers - The quality of the picture sucked, but I'm glad you saw it. I think you hit it on the head; spacious calm... I like that. I hope you do make it out here some day. One thing that is kind of funny, is that some people think I live there. I actually live on the coast, but I'm drawn to the desert.

    Ms. A - Yep! Somebody built the tank to collect some of the spring water. I'm sure it was for drinking. It was pretty tasty when we were there!

    Pam - Hi Pam! In addition to how desolate it is, I think most folks would be shocked if they actually knew how much of the southwest is desert. I REALLY need to find out more about the history of that spot and when somebody added the fish.
    I do know one thing, goldfish can live for 30 years or more!

    Pasadena Adjacent - Thanks for jumping over! I've seen your name around as well. I'll be over soon. New Mexico has so many amazing things to see. Are you talking about the Virgin River Gorge? It's in the Arizona strip and might be the only camping place there. I love that area. Have you been to Snow Canyon? It's close to St. George.

    Seriously Though - It's my pleasure! The tank is under a natural overhang, so I'm thinking the hawks and other birds of prey can't see it.

    Chuck - Believe it or not, I'm not that good with heights. Yep, desolate is what it is. The Mojave (where this place was) is over 25,000 square miles and is the hottest and driest desert in North America. I find these places by doing a lot of research. Some are easy and some are very obscure. Some of them, we just stumble across.

    Leia - Thanks so much Leia! My pleasure.

    Wayne - There are a ton of odd things in the desert. I'd say they spent more time than money and I wish I knew the stories!

    Lolamouse - It sure was a surprise! I love it also.

    DEZMOND - Thanks so much! I think the hardest thing to get used to is the absence of noise. It might take a little time to get used to it.

  44. Carly - Thanks Carly! This one wasn't too bad. In the desert, you do have to be careful though because it's extremely isolated.

    Stickup Artist - I know that you already are an adventurer! I love that an object appearing to be 5 or 10 miles away, might be three or four times that distance. I love that temple. Most people who don't live in that area have no idea that it is even there.

    Mama Zen - Thanks so much! I totally agree with you!

    Anonymous - How in the heck did you get in here?

    Jenny - Yes, nasal! To me, I always sound nasal. Thanks Jenny! Yep, it's getting pretty hot I've been to Ely, but it's been a long long time. I do know that there are some interesting and odd things in that area. We'll make it up there sometime!

    Tim - I'd LOVE to sound like Robert Duvall! Even if he was gargling acid. Thanks Tim! I never thought about video before. If i was to do more, I'd need a better camera.

    Robyn - Thanks Robyn! You are so nice...

    Sage - HA! That's funny! I don't suppose the fish would like the soapy water!

    Leovi - Thanks so much Leovi! Many western movies were filmed in that desert.

    PerthDailyPhoto - Thanks! I will keep you posted if I find some more information. The road looks better in the photos that it actually is. They just keep patching up the cracks. Thanks for the nice words!

  45. MrMcFluke - Thanks for saying that. I liked the places Huell Howser went to, but he drove me crazy! He'd ask people questions and then pay absolutely no attention to their answer. I'll still take that a compliment though!

    Gingerspark - Get your kicks on route 66... I have much more to post and and much more to explore, so you will be living vicariously for quite a while.

    Amanda - It is beautiful! There is a natural spring that seeps out of the mountain. It keeps the tank full.

    PTM - Me too! They have everything they need!

    altadenahiker - Me too! One day, I'll find my fortune in the desert. I will tip myself, thanks! A little stingy though. Your tab is growing rapidly.

    Stewart - I sure can't resist it. My pleasure! I'll get to my email tomorrow... thanks!

    Icy BC - So did mine! Either way, it's a heck of a long ways from anything!

    Mary - It sure was! You are right! It always surprises me that so many people have no idea that Oregon has a desert. I so totally agree with you about the silence of the desert. It's so peaceful. My pleasure, that's for commenting.

    Al - Very unique! I'd say the desert is an acquired taste. HA! Thanks Al.

  46. So cool Pat. I've been through Kingman a dozen times but if I ever drive by again, I'm going to that fish bowl. You always find the most amazing things.

  47. Kelly - Thanks Kelly! When you are ready I can give the exact location of it.

  48. Really enjoyed this post, Pat, and fabulous images! I like your way of showing the steep drop offs. Some things are so simple; now why did that not ever occur to me?! lol!

    Thanks for your visit and comment.


  49. I think that is the cave that John Carter went into when he was transported to mars.

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  51. I am so late to the party. Loved hearing your voice, I always get so excited when I can do that.
    The photos are stunning, I seriously want to go and visit your desert one day.
    Thank you for sharing

  52. I'd love to walk some of those trails, but I don't think I could go quite so close to the edge like that *shudder*

  53. Nice to hear your voice, Pat. You and your wife are lucky to share this passion for the desert. Not many people are very interested in what history has left in the dust.

  54. Lindy - Thanks Lindy! I'm not that fond of heights, but it seems like a good way to show how steep a place is. The comments are my pleasure.

    Budd - Well, he could have carved his initials into the walls of the cave, but he didn't!

    Magia - Thanks Magia! It was fantastic!

    Mynx - Better late than never! Thanks for saying that. I've done a few little videos like this, but never thought about posting them until this one. I hope you do visit this amazing place someday. You are welcome and thank you as well.

    mshatch - I didn't think I could either. It is interesting that I feel much less apprehensive on a steep trail than I do on a simple ladder.

    Rosemary - Thanks Rosemary! I am so happy that she likes these places. She really does like poking around these places.

  55. You really do have the most wonderful trips! I'm really fascinated by the canyons, etc in the US. Having only seen the Grand Canyon as a teenager back in 1980, I'd love to go back one day to discover some more!

  56. Now that's pretty neat -- to think the fish survive in such an isolated area without anyone feeding them. You're pretty brave to travel on such a road. Sounds like a great adventure.

  57. Liz - We do our best! The Grand Canyon is an amazing place and it's in the middle of an amazing part of the country. I hope you do make it back someday.

    Laura Delegal - The fish eat the moss that grows in the tank and the spring keeps the tank full. Goldfish can live for many years, so it's pretty self sustaining. I think I need to add this fact to the post! Thanks Laura!

  58. Nice to hear your voice Pat - be careful on those ledges!

    Yes, def man made that cave.

    Love the isolation and the mystery surrounding that place.

  59. Anthony - Thanks Anthony! I still cringe at the sound of my own voice. I'm not that good with heights, so I am always careful. Well usually I am.
    I also love the isolation out there.

  60. Yes I can imagine. I live in the city and hate it.

    I know how you feel about the voice thing, but there's nothing at all to worry about.


  61. our planet in the universe reminds me of that fishbowl in the desert. it's good to be a fish. :)

  62. Lovkyne - It's good as long as you are not at the bottom of the fish food chain!

  63. Thank's for the photos. I know the place well. My Navy buddy from Hawaii took me there while going to the casino from Kingman in 1981. We used to bring more fish to the bowl and make a party of it and camp at the remains Cool Springs when it was just the pillars and rock walls. What a party. Good times. I looked for it in 2013 but to no avail.

  64. Jericho Russ - My pleasure Jericho! Thank you for taking the time to comment. Next time you are going to look for it, drop me an email and I'll tell you where it is. Thanks again!

  65. Do you know if the fishbowl is still around? Our roadtrip is in July and I'd love to surprise my kids with this stop!

  66. Anonymous - The last I heard, it was still there. I'm sure your kids will enjoy it. Please let me know if it's still there, and what condition it is in. Thanks for stopping by!


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