Friday, August 26, 2016

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 7, Eastern Arizona

We continue our trip on Route 66 through Arizona. Heading east, once you reach Seligman, Arizona, Route 66 follows I-40, with some sections of old pavement and some sections along the frontage road.
Ash Fork is a tired old railroad and quarrying town, once said to be the Flagstone Capital of the World. The town was founded in the 1880s, and the name Ash Fork may be from the ash tree where outlaws were hanged. It is at elevation 5144 ft, but my car did not yet noticeably bog down in the thin air. Route 66 splits, with the eastbound following one main road through town and the westbound on another road. Flagstones decorated the front of the Oasis Lounge on Park St., which is the eastbound path.
I was surprised to see a shotgun shack. I thought this was an style mainly used in the US southeast and did not know they were built in the west, too.
Huge flagstone form sidewalk steps, evidence of the former quarrying output.
The Emmanuel Trinity Methodist Church at 47243 N Fourth Street has a stone veneer replacing the former windows of this shop. Note the unusual bas-relief statues.
The church bus had seen better days, like most of the town.
Not a bad Chevrolet wagon. Old cars don't rust here in the dry high altitude air.
The political message on the old shipping container was a bit (well, very) obscure.
I pressed on eastward on I-40 because I was short on time. I had lunch in Flagstaff but saw nothing there of Route 66 interest. Flagstaff is touristy because of its access to Grand Canyon National Park, and much of the downtown has been rebuilt. I found a gasoline station with ethanol-free fuel and continued east. I pulled off at Joseph City, which was founded by Mormon settlers in 1876. Today, there is not much city here, and the Old Historic Route 66 Hay Sales & Feed was closed.
I processed these two in color to show the subtle colors. The painting on the teepee proves that aliens have been here.
Downtown Joseph City was rather depressing. So many of these small towns are just drying up.
My last stop in Arizona was in Houck. At one time, Fort Courage was a replica of the fort used in the doofy 1960s television show F Troop. As far as I could tell, Fort Courage was closed permanently, as was the adjoining Pancake House, with its huge teepee holding up the sign.

This is the end of my travels on the Mother Road in Arizona, and the next article will be in New Mexico. Photographs taken with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera, with some files processed in PhotoNinja software.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 6, Kingman, Arizona

The water tower in Kingman, Arizona, proudly states, "Welcome to Kingman, Heart of Historic Route 66." The city fathers might be a bit optimistic, but Route 66 does run through Kingman on Andy Devine Avenue, and there are a number of interesting vintage motels to examine. Notice the dry terrain in the distance. Although the city is located on the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, it experiences a "cold semi-arid climate" (BSk) instead of desert, according to the Köppen climate classification.
The El Trovatore Motel (named after Giuseppe Verdi's opera Il Trivarore?) is a quintessential Route 66 stopover. I should have stayed here but had checked into a dive on the other side of town.
Nice mural! I processed this frame in color to show the brilliant colors. This must represent Elvis before his sequined outfit Vegas era. Marilyn gets around, too.
This was a cleaver map showing the Route 66 stretching to Chicago in the distance.
A Native American brave and Mr. Magoo also fit into the decorative scheme. Interesting place.
Across Andy Devive Avenue from the El Trovatore, the R&R Body Shop was restoring a Chevrolet Greenbriar rampside pickup truck. According to Wikipedia, "The Rampside had a side ramp to be used for loading and unloading cargo. These were used by the Bell Telephone Company, because loading and unloading of cable drums was eased by the side ramp."
The Neuter clinic was a short distance away. I wonder who was to receive the service that morning?
The Acadia Lodge has seen better days. What is it with the Greek theme in these desert communities?
The Siesta Apartments were a step further down the food chain. I'm glad I stayed in the dive where I checked in the previous evening instead of the Siesta.
The older section of Kingman, near the depot, has a lot of empty buildings and empty lots.
North of I-40, Kingman is a modern American strip town with no Route 66 memorabilia. Historic Route 66 sets off to the northeast, soon leaving Kingman behind and traversing empty countryside. In about 25 miles from I-40, you reach Hackberry. Time stood still here.
Some of you old-timer readers may remember S&H Green Stamps. When you bought products from a participating store, you received some green stamps, which you pasted into a booklet. After you filled enough booklets, you could choose a toaster or other appliance from a catalog. I never figured out who profited from this arrangement, but surely the sponsors were assuming that many customers would forget their stamp books in drawers and never cash in.
I remember these kinds of gasoline pumps where the numbers were on a rotating wheel. They were easier to read in bright sun than the LCD displays on contemporary pumps.
Not much was happening at this Hackberry motel. Note the stone veneer on the building.

Route 66 continues east through more semi-desert terrain. I wanted a snack, and fortunately, there was a casino and Hualapai Tribal headquarters at Peach Springs. From there, Route 66 swung to the southeast, finally rejoining I-40 at Seligman. We will continue our tour in the next installment.

