Our trip to San Diego to see our son and his family was in November this year. Upon arrival on Wednesday November 3rd, we checked into the Bay Club Hotel on Shelter Island. We had a nice marina view room and received a slim matchbox. Then, it was off to dinner at the Red Sails Inn, one of our local favorites.
Thursday we drove east to the Barona Casino in Lakeside and the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon. The latter rewarded us with a multi-colored 30-strike matchbook and a decent lunch. At the Barona, I saw the first "cigarette girl" I have seen in many, many years, complete with tray (filled with packs of cigarettes) strapped around her shoulders. Back in San Diego for dinner, it was, of all places, Dick's Last Resort in the Gaslamp Quarter.
On Friday, we met Doug Fouquet, president of the San Diego Matchcover Club, for lunch at Kitchen 1540 in Del Mar. First, of course, we had the opportunity to see some of Doug's storied collection. [By the way, Kitchen 1540 had an oversized square matchbox. One of the best restaurants in the San Diego area has what might be the best matchbox in the area.] Nighttime found us at the famous La Costa Resort in Carlsbad for dinner with a cousin I hadn't seen in years. He and his wife gave us some excellent sightseeing hints for our trip to the Grand Canyon.
It is Saturday and time to move on. We will miss the guy who lives on his boat at the marina our terrace overlooked. His robe with the "fishies" on it caught our eyes from our first morning. After a stop at the Mormon Temple - truly grand architecture - we arrived at Motel Mediteran in Escondido.
From this point on, the matchbooks and matchboxes became fewer and farther between for a while, though the touring was very good - to say the least. After the weekend with family, we drove south along the western edge of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, stopping at Blair Valley (though we had to rule out five miles of bad road in a rental car to see the pictoglyphs) and the Carrizo Badlands overlook. The next day took us to Heber Sand Dunes State Park and then to the awesome Imperial Sand Dunes recreation area. As much as we wanted to see the Blythe Intaglios, an indeterminate amount of really rough road ruled this out, too.
Looking back at California, it was disappointing that Humphrey's Half Moon Inn and Bing Crosby's, both in San Diego, no longer have matches. Nor does the Sunset Lounge in Escondido have matches with its name anymore. Arizona, however, was more disappointing. Even the casino in Parker did not have them (we applied our no matches, no gambling rule and saved a few dollars).
We enjoyed a quick stop in Lake Havasu City for the London Bridge. Lunch was in Oatman on the historic Route 66 where Judy's still has matches with its name (though I had the feeling they would not be reordering). The real treat of visiting Oatman is the burros wandering the main street looking to be fed carrots and bite-size hay bales. We were also lucky enough to catch the "gunfight" held right in the middle of the old Route 66.
After our second night in Arizona, in Williams, we were beginning to think Arizona was a matchbook wasteland. In Williams, Pancho McGillicuddy's, Cruiser's 66 Cafe, Twisters, Rosa's Cantina, and Rod's Steakhouse all no longer have matches with their names. There was a touching moment as we were having breakfast in Williams. It was Veterans Day and flags were placed in holders in the sidewalks. A man rode up the street on horseback with a flag in his saddle with a riderless horse following, representing the fallen soldier. Upon his return down the street, my wife and I both commented that this was the most memorable Veterans Day parade we had ever seen.
Our night at the Grand Canyon was better - and not just for the spectacular scenery. Bright Angel Lodge had Xanterra Parks and Resorts matches while the grand hotel, El Tovar, had its own slim matchbox.
Upon leaving the Grand Canyon through the east gate (and more scenic vistas after scenic vistas, plus a herd or two of elk) we - fortunately - had a couple of false stops for lunch. We reached Flagstaff and Miz Zip's Route 66 Cafe for a really nice lunch and matchbooks. It was on to Sedona for more magnificent scenery. Arriving in Prescott, we found Yavapai Casino had matches with Bucky's Casino on the back. (Yes, Bucky's Casino had the same matchbooks.) Lunch on Saturday at The Palace - "America's most historic restaurant & Saloon" - brought more matchbooks.
Back in California, Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio had matchbooks while Spotlight29 Casino in Coachella had a box with its Blue Bar on the back. On the casino floor, we got to watch the security guards patting down male patrons before allowing them up the escalator to the bar. Heading back to San Diego, we found matchbooks at Cahuilla Casino in Anza and Santa Ysabel Casino in Santa Ysabel. A stop for lunch at the Warner Springs Ranch - a well-regarded golf resort in Warner Springs - brought us a classy 30-strike matchbook.
On our last day, we had root beer floats at a genuine soda fountain in Julian. A stop at Viejas Casino in Alpine found a 30-strike matchbook. Cocktails on the terrace at the Hotel Del Coronado rewarded us with a perfect sunset and a 30-strike matchbook. A perfect ending for our trip if our flight hadn't been cancelled because of fog. It was a struggle but we were able to get home the same day we had planned on.
Many thanks to Doug Fouquet, Kevin Fleming, Ron Quint, Rich Greene, and Seth Combs for contributing information over the years that not only helped matchbooktraveler but really helped find matchbooks along the way during our trip.