Archive for the Ghost Town Category

Salton Sea, California Road Trip Part 1: Bombay Beach & Salvation Mountain

Posted in California, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on March 20, 2016 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  542,210


Odometer (ILX):  157,959


Trip Distance:  315 Miles


I have a not-so-secret fascination with abandoned places.  There’s something that pulls me in and makes me wonder, “Why’d everyone leave?”  For that reason, the Salton Sea in Southern California made its way onto my must-see list a long time ago, and I just this weekend got around to finally checking it out.  My friends Jason and James joined for the party.


Once a popular destination for tourists (“The Miracle in the Desert”), this is one lake that’s definitely not on anyone’s recreation radar anymore.  It’s more salty than the Pacific Ocean, and getting 1% saltier in each passing year because it has no outlet.  It’s still California’s largest lake and, a surprise to many, was actually created by accident.


For millions of years the Colorado River flowed through the Imperial Valley where the Salton Sea is located.  It’s at a low point in the region and positioned right over the San Andreas Fault.  Before 1905, the lake bed was mostly dry, but an engineering “accident” diverted gallon after gallon of irrigation water there for two full years before repairs were completed and the inflow stopped.  In that time, the lake bed filled up and even overtook some small towns.  The small influx of water that now makes its way into the sea is enough to keep its level current, though it’s anticipated the level will progressively get lower between now and 2021.


Today the Salton area has a certain allure to it for those of us who love off-beat destinations.  Where else can you find a banana museum, remains of a mobile home park, mud pots, and a giant painted mountain all in a day’s drive?  My road trip partners and I were determined to see what kind of stuff we could uncover.  After a hearty breakfast at Denny’s on Saturday morning, we departed from our motel in Indio and headed along Highway 111 which hugs the eastern shores of the lake.  We were in three vehicles:  my 2013 Acura ILX, James’ 2016 Chevy Malibu (press / loaner car), and Jason’s 2004 Mazda 6.


Sadly, the International Banana Museum – which really appeared to be no more than a convenience store with a little building attached – was shut down when we pulled up.  From the looks of the bars over the windows, it felt more like a prison of some sorts.  A typewritten note was taped to the front window stating that the hours were 12:00 p.m. to dusk, so I guess we missed that opportunity since it was only about 9:00 a.m.  At least it saved us the $1 admission fee.


We next visited the North Shore Beach & Yacht club, which sounds all sorts of classy, but it’s really not.  Maybe at one time it was.  Today it’s been restored – it’s a nice looking mid-century modern building designed by Albert Frey and originally built in 1959.  It was abandoned by 1984 and left to vandals and pillagers until a 2009 grant allocated some money toward the rebuild.  We peeked our heads in only long enough to see that were was a gymnasium and some sort of community center.


Random geography lesson:  Calexico is a town on the border with Mexico.  Its Mexican counterpart across the international line is Mexicali.  I like how they’ve mixed “California” and “Mexico” in the naming of those cities.  Another 25 or so miles down Highway 111, I hit the right blinker and led our threesome of cars onto “Avenue A” in Bombay Beach, California.  In the 1950s and 1960s, Bombay Beach was a popular resort destination, even called a paradise.


But that all changed within the first couple of decades as the ecosystem changed and the quality of the water deteriorated.  People departed en masse by the 1990s as dead fish washed up on the beaches.  While pretty from afar, the beaches are no place for sunbathing.  The water is dirty and it smells about like you’d expect it to.  The few residents who remain live in trailers and must keep to themselves, since we didn’t see a single soul out and about in any yard.  Our drive took us down to 5th Street where we proceeded to make a loop – or square, rather – around the entire town.


Our attention was quickly drawn to the ruins we were passing.  There were abandoned homes lining the street with elaborate graffiti paintings all over them.  I backed the ILX into one driveway of a home that looked almost move-in ready.  NOT.


We drove up over a dike and to the beach which had a wooden boat on a stand.  The water’s edge was littered with dead fish and the flies were abundant. Allow me to introduce my new boat:  “Miss Take.”




