Day 9: February 3, 2011
More Old US-80
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It's cold in southern Arizona. Not Frostbite Falls cold but cold enough. It reached 28 Fahrenheit in Gila Bend last night and I heard someone say that's the coldest it's been in ten years. Power was out for awhile over night and, although she wasn't entirely certain, the desk clerk thought it was intentional. The power company reported overloads somehow related to wind and had used rotating blackouts to keep from crashing the system. The themometer in the car read 35 when I pulled out this morning.

I headed east (technically north) to start today's westbound drive at the Gillespie Dam Bridge. The 1927 structure is showing its age but still works. No so the 1921 dam. It was badly damaged in 1993 and it seems doubtful that it will be repaired. Yes, I did take some pictures from the bridge but it was done in a most energetic manner. Nothing about it even remotely resembled loitering.

The helpful owl is at the 'Y' formed with Stout Road at the east edge of Gila Bend. It's for the benefit of east bound travelers so pretend I took the picture over my shoulder. The rest of the pictures show past and current lodging in Gila Bend. The first picture is of what look like almost matching buildings. One's in good repair; The other not. Perhaps the smaller building was the home of the motel owner. The Yucca looks reasonably well maintained and I'd probably be willing to spend a night there; After checking out a room, of course. Same thing with El Coronado nearer the other side of town. The Pay Less Inn doesn't look so good though I obviously can't say for certain. Stout's no longer operates as a hotel but the sign, touting air conditioning and steam heat, is a classic.

Though I'm not revisiting every place I stopped in 2003, I did head north to Painted Rock. It really looks like Arizona's supposed to along the cactus-lined narrow two-lane. There are quite a few people camping there right now. The website says October through April is the busy season. Eight bucks a night.

Starting several miles east of Dateland two parallel alignments of US-80 exist on the south of I-8. Reportedly even the older of the two, the south one, is partially drivable but I didn't try it. At Dateland, at least the grove of date palms that give it its name still stand.

This is where I met Luther back in 2003. I didn't stop this time but just snapped pictures as I drove by. No sign of Luther and no sign of the woodys. I hope he sold them and got to enjoy the money. I could be imagining it but the place looked a little depleted to me; Maybe picked over. The sign on the side of the truck reads
That's a pretty wide range.

I've been getting the occasional pointer from folks familiar with the area but some have been too late or I've not been able to take advantage of them for some other reason. Today I at least reached a couple of them. Josh Hisle turned me on to Fat Harvey's and it's a winner. A wall of TVs, a row of dart boards, and a pool table or two. They even had Buzztime Trivia but I didn't play. I had one beer but admit that was almost pushing it. Draft is served in 24 once mugs for $3.

I didn't get to try out the motel that Mike Ward recommended but it too looks like a winner. Mike called the Yuma Cabana "a great mom 'n' pop" and it's a crawlable half mile from Harvey's.

Gateway Park was dedicated (or perhaps rededicated - they mention renovations) in 2007. It provides a great place to look over the 1915 Ocean to Ocean Highway Bridge. After checking for loose bolts, just turn left out of the park and roll on over.

This is the adobe stage station near Araz Junction. It really doesn't look much different than it did in 2003 but I have to wonder how long an unsupported wall of dried mud can stand.

There wasn't much going on in Felicity, CA, when I stopped in 2003 but that wasn't the case today. The pyramid in Felicity contains the "Official Center of the World" as defined in Coe: The Good Dragon at the Center of the World which I still haven't read but I still intend to. For five dollars you get to stand on the Center of the World and make a wish and you get a certificate to prove it. You also get to watch a movie and get a brief guided tour. Then you are free to roam the public areas of Felicity at will. I've included photos both of and from the newly built non-denominational church on it's newly built hill. Some of this place seems silly, some of it seems grandiose, but it's all pretty cool.

The plank road replicas and remnants on Gray's Well Road are still much farther away from the park entrance than it seems they should be but they are still there. It's nearly 3 1/4 miles from the ranger station to the stone marker and there are no other signs that I've seen. I guess the fact that the display appears to be getting slowly covered by sand like the original does add some realism.

The last picture is from the western end of the middle-of-the-road rest area near Gray's Well Road. It's my understanding that some pavement from the old road is out there somewhere. I found nothing but was looking into the sun and didn't know what I was looking for anyway. I need to check my sources.

I'm spending the night in a town with a place called "Burgers and Beer". Of course I'm going to check it out. This isn't the original "Burgers and Beer" but it is the oldest of the four now operating. Good 'burger and an impressive selection of bottles but the draft offering was just a dozen of the usual suspects: Guinness, Sam Adams, and every light/lite/ultra imaginable.

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