Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spaced Aged Cafe & Lodge

The Space Age Restaurant in Gila Bend, Arizona

Spaced Aged Lodge lobby

fancy artwork

Entrance to the restaurant which has one hell of a delish bacon cheeseburger!

a fun little hotel...

...what is up with Gila Bend's finest parked outside some rooms?  The new office? A party?  Big drug bust?  Who knows, but we were definitely curious.

Gila Bend's water tower (actually not in use anymore).
It reminds me of "Pettycoat Junction".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Secrets of the Domes

One of the places Sharon wanted to take me on our Gila Bend/Casa Grande trip was the mysterious Domes. These strange dome shape structures sit in the middle of the desert of Casa Grande only a few miles from the interstate. As you drive up on them, you notice that one object is shaped like a flying saucer and the other three structures resemble caterpillars. How did they get there and what was the purpose of the building shapes?

In July of 1982, Patricia Zebb, who owned InnerConn Technology Inc., was speaking to a group of around 75 people about her new computer manufacturing company. Her plan was to move the company headquarters from California to the newly constructed site in Casa Grande she called, “The Domes”. The new offices were dome shaped with a Thermoshell construction with the main office resembling a definitive flying saucer. Zebb was very excited about the new plant and couldn’t wait for that first circuit board to roll off the assembly line. Sadly, that was never to happen.

When the domes were first built in the early 80’s on the 135 acre site, there were high hopes of manufacturing not only circuit boards but all kinds of equipment such as quartz watches to huge computers. Using the dome shape was decided because of cost and insulation efficiency. It would be expedite as far as construction and only took six weeks to build. The domes were constructed by pouring three inches of polyurethane, and then three inches of concrete against a balloon inside, which was held up by a steel skeleton. I have to tell you that it was over 100 degrees at the time we were there and inside the domes it felt much cooler.

A year after the dedication of the new company in 1983, InnerConn Technologies defaulted on a loan and the bank took over ownership. The site remained abandoned until it was bought by a couple in 2006. Throughout the years, ghost hunters and UFO enthusiasts would trek across county to check out the odd shape objects in Casa Grande they read about online. It became a place for the young to hang out and have parties and raves. The Domes are a dangerous place to be with the walls in disarray and the ceilings falling in piece by piece.

There have been many bizarre stories of ghosts and possible satanic worshiping in the dark worm-like tunnels. Some say that at night you can hear footsteps and whispering in the back dome. A shadow figure has been seen roaming from dome to dome and sometimes out in the surrounding desert. People have report odd tapping noises on their cars if they parked them near the domes. There is a bad vibe inside the domes and an uneasy feeling like something evil is going to happen. Rumors of black magic, rapes and murders are also being told with warnings to stay away. It isn’t known for sure that the stories are just that and what really goes on there is nothing more than underage drinking and occasional squatter just spending a night or two there.

Whatever the rumors are about the domes, it is certainly an appealing place to check out. But be wise about it, not like us, and remember there are “no trespassing” signs posted around the property and a hefty fine if you get caught.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Where is the Billington House Hiding?

Just like many other cities across the US, Phoenix has its share of haunted houses. One house I have heard is very haunted is the Billington House. The big mystery is not just what happened there but where the hell is the house located? When I looked up information on this elusive dwelling, all I could find is a zip code. I pulled up maps for Phoenix zip codes and found the general location of the house. That particular area was small so I thought it should be easy to spot an old haunted house, but I was wrong.

One Thursday armed with my camera, I was on the hunt for Jo Jo’s Alley, the location where a 9 year old girl’s ghost had been seen, and the Billington House. I had my Google maps pinpointing the locations and the route I was going to take. Since Jo Jo’s Alley was near my house, I started there first. After driving the creepy alley, I headed downtown where the other two places were located.

The cross streets in Phoenix are laid out nicely, north-south and east-west. Some are one-way but are well marked so you won’t be facing on-coming traffic. The only bummer was all the damn construction. I did manage to find the cross streets where the little girl was hit by a car and where her ghost likes to make its presence known. After I took some pictures, I was off to find the Billington house.

Jeez, I must have circle that entire zip code several times and never saw anything that could possibly be the house. I looked for signs that might help locate this place, but saw nothing. Downtown has lots of old buildings that could have been it, but it was hard to tell. Alas, I had to give up and drive my disappointed butt home. I will go searching for it one more time since Halloween is approaching and finding as many haunted houses in Phoenix and surrounding cities is my goal for this spooky season.

Here is one of the stories that make this house worth the find:

Even though each family member has experienced something paranormal in the house, it is the youngest daughter that has acknowledged most of the unusual occurrences. While home alone, she had reported hearing footsteps and disembodied voices. She had seen a white radiant figure staring at her while standing still in the second floor window of her playhouse. This figure appeared to have only one arm and could only be seen in the nighttime. It showed up three consecutive nights and by the fourth night, it was gone. She even reported the incident to her father, but he never saw anything unusual in the tree house. This isn’t all this child saw that scared her. One night she woke up, went to her window, and saw a man in a long black coat and hat standing on her patio. She blinked out of fear, and the man was gone. Also, on several occasions, she had reported seeing a woman peering from her closet and smiling at her. The woman would be just standing there, and then quickly disappeared.