I decided we should stop for a soda at the Bombay Market and that was a cultural experience in itself.  Talk about a one-stop shop.  I found the 7-Up I wanted, but what surprised me was the variety of other stuff available.  “Step right in to the gift shop area,” said a sign.  But there was no separate area.  It was just a single shelf.  There were T-shirts for sale with the logo “Living In Paradise.”  Surely out of sarcasm, right?  Maybe not!  A woman in a straw hat behind us in the check out line had nothing but raves to say about the town.  “I just came from Indian Wells and it’s the most stuck-up place I’ve ever been,” she said.  “Bombay is at the complete other end of the scale.”


We made one more pass through the center of town, make sure to note that the bar there, “Ski Inn,” is the lowest bar in the western hemisphere.  That must be due to the fact that Bombay Beach is America’s lowest elevation community, at 223 feet below sea level.  (Reminded me of when I visited the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin in Death Valley).  I was ready to move on so we hit Highway 111 to our next wacky destination near Niland, California:  “Salvation Mountain.”


So here’s the scoop on Salvation Mountain:  A guy named Leonard Knight spent his lifetime dumping buckets of paint onto a hillside in the barren desert, creating both a living space for himself as well as a religious statement for all who pass by.  The site is absolutely vibrant with colors and covered in Bible verses and Christian sayings.  “God Is Love” is a recurring theme.


A yellow-brick (but not really brick) path leads up a stairway to the cross perched atop the tallest portion of the site.  We took a walk through the area and noticed that people had been leaving keepsakes of all sorts in different rooms – driver licenses, student ID cards, photographs. The construction method for Leonard’s creation was similar to the way the Navajo Indians built their hogans – hay bales and straw were the main building materials.  The place reminded me a little of Phoenix’s Mystery Castle.


Knight spent the last years of his life in a long-term care facility for dementia, and he died in 2014, but the site lives on thanks to volunteers who staff it daily.  Oh, and they are taking donations of latex paint if anyone has a gallon or two to spare.

Thanks for joining for this first part of the trip.  Come back for the second half next time!

More pics here.  First, a pit stop in Quartzsite at the Tyson RV & Mobile Home Park, with my road trip snack essentials.


Dinner on Friday night at Mario’s Italian Cafe in Indio with James & Jason


Jason checking his oil in the 187,000 mile 2004 Mazda 6 on Saturday morning pre-departure.


Int’l Banana Museum sign


Your $1 entry fee is refundable if you make a “purchace.”


NSBYC:  North Shore Beach & Yacht Club.  A lot more exotic sounding than it really is.


Looking southbound on desolate Highway 111 along the eastern shores of the lake.


Graffiti in Bombay Beach:  “Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter.”


Needs a little TLC, but a great fixer-upper.


I hope this graffiti isn’t some sort of gang sign that could get me in trouble (Leif, if you’re reading this, I’m thinking of you!)


The ILX looking over Salton Sea.


Garbage and dead fish all over the place.


Jason and James


Perfect for a swim, no?


T-shirts in the market


Entrance sign to Salvation Mountain


Painted truck at Salvation Mountain


More very soon!

Saturday Drive to Greenlee County: Town of Duncan, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on December 20, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  540,423


Odometer (ILX):  149,872


Trip Distance:  481 Miles


Come back with me to 1883 today.  About 5 miles from the New Mexico state line lies a community that I’ll introduce you to.


Duncan’s story mirrors that of so many other small towns of the Old West:  Mining origins, bustling and prosperous earlier years, and a steady decline from then onward.  Today, the 696 people who live there are hearty.  After all, they’ve survived two devastating Gila River floods that nearly wiped out the entire town, not to mention a widespread fire.  To top it all off, the main highway through town – once a critical east-west thoroughfare – was bypassed about 30 miles to the south by Interstate 10 in the 1950’s.  Duncan was left high and (not so) dry for the next several decades.  It’s a small town in every sense: The people all know one another.  Traffic lights are non-existent.  And the locals look at you with a raised eyebrow and ask, “You came to Duncan, why?” if you tell them you’re visiting.



It seemed only fitting that before visiting Duncan, I visit Dunkin (Donuts).  So, I grabbed a bagel and beverage in Scottsdale around 7:30 in the morning before beginning my journey.


