The day was spent making the LONG drive from Tucson to San Diego, but cactus, a surprise find in Eloy, Dateland’s famous Date Milkshake, Yuma, and the Center of the World in Felicity still made for an interesting “travel day.” But the big news of the day is that Barbara Jane Gray Windsor, better known as Boz, Bozzie, or Bozzie Jane, has returned from granddaughter Madison duties in Atlanta. Mighty nice to have her back. This is a two-person deal for sure!
I drove close to 500 miles today — from Tucson to San Diego. Blue sky, sunshine, and 75 degrees as I hit the road.
I met John and Zach Davenport, policeman Reuben, and Ian at PostNet when I stopped to ship a huge box of stuff back to Atlanta . I also met Elizabeth Linville and an assistant at the Check Advance check cashing service next door, and Ian the honest ebayer who was complaining that someone had unfairly given him negative feedback. I hit Donut Wheel for breakfast-for-the-road, and the donuts were excellent.
I decided to swing by Old Tucson on the way out of town, but when I got to the Saguaro National Park, the only access was a dirt road, and I decided against any car abuse after just having it serviced and cleaned. I did see some nice desert and cactus in the Park.
At my first gas stop, I met biker Tom Curry from Dyersburg, Tennessee. He informed me that Bristol, Tennessee is closer to Canada than to Memphis, Tennessee. I gave $2 to Jim Bob, a man on the side of the road with a sign asking for help.
The only route from Tucson to California is interstate. So, I was rolling down the interstate through Eloy, Arizona when I spotted a pastel green and pink ski lift-like gondola cars mounted on poles. Then I saw what appeared to be a “sculpture” of a pink race car of some type with giant tires. My car knows what to do in such cases…so off at the next exit and U-turning back we go. I began to see other strange-looking “sculptures.” I wasn’t sure you would call these sculptures, but I didn’t know what else to call them. I snapped a couple of photos and then decided to investigate further.
I got off the interstate access road and drove around until I found an entrance gate of sorts. I had a better vantage point of the place from here. There was no sign or name, so I am calling it “Eloy World” until I investigate further. It appeared to be sandy desert land, perhaps several hundred acres, with sculptures scattered about as well as trucks, farm equipment, and fire engines painted with similar pastel colors and positioned in a way that I feel someone saw them as art.
I ran into a man driving a truck who only spoke Spanish. I then saw a utility company pickup, and I met Jim and his lovely daughter, Whitley (who loves Colton). It was Take Your Daughter to Work Day. Jim advised me that this was built to be a theme park by an eccentric man, but no one came. He figured no one would care if I took some photos.
I drove in a ways and began taking pictures. An older man in a big, floppy straw hat (the type usually worn by a woman) waved me down and came over in a giant dump truck. His name was Dick. I asked if it was okay if I took a few pictures, and he said yes. I asked if he was the owner, and he said “unfortunately.” He declined to let me take his photo, but I did snap a shot of the truck as he drove off. I wish he would have spoken with me as I would love to know the story behind this whole deal. I will have to investigate further for the book.
The internet made the investigation easy. To Yahoo I went, entered “Eloy, Arizona amusement park,” and up came information. “Eloy World” was actually known as Family Fun World. The man I met was Richard (Dick) Songers. It seems he was a solid, hard-working construction man from Michigan with a dream. He wanted to turn the land he bought in 1995 for $165,000 into a scrap-metal-bedecked amusement park and drive-thru, wild-animal zoo with a drop-off water ride, a race car track, and a concert stage. He ran out of money, and in October 2001, he auctioned off whatever anyone would buy. Some of the items up for auction included a couple of oil rigs from the heart of Texas, old fire trucks that no longer worked, a set of kiddy carnival rides and – last but not least – three painted trailers portraying an old, western town. A few of these items sold, though Dick apparently did not find buyers for much of what he had.
Sometimes we get an idea in our heads, and we either don’t listen to others when they tell us it’s a bad idea, or folks aren’t open enough to tell us. The thought crossed my mind that the oddly dressed woman I saw in downtown Tucson could be Dick’s wife.
I enjoyed “Eloy World,” because it is one of those strange, unexpected sights that just appear out of nowhere. Most of the day was spent with highway straight ahead and flat desert to either side of the car as I drove much faster than I have for the last 24 days.
Dateland was my next stop – 122 miles from Eloy World. I had heard about their Date Shakes, so I had to have one. I also had a piece of Date Pie. Sheryl was my waitress. I loved the shake. I’ve had much better pie.
Another hour down the road, and I spotted a Radio Shack just off the highway in Yuma. Raul fixed me up with the fourth tape recorder of the trip. Radio Shack stood behind the one that jammed, so I got this one quickly and easily for free. It would have been an ordeal at a place like Best Buy.
I detoured off the highway to visit the Yuma Proving Ground. This is where the US Army tests all types of equipment.
I reached the gates of the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park just after 5, just after the old prison closed for the day. I saw signs for “historic downtown Yuma,” and I decided to check it out. It appeared that they roll up the sidewalks at 5 pm in Yuma.
California became our ninth state just a few miles down the road. It has taken 6,979 miles to drive from Atlanta to the border of California. Just inside the state, I saw a sign for Felicity, California, and I exited on “Center of the World Drive.” Believe it or not, a man convinced several countries and this county to name Felicity, California the Center of the World. He built an impressive pink granite pyramid to mark the precise spot.
The whole place clearly ranks as the strangest sight we’ve seen. It was truly spooky. The first thing I saw was a set of metal stairs extending up in the sky to absolutely nothing. It seems these are old stairs previously used at the Eiffel Tower. Then a saw a little shed that was signed “Felicity Train Depot,” but there were no train tracks to be found. I also saw a sand pit that was signed “Desert Bowling,” as well as a giant gravel checkerboard. The next sight was a sundial featuring Michaelangelo’s arm. Around the pyramid building were two big long (maybe 150-feet each) granite walls with various names cut into the granite as you would see at any big national monument. But the wall I saw had the names of the graduates from the Princeton graduating class of 1949. There wasn’t a person in sight, and I kept looking behind myself to see if someone was going to throw a blanket over my head and carry me off to the cult leader. I jogged back to the car and drove quickly away. Strange, strange place! You know what they say about California — Land of the Fruit and NUTS.
The last 150 miles across the Southern tip of California would have been interesting to see, but the sun set just past the center of the world. I did manage to get a photo of the incredible dunes near the town of Imperial. Due to the loss of the sun, I amended the route to stay on the interstate rather than drive along the border with Mexico.
Bozzie Jane called to say her flight had landed as I was pulling into the San Diego airport. How great it is to have her back. We hit the In-N-Out Burger for a late dinner of cheeseburgers and fries. In-N-Out is a California chain, but not a franchise. Everything is fresh and fantastic. They do not even have freezers. The entire operation is exceptional. We were extremely impressed with the food, the cleanliness, and the quality of the crew running the place.
The lesson for the day is to listen when others tell you your ideas are crazy. It’s no fun to think or say “unfortunately” when someone asks if you are the owner, and it’s even less fun to have to sell off your trailers with paintings of an old western town on the side just to pay a few bills to try to stay afloat. As to the Center of the World, I’m just speechless.