Route 66: Texas

decrepit building with empty sign, surrounded by scraggly weeds and utterly forlorn

the Texas Longhorn Motel, or what’s left of it. “The First/Last Motel in Texas.”

Glenrio, as we saw on the eastern border of New Mexico, straddles the state line on an abandoned stretch of road. What shell is left of the Texas Longhorn Motel (“the First/Last Motel in Texas”) sits a few feet over the border, but there will be no guests.

Eastward, we come to Adrian, the geographical midpoint of Route 66 — probably depending on exact alignments, but who really cares to quibble? Adrian has 166 residents, per their sign, and I’m not going to begrudge them their midpoint status.

Midpoint sign for Route 66, Adrian, TXTSunflower Station, western giftshe gift shop and cafe across the street is adjoined by Sunflower Station, another boutique, where you can sign the pickup truck. We didn’t stop or take the time. That probably makes us Fake 66 Cruisers or something. Losers. Continue reading

Writer Brains and Research

Jules Verne, French science fiction writer of ...

Jules Verne, the godfather of plausible speculative fiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Fantasy is even harder to write,” I alleged recently, “because you have to make the science work.”

If the science in a story isn’t plausible — whether you actually call it science, as in hard sci-fi, or whether it’s simply background dressing or setting, as in a romance set aboard a diving boat — the rest of the story won’t be plausible, either. In the romance above, for example, even if the story is supposedly just boy-meets-girl, if the couple blithely dives hundreds of meters without special equipment and resurfaces without ill effects, I’m not going to buy the happily-ever-after. Continue reading

Preview: Panic Attack

Panic-attack

Panic-attack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I wanted to share an excerpt from a short story I sold a few months ago. This is taken from near the beginning:

He could not look away, could not move, could not speak . His chest was tight and his lungs constricted, and a distant part of his mind realized he was having a panic attack. Another fragment of rationality told him that was impossible, that he had no pulse to pound in his temples and no breath to catch. He was experiencing only what his subconscious thought he should, patterned by a lifetime of… life, when faced with a salient stimulus from a highly traumatic experience.

He swallowed against the pressure in his throat and drew a deep breath of what he knew wasn’t air. He closed his eyes and exhaled, counting to twenty. Then he opened his eyes again and faced his murderer.

No release date yet for the anthology, but I’ll let you know when I have one! Probably mid to late 2015.

Route 66: Remote 66

the Cuervo Cutoff, two dirt tracks running off into tall grass

East of Santa Rosa, NM

As the Route 66 series continues (and we have 5 states to go!), I thought I’d share a few thematic galleries of photos which might go together well but be lost in a state-centric post.

Today’s theme is the abandoned road. I’ve mentioned that we sought out many alternate alignments or discarded sections of old Route 66. Here are a few of my favorite pictures from those less-traveled segments! Continue reading

Route 66: New Mexico

Across the state line into New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment!

The first major city Route 66 reaches heading east is Gallup, immortalized in Bobby Troup’s obligatory Route 66 road song. The city sits close to the Hogback, a “ridge of upwardly tilted sedimentary rock” (The Place Names of New Mexico, by Robert Hixson Julya), and allegedly because of this geological constriction Gallup was a potential bomb target during the Cold War, as a single strike might have taken out railroad, pipeline, wired communications, and Route 66 all at once. Continue reading

Found Story Bits

old typewriter welded onto a chain pedestal at the Bottle Tree RanchSometimes you walk away from a story in progress for a little while — in this case, because I’ve been working a lot and traveling — and you forget what you were doing.

And then you come back, and you read over what you had, and you’re like, “Did I write that?”

I opened a file again tonight for the first time in weeks, and this is on the most recent page:

“I have a burned arm. It’s not like I’m crippled. And I don’t need to be able to handle a sword or anything.”
“No, but you use your hands for your magic.”
“That’s a focus tool. It’s not strictly necessary.”
He gave her a skeptical look. “And what happens if you can’t use your hands to focus?”
She twisted her mouth. “Don’t stand too close to the target, okay?”

I wonder how it turns out?

Route 66: Arizona, Part 2

We ran west again from Winslow to pick up Meteor Crater, which was closed the night before and also was closed the last time I’d been through the area. (“Meteor Crater is closed.” Like they roll a mile-wide tarp across it at night, or maybe one of those motorized pool covers.)

sign: Meteor Crater is closed. Opens at 8 am.

A really, really big tarp, I’m telling you.

But I am (as astute readers might have noticed) a bit of a nerd, so we ran back the next morning to arrive just as they were unlocking the doors and presumably rolling up the tarp.

Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater is the site of the first crater impact to be recognized as such, and where impact science was basically re-invented. It’s an impressive hole in the ground. Best calculations by modern science suppose a 150-foot wide chunk of space rubble came screaming through our hundred miles of atmosphere in just 10 seconds before plowing into a pulverizing a sizable part of Arizona. Fragments scattered up to 7 miles around the site. The crater is three-quarters of a mile wide, and they think parts of a meteor sank as deep as 3,000 feet. Wow. Continue reading

Route 66: Notes From the Mother Road

I’m behind in updating the actual travelogue for a number of reasons, not least of which is the photo-intensity of this trip, making backups and postings at typical hotel/motel speeds fairly draggy. While many old roadside motels are wonderful and equipped with all the modern conveniences, like the Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, NM, others are not.

(One night I pulled in and asked first about internet access and second about vacancy. The owner/manager promised we would have internet. That turned out to be true only if I sat on the sidewalk outside the office, and even then my photo upload predicted it would finish at 8:16 the following morning.)

But there are a few notes common to all of Route 66 which I can share outside of chronological order. Continue reading

Route 66: Arizona, part 1

old filling station, gas at 66 cents

a restored Phillips 66 station

Remember, I’m reporting Route 66 from west to east, which is atypical. (I even found one guide which said running Route 66 from LA to Chicago was “historically wrong.” Like the whole highway was just a 2,400-mile one-way road.)

So here’s Arizona, from sunset to sunrise.

A Dearth of Burros

caution traffic sign, BurrosOatman is famous for its feral burro population, descended from those escaped from or turned loose by prospectors in the (very rich) mining area. Tourists feed the burros, which wander down the street freely.

We arrived at Oatman early, and we shopped and we had breakfast, and…. Continue reading