On the weekend before Halloween, Rona and I made the trip up to Vegas for the Life is Beautiful Festival. We left on Friday morning and decided to make a few stops on the way to Sin City that we normally wouldn’t get a chance to when going with our other friends. Rona really wanted to go to the Calico Ghost Town, but before heading there, we dropped by Barstow for food.
I have memories of visiting the Barstow Station when going to Vegas with my family when I was a kid, but I haven’t been there since. Barstow Station is a common pit stop for tour buses that usually drop off their passengers to roam through the several gift shops and get something to eat at Panda Express or McDonald’s. The McDonald’s there is particularly special since it uses railway cars as its dining areas.
Less than twenty minutes away is the Calico Ghost Town, a former silver mining town that was founded in 1881 and restored by Walter Knott, one of the founders of Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s $8 admission per person and the ghost town was actually putting on its annual Ghost Haunt event when we visited. The town was decorated in various Halloween decor and some of the attractions were redone to fit the season. There were shops specializing in different crafts, like leather or wood, historical buildings featuring artifacts from the town’s mining days, and a short hike to a great view of Calico. Rona joked that there was probably a Starbucks, but lo and behold, there actually is a shop that sells Starbucks drinks.
There were three Ghost Haunt attractions and it was only $5 (I think) to experience all three once, so Rona and I decided that we should take advantage of that deal since who knows when we’ll be in Calico during Halloween time again. The first place we checked out was the Fear Shack, which is normally the Calico Mystery Shack during the rest of the year. Each section was decorated to play on different fears, such as clowns, bugs, and dolls. Since the floor was slanted, it also added some disorientation to the experience which was fun and a little troublesome, especially for Rona. Somehow, I still got scared, even though we were the only ones going through house. I could have sworn I heard something!
Next, we went to try some gold panning at Club Blood. We talked to this guy who has apparently been working at Calico for fifteen or sixteen years and he told us more info about his experience working there and about the mystery shack that we just visited. As he showed us the proper techniques to use while we searched for gold, he kind of lamented the fact that the water just looked like it was dyed red, when it was supposed to look more like we were panning in blood. You get one scoop and from there, you keep swirling your pan in the water as the heavier “gold” sinks to the bottom of the pan and the water pushes the lighter sand away. We got to keep our earnings in a small plastic bag, which was a cool souvenir.
The last of the trio of attractions was the Headless Horseman Hideaway, which leads you through Maggie’s Mine. Okay, this was also pretty scary. As you go through the mine, you get engulfed in darkness that at some points, all you see is black. Again, this place was scary without the monsters popping up to scare you. While going through the mine, I kind of wondered how that would even work because I am so sure that someone might end up getting hurt after getting scared from some guy in a mask.
Calico was a fun and interesting stop on the way to Vegas and I am glad that we didn’t pass up seeing it this time. After spending quite a bit of time there, we continued on our way!