Thursday, November 18, 2010

Route 66 - Is There A Good Reason For This?

It's not just Route 66 for me. It's exoskeletons of wood, adobe and cement of any kind that I invite to grab me and pull me in with ghostly claws. I love walking around the ghost town of Bodie and to the stone walls of more completely forgotten towns east, made my way down the closed cement slabs of Highway 80, and I'm convinced South Dakota is bigger on the inside.

So on the way back from Oklahoma City recently, I took the time to spend a day on the dirt road that once was Route 66 going from Glenrio, TX to San Jon, NM, and then on to Tucumcari. The relics of Glenrio are consistently photographed. Ours was one of two families traipsing the abandoned motels and cafes with cameras. So above are maybe the latest pictures of the near ghost town of Glenrio and the complete ghost town of Endee - a search of Google shows that about every six months someone posts their photos of the First/Last Motel, and the post office, of Glenrio, and of the longest dirt road section of Route 66 west of Glenrio, on Flickr, Photobucket, etc.

I don't feel so much like I'm reaching out to some distant past when I'm in these places. I feel more like I'm being asked, "were you here before?" When I arrived in Glenrio, I remembered seeing the First/Last Motel Of Texas when the sign was intact, though it would have had to have been 2 years after its closing in 1978 when I drove through Texas with my parents as a boy. Pictures of the motel sign never managed to bring that memory to the surface, being there brought it right out. When I was walking on the concrete slabs of Highway 80 east of San Diego, I recalled what it felt like to be in a car running over those kind of roads.

I'm not just attracted to the place itself, but about the things I find there that I will associate with other places and times. At times, in one place and time, I'll find a completely different place and time.

Once in Tucumcari, we stayed at the Historic Route 66 Motel. Owners Michael and Cathy have done a fantastic job of restoring the hotel to its original 1960's style - felt like I was walking into the set of "Mad Men". I've stayed in a dozen or so old motels along Route 66, some "restored", and some just plain dumps. The Historic Route 66 Motel in Tucumcari is the best I've seen, very clean and authentic. The restoration was done with care and passion.

Tucumcari is always our first stop on a long road trip. Jane and I have the drive from OC to Tucumcari down to a clockwork 13 hours. Such efficiency always led us to the Microtel there. See, even though I know better, I still need the experience of finding a really bitchin' old motel to remind me why I go off the interstates.

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