Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Getting lost in time

Didn’t post anything for Day #6 as I just simply ran out of time.  In fact, I ended up shooting so late and was so far from anything that resembled civilization, I ended up sleeping in the car along the side of the highway with a local coyote and some truckers for company.  

What one tends to forget is that the further west Route 66 takes you the more the distances increase between Motels and Hotels.   I had planned on jumping straight across Texas and making it to Gallup, New Mexico in one swoop.  This is doable but not when one gets easily sidetracked as I do. 

Before I knew it I had gone way past Albuquerque, (where the last of the descent accommodations were until Gallup) and too far from Gallup as well as too tired to push on.  Thus the coyote, truckers and I camped for the night.

What caused my losing track of time is that I discovered another gem.  I decided to drop by Texola again but this time I ventured into the only place left operating, The Tumbleweed Grill and Country Store.   

Wow, sure glad I did.
Tumbleweed Cafe
When I entered most of the place was clocked in darkness and having just come in from the bright Oklahoma sunlight all I could see was a sliver of light emanating from what appeared to be a kitchen.   I said HELLO and a face popped around the corner followed by the lights going on.  The face belonged to Masal.
Masal preparing lunch for a customer
Seems that two years ago Masal and her husband were driving to Memphis, via Route 66, and stopped for gas in Texola.  After filling up their brand new car would not restart.  Turns out it was a defective fuel pump.  Since they were stranded until a new one could be FedEx'd, and it was February with the closest motel being 60 miles away, the station owner offered to put them up.  With time on their hands they discovered that the Tumbleweed was for sale and the price being right they bought it and as they say, the rest is history.
Masal in front of her pride and joy
Masal is the chief, cook, waitress and bottle washer, literally.  Also, an artist who runs both the grill and country store. 

Texola is definitely worth stopping by and offers many great photographic opportunities. Do drop into The Tumbleweed Grill and meet Masal and sample her cooking.
Next door to the  Tumbleweed Cafe but not in as good a shape

Leaving Texola and Masal I figured I’d drop into what’s left of Jericho, just over the state line in Texas.  Sticking to the old Route 66 is a bit like cross-country train travel.  For those of us who have had this experience, you will recall the rhythmic clickety-clack sound, mile after mile, of the train wheels made on the tracks.  That same sound is produced as you drive along parts of the original concrete sections of R66. Very rhythmic and nostalgic.
It seems some folks need a lot of convincing they are going the wrong way.

At times the paved/concrete has reverted back to au natural

Unfortunately, the rhythm and nostalgia of Route 66 was broken when I got to Jericho. What lay before me was a huge disappointment.  

When I was here last year what remained of Jericho wasn’t much but very photographic and mysterious sitting all alone on the empty vastness of the Texas landscape.
Progress isn't always a photographers friend

Everywhere you turn the wind towers now dominate the landscape.

It’s all changed and though no doubt to the betterment of Texas, not so from a photographers vantage point.  Within in the past year, dozens of huge wind towers have been erected, all around Jericho, with much more in the process of going up.  Jericho no longer has the feeling of a ghost town sitting in nowhere but now just another collection of old deserted building surrounded by modern-day structures.  Another casualty of modernization on the march.

Since the available daylight hours are long I figured why not take advantage and shoot as much as possible.  However, before one is aware of it the hour is getting late and the distance too great to make your intended destination.  Also compounding the matter is my insatiable curiosity as to what’s down the road tends to lead me further astray from the main roads, which add unexpected hours to the days travel.  

The road to curiosity

Two Guns, Arizona

Glenrio on the border of Texas and New Mexico

As much as I wanted to push on, the lure of places such as Two Guns and Glenrio was just too much to resist and I found myself unable to pass these places buy without once again spending time there.  It amazes just how close these two places are to the interstate, look for a clue in the Glenrio photo, yet the vast majority of travellers pass these ghost towns by.   

What I have found, with Route 66, is that if you really want to experience its magic and mysteries then time needs to be taken to explore it.  Rushing down I40, though it's now considered to be Route 66,  will not offer what the real Mother Road has to offer.

In the end, I conceded that it would be far safer spending the night in the car than pushing the envelope trying to reach my intended destination that evening.  Thus my night sleeping by the roadside with mr. coyote and some truckers.

Day 7

The intention was to drive directly to LA, stopping only for fuel and some needed rest. 

Pulled into Kingman, Arizona for fuel and a McDonalds coffee only to discover an interesting character.  Christian Schlatter is a Swiss national who is in the latter part of his round-the-world motorcycle trip.    He was huddled in a corner of McDonalds trying not to draw too much attention to himself (stood out like a sore thumb in his yellow and very warn motorcycle outfit) while making use of McDonalds’ free wi-fi (just as I do) to get caught up on postings to his blog.  Having viewed his bike in the parking lot I couldn’t resist invading his privacy.  Turned out that Christian was only too happy to tell me some of his stories as we had coffee together.
The Map on one of the saddlebags
120,000 kilometers and counting
Christian planning his next few days.

What an interesting person. I suggested anyone else interested in what a 120,000 Kilometer bike trip is like that they look up Christian’s web page at

I’m currently in LA with my daughter awaiting the possible brain surgery on Smith, my grandson.

When I again hit the road on my way back east I'll again post as I try to seek out the unusual people who call the ghost towns of the West their home.


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