Just finished editing all of the images from our Route 66 / Southwest road trip. What an interesting journey it was! The Mother Road has little left to indicate it was a vital artery for critical highway travel in the mid-century of the 1900s. Most of it is simply gone. Allowed to decay into desolate heaps of trash. But fortunately. some gems remain to remind us how important this time was in our history – and how colorful our environment and styles were at this important juncture of our country’s development.
I have constructed a little slideshow for you to enjoy (well, actually not so little… 119 images), which you can access by clicking on the link.
In addition to photographing much of Route 66 from Oklahoma City to Flagstaff, we spent some time photographing Cadillac Ranch (at sunset, with a local model, in a 40mph gale…) in Amarillo. I got some killer shots, in spite of the harsh conditions – and a Hummer Limo full of Girl Scouts…
We also covered a great deal of Arizona, New Mexico and West Texas on our way back home – a 2,500 mile loop. We found Arizona to be a very interesting place – especially south of Tucson, where enormous Dust Devils danced about the open desert, with dust plumes rising thousands of feet in the air. It was like some post-apocalyptic movie scene. We also found these in Texas, but the sheer quantity in Arizona was quite fascinating.
We also took the time to visit Taliesin West, the winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright has always been a favorite architect of mine and I considered myself fortunate to have lived across the street from the Marin County Civic Center, one of his last creations.
What a treat it was so visit the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, actually sit in the furniture he designed and view the desert from his vantage point. His designs were minimalist, yet dramatic. He created spaces and access to them in such a way as to cause you to appreciate their design and impact as you entered and exited the space. He was adamant about using Mother Nature’s components in his construction and designed his structures to complement their surroundings.
Another item on my Bucket List completed.
The scenic beauty of the American Southwest is without equal. The sculpture of the land, is breathtaking. Mesas jutting up in the middle of an otherwise flat landscape and what appear to be miniature Cinder Cones popping up from time-to-time each offset their surroundings with drama and wonder. Enormous boulders, precariously balanced on their brethren, mysteriously remain in these positions for decades. Centuries, perhaps.
The dramatically sculpted mountains and general geologic formations are nothing short of spectacular to behold, especially around dawn or sunset, when the texture of the land is enhanced by acute lighting.
Like Route 66, much of the Southwest is littered with abandoned buildings and decaying signs of prior civilization. In one instance, we saw road signs for a community coming up. As we approached, we passed the sign for the north town limit and in another 100 yards, passed the south town limit sign, with not a single structure to be found in between. Whatever had been there, looked like it had simply been wiped from the face of the earth.
We finally made it to Marfa, Texas. Home of the famous and inexplicable “Marfa Lights”. We were underwhelmed by Marfa in every way imaginable. Marfa had all the energy and vitality of a Ghost Town – with the room rates of Manhattan. Really? This is it? No thank you. So off we went, due east, to the rest stop where the famous “Lights” are found. We were several hours too early to expect any “activity”, took a few photos and headed on to Alpine. Besides… It’s as likely the “Lights” are some frazzled farmer with a bottle of Jack, a flashlight and an old hubcap, as they are to be something extraterrestrial…
Alpine was a breath of fresh air compared to Marfa. Quaint, lively and with a historic hotel and decent rates. The dining options were much better as well. All-in-all, we highly recommend Alpine as a place to rest and recharge en route.
We had intended to make our next stop Kerrville in order to photograph Stonehenge II. Fortunately, I did some research prior to departure and found the property had been sold at the end of 2010 and the sculptures removed for reinstallation elsewhere. With no accurate information as to it’s actual new location or percentage of completion, we scrapped the plans for our eastbound leg and headed due north towards San Angelo, passing through some gorgeous country and a lot of interesting little towns.
June 2017 Update to this post:
In Summer of 2013 we did an art show in Breckenridge, Colorado. Since we were driving, we planned our route for a deliberate east to west crawl across the Texas panhandle to capture all the ghost towns and wide-spots-in-the-road along The Mother Road. We started this stretch of our journey in Erick, Oklahoma (home town of Roger Miller) and worked our way across to Amarillo, where we spent the night.
Continuing on the next day took us to New Mexico. Stopping at the state line rest stop, a park ranger we were speaking with recommended San Jon in New Mexico as a must-see on Route 66. She was absolutely right. It’s a real treat. So don’t miss it if you’re trying to experience Route 66.
A lot of additions went into this gallery in late 2013 after we returned from our trip.
There is a lot to see out there.