Cool Springs Route 66: Relics and Flags Picture of the Week - Oatman, Arizona

Vintage cars parked under a waving American flag at Cool Springs Station on Route 66, Oatman, Arizona.
Cool Springs Route 66: Relics and Flags – Echoes of the Past: Vintage cars sit silently under the vibrant hues of the American flag at Cool Springs Station, capturing the enduring spirit of Route 66.

The things you do for love. We don’t often get company, but when we do, Queen Anne transforms into a machine as she attempts to disinfect the house from top to bottom. My best chance of staying out of the trash bin or sucked into one of her vacuums is to lock myself in my office. That’s what happened the first week of December. Anne’s sisters came out for a long weekend visit, meaning that she spent the entire month of November scrubbing the walls. She only put down her Comet can for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Denny’s.

Before leaving to pick them up from the airport, imagine my surprise when she handed me a crisp $20.00 bill and told me, “Find someplace to spend the night.” It was predictable because we haven’t had enough beds for multiple guests since we sold our Casita (don’t remind me). I decided to drive over to the river and lose my newfound wealth on the Craps table. Since I was going in that direction, I thought I could get some Route 66 shots. And there, my friend is the story of how Oatman became January’s photo project.

In Arizona, there are two long stretches of the original Mother Road. The first and longest is the Seligman – Peach Springs – Kingman section. The other runs from Kingman, through Sitgraves Pass, to Oatman, and then the old bridge crossing the Colorado River. Since I have very few photos of Oatman, I took this route on my way home from Laughlin. I’m glad I did.

The only other time I drove this section of Old Route 66 was during the pandemic. At the time, we were avoiding people, so we didn’t stop to shoot any roadside attractions. However, the Cool Springs Station burned a hole in my lens, so it was a required stop on this trip.

Cool Springs Station and vintage gas pumps along Route 66 with Thimble Mountain in the background in Oatman, Arizona.
Cool Springs: Route 66’s Desert Jewel – Stepping back in time at Cool Springs Station, an iconic stop along Arizona’s stretch of Route 66, nestled against the majestic backdrop of Thimble Mountain.

You’ve likely seen pictures of this place in books or videos about Route 66. With its classic shiny red Mobil gas pumps (there’s a rusty one, too), it’s a perfect backdrop for motorheads to snap a portrait of their car. It hasn’t always been this gleaming jewel on the Mohave Desert floor. It has a history.

Nestled against the rugged backdrop of the Black Mountains, Cool Springs Station has stood as a silent witness to the ebb and flow of Route 66’s storied past. Established in the mid-1920s, Cool Springs was built to serve the burgeoning car culture of America, providing fuel, refreshments, and a welcome respite to weary travelers making their way through the Sitgreaves Pass. Its distinctive stone façade and gleaming gas pumps quickly became a symbol of the optimism and adventure spirit embodied by the Mother Road.

However, the passage of time and the shifting sands of progress were not always kind to Cool Springs. In the late 1960s, as the new interstate system redirected traffic away from Route 66, the station saw a decline, eventually falling into disrepair and was nearly forgotten. It wasn’t until 2001 that Ned Leuchtner, a Route 66 enthusiast, recognized the cultural and historical importance of Cool Springs. He undertook the painstaking task of reconstructing the station, using vintage photos as his guide to ensure authenticity. Today, the station has been restored to its former glory, complete with those classic red Mobil gas pumps and the original stone masonry, standing as a tribute to the enduring legacy of Route 66.

My picture of the month isn’t of the station but the yard art off to the side. The image is a trio of old car shells clustered under an American flag, with the Black Mountains as a background. Although these vehicles are historic, if they had any value, some collectors would have snatched them long ago.

The thing that made me choose this week’s photo is the flapping flag. I shot this midday with lighting that blends the cars and mountains into a bland porridge. The flag becomes the image’s star. It’s almost like the flags that fly over our national cemeteries. The picture says, “These are the fallen heroes of the long Route 66 history.”

We’re tickled that you started this year by spending time with us. If you want to see a larger version of this month’s photo, they are online on my website < Jim’s Page> and Fine Art America <FAA Link>. If you want to buy the Chevy Truck, you can contact Uncle Jim’s Cherry, One Owner, Used Car Emporium by leaving a comment below.

