Featured Rideout 24 Hours Along The Mexican -- American Border: A Rideout To Douglas, Arizona

Discussion in 'Rideouts, Trackdays, Touring & Spotted' started by Sandi T, Mar 10, 2021.

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  1. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #1 Sandi T, Mar 10, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
    This past weekend Mr. Sandi and I escaped on our motorcycles to the little (pop. 17,000) border town of Douglas, Arizona and the historic Gadsden Hotel for an overnight getaway. Though we knew about this place and it's only 145 miles from Tucson, we'd never been there before. A motorcycle buddy of ours raved about it and Mr. Sandi and I wanted to get the heck out of Dodge, so we packed up the Street Glides and made a run for the border. :):cool:
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    We had a nice sunny day with great riding temperatures in the 60'sºF. However, the winds were whipping and I was very glad to be on my H-D touring bike with its extra weight in addition to those nice roomy saddlebags. :) Douglas is a relatively small town with mostly one or two story buildings so the hotel was easy to find when we rolled into town. As the person I made the reservations with over the phone told me, "It's the tallest building in town so you can't miss it!" :joy: Easy it was and when we pulled up in front of the place, there were a few other motorcycles parked "RIF" or Right In Front as Mr. Sandi calls it. After checking in and going back out to retrieve our things from the saddlebags, our bikes were the only two still there. For the time being anyway...
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    We had an absolute blast and I took tons of photos. As I looked through them when we got home, I realized they fit into three groupings which I'll call "chapters" for this ride report:

    Chapter 1: The Hotel
    Chapter 2: The Town
    Chapter 3: The Basement ;)

    Edit: and I've added an Epilogue :)

    Chapter 1: The Hotel

    The Gadsden Hotel was originally built in 1907. I know, I know. That's new construction to most of you who live outside of the U.S! :joy: The Gadsden burned to the ground under highly suspicious circumstances in 1928 but was rebuilt soon after. However, it eventually fell into disrepair and became a sad, run-down, unloved building and remained that way for quite some time. But in 2016 a couple, Anel and Florencio, purchased it and have lovingly been restoring it ever since. Anel grew up in San Diego but Florencio and his family have their roots right there in Douglas.

    Here's an east-facing view of the lobby at about 2:00PM shortly after we arrived. Gorgeous!! :heart_eyes:
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    A closeup of the stained glass mural of the Sonoran Desert. It's 42 feet long and 6 feet high!
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    And an original painting entitled Cave Creek Canyon in the center of the stained glass mural. Cave Creek Canyon is about 60 miles northeast of Douglas.
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    This is from the hotel's informational flyer.
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    The Saddle and Spur Tavern just off the hotel lobby is super cool and very unique. Like 333, the hotels restaurant, the bar is currently only open to hotel patrons and not to other customers because of Covid. This has been difficult for both the hotel and the town because the Gadsden has been a meeting place for locals and visitors alike. We took a look at the bar after unpacking our stuff but didn't actually imbibe until 5-ish. ;)
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    Here are Mr. Sandi and Anel, the owner and proprietress of the Gadsden. She was a fabulous hostess and shared lots of information and terrific stories with us throughout our stay--and not only about the hotel but also about the town of Douglas. She was the "Hostess with the Most-est"!
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    All of the walls of The Saddle and Spur Tavern are covered with actual brands of local cattle ranchers and ranch owners. Cattle ranching is one of the major industries of the area. The brand that I've circled in the photo below is actually John Wayne's brand from his Bar 26 Ranch. Although the Bar 26 was in the White Mountains 300 miles to the north of Douglas, John Wayne filmed the Academy Award-nominated "Red River" (1948) in the tiny town of Elgin, AZ which is only about 75 miles from Douglas.
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    Chapter 1: The Hotel........continued in my next post.
     
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  2. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #2 Sandi T, Mar 10, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
    Chapter 1: The Hotel (continued)

    While the Gadsden is composed primarily of the lobby, the hotel rooms (22 are operational), and the bar and restaurant, a little hat shop is also open to the public. It was closed when we arrived but after checking out the bar and heading out to see the town, we saw it had been opened and stopped in to see what they had to offer.

    The young man manning the store said that the shop is open from 11am--2pm and again from 5pm--7pm. These may be "Covid Hours" but he didn't say. He was polite and helpful but didn't quite seem dressed for the part of clerking a store geared towards the sales of "Wild Wild West" attire. :rolleyes::joy:

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    I'm not quite sure that these are the types of cowboy boots the ranch hands wear! ;) But they are definitely a fun fashion statement! :grinning:
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    This is just a few of the hats for sale. There were probably three times this many on display or available in boxes in the store that day.
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    When we parked the bikes and went to check in, Anel asked us if we were "part of the group". We carefully replied, "Part of WHAT group??" :joy: Evidently there was a biker group scheduled to spend both weekend nights at the hotel and it's an annual event for the group. We later learned that it was the Elks Club Riders and most of the folks were from the greater Phoenix area. The group was about 30 riders strong. Mr. Sandi and I felt somewhat incognito as bikers but this group was decked out in black leather vests with the patches and rockers. We struck up conversations with several folks and they were quite nice.
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    And they added to the number of bikes parked both in front of and behind the hotel.
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    Aaack! Sorry for these repeat photos. :p
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  3. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #3 Sandi T, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
    Chapter 2: The Town

