After 28 wonderful days in Arizona, and at the end of another day of exploring, we were about to head east into New Mexico, but not before a brief stop in the US-Mexico border city of Douglas. Located 27 miles east of Bisbee, the copper city where we had spent the night in a haunted hotel, it is one of the busiest border crossings in the Southwest United States.
There is no way to sugar-coat this, but Douglas is a really depressing run-down city that has definitely seen better days. Its one main attraction is the Hotel Gadsden, which according to everything I read, has a spectacular lobby with a white Italian marble staircase and four soaring marble columns. We had little difficulty locating it as we slowly cruised a few of the main streets, but nothing from the outside suggested the grandeur that supposedly exists inside.
There were more than a few out-of-work panhandlers and shady looking characters hanging around the hotel. In fact, our lasting impression of Douglas will be one of a dirty, sun-baked, run-down city with little going for it except for its access to one of the more prosperous Mexican border cities – Agua Prieta. We were not interested in venturing across into Mexico so our visit to Douglas lasted little more than about 20 minutes.
Our last stop in Arizona was the Chiricahua National Monument (previously written about in the blog post entitled “Standing Up Rocks”), and from there we made our way north towards to the I-10 (about 32 miles to Wilcox), before finally turning east and the Arizona-New Mexico border.
Our goal for the day was to make it to Lordsburg, New Mexico, and make that our rest-stop for the night, and just around 6 o’clock (PST), we crossed the state border and dealt with our first time zone change of the trip. We were now on Mountain Time. The scenery on either side of the I-10 was flat, dusty, dry and barren and as we came to understand in the days that followed, New Mexico was in the midst of its 3rd straight year of serious draught.
Our reason for picking Lordsburg was that it was the first city of significant size that we would intersect with in SW New Mexico. We reckoned that it would serve as the perfect launch point for us once we decided whether we going to go due east to Roswell and the Carlsbad Caverns, or head NE toward Albuquerque and Santa. Fe. According to our online research it’s primary reason for being seemed to be as a popular half-way resting spot for those travellers heading from Texas to California and back. At the very least, it was large enough to have a Hampton Inn, which along with the Holiday Inn Express were our “go-to’s” on those nights when a haunted or historic hotel didn’t align itself with our travel plans.
We pulled into the Hampton Inn just past 7:30 PM and it was a relatively new one which we thought boded well. It was run by a young Mexican-American family whose parents and children were both very visible in the lobby and around the grounds of the hotel itself. So much so, that they were carting food back and forth to a BBQ set up just outside the front door, where they were going to have their family dinner, in between serving the guests as they arrived. We had a bit of chuckle to ourselves as we headed up to our room, which was right at the farthest end of the hallway, something that just seemed to coincidentally happen to us a lot on our trip. We placed our bags in the room and sat down for a moment to discuss dinner plans. After a few seconds, Mary said “Is this bed vibrating?” I of course burst into fits of giggles and said that I hadn’t paid for that special feature in this hotel. I couldn’t help but notice though that the floor was vibrating quite a bit, and I quickly decided that there was no way we’d be able to sleep in this room. I phoned the front desk and tried explaining our predicament to the clerk who had checked us in. I could tell by his voice that he was sceptical but he said he would change rooms for us as the hotel was not that full. As we dragged our bags out the doorway the vibrations and accompanying rumbling noise were noticeably louder and we realized they were emanating from the AC shaft located right next to our room. When we arrived at the front desk, the male manager was out flipping burgers, and his wife was now on duty. She immediately acknowledged the problem, having previously heard it for herself, and thankfully we were moved to a quieter room.
Food choices were limited in this city with just 3379 residents, and having quickly dismissed all the standard fast food options (KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonalds), we settled on a local Mexican-American family restaurant with the unlikely name of Kranberry’s. The food was pretty good, but we did draw quite a few sideways glances from the other patrons as we were the only “anglos” in the entire place.
We were road-weary from the heat and the miles that we had chalked up that day so it wasn’t long before we were back at the Hampton and crawling into bed for a good night’s sleep. We were looking forward to the next day, which would be our first full day in a “new” state as far as our road trip was concerned.