Plank Roads, Ghost Towns and a weekend Road Trip

When its hot down here, you have to make the most of the weather you have.  It was too hot to ride the 600 miles I wanted to see, so I took the car.   Scout the perimeter, I thought… I can always ride it later.    I don’t mind re-seeing a thing.

a couple of months ago I was able to bust out and go scout that perimeter.   I’m a bit behind on my blogging, life being what it is, so this report is a bit late.

Road trips being as they are, I had some time on my hands, so I made a video introduction for this one.

The best  road trips always come with a loose destination in mind.   Most of what I find turn out to be my favorite trips are what I find a long the way, not what I set out for.  You don’t even really need a great destination, you just have to have some curiosity and a willingness to explore.    If you have that, you can always find something good.    I headed south, toward Yuma to the territorial prison.

Ever seen 3:10 to Yuma?   I watched both the original and the remake the day before, just for shits and giggles.  I wanted to get a little sense of the place.     They’re both pretty good.



I spotted this as I was heading out of town —a Maricopa County railroad water tower. You can’t move things on rails without a lot of water. Rusty, Riveted and old — Pretty cool.

I hit highway 8 toward San Diego.   Yuma was my next stop, and the Yuma territorial Prison.   Yuma is pretty cool;  as I came into town the streets were named after fallen police officers Veterans who’d served in WWI and WWII.    People that needed to be remembered…. Very cool.

To the left is the guard tower, to the right in the original prison entrance.


The original prison entrance took in its first inmate on July of 1876. It served the area for 33 years, when Arizona was just a territory.


Message received; Just go to work.   Yuma didn’t like you being a Bum.


From 1867 to 1909, over 3,000 prisoners walked here.


Where you served the hardest time.


The Isolation ward was  carved out of the side of a stone hill.


Yuma Territorial prison is now a historical museum, after closing its doors in 1909.

I left the prison to go check out the historic Yuma Downtown, and a bridge I’d spotted from the Prison hill;

in 1912, Arizona became a state about the time that Henry Ford had made enough Model T’s and American’s were wanting to explore the continent. Crossing the Colorado river was a problem.   Before this, you had to cross the river by  ferry.      This was the first bridge that crossed the Colorado river, and was sold as the ocean to ocean highway.


I left Yuma, and crossed the Colorado river to make my way toward California.

Back in 1990,  I was a kid who was just discovering route 66 and set out to see what it was all about.   I went to Amboy California and bought a postcard of a 1 lane, wooden plank road from a man named Buster Burris, who owned Roys Cafe.    He told me some stories about route 66 back in the day that have always stuck  with me, and further fueled my desire to explore.    I’ve never seen a plank road before, and I’ve always wanted to.

The postcard that inspired my road trip


It’s still there:   A wooden plank road. Back in the early part of the 20th century, crossing the desert between Yuma and San Diego was a challenge. The solution they came up with to cross the sand dunes of Southern California was wooden Plank Roads.


A postcard, from back in the day

I crashed for the night and

I left, and headed toward the Salton Sea.


Gristons cafe. I gotta think they slung hash here, and knew their regulars by name.  Open 24 hours.

The salton Sea to be honest, was pretty underwhelming.    It’s a massive lake, the largest in California and was never supposed to be there, but a breach from the Colorado river filled the valley with water in the early 1900’s.     It became a resort town in the 1950’s, filled with Motels, restaurants and Homes.   As the lake has no outlet, it slowly started killing the fish, started to smell and the resorts died.

I showed up and checked them out, but the structures that were left were either collapsed or filled with Graffiti, and I lost interest and decided to start heading back to AZ.

Ehhh, bring a gas mask.
Places like Bombay Beach and Salton city are always cool until some dickhead vandal finds them.  They lose the vibe….

I’m always up for the Patton Museum, and headed for Chiriaco summit, just outside of Indo.   It was closed, but they look like they’re expanding it and doing a complete re-model.    I was ready to get home anyway, so headed down the 10 toward home.

A good road trip.


2 States; 637 miles; 2 days

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