    Mr. Sandi and I had really only been through and not to Douglas so we decided to don our walking shoes and take a stroll up and down G Street, the street on which the Gadsden is located. Douglas has a population of about 17,000 but it's sister city, Agua Prieta which is just across the Mexico-U.S. border has about 80,000 people. Anel told us that many people cross the border each day almost like Douglas and Agua Prieta are one metro area. Anel told us that the Douglas--Agua Prieta border crossing is the biggest crossing for cattle at about 1,000 head per day. She was a banker in her former life and did daily wire transfers of about $2,000,000 related to the cattle industry!
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    About half a block down the street from the Gadsden was a lovely little park with a couple of interesting murals painted on commercial building with the park in between.
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    At the gazebo in the park, two women were selling Girl Scout cookies which are legendary in the U.S. So of course we had to do our part to support the Girl Scouts. Mr. Sandi bought Dos-si-dohs peanut butter sandwich cookies. I got a box of my personal favorites, Samoas. We asked the women why they were selling the cookies in the park and one of them answered that they were from Tucson but visiting her mother who lives in Douglas. The cookies are a delicious annual treat and Mr. Sandi and I always joke that they come in the convenient single serving box. ;):yum:joy:
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    I love to see what interesting sights we might see when we stroll through an unfamiliar place. When I plan to take photos, I find my eye to be even more observant than usual. This was just one of the many unique things we saw during our afternoon stroll. Sort of an election year version of "yard art". :)
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    Douglas is right on the Mexican-American border and the Mexican Consulate was on G Street about two blocks from the Gadsden. And directly across the street from the American Legion Post #11!
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    The Grand Hotel was in years past billed as the finest theatre building between San Antonio and Los Angles when it opened in 919. It was used for vaudeville and road shows and also films. In the 1920s it became the first theatre in Arizona to show Mexican films. Sadly, it is currently in quite a state of disrepair according to Anel, but there are plans to renovate it to its former glory.
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    Mr. Sandi tired of our strolling before I did so after dropping him off I decided I was determined to walk to the border. The clerk in the lobby told me that the Wall was just down on 1st Avenue and we were between 11th and 10th so off I went on my own....

    This is what the wall looks like in this area for miles. To me, it really has a rather foreboding and creepy feel. As someone who has been to Mexico a lot, I'm sad that there's a need for a wall at all. And I'm not so sure that a wall is a solution. But that's a discussion for another time and a different thread. I also wanted to see the border crossing in Douglas so turned to follow this walker since he looked like he knew where he was going. :)
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    This is the border crossing from Douglas into Agua Prieta. I've been through the main crossing from Nogales, Arizona to Nogales, Mexico and the scale of this one is a lot smaller. The Nogales crossing is the conduit for tons (literally) of fruit and vegetables that comes into the U.S. every day. On a funny note, Mr. Sandi said he wondered how they got all those cattle across the border every day. I said, "semi-trucks". He replied, "Oh, yeah, I was thinking it was like a cattle drive with cowboys on horses". I nearly fell off my chair I laughed so hard! :joy::joy::joy:
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    Chapter 2: The Town continued in my next post
     
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  4. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #4 Sandi T, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
    Chapter 2: The Town continued

    From the border crossing I walked back towards the hotel on a main thoroughfare called The Pan-American Highway. It didn't quite strike me as a highway, but it is probably is the biggest road in and through Douglas. I just happened to turn back towards G Street on 9th Avenue and was so glad that I did because I happened upon this amazing building. Later when I described it to Anel and showed her a photo, she said, "Oh, that's Art Car World!" We learned that Art Car World is a museum designed to preserve and celebrate "mobile art". It's currently under construction but will feature a permanent collection on 42 popular "Art Cars" with more on a rotating exhibition. I'm not exactly sure what an Art Car is...but it will certainly be a good excuse to go back to Douglas again in the future. :) I just loved the building itself with all of its creative and beautiful metal art. This is just a tiny smattering of it.
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    And one last bit in Chapter 2 about Douglas' sister city, Agua Prieta, that I nearly forgot to include.

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    Ok, I'm taking a rideout report break until tomorrow. It's cocktail hour here in the Sonoran Desert and I'm fixing to have a Manhattan with Mr. Sandi in our backyard.

    Stay tuned! Chapter 3 is my favorite part of this whole story as it's all about the "secret basement" of the hotel complete with speakeasy, cigar room, poker bar, and a mystery room. ;):)
     
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  5. Cyborgbot

    Cyborgbot Elite Member

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    Brilliant!

    Don’t you ever find visiting these amazing places; meeting interesting people; tasting scrummy local food and delicious beers; learning about the fascinating local history (not long for anywhere in the USA); and riding under perpetual clear blue skies just a little bit tedious?