My day started out eastbound on US Highway 60 on a voyage back in time.  By the time I’d driven 100 miles, I’d already passed through a half dozen teeny little towns that were past their prime:  Places like Miami, Claypool, and Globe that survive – barely – on the mining industry thanks to nearby Freeport McMoRan copper extraction operations.  I stopped just a couple of times for photos at abandoned sites and to explore some back alleyways with their boarded-up windows and rickety looking exteriors.  I also stumbled across a collection of four 1950’s Lincolns tucked away on a side street, some in better condition than others.



In Globe, I cut to Highway 70 and continued heading toward New Mexico.  I rolled on a two-laner through the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation which covers 1.8 million acres in eastern Arizona.  No reservation would be complete without a casino or two, and I exercised restraint by not stopping at the Apache Gold Casino Resort, lined extravagantly with palm trees that looked very out of place in this barren landscape.  I also was tempted to make a stop at the “Rock-A-Buy” rock shop on the roadside, but decided to press on.  I arrived in Duncan at 11:58 in the morning, just in time to pull my Acura ILX into Bart Tipton’s Saloon – long since boarded up – for a photo next to a 1950’s Chevy fire truck that probably hasn’t moved in quite some time now.



Church bells rang out the 12:00 hour, and I received a wave from a woman on the patio of the Riverfront Lounge across the street.  She was probably mumbling to herself, “Damn tourist.”  I think I had the only vehicle in town newer than about a 1990 model year.  Jason arrived not long afterward in his well-traveled Mazda 6 sedan and we dined at the only place available for lunchtime grub:  Tumbleweed Cafe / Patio / Lounge at 206 Old West Highway.  Jason and I had work to do:  The purpose of our meet-up was to lay the preliminary ground work for a 2016 Alaska drive we’ll be taking together next May.  It’s now been 10 years since my dad and I took a similar 7,500-mile round-trip drive to Fairbanks and back in my Legend, and I’ve been wanting to go back.


The Western Burger hit the spot while Jason and I took a detailed look at timing, destinations, and budget topics for our Alaska trip.  You’ll see coverage of that adventure in its entirety next year, and I’m excited to take you all along for the ride.  Our very young waiter made a fuss at the cash register when we went to pay the bill for lunch.  “You guys had to wait awhile; I’m going to take 10% off your bill,” he said.  I told him not to worry about it.  The total for our meals was only $20, and we’d been busy chatting it up about Alaska, anyway.


Duncan was the perfect meeting point for our Saturday drive because it represented a 3.5 hour one-way drive for me and a 2.5 hour drive for Jason.  We took some time to explore the town – or what’s left of it – now that we were well-fed.  A few blocks west of the restaurant lies a concrete platform that was once home to a railroad station.  A drive down “East” Street (which is more gravel than paved) reveals older homes that have clung to their foundations in spite of the floods that came through the area, as well as empty lots where not-so-lucky homes used to reside.  We got a few looks from locals who were setting up for an outdoor picnic of sorts in their front yard.


Next we rolled up to a park that at one time was probably the pride of the town.  In 1998, a jet fighter plane was perched on top of a hill just south of town in recognition of the men and women of the Armed Forces who had served from the Duncan area.  Today, the park is in a sort of disrepair.  The adjacent swimming pool looks like an algae breeding ground, and the landscaping looks like it hasn’t seen much attention in awhile.  Still, we got a good overview of the valley from there and the winding Gila River in the distance.


Our last stop was at Germaine’s Emporium, an elaborate collection of antiques, toys, books, and just general “stuff” right on the main highway.  There were only two other customers there – locals, I think.  Jason and I walked through the series of 5 or 6 rooms that were crammed with artifacts on shelf after shelf.  I didn’t have cash on hand (shame on me), but Jason loaned me $1.40 so I could buy a cute little hardbound New Testament that was probably 100 years old.

It was time to split ways, so I said farewell to Jason and we headed in opposite directions on the Old West Highway.  I looped home via an alternate route – interstate this time, instead of back roads.  The I-10 experience is far less interesting but also far less involved than going through all the little towns on US 70 and US 60.  I set my cruise control at 78 miles per hour and whizzed through Willcox, Benson, and Tucson on my way home, arriving just in time for a Saturday night out with friends.  Enjoy the rest of the pics below!

