As promised … photos and a full report from my adventures on the road. I shot the sunrise above from the Texas-history-themed rest area on I-40 near McLean, Texas. I tend to be a pretty nocturnal creature, so I seldom see a sunrise … unless I’ve pulled an all-nighter, as was the case Friday morning.
My friend Tresa and I scraped paint at the historic Vega Motel on Route 66 in Vega, Texas. This work was the reason for my trip. Tresa and her husband, Harry, had to close the motel for about a year and a half because of a family emergency, and now they’re trying to get it ready to reopen.
It wouldn’t be a road trip if I didn’t bag a sunset for my friend Brad. Here y’go, mi’ijo — a wily southwestern sunset, stalked across the high desert and captured somewhere between San Jon and Tucumcari, N.M. Not as dazzling a specimen as that sunrise I caught in the Texas Panhandle, but nice enough to be blogworthy, I think. I like the way those big, golden rays are streaking through that cloud.
This is the historic Apache Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., where I spent Friday night. Normally, I’d stay at the indescribably gorgeous Blue Swallow Motel, just a few blocks west of the Apache, but the Swallow is closed for the season, and the Apache is under new ownership and has been remodeled recently, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I was not disappointed. The rates are very reasonable, and my room was big, clean, and very comfortable. The new owner is very sweet, too. I’m going to build him a Web site so more people will find out about his place.
On the way back to Vega from Tucumcari, I stopped in Adrian, Texas, to have breakfast at the wonderful Midpoint Cafe, home of the best pie on Route 66. The owner, Fran, was there, and we had a nice visit. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so it was good to catch up a little bit.
I don’t, as a rule, like to shoot self-portraits — they seldom turn out well enough to be worth the effort, and it seems a little arrogant to photograph myself — but in my room at the Bonanza Motel in Vega on Saturday night, the light from the bedside lamp was so lovely that I just had to take advantage of it. Since I was traveling solo, I just pulled a Catra Corbett and burned a few ones and zeroes on myself. Self-portraits sometimes come out kind of edgy and distorted, but this bright, diffused light produced a more gentle image. I like that color, too — it looks sort of like a photo from the ’70s. Remember how the cyan would fade from those old prints first, leaving behind the red and yellow tones?
I wound up doing a U-turn and coming back to this old motel in Amarillo so I could record the sign for posterity. The place is abandoned and in disrepair, and a flurry of development in the area around it leads me to suspect that the building and sign may not be long for this world. I love that star on top of the sign. I imagine those were probably chasing lights on the star. It was probably quite lovely in its heyday. Now the ruins tell a story.
Tiny Texola, Okla., has just three or four light poles … but every one of them had a lighted tinsel angel on it. These angels remind me of the ones they used to put on the light poles in my hometown when I was a kid.
This old motel sign in Erick, Okla., has been dimmed for years, but somebody apparently thought enough of it to do just a wee bit of restoration work on it, replacing the lightbulbs in the crown and lighting them up. The sign originally said “Cabana Motel.” The motel is long gone, and a couple of new buildings have taken its place, but the sign remains. Notice the tinsel candle on the pole nearby. Roger Miller Boulevard and Sheb Wooley Boulevard were lined with these decorations. Erick is small, but its downtown is quite lovely, with lots of old brick storefronts. In addition to Roger Miller and Sheb Wooley, Erick is the home of Harley and Annabelle Russell, the “Mediocre Music Makers,” who perform for tourists all summer at the Sandhills Curiousity Shop a block off Route 66. If you haven’t seen the Russells in action, it’s definitely worth a trip out there. I wanted to stop and visit Sunday evening, but I had to get home so I could work today.
It was quite a weekend, anyhow. The weather was beautiful most of the time, although Friday morning was just chilly enough to necessitate a trip to Vega’s historic Roark Hardware (the oldest hardware store on the Mother Road) to pick up a warmer jacket. I found a nice Walls farm coat for $40, which I thought was a good buy. Definitely the most practical souvenir I’ve bought in a long time, as I needed a heavier jacket for this winter, and this one should hold up for a good long while.
New jacket, a gorgeous sunrise, an excuse to try two motels I hadn’t visited before, and a chance to spend an entire weekend hanging out with friends and investing a little elbow grease in a historic property I love dearly. What more could a girl want?
Hope your weekend was as good as mine.