Photographs taken with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera. I used a polarizer on many frames to darken the sky, and I set my camera on square format to emulate Rolleiflex frames.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 5, western Arizona

Let us continue our tour of the Mother Road. We have completed California, and at the border, Route 66 enters Arizona at the town of Toprock via the Interstate 40 bridge as it crosses the Colorado River. At Toprock, turn north on the Oatman-Toprock Highway. This passes by flat agricultural land and then ascends into the dry mountains on its way to Oatman.
Late afternoon, there is no traffic; the place is empty. Wait, no, it's not empty. The burro came to visit and soon his friend joined him. He drooled in the car and started to chew, which could have been very destructive quickly. I pushed him out and moved on into Oatman. These friendly guys' forefathers were brought here during the mining era.
Oarman does the Out West - Quaint Mining Town thing a big way. I thought I might stay the night, but by 5 pm, Oatman had closed up totally. Even the Oatman Hotel (where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard came for their honeymoon) was closed. Fortunately, I had snacks and plenty of gasoline (hint to Route 66 travelers: don't take chances, fill up when you can because services can be far apart).
I processed this file in color to show how the Old West theme has been done up. Oatman was a true mining town up to the onset of World War II, but then endured several decades as a ghost town. But it is reviving as a tourist destination, complete with an annual egg-frying contest using solar gadgets.
The road winds up and up into the Black Mountains to Sitgreaves Pass at 3556 ft (1083 m) elevation. In the past, cars had trouble with the grade and wreckers and tow trucks were on hand to haul cars over the crest. Some cars went up in reverse, which was geared lower than 1st gear. Anyway, sunset was gorgeous, and I processed this picture in color to show the sunset glow. It was quiet, and I shared the sunset with a fellow who came up from Kingman on a big Harley.
Proceed northeast, and the road switchbacks downhill, eventually reaching Cold Springs. Other than a few ranches, it was quiet. Heading towards Kingman, I saw more grid streets set up for ambitious suburban developments that never happened. As usual, I ask, where did they think they would get the water? Anyway, it was dark, I was tired, and I pushed on to Kingman to find a motel.

Photographs taken with a Fuji X-E1 digital camera, with some RAW filed processed with PhotoNinja software.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 4, the Mohave Desert East

In the central Mohave Desert of California, Route 66, also known as the National Trails Highway, runs several miles south of I-40 on its way to the Arizona border. Although 66 seems to be out in the middle of nowhere, when I was there in early April, there was a steady stream of tourists cruising along. Still, be prepared, make sure your car is in good condition, and carry a lot of water, especially if you will be driving this stretch in summer.
Continue east from Amboy, and soon you reach Cadiz Summit. There is not much there other than an abandoned tourist complex.
Essex, now we are in a town. Well, maybe the ambitions of riverfront property exceeded the reality of the river. The Route 66 Adventure Handbook says General Patton's troops trained here in 1942 to prepare for the invasion of North Africa.
The National Trails Highway loops north and passes under I-40. Goffs is at the edge of the Mohave National Preserve, but there is not much left of the community. Soon you need to rejoin I-40 and drive to Needles to cross the Colorado River. The old Route 66 bridge no longer exists. We will continue our tour of the Mother Road in Arizona in the next installment.
Let's take a minor diversion. There are weird things not on Route 66. If you are driving on I-15 from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles area, the interstate passes through a lot of dry, empty country. But stop in Baker, and you can eat at the Mad Greek. Really, a little piece of the Greek Islands is out in the Mohave Desert. The owner may have been mad to build a Greek restaurant in an area where ethnically it must have been about as foreign as you could imagine, but he made an amazing success of the business.
I stayed in a modest motel (a bit better than a dive). There were no bugs, and the car was ready for a quick getaway.
But thanks to the Mad Greek, for breakfast, I had baklava and Greek coffee - health food! Opa! (Ώπα!)

Friday, July 29, 2016

Travels on the Mother Road, Route 66 - Part 3, the Mohave Desert

Dear readers, this is Part 3 of our trip on the Mother Road. Head east from Barstow, California, and you really get into desert terrain. I was there in April, and the weather was gorgeous - brilliant clear sky and daytime temperature of about 25° C or 75° F. Just fantastic. But summer can often have midday temperatures above 110° F, so be warned.
Daggett is about 10 miles east of Barstow on the National Trails Highway. Although it is just off of I-40, the town has a sleepy feeling of time forgotten. The Desert Market was there to serve Route 66 travelers decades ago. The 1890 building still serves as a convenience store.
Some of the local gents were imbibing early morning. They were thrilled to talk about Route 66 and tell me about sights to check out.
The Stone Hotel was in business at the beginning of the 20th century, during the borax boom. It is an example of the type of accommodations that were available a century ago for travelers crossing the desert. Borax is an evaporate (mined from nearby dry lakes) that has many industrial uses in detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glazes. According to the Route 66 Adventure Handbook, John Muir frequented the Stone.
This is the odd house with a ski chalet roof. It opened in 1926 as a visitors' center and gasoline station, the same year 66 was formally designated.
Head east out of Daggett, and you are really in the desert. The National Trails Highway follows close to I-40, then swings south away from 40 at Ludlow. There is not much 66 memorabilia until you reach Amboy.
Roy's Motel & Cafe is an iconic piece of 1950s Route 66 architecture, and the sign is famous.
The lobby has been preserved right out of the 1950s, complete with an entertainment center. The Adventure Handbook said new owners were planning to revive the site, but I did not see any guests. I was hoping to take some film photographs with my big Fuji GW690II camera, but the shutter locked up right in the porch at Roy's. So, no film this trip.
It does not get much stranger than this. A couple miles east of Amboy, in dry dusty desert, I saw two gorgeous marble dragons. It looks like a subdivision had been laid out, and possibly the dragons (lions?) were intended to guard the entrance. A gated community in the desert? With no water? And the residents would commute to???

I took a diversion to Palm Springs before driving to Amboy. Palm Springs is pretty funky; the people are friendly, the setting spectacular, and the restaurants excellent. And if you are really rich, there is some amazing high-end property you could buy (a number of Russian billionaires have homes here). Not too far south of Palm Springs is the Salton Sea, which is worth a visit if you want to see what environmental degradation on a grand scale looks like. Please click the links to see Bombay BeachBombay Beach in black and white, and Salton City (non-city).

We will continue east on Route 66 in the next installment. Please stay tuned.