Morning visit to Dunkin Donuts on Hayden Road in Scottsdale


Abandoned building in Miami (Arizona, that is)


Traveler Hotel in Miami.  I think it’s closed, but that’s just a guess.


Who can identify the year of this Pink Lincoln?


Roadside abandoned service station on US 70


Restroom facilities are long-since left to ruin


Even Keen’s “Fort Thomas” Store was shut down, with a lonely dry gas pump out front


Pictured here is the Simpson Hotel in Duncan, built 101 years ago and still in operation today.


Some of the other cars around Duncan, including a decent-shape 1985 Honda CRX.


One-stop shop!


Exploring a dirt road up a canyon south of Duncan, until I got to a No Trespassing sign


Owner will finance!  Should I buy some property in Duncan?  Fixer-upper, for sure.


Rock church in Duncan


Lunch is served.  And the curly fries were better than the ones at Arby’s!


Elevated concrete platform where a train station used to reside


Kool Spot RV Park and its elaborately painted (not) sign


View of Mount Graham as seen from US Highway 191 between Safford and Interstate 10


And finally a sunset as seen while stuck in bridge construction traffic on I-10 near Benson last night


Thanks for joining!

Here are a few other fun links to take a peek at today.

Have a great week, everyone.

Weekend Roady: Wedding in Salt Lake City, Utah

Posted in Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip, Utah on April 20, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  123,150


Odometer (Legend):  533,182


Trip Distance: 1,454 Miles


11:10 p.m., Saturday night.  Intersection of 600 West and 100 South.  Dark alleyway near the train tracks.  It felt like a horror movie in the making already.

I took the driver’s seat of the ILX, pushed in the clutch, and punched the “START” button.  Something seemed off.  The exhaust sound – it was louder than I’d anticipated.  My ears were drawn to the back of the car.  Slowly I turned around to look over my right shoulder.  Glistening in the moonlight were hundreds of pieces of broken glass, and wide open to the outside air was my right rear window – or what used to be my window.  I’d just been a victim of vandalism.


Back outside the car (with it still running and headlights now turned on), I walked around to assess any potential body damage, but didn’t find any.  My next thought – was anything missing?  I reached for the trunk release button and opened it up.  My laptop computer and suitcase were still in there.  At this point, a microscopic feeling of relief crept in.  I debated about calling the police right then and there – but, what good was a police report going to do in a city 700 miles from home?  I already knew I’d be out of pocket a few hundred bucks for a new window regardless.

It wasn’t until I got a few blocks away, sitting at a stop light on West Temple, that the thought dawned on me:  MY WORK LAPTOP.  I had two computers in the car.  The second one had been sitting on the floor in its black bag behind the passenger seat of the car.  Gone.  At that point, mind racing, I did dial 9-1-1.  The operator calmly told me I’d need to submit the police report online.  So, instead of continuing on to have a good time with my friends, I went back to where I was staying and got on the SLC PD website to fulfill that action immediately.  What a night.


The rest of the weekend more than made up for that horrible incident, but I will forever remember the night of April 18th and the 10-hour return drive from Salt Lake City to Phoenix with no right rear window the following day.  Thankfully for most of that stretch, I was on Interstate 15 southbound with its 80 mph posted speed limits so it went by quickly.

My 1,400-mile weekend trip’s purpose was to attend the wedding reception of my cousin Kelsee who got hitched at the Salt Lake City Mormon temple.  Along the way, I made a bunch of special visits that broke up the trip and made it memorable.  The first place I had to check out was the teeny town of Holden, Utah off Interstate 15.  I knew Holden wasn’t going to be of any great size when I saw the “NO SERVICES” sign attached to the exit sign on the offramp.


Sure enough, it’s a quaint farm town with a couple of boarded up stores and probably a higher population of livestock than human beings.  The town was established in 1855 as a Mormon pioneer settlement.  A sign at the entrance to town states the following about the people of this community:

Residents of Holden still radiate the enduring qualities bequeathed them by their hardy pioneering ancestors:  thrift, perseverance, and a strong, abiding love of God.

My friend Chandler grew up in this community and just happened to be there, so I paid a visit to him and his family.  They certainly do radiate those qualities!