I don’t know why this particular child experienced most of the activity, but these are questions I would like to get to the bottom of. Perhaps Autumnforest and I can find this house and do an impromptu investigation to see if the stories are true. The only problem is we have to find this mysterious abode first.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nester's Trailer

This trailer looked like Nester's trailer in the movie, "Tremors".  As we looked around the eerie sight, we felt the ground move a bit under us.  We looked for solid ground or large bolder, but found nothing.  The trailer park looked like the graboids had a party there.  The place was a huge mess.  Thank goodness we didn't see a graboid pop its head through the ground or any other creature roaming around the place.  R.I.P. Nester...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Little Girl's Playground

As you walk into the abandoned trailer park, off to the right you see a swing set just sitting there all alone.  Sharon felt at one time a little girl once played there, perhaps with her siblings or other friends who also lived in a trailer located on this desert park.  For the most part the swing set is intact, but is now surrounded by garbage and desecrated trailers. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Mysteries of Gila Bend

There is one little town set in the middle of the desert that wouldn’t appear to be a hotspot of UFO and even Bigfoot activity, but Gila Bend can brag that it is. Founded in 1872 and located in Maricopa County, Arizona, Gila Bend gets its name from the 90 degree bend found in the Gila River at the point where the town is established. With a population of about 2,055 people living in this town, it is the roadside attractions, Spaced Age Lodge and unusual theme of the place that seems to keep the tourist and enthusiasts coming along with the UFO hunters. Gila Bend is a popular place for many UFO sightings. There have been numerous reports of strange objects and lights in the sky which have been hard to explain.

Here is some history of Gila Bend from Wikipedia: “The town of Gila Bend is situated near an ancient Hohokam village. When Father Eusebio Francisco Kino visited in 1699, the older site along fertile banks of the Gila River had been abandoned by another early tribe called the Opas, who instead used the river to irrigate their crops at a nearby rancheria. This same rancheria was visited by Juan Bautista de Anza, commander of the Presidio at Tubac and founder of the city of San Francisco, and by Father Francisco Tomas Garces in 1774. The nickname the "Crossroads of the Southwest" stems from the area having been part of an important transportation route in the settling, development and growth of the Great Southwest. Gila Bend was the "center of a wheel", with spokes leading in many directions throughout the region. A more recent event in the area was the October 1995 sabotage of the Amtrak Sunset Limited train.”

Among the quirky roadside attractions and the space age café are many mysterious graves. No one is sure who is buried in most of them, but they seem to be all over the town. Another reported sighting that you would never equate with a desert town is that of the elusive Bigfoot. On some of the rocks in the middle of the desert, picture graphs have been found with drawings indicating a large hairy creature was seen in that area. Others have their own eerie stories of encounters with the beast.

Sharon (Autumnforest, Ghost Hunting Theories ) and I are taking another one of our daytrips, this time to Gila Bend. On our way are the abandoned trailer park and the burnt down house we found. By the way Max Evel, we are giving you a days notice to clean up the park for your visitors. I am confident that you can get it done. Anyhow, I will be taking lots of photos of the trip while Sharon will be documenting the trip on her flip camera. Look for both of us to do one or more posts on the trip depending on how much information we collect.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Little Girl's Ghost

There are a few urban legends floating around this city and other places as well. One is about the ghost of the nine year old girl that has been seen in several areas around Phoenix. On August 6, 1995 a little girl was struck by a hit and run driver and died on the scene. Stories are told that witnesses noticed her looking out the window of the ambulance as the paramedics were trying dreadfully to save her. Her little hands and face were seen pressed against the window as the ambulance pulled away. The person who hit the little girl was never found and justice was never served.

Right after her death, there were reports of seeing her ghost in several parts of the city. The strongest area, and the place with the most sightings, is the area she was killed at, 5th Avenue between Roosevelt and Fillmore. Her ghost was also seen a few miles away by a woman who was in the middle of cooking dinner at the exact same time her husband was woken by a box falling on him. She reported that the image of the little girl smiled and said that she loved the both of them very much. At that precise moment, another sighting was reported of the same little girl several miles away. A woman was seen walking with a little girl with the same features, size, hair type and color as the deceased girl. An older sister and friend were walking behind them and didn’t know who the child was. She kept turning around, smiling and waving at the perplexed pair following them. I don’t know if the woman ever had an explanation for the strange child who was walking with her.

All these stories were reported to the little girl’s mother, a couple of days and even up to six months later. No one had any explanation of why her spirit was seen all over the city at the exact same time, all her Mother could say was that her daughter was a loving child. There were many times since her child’s death that she would see her daughter and have conversations with her. Most of those times were at night, so she felt that it all happened in her dreams.

