This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

History adventuring from Phoenix, Arizona to Gila Bend

As long as I can remember, I've preferred roads less traveled. Just about everyone I've ever known has been mostly interested in how quickly they can get from place to place, and shortcuts. I have preferred what I call *longcuts*.

Yesterday I traveled the old road from Phoenix to Gila Bend. I based my journey on a 1917 description of what they called the Yuma Road from Phoenix. It really hasn't changed all that much. The road out of Phoenix is basically 19th Avenue to Buckeye Road, and then go west.

What really took me by surprise was the Old Highway 80, which crosses the Gila River west of the boring, modern 85. It's kind'a tricky to get there, but it's well worth it. I post old photos of Phoenix on a Google+ page, so I had some idea that the Gillespie Dam was out there, but not exactly where it is. Old Highway 80 crosses the Gila River, going east (!) on your way from Phoenix to Gila Bend. I stopped there to eat lunch and there was the amazing quiet that you only find out in the desert. The whole time I was eating my sandwich only a handful of vehicles passed by, mostly what looked to me like APS maintenance vehicles, a stray sedan, and motorcyclist, who waved at me.

In my professional life, as a graphic designer, I've always gone very fast, hitting deadlines, always rushing, and I love it. But once I get away from the computer, I travel slowly. I am still proud to say that I once drove from Los Angeles to Phoenix in four days.

Yes, eventually I got to Gila Bend yesterday. And yes, I ate at the Space Age Lodge Restaurant, and I bought a souvenir mug, which I am drinking coffee out of this morning. I stopped to take a look at the Stouts Hotel (which, uh, looks better from a distance). I looked around towards the Painted Rock Reservoir. Got out of the car just to stand under that gigantic Arizona sky, and to see the sweeping vistas of the mountains. OK, now I'm sounding like the Chamber of Commerce!

By the way, the longcut I took back was east through the town of Maricopa, then north to Riggs Road, west across the Gila River Indian Reservation, then north up 51st Avenue through Laveen back up to Glendale, where I live. If you ask me how long it took for me to get there and back, I understand, that's the question that people have been asking me all of my life.

1917 road out of Phoenix to Yuma

Post a Comment