At Chandler’s recommendation, I again pulled off the interstate in Scipio, Utah about 15 miles further north on the interstate.  Originally settled in 1859, Scipio has never really ‘boomed’ but rather lingered in the population range from 300 to 500 people in the last 150 years.  Today, the main street – “State” – has an antique store that still looks to be in business.  A couple of other buildings are most decidedly NOT in business.  I positioned the ILX in front of a couple abandoned gas stations for pictures.  Those old pumps are my favorite.


After lunch with my dad & stepmom in Salt Lake, I visited my friend Branson and rode around his neighborhood at a whopping 10 miles per hour on a Yamaha golf cart. I also took a peek at Branson’s 164,000-mile 1995 Acura Legend LS coupe 6-speed.  He takes great care of it.  Branson and I originally met through a Legend enthusiast forum in 2003.


Branson and I decided to take his nieces and nephew for a mini road trip in the ILX to Herriman, about 7 miles away.  There, we checked out a 2,800-square-foot home that was built in 2011 and modeled after the feature home in the 2009 Pixar movie “UP.”  However, unlike the home in UP, this one didn’t levitate with balloons!  It sure did stand out, though, amidst all the monochromatic, cookie cutter homes surrounding it.

Here’s what the Pixar movie house looks like:


And the real deal:


My cousin’s wedding reception was a top-notch affair at the Ivy House on 600 East in downtown Salt Lake.  It was great to reconnect with friends and family members there.


The randomest thing of all was when I ran into my grandparents at a gas station in Beaver, Utah on the way home.  I ended up following grandpa’s white 2000 Toyota Avalon the rest of the way to their home in St. George, about 100 miles away.


As for a conclusion to the dramatic opening story:  My employer issued me a new laptop computer within 2 hours of my workday today, and my ILX goes in tomorrow morning for a $349 rear window replacement at Safelite so all will be well soon.

Thanks for coming along for the trip!  A few more pictures are below.

Chandler’s family’s backyard with garden in Holden, Utah


Entrance sign to Holden at the north end of town on Main Street


Antique store on State Street in Scipio, Utah


Sign back to Interstate 15 from State Street


Another abandoned service station in Scipio


Location of that service station – intersection of State & Center


Loved this old pump


Lunch with dad & stepmom (and friend Jeremy) in Salt Lake at Cheesecake Factory


Shot of the “UP” house in Herriman


Love the Wasatch Mountains!  It was a perfect weather day.


Springtime is in full swing in downtown Salt Lake.  Here I was parked just outside the Ivy House reception center.


Fueling up next to mom & Todd in their 2010 Volkswagen EOS in Nephi, Utah


Urban Exploration: Beeline Dragway

Posted in Arizona, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on May 21, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,551


Odometer (ILX):  79,709


I’m not usually one to trespass.  I’m a clean-cut, straight-A-student kind of guy.  But deep down inside of me, I’ve always liked exploring buildings that are off-limits.  I guess part of the thrill is that of potentially getting caught.  One of my favorite adventures recently was exploring an old deserted ghost town called Modena, Utah in fall 2012.

For 5 years now, my weekday afternoon commute has taken me through the Salt River – Pima Indian Community.  Daily I’ve passed within 50 yards of this looming 3-tiered abandoned structure south of the Beeline Highway, but I’ve never taken the time to dig deeper — until yesterday.  I decided to finally see if it was even possible to access the building.  I hit the brakes in the ILX and took my next left-hand turn.  Just before entering the driveway of an abandoned double-wide trailer, I veered onto a one-lane dirt road and pointed the car toward the concrete building to the east.


I could tell that the road at some time was paved, but decades of aging had returned it almost completely to earth.  I dodged a couple of huge potholes.  Soon, I saw that the square building had a 10-foot-tall chain link fence all the way around it (and barbed wire looped around the top).  Except, there was an opening just wide enough to drive through.  It was too tempting to resist.


I pulled the ILX into the fenced-off area and hopped out for a few pictures.  One step out of the car and noticed the pavement was glistening in the sunlight.  “Crap,” I thought.  The entire ground was absolutely covered in shards of glass from broken bottles.  I was hoping my Michelins would hold on.  And they did.



