One of the delights of rural America is the interesting population of a small town hours from any metropolitan area. The burbs do not cut it in comparison to the lifestyles of the residents of these very rural towns often less than 5000.
Gila Bend is one of those towns along the interstate in Arizona where weary travelers stop for a cold coke at the truck stop on the west end of town or at the restaurant about a mile down the road. Quite a few motels are situated along the strip and the best place to stay is the Best Western Space Age Motor Lodge.
This town was on my agenda to visit during the ten day vacation. In fact, I had planned on going out of my way to spend time here. It’s a tradition for me and there is never a time I travel through Arizona on Interstate 8 that I don’t stop by the restaurant for my tall iced tea and reuben. My mom and my grandparents always pulled in for gas and tea every time we took a road trip. I have stayed as an adult at the Space Age Motor Lodge and you can go HERE for my hotel review and interesting experience.
Not much has changed in Gila Bend since I was there in October 2004 with my cat. It remains in economic stagnation and there appears to be little growth. Everything closes at 9 except for Taco Bell at the truckstop. We discovered that many restaurants close earlier. The grocery store closes early too. I wanted to enjoy my favorite sandwich of all sandwiches and a coke a the restaurant and it was closed! It should close at ten since the hotel was full and people are still out at this hour.
Let’s talk about the grocery store. With an ice chest back at the motel, I went out about 8:30 in the morning to gather some groceries for our day trip. There wasn’t a car in the parking lot. It appeared to be closed. Behind the market is the post office which opens early. I bought stamps for postcards and mailed off letters and asked the clerk if there was a grocery store in town. She pointed behind her in the direction of the market and looked at her watch. “They might be open,” she said. “But the open at various times and I never know when to go over there.” I thanked her and drove back over to the parking lot. A man wearing an apron walked in and I parked and walked in with my list.
I asked about the museum and the clerk told me that he’s been friends forever with the curator and that I really should pay a visit. He carried on about mundane things in life as if I had all day. There was a middle aged woman who walked in and asked where I was from. She’s not been out of Gila Bend much in her life it appears.
The motel we stayed at was not the Space Age Motor Lodge as I had hoped, but was the Yucca Motel. I take risks when traveling and rarely, especially off season, make hotel/motel reservations. I’ve always been lucky. I was so unhappy when I discovered the “No Vacancy” sign on the door. This is a very special motel. Fortunately the Yucca was clean, small room, new bathroom, huge bed, but clean. And we had to leave a $2 deposit to get the remote control! The key was a key and not a card. I’ve been really out of the loop in the motel world.
Gila Bend is loaded with abandoned buildings that make perfect photo subjects. Unfortunately, getting in so late and having to leave for Yuma that day, we did not spend nearly as much time as I had hoped. But then my dear readers, when one spends the night in Gila Bend, one absorbs the mien of this most interesting little town know as the Crossroads of the Crossroads of the Southwest.
My story of the Space Age Motor Lodge 4 years ago is far more interesting.