It's day 2 as a San Diego travel blog.
Today I will cover some of the sights and "touristy" places we visited (or didn't) on the way over to San Diego from Phoenix.
Remember, I am not your average vacationer.
I am always looking for something off beat or different to do.
Yes, I am the guy peaking inside doors that say "do not enter" or creeping down narrow gangways between buildings to see what's on the other side.
Many times it's nothing exciting but every so often I get surprised.
So, what would a trip from Phoenix to San Diego be without a stop in beautiful (???) Gila Bend, Arizona home of the Space Age Inn.
Actually, it has been over 6 months since I have been through Gila bend (on our way to Rocky Point for Bike Week) and I was pleasantly surprised to see the town still breathing and actually expanding.
The main entry to the city on the South 85 has been newly renovated and is a startling contrast to the rest of East Pima Street which it soon becomes.
From an architectural standpoint the Lodge is far more satisfying than the restaurant.
The lodge was first built in '62, partly because of the Zeitgeist, partly because of the Air Force / test pilot connection to the local economy.
It's well-run, and a blissful chunk of Roadside America.
The restaurant, on the other hand, is less George Jetson and more James T. Kirk.
The interior space of the restaurant has cool (the kids will love them) astronaut paintings which are renderings from NASA photos of Apollo and shuttle missions – maybe they are just a little too slick.
The bubble dome above the motel check-in counter was worth a quick peek with its murals inside as well.
I guess this all burned down in the late 90's so all of the original "kitsch" which I always long to see has been replaced with a more modern day "kitsch".
This stuff won't last forever, so I highly recommend that you spare a few minutes to stop here and check it out.
The service was attentive and after a very filling meal and a couple of cups of coffee we were back on the road.
I couldn’t tell if it was open and operational or not. There were cars in the parking lot but it was just too damn hot to cross the street and check it out.
From research, it appears to be closed to the public.
It was originally built in the late 20's and I bet the interior is a treasure trove of antiques and Wild West memorabilia.
I sure wish they would start a renovation of this motel.
I've heard it will be 3 miles wide by 3 miles long.
I read that there will eventually be 5 different solar fields near Gila bend.
Good for Arizona…they are finally realizing that the sun shines here and offers an environmentally safe energy source.
Once you pass the solar farm it's pretty much wide open spaces until you get near Yuma.
Interstate 8 is considered by many the most boring highway in America.
That's pretty cool in itself I think.
Dateland – We didn't stop here and it's only mentioned by default because it's the only frigging place that looks like it has human inhabitants in the middle of this vast desert wasteland.
But, that makes it interesting and here's what I know about this tiny central desert community…it gets really hot here…worse than Phoenix.
Dateland has three things of particular interest: a gas station , clean rest rooms, and date shakes.
The date palms thrive in the heat and so does the little mom-and-pop shop that makes date shakes, it being the only business establishment this side of the horizon.
And how did Dateland get its name?
Date palms were brought in from Morocco or some other hot Islamic nation and planted there in the 1960s.
Hence the apt name, because there were certainly no dates or palm trees there naturally. NOTHING is there naturally.
Hey, we were going to San Diego, remember? What would you rather do, visit an old building in the desert or get to a beach and cold beer?
Anyway, the Yuma Territorial Prison only operated for 33 years - but that was long enough to etch a fearsome reputation into the history of the Old West, a legacy that lives on in movies like "3:10 to Yuma."
Authorized in 1875 with a construction budget of $25,000, the prison opened in July of 1876 when the first seven prisoners were locked into cells they'd hacked out of the granite of Prison Hill with their own hands.
Haunted? Perhaps ... no executions took place at the prison, but 111 persons died while serving time, and are buried on the grounds.
Despite its reputation, the prison was a model institution for its time -- and because it boasted electricity, running water and flush toilets.
Some Yumas even called it "The Country Club on the Colorado."
Now a national recreational area, this natural sand box acts as a magnet for off-road enthusiasts in all but the hottest months and welcomes more than one million visitors every year.
Just 20 miles from Yuma, the dunes also have served as a movie location since the silent-picture era.
Movie makers first filmed here in 1913, and pictures have been made here in every decade since, including "Star Wars" and more recently, "Jarhead" and "Scorpion King."
I wish we had stopped to visit but I couldn't find this place.
The Plank Road outside of Yuma, used mostly in the early 1900's is one of the most notable, if not unusual US highway artifacts.
To visit a surviving portion of the Plank Road exit I-8 at the Gray's Well.
While it may seem crude by today's standards, the Plank Road was a marvel of modern engineering during its time.
It went across the "Algodones" sand dunes, located in the middle of one of the hottest places on earth - the very arid (cough, cough) desert of the Imperial Valley.
I watched a video about the road at the Automobile Museum in Balboa Park in San Diego.
Basically, there is nothing more to see until you get close to San Diego.
Go ahead and send me any interesting stories you have about Gila Bend, Yuma or the beautiful Interstate 8.
Tomorrow we'll pick this up again in San Diego.
Thanks for joining me.