I hurriedly took a couple of shots with my cell phone since my Nikon was at the house.  The north end of the building at the ground level was totally open, so I peeked inside.  Elaborate graffiti artwork adorned every surface, and a few stray pieces of garbage at the far end of the room were probably someone’s furniture at one point.  I didn’t take the time to climb the staircase and view the upper floors of the building, but I’d like to go back – and armed with a better camera.



So what is this place?  Its history dates back to 1963 when it was known as the Beeline Dragway.  It was opened that year as a 1/4-mile drag race track.  In those days, races were held on Saturday nights in the summertime and on Sundays in the winter – with some cars hitting speeds up to 200 miles per hour.



The raceway has been closed since 1975 when the lease expired with the Indian community.  It has since been replaced by larger, much more modern facilities elsewhere in the valley including Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) and Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.  Unfortunately, today there’s not much left of the Beeline Dragway.  Some 40 years after its closure, the only memory of Beeline that still stands is this graffiti-tagged main building.



Here’s an overhead view of the area.  Beeline Highway is along the top, with the lone building in the center of the screen as the structure which I entered.  The track itself extended horizontally toward the east from the main building.


I like to think about what the reaction would have been if, 50 years ago, I pulled up at Beeline Raceway in a 2013 Acura ILX.  For the 12 years that it was open, this building was witness to the height of the muscle car era.


I found this really neat video from 1969 when the Beeline was at its heyday.

Thanks to D25 reader Ryan for sending me this pic of his TL arriving in his home state of South Dakota.  Nothing like a little road trip to kick-start the summer.


And a huge congratulations to our Italian reader, Francesco, on hitting an impressive 320,000 kilometers in his Fiat!


Thanks to all of you who continue to share your milestones with me.  Keep ’em coming.

ILX + TL Photoshoot: Silver Bullets

Posted in Arizona, Ghost Town, ILX, Reader's Ride on March 16, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  529,008


Odometer (ILX):  70,444


Greetings, fellow roadtrippers.

I decided to break in a new (to me) Nikon D90 camera and get a few sunset pictures of my ILX and a friend’s TL on Friday night.  You first met Devan and his 2006 TL back in October.  The TL is equipped with the Tech Package and finished in a brilliant Alabaster Silver paint.  We think my Silver Moon ILX paint may be just a tiny bit lighter in color than the Alabaster.  Devan’s car has 81,000 miles on it and runs great.  These pictures were taken at Papago Park near the Tempe / Phoenix border.


In the background is “Hole in the Rock” — an area where visitors can hike up to a natural sandstone opening in the rock and admire the view.  After eight years of living in the PHX area, I still haven’t hiked that.


Devan and I both have the ‘Agriculture’ vanity license plate option on our Acuras.  Its black & white design compliments a silver car well.


You may notice that Devan has also done some subtle updates to the nose of his TL with some Plasti-Dip treatment on the front grille.


A closer look:


Face-off.  For having debuted a full 10 years ago, the 3rd generation TL design still looks modern today.


Nice looking pair of Acuras.  I wonder how long it’ll take me to pass Devan up in mileage?


As a professional detailer, Devan takes great pride in keeping his Acura immaculate.  Follow his work on @dnaautodetailing on Instagram or on his Facebook page.  Just view that interior:


Now, usually when I post interior pics, I crop out door jambs because they are unsightly and dirty.  I intentionally left Devan’s pictured here because they are JUST SO CLEAN.


It was a great Arizona evening.  We are blessed with great sunsets nightly.


Finally, a couple of solo shots.  I do love those LED tails on the TL.


The ILX had received a bath, too, so it was looking rather nice in the evening light.


Thanks Devan for meeting up!  Keep rolling that beautiful TL.


This weekend I’ve got family in town and I stuck around the Phoenix area.  My cousin Logan plays for the Williston State College Tetons baseball team, based out of Willison, North Dakota.  I went over to watch his team play a game at Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Saturday.


Perfect weather for a ballgame!


With uncle Dart and aunt Wendy.


I also did a bit more urban exploration.  Many of you will remember last April when I took a drive on Gates Pass in Tucson, Arizona and visited Old Tucson Studios.  On the way back from that trip, I stopped an abandoned Nickerson Farms Restaurant in Picacho Peak, about halfway between Tucson and Phoenix.