People still report seeing her ghost around town, but no place stronger and as often as the place she was killed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jo Jo's Alley

In Wikipedia an alley or alleyway is described as “a narrow, pedestrian lane found in urban areas which usually runs between or behind buildings. In older cities and towns in Europe, alleys are often what are left of a medieval street network, or a right of way or ancient footpath in an urban setting. In older urban development, alleys were built to allow for deliveries such as coal to the rear of houses. Alleys may be paved, or simply dirt tracks. A blind alley has no outlet at one end and is thus a cul-de-sac. The term Alley is also used for the gap between two columns of text.”

Of course an alley can be a very scary place to be especially after dark. Most alleyways are pitch black with trash cans lining each side of the drive and other filthy, dangerous items scattered along its path. There might be rabid rats and other varmints roaming around in the darkness waiting to pounce. Then there are the creepy humans that might be looking for food or any other treasure that we considered trash. They are usually harmless but unnerving and sometimes don’t smell pleasant.

Unfortunately some have met their demise in an alley. One such case is in Canada where a little girl was murdered. They say that her vengeful spirit still haunts that very alley and most won’t go near it. We have several haunted alleys in Arizona, but the one I hear about the most is Jo Jo’s Alley.

There are mysteries surrounding this elusive alley. Where did the name come from? I tried to find that answer but could not. Another argument bantered about is the alley’s exact location. Most of the stories I have read has put the site of the alley in much the same area. I went to the latest location and from the description; I am pretty sure that was it.

Tucked in the middle of Phoenix is a small street with asphalt paving and lined with oleanders that are shaped over the alley like a tunnel. Not much reported in the day but at night is when all the action happens. Because of the lack of lights and the creepy oleanders, the drive is told to be a scary one. Some of the ghostly claims are of strange lights chasing your car and the sound of pounding hands hitting the top of the car as you drive down. Others have reported seeing ghostly figures in the alley as they travel past the oleanders. I have not been down this alley at night, but it is on my to-do list. I will be sure to video tape the entire experience and hope that the ghosts are willing to show up.

Monday, September 6, 2010

It Was All They Knew

As I sit watching “Back to the Future III” for the hundredth time, I wonder how this modern woman, would be able to survive traveling back to Arizona’s Wild West. It is simple, I wouldn’t! Let’s not forget all those crazy notorious cowboys and women that might shoot you for looking at them wrong, but no air conditioning, asphalt roads and ice water, how barbaric. I am curious on how in the hell they survived the extreme Arizona heat in the summertime. I know that these dusty hot conditions were all they knew, but if they had a taste of what we have nowadays, they wouldn’t want to go back to the Wild West era.

I can relax on my comfy couch, flipping through the cable channels to find something interesting to watch on TV. Next to me you might find my cell phone, laptop and a glass of iced coffee all while enjoying the central air cooling down the house. The Wild West houses were probably made mostly of wood, stone and mud or stucco, with no air conditioning units on the roof. Some of their homes might have some type of fan blowing, but during the high humid months, those are virtually rendered useless. The windows would be left open so the uncomfortable hot stale air would blow through the house in hope to cool the occupants down. Yeah right, that would never happen, but it was all they knew.

Most houses didn’t have electricity or a fridge with bottled water and iced tea inside to quench your thirst. The drink of choice in most places was whiskey. If you wanted water to drink, you would have to stick your head in a horses’ trough providing that the horse was willing to share. If that wasn’t bad enough, try shitting in an outhouse when the temperature is over 100 degrees. If the smell didn’t get to you, the heat would. I don’t even want to know what they wiped their asses with, maybe sandpaper? But again, it didn’t bother them because it was all they knew.

Our Wild West peeps were living and pooping in sweltering structures, but it didn’t matter because their clothes didn’t keep them cool anyway. The dresses, pants, shirts and blouses were heavy and were layered with a petticoat or long johns underneath. The shoes and boots looked uncomfortable with either a hat or bonnet on their head for protection or just for looks. I am telling you that someone would have made a killing selling sandals, flip flops, cotton tees or tank tops and sun glasses to those Wild West folks. But I’m sure that riding a horse wouldn’t have gone well with flip flops. I also wonder how many of them suffered from heat stoke wearing all that thick clothing during the summer months. I’m sure that it was uncomfortable, but that was all they knew.

Let’s talk about their modes of transportation. They either bounced around on a horse for miles or rode in a wagon with wood wheels over the rough terrain being tossed around like rag dolls all while traveling. They didn’t have paved roads to drive on with their factory made cars with rubber wheels. There was no air conditioning cooling them off or listening to their favorite tunes on the radio. Their way of traveling may have been a bit crude by modern standards, but they didn’t complain because that was all they knew.

Would I want to go back in time to Arizona’s Wild West period and miss out on all the things that I need to get me through the day…..hell no! (This is all I know.)