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

The March Madness CIR Blog Hop

The March Hare with Alice, the Dormouse, and t...

The March Hare with Alice, the Dormouse, and the Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During breeding season, it was said, hares were bolder and more active than at other times of the year. Hence the phrase “mad as a March hare,” or “March mad,” and finally “March madness,” a phrase which has been appropriated to refer to basketball tournaments.

As European hares have a six-week reproductive cycle which repeats from January to August or so, I am not sure why they were supposed to be particularly mad in March. I suspect it had something to do with being more visible in the spring as they also rushed about to recover calories spent in the winter and the general thank God at last there’s sunshine shared by all species. But let’s not quibble.

And so in the spirit of March Madness, both leporine and athletic, the CIR blog is having a March Madness book sale and giving away some books. Continue reading

Route 66: Amboy and Roy’s Cafe

Though I’ve written about Route 66 in California before, I’ve decided to give Amboy, California and Roy’s their own post.

Then

Roy's iconic sign over the decaying cabinsWhen I did this trip with my parents and sister in ’98, we came west through the Mojave Desert in a 113-degree day and stopped, as all do, at Roy’s Cafe.

Roy’s Motel and Cafe has an iconic sign and a desolate setting. When we entered, there were only the two employees and a middle-aged woman customer. We ordered drinks and burgers, and we discovered that the woman had been traveling with her husband and son, and they’d had car trouble in the desert. The two men had decided to go after a necessary car part, and they’d left her at Roy’s while they drove out for it. They were supposed to have returned two hours before.

Now, this story made little sense. If the car could make it to the next auto parts store, why not just go on to it? Why leave her somewhere which required hours of backtracking to collect her again? Continue reading

Route 66: California

Here’s a bit of Route 66 background, if you’re coming in late. If you’re all caught up, start the journey below!

The Drive

Santa Monica pierMy plan was to drop Mindy at Guide Dogs for the Blind and then take Route 66 back to the Midwest. We started from Los Angeles to run eastward. The actual official end of the road, a couple blocks from the coast, is rather boring, so everyone collaboratively declares Santa Monica Pier to be the figurative end.

Route 66 "End of the Trail" sign on the Santa Monica Pier Continue reading

Route 66: The Mother Road, The Road of Dreams

painted Route 66 icon on cracked pavement into horizonRoute 66 was the first transcontinental highway, opened in 1926. Depending on the year and route you chose to travel, it was somewhere between 2,200 and 2,500 miles to run from Chicago to Los Angeles. It became (in)famous during the migrations from the Dustbowl, when over 200,000 left their failing farms and headed west looking for other work. (Most returned within a few months; some found farm or highway or other work, but generally California wasn’t hospitable to the refugees.)

The coming of the interstate did unkind things to the road towns, many of which depended on serving travelers (shippers, migrants, tourists) for their livelihoods. Route 66 was finally de-certified in 1985, and the road was thought dead.

It wasn’t. Continue reading