April 14, 2013 – Notice the roof of the building still intact, despite having been out of operation since 1979.


March 15, 2014 – The entire red roof of the building has now collapsed and the building is taped off with caution tape.  The entire surroundings are covered in “No Trespassing” signs (unlike last year) so I didn’t dare take a peek inside this time.


Another look from the front of the building


And looking from the south side


If it has to do with abandoned buildings, ghost towns, or anything of that sort, you know I’m interested!  Just point me in the right direction and throw me a camera.

Photoset: 2013 Acura ILX in the Arizona-California Desert Corridor

Posted in Arizona, California, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on March 8, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  69,800


“We seem to have a problem.  We’re running low on petrol.”  These words were spoken to me yesterday in broken English from a French tourist who had honked the horn of his white rental car to get my attention.  I’d been minding my own business getting some quality sunset shots of the ILX at an abandoned service station when my focus was interrupted with a horn honk that nearly sent me jumping sky-high.

Unfortunately for my fellow traveler, Interstate 10 is a lonely place when it comes to services.  The station we were standing in front of had been shuttered for easily a few decades.  The metal Chevron pumps out front looked like they belonged in a museum somewhere – weathered examples of a motoring era years in the past.

“Well, you’re 40 miles from Blythe to the east,” I told him, “and probably 20 miles from Chiriaco Summit to the west.”  As the sun continued to dip lower on the horizon, I could sense the urgency in his voice as he debated his options.  I encouraged him to continue toward Blythe.  His Nissan Versa couldn’t possibly need more than a gallon and a half to go those 40 miles, right?  I now wonder if he was able to make it.

Today I’ll share a few of the pictures from my drive toward California yesterday in the 2013 Acura ILX.


First up, how could I have passed by this roadside attraction so many times in the past and never stopped to appreciate it?  A stagecoach stop that bears my own first name.  Located in Quartzsite at the far western end of Interstate 10 in Arizona, Tyson’s Well dates back to the 1870s and provided traveler accommodations.


Just down the road, the Tyson Mobile Home & RV Park greeted me with a larger-than-life sign with my name on it.


I’m ready to move right on in.


And finally, that fated location where my French friend pulled off the interstate in hopes of finding his petrol.  Well, he wasn’t going to find any at this 24-hour service station. In fact, I’m pretty sure this one was a “zero”-hour service station in Desert Center, California.  The pumps were long gone.


Down the road, the Family Cafe lingered as a memory of days gone by.  Miraculously, vandals have left the old fuel equipment alone and all the building’s windows remained intact.


Red, white, and blue.  These must have looked nice when they were fresh & new.


I could sure have gone for a gourmet meal, but I think the kitchen’s closed.


I suppose you could take a picnic lunch, though, since this old wooden table out front appeared serviceable.



Think they sold 91 octane here?



A bit further west down the old frontage road (which pre-dated I-10 by a long shot), I found a third abandoned station.  A skeleton of what was once the sign out front doesn’t give us any clues about the brand of fuel that was sold here.


I stepped inside for a look at the amenities.


Windows were broken out, but by golly, the view was stunning.  Better than the view from my office, in fact.  Maybe I could telecommute from Desert Center?


Great fixer-upper!


One-stop shopping.


The old wooden guard rails on this bridge could use a new coat of paint.



Nighttime took over as I continued westbound.

Come back tomorrow for a detailed look at one of the most eclectic car collections I’ve ever visited, in Palm Springs, California.   You’re going to want to see this!

ILX Drive: Castle Hot Springs Resort, Arizona

Posted in Arizona, Ghost Town, ILX, Road Trip on February 22, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  528,711


Odometer (ILX):  68,304


Trip Distance:  120 Miles


For a starting price of just $500,000, you can bid your way toward ownership of a 210-acre former resort in the remote desert north of Phoenix, Arizona!  Opened in 1896 as a relaxing getaway for dignitaries and the elite, Castle Hot Springs and its luxurious amenities thrived all the way through the 1950s and 60s.  U.S. Presidents Roosevelt, Wilson and Hoover were regular guests.


Here’s a postcard from the 1950’s.  Nice place, huh?