    ;):joy:

    Thanks for the write up and am looking forward to future instalments!
     
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  6. Dartplayer

    Dartplayer Crème de la Crème

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    Beautiful hotel Sandi T and nice write up.
    I had to laugh at the no smoking sign I zoomed in on to find NO FIREARMS :scream: but I remember the laughter I caused over 30 years ago being shocked the women sitting in the bar next to me had a pistol in her purse :cool: upload_2021-3-11_18-48-59.jpeg
     
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  7. Hubaxe

    Hubaxe Good moaning!
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    Brilliant writing. It's interesting to see how it is now, and how USA built it's own history in a quite short time (compared to Europe).
    I liked it in every bits. Thanks Sandy.
     
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  8. joe mc donald

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    Well you are at it again and what a story and the scenery is awesome. You are a real star.
    Joe.
     
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  9. Adie P

    Adie P Elite Member

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    Hey ... COME ON! Where's part 3? Are you sleeping? SHeeeez..., we're all here waiting .............................. :mad:


    ;)

    Great write up, Sandi.

    XO
     
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  10. TEZ 217

    TEZ 217 Crème de la Crème

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    Yep great write up as usual and some great pictures the hotel looks very interesting indeed, I hope you don't think we're all envious at all :rolleyes: your sure one lucky couple to have all that on your door step, but gotta say it's a canny big door step. :D
    Thanks again Sandy looking forward to next chapter. :cool:
     
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  11. Dougie D

    Dougie D Crème de la Crème

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    Great write up as usual Sandy :cool:,bring on the next chapter :)
     
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  12. Dawsy

    Dawsy Cumbrian half-wit
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    Excellent Sandi, really great pictures and story telling but it's like going back to the old days of TVwhere you had to wait a whole week before you could watch the next episode:grinning:.
     
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  13. Bikerman

    Bikerman Crème de la Crème
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    #13 Bikerman, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2021
    It has to be said, but your write ups are something else. The content, pictures, and everything about them are just top notch. Are you sure you're not JK Rowling's.
    Amazing quality. :):):)
     
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  14. steve lovatt

    steve lovatt Something else
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    You've done it again Sandi, excellent photos and descriptions of the place. :cool:
    Your write ups are better than my bike reviews!
    No one here is at all jealous of the fact that you have blue skies and can actually go out riding with no lockdown! o_O
    We're still stuck with "essential Journeys" but at least I get out with work and Blood Bikes.

    "The Gadsden Hotel was originally built in 1907. I know, I know. That's new construction to most of you who live outside of the U.S! :joy:"

    Had to laugh at that Sandi - so being a bit cheeky, here's something a little older, about 25 miles from where I live.
    Calleva Atrebatum the old Roman town at Silchester. :D

    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg
     
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  15. TEZ 217

    TEZ 217 Crème de la Crème

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    Gotta say There's alot more still left on Sandy's hotel than yours Steve :cool::D
    but reckon you'd look good in them there boots partner :eek::eek:
     
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  16. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #16 Sandi T, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
    Well, yes, @Adie P, I have been sleeping, thank you! :joy: But I'm now up and about and, most importantly, I've had my coffee. ;) Well, first cup anyway. I'll post Chapter 3 momentarily. :)

    Edit: I'll have you know, Adie, that I've even added an epilogue. :D Or should I refer to you as Mr. Impatient? ;):joy::joy::grinning::heart:

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  17. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Ah, yes, @Cyborgbot. It's a tedious and rough job...but somebody's gotta do it. ;):cool: Glad you're enjoying the write up. :kissing_heart:
     
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  18. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #18 Sandi T, Mar 11, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2021
    Thanks, Joe! Rides like this--and write ups about our rides--make me consider getting a Go Pro or some such "on board" camera that would allow me to take photos while we're actually riding. There's so much beauty on the journey itself and not only the destination! :):sun::cool:
     
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  19. Kenbro

    Kenbro Noble Member
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    Sandi T; count me in with Mr. Sandi on the cattle crossing.
    When I read were you said about 1000 head per day, my mental picture was cowboys on horseback driving them over. Doh.
    Lovely pics and write as per usual for you.
    Cheers,Ken.
     
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  20. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, TEZ. Yes, Mr. Sandi and I are very lucky--very blessed--that our door step is huge! I truly love living in the American West. If all goes smoothly this year, a small group of us are stepping out onto that canny big door step in June for a motorcycle trip through northern Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and the SE corner of Utah. It'll be our first big trip since Sturgis August 2019. But these days our motto has been "We make plans; God laughs". I don't mean that in a sacrilegious way at all, just that we've learned that things like bicycle accidents and pandemics might interfere with mere mortals' plans. But my other motto is "If we don't plan it, it doesn't happen". ;):) Here's the general hoped-for June 2021 loop which we'll be doing counter-clockwise.

    Screen Shot 2021-03-01 at 10.32.38 PM.png
     
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