|Motel Safari, Tucumcari, New Mexico|
In days gone by, road weary dads would unwind with other road weary dads in front of the motel rooms or on the lawn, discuss the days travels, and get fresh information for the next days journey. The kids played in the parking lot or, if they were fortunate, on the swings and slide provided by the proprietor, while wives worried over the details and shared tales with over wives.
Televisions, air conditioning, and swimming pools changed everything. With these modern amenities the motel became an extension of the home we rushed to after work where the generic, warmed over tv dinner was eaten in front of the flickering screen and fellow travelers assumed the role of neighbors at home that we nodded to from the porch no longer shared as the work day began.
My sense of having stepped into an earlier time deepened as I found myself immersed in the friendly banter of fellow travelers taking in the evening breeze while sharing tales of the open road. I felt a sense of renewal in seeing young men like Tom Dion, Greg Hasman, and others foregoing the "pleasures " of cable television at the end of a long day to emulate their fathers and grandfathers.
Michael Wallis has referred to Route 66 as a linear community. It is also an asphalt, and some times gravel, link to the past where hope for the future is found.
After a pleasant nights rest we enjoyed a simple picnic breakfast and wandered the quite streets to photograph landmarks of Route 66 that have survived into the modern era. Then we topped off the tank and continued our eastward journey.
|A mule deer on the road to Endee, New Mexico|
The old Jeep kicked up a trail of dust as we rolled across the rolling hills, past now empty farm houses, and along overgrown fields where deer now reign supreme. At an old stand of trees we made our first stop of the mornings jaunt to savor the silence and unleash the imagination among the ruins of Endee, a town built on hopes and dreams that were swept away by the winds of change.
It is but a short drive from Endee to one of the most famous ghost towns on Route 66, Glenrio astride the Texas and New Mexico state line. Long before there was a highway signed with two sixes Glenrio was a center of commerce with a hotel, a newspaper, a railroad depot, and a variety of stores.
|Endee, New Mexico|
The road mirrored the changing times. First there was a dirt track signed as the Ozark Trail, and this became Route 66. Pavement soon followed the signing with two sixes and in time, two lanes gave way to four.
Through it all Glenrio survived and prospered. It was the dawning of the interstate that proved to be the towns death knell as the destination now claimed prominence over the journey and folks no longer had time to linger over pie and coffee.
It was with reluctance that we left the now quiet streets of Glenrio to join the soulless interstate but there is little choice as the old road is decapitated by its replacement just a few miles east of town.
The Route 66 frame of mind dampened by the return to the modern era was quickly restored with a simple lunch eaten amongst the surging sense of life that permeates Fran's Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. This is not a mere restaurant, it long ago transcended that original purpose to become a place where the mind and spirit are renewed with each hearty laugh or bite of home made pie.
After leaving the Midpoint we stayed with Route 66 through Vega and to Indian Hills before again taking to the interstate and the traffic of Amarillo. We quickly found the host hotel for the event, the Ambassador, packed our gear to the second floor room, and set out to find "Croc" Lile, a multi talented artist that was also one of the organizers for the 2011 International Route 66 Festival as well as the gallery owner that handles our photographic prints and who had graciously allowed us to use his address for the shipping of copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66.
In retrospect, catching up with "Croc, picking up ten cases of books, a pleasant dinner with my wife at the hotel, and an evening book signing at Barnes & Noble on Soncy Road were the starting point for an evening of fun that swirled over into a weekend spent celebrating the magic of Route 66 with new found friends and old ones.