The hot springs themselves (yes, they do exist in Arizona!) produce some 180,000 gallons of water per day that’s between 118-120 degrees.  However, the resort has been closed since a December 1976 fire destroyed the main building.  At that time, the site was 40 miles from the nearest fire station, so assistance was too far out of reach.


The resort never came back to life.  In the 38 years since that fire, it’s changed hands a few times.  A year ago, the entire piece of property was up for grabs for $5.7 million.  This coming Thursday February 27th, an auction will determine its next owner.  Remote doesn’t even begin to describe it.  Circled in yellow (top left) is the resort location.


Here’s the aerial view of what the site looks like today.  Clearly visible is the white 125,000-gallon swimming pool.  Tennis courts are located to the left.


Despite the fact that the resort was closed and potentially even inaccessible, I was determined to make the trek in the Acura ILX today to see what this forgotten place was all about.  Having done a little bit of online mapping, I knew from Google satellite view that the road was unpaved for a long portion, but I read that conditions could be traversed with a passenger car if driven carefully.  Challenge: accepted.

I picked up two friends for the trip this morning:  Daniel, visiting from Charlotte NC, and Greg, a colleague from work.  Both are avid travelers and I knew they’d be good company.  We made our way toward the Carefree Highway and Lake Pleasant.  I was surprised to see only one sign for Castle Hot Springs as we exited the highway.  The rest of the drive we were winging it with what we thought was the correct route.  After we made it to the northwestern edge of the lake, the road turned to dirt.



For eight miles, I carefully weaved my way through the desert while stirring up a cloud of dust in the ILX.  Three of those miles were very especially rocky as the road followed the path of the riverbed, and I was lucky to have 6 inches of ground clearance to get around the obstructions in the road.  Finally as we rounded a corner, the palm trees of Castle Hot Springs came into view.  We’d made it!


To no surprise, the property was entirely fenced off with “No Trespassing” signs.  As the three of us chatted outside the gate about site, we were approached by two men who were walking up the road.  One of them began, “I’m surprised the caretaker isn’t already out here on her golf cart with a gun, running you guys off.”  Rough neighborhood, I guess!  As it turns out, this gentleman was a neighbor from down the road.  He said they’ve had problems with riffraff in the area – drugs, guns, killings, and (yes he really said this one) “people having lunch on our lawns.”   Basically, he’s trying to keep inquisitive people like us away.


He did, at least, give us some interesting info regarding the state of the property.  It’s been zoned as a residence instead of commercial property now, so the chance of it being resurrected as a desert resort oasis is slim.  The land is in fact being parceled out into sections.  The springs are still active (though another area shortly up the road where springs used to exist has since been “capped off” with concrete because it attracted too many troublemakers).  It’s really a shame more people aren’t able to enjoy the springs.  Check out the photos below from our adventure in checking this place out!

Heading toward Lake Pleasant Regional Park


And a right hand turn at Castle Hot Springs Road.  This was the last sign we’d be seeing for Castle Hot Springs.


15 or so miles later, we’d reached the end of the pavement.


Putting my tires and suspension to the test.


This notice stapled to the gate at the resort was in reference to the re-zoning effective 3/3/14


Scoping the place out as best we could from outside the white wooden fence.


Barn across the street


Here we are!


The yellow building that sits near the swimming pool appears to be currently inhabited.  A trailer is sitting on the tennis courts.


This is the driveway to the property.  I wonder what kind of cars drove down this road in the early 1900’s.


A bit further down the road, we found another palm-lined grassy area with a mysterious looking garage on the premises.  I have to wonder what’s inside there!


Just before making our turnaround to head back to Phoenix.


Sharing the road with some cows


I was surprised my Garmin GPS knew the name of the dirt road we were on


Back to civilization we went.  For more on Castle Hot Springs including a neat look at what the pools look like today, and some scans from a 1907 brochure/pamphlet, check out this website.


No road trip is complete without great food, so we grabbed burgers at Wild Horse West near the intersection of Carefree Highway and Lake Pleasant Rd.


They weren’t kidding!  This thing was pretty amazing.


I saw this range figure after a fuel-up earlier in the week.  I don’t know if the car is really capable of 500+ miles on a tank.  Has anyone with an ILX ever actually achieved that?


Also spotted another place I may have to check out sometime.


Have a great weekend, everyone!