Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day Five

Ah! Comfort! AC! Bed! Shower that you don't have to wear flip-flops in! I am sitting at the writing table in my adorable motel room at the vintage 1939 Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari NM. It's a lot more comfortable than the KOA laundry rooms from the last couple of days, I tell you. The Blue Swallow, along with the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook AZ, is one of two motels I was excited about staying at as they're both historic Route 66 motels. Part of the experience!

Anyway, this has been an interesting day. After visiting the ghost town of Glenrio, I missed a "this road is about to turn from pavement to gravel and angle sharply to the left for good measure" sign, and almost spun out. After several harrowing seconds I got the car back under control and got out for an emergency cigarette and to see what the hell that sign back there said. Walking back to the car I encountered a toothless yokel, sorry, local, who told me her truck was out of gas and her husband was waiting by it.

I had room nor inclination to give her a ride, so I said I would drive up and see what was going on. Anyway, her equally toothless husband muttered something about gas as well, and I was now faced with a moral dilemma. Leave them in the sweltering heat on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, or try to help. Sucker that I am, I promised to find a gas station and bring back a couple of gallons of fuel. Anyhoo, I ended up driving almost twenty miles to the nearest (?) gas station, that of course did not have a jerrycan. Luckily the one across the freeway did, so I finally managed to obtain a can of gas and drive the twenty miles back, only to find that the truck and its inhabitants had vanished into thin air. That's an hour of my life and twenty bucks I'll never see again.

Now I am stuck with a two gallon jerrycan on my passenger seat. Problem is, I don't have room for it and chain smoke while driving, but I have this karmic feeling that the second I throw it away I will need it desperately. Poll: do I throw the two gallons of gas in the car and pitch the jerrycan, risking certain death in the desert from some yet-to-be-determined cause involving lack of a jerrycan, or do I drive around with a fuel-air bomb baking next to me in the southwestern sun? Vote on the top right of the page; under the archive links.

On the way out of Amarillo, Ding How!

Nice to see one of these old-time businesses still in operation.

The Cadillac Ranch, creation of some eccentric Texas millionaire and the inspiration for the Cadillac (mountain) Range in Cars.

Roadrunner Drive-In, Vega TX.

Yes, it's another abandoned service station. Sorry.

Later, when the machines rule us, maybe he will remember me kindly.

Inside the restaurant next to the gas station.

I made it! The Midpoint Cafe, exactly halfway between Chicago and Santa Monica!

Fran Houser, in addition to being the inspiration for the character "Flo" in Cars, and the owner of the Midpoint Cafe, makes a mean omelet and the best apple pie on earth.

I signed the truck!

And no, that is NOT my comment about the cheese, although I wholeheartedly concur.

And so did Michael Wallis, who played The Sherrif in the movie.

Ghost town of Glenrio TX.

This would have said "First Motel in Texas," it's right by the New Mexico state line.

Sign that says, "Hey, I'm turning to pavement now." Its friend on the other side of the road was the one I should have heeded, but nobody shot that one up so you get a picture of this one.

Exciting skid marks. Note approaching Scary Vanishing Gas Bumming Wild Goose Chase Sending Lady in the background. And in case you're wondering, which you're not, this is actually an unpaved stretch of 66.

Dude! Shouldn't you be behind a fence or something?! Holy crap!

ICK! Note piece of shrubbery stuck in grille.

Daddy, bub-boo-bath! NOW! Apparently washing your own car is also part of the Route 66 experience; I haven't seen a single hand car wash since leaving Chicagoland. I scrub-a-dub-dubbed her, but there's no after pic.

The Blue Swallow Motel.

Totally vintage. Note the original bakelite phone from 1939.

Hey, I forgot! The camera has a remote! I get to be in some of my own pictures without having to explain my camera to a Swedish tourist!

Nice skies out west here.

Car tucked into a garage right next to the room, just as you've seen in some of the decrepit motels in previous pictures.

Boy am I glad that I splurged on a tripod today.

Day Four

I've discovered the ideal location for making these posts. This one and the last have both been made from KOA laundry rooms, which feature chairs, a table to fold your clothes, power, and when lucky free wireless. Currently I am in the one belonging to the campground (or Kampground) outside Amarillo. More pictures than usual today, so I've been here longer than planned! After this it's onwards to Amarillo proper, and then to the Midpoint Cafe, exactly halfway between Chicago and Santa Monica. The character "Flo" in Cars is based on the owner. There was some confusion regarding this, I thought I was going to meet Sally the Porsche, but the lady her character is based on runs a little place in Stroud OK, so I've already passed it.

Some of you have asked me how I am following the old road. I'm using Jerry McClanahan and Jim Ross' map set, and when confused winging it either by eye or with the navigation system in the car. I haven't used a "real" map yet.

Leaving El Reno OK yesterday, the three quarter mile "Pony" Bridge over the South Canadian River.

A bad-ass bird. Looks like a carrion eater, but I'm no ornithologist. Hope the car doesn't break down with him watching ;-)

Wherever you go...

In the ticket booth of another abandoned drive-in.

An old farmhouse in southeast Oklahoma. I don't know if it's Dust Bowl era, but it could be.

You can see how this place would have dried up and blown away with any kind of drought.

The old road and the new running side by side.

The Glancy Motel.

Next door to the motel.

A used car dealership outside Clinton OK.

Another old service station along the road.

And another.

And another.

Looks like we're getting close to the South!

Serious disappointment, I thought I might actually get a Dr. Pepper out of the deal.

Beautiful detail though.

Two sides of the same sign. Every dog in town (I forget which town) was barking at me and my idling car by now so I didn't tarry long.

This stretch of road was unknown to both my map set and the nav system, looks like nobody has passed by here for a long time.

The Elm Motel with eponymous tree.

Note the garage attached to the motel room, many of the roadside motels were constructed this way.

Another modified sign, this time to my liking.

The "ghost" town of Texola.

With the prettiest wreck in the world sitting in a junkyard.

Rolf, who along with Texola's other 44 inhabitants would dispute its ghost town status.

Some very awful pictures of the very beautiful and very famous U-Drop-Inn. You see, to get a good picture of it you have to be standing in the middle of the road, so I only shot a few to avoid getting killed and they were all crooked unfortunately.

Yet another service station with some nice shadows.

Unfortunately you see a lot of these "American Owned" signs along the way. I guess this owner's raciscm didn't do him much good.

Sign across the street from the Texas Motel.

Cool drug store sign in McLean TX.

Yep, we're definitely not in the Midwest anymore!

Some awesome ruins in Jericho TX.

Gratuitous car shot.

Leaning water tower in Groom TX. I sure hope it's empty!

They take their god-stuff VERY seriously in Texas. For scale, note the trucks standing at the base of the cross. This thing is freakin' HUGE.

The first cold beer in two days. Lone Star, yum.

My little setup once again.

MUCH less exciting than the buffalo steak! Cheddar Broccoli pasta in a bag, a can of popeye brand spinach, condensed milk, parmesan, and cayenne pepper. Definitely edible though...