We look forward to your comments, so don’t be bashful. We’ll return with more Oatman and Route 66 photos next week, so don’t touch that dial.

Till then, keep your spirits high and your humor dry.
jw

Techniques: Waiting for the decisive moment.

You might think snapping a flag is a breeze, but let me tell you, it’s more like herding cats on a windy day. I aimed for a balance—not too limp and not overly taut—to convey a sense of movement and life. This required patience and timing, like capturing the peak moment in sports photography. With the wind’s whims as my conductor, I played a game of red and green light, waiting for Mother Nature’s perfect cue—talk about being at the mercy of the elements. In retrospect, a tripod would have saved me from the armache of holding steady through the breezes.

For the technically curious, this was a dance of light and speed. I shot in Aperture Priority mode with an f-stop of 6.1, relying on the bright midday sun to provide a fast enough shutter speed. My main concern was keeping the truck headlights and the flag’s stars and stripes in sharp focus. Choosing the correct f-stop or waiting for the wind is like deciding on the right spice for a stew or the right socks for sandals—not always obvious, but oh-so-important!

Dancing Petals: A Burst of Mexican Poppies in Full Bloom Wickenburg, Arizona - Picture of the Week

A captivating view of Mexican Poppies in full bloom, resembling a lively dance of petals.
Dancing Petals: A Burst of Mexican Poppies in Full Bloom – Witness the graceful dance of Mexican Poppies as their vibrant petals create a mesmerizing spectacle of colors.

May has arrived, and so far, it has left the 100° temperatures in a closet at home. To take full advantage of this comfortable weather, we threw open the curtains and windows wide to let in that fresh warm air, allowing the breeze to blow away the stale air that had settled in our home over the long winter months. As I breathed in the cool fresh air, I couldn’t help but notice the unwelcome grime that had accumulated on the windows over the winter. I thought, “Geez, it’s already time for spring cleaning.” Armed with the remains of a five-year-old bottle of Windex, I dove headfirst into restoring our crystal-clear view of the neighbor’s houses. When finished, I still had the energy to waste, so I turned to my recent photography files. You see, not everything I shoot fits neatly within a scheduled project. The subjects sometimes catch my eye purely because they’re pretty, colorful, or bask in the glory of captivating light. These may be image orphans, but I must share them with you. As a man of ridged habit, I occasionally gather and present these gems in their project, Odds and Ends. So, over the next four weeks, I invite you on a journey through a series of unrelated shots I took. They may not fit a specific theme, but they’re worth interrupting our regular schedule to share with you.

Thanks to this winter’s abundant rains—the perfect recipe for a natural phenomenon known as a ‘super bloom’—it was no surprise when the buzz of a colorful and vibrant floral display echoed through the air. I couldn’t help but share my enthusiasm, goading you to grab your camera and join in on the Great Flower Hunt of 2023. I hope you took up the challenge and immersed yourself in the joy of capturing nature’s stunning tapestry or at least romping through fields of wildflowers. Even the weather forecasters can’t resist showcasing fantastic flower shots as their backgrounds.

In this week’s photo—Dancing Petals—I present a patch of Mexican poppies, their bright petals basking in the warm afternoon light. These pretty little flowers, known for their radiant shades of orange and yellow, grace the landscape with their delicate beauty. As I stood above this scene, capturing the poppies from a downward angle, their unique characteristics came into focus. You may wonder how Mexican poppies differ from their close relatives, the California poppies. While both belong to the poppy family, they exhibit distinct but subtle traits. With their bright and fiery colors, Mexican poppies often cluster together in patches. The outer edge of their petals is rounded.

In contrast, California poppies display a softer and more muted palette, with shades of golden yellow and orange. Their petals are more uniformly arranged, creating a charming carpet-like effect across fields and meadows. These subtle variations in color and growth patterns add to the intrigue and diversity of the poppy world, reminding us of nature’s endless ability to surprise and delight.

Living in the Sonoran Desert with its unique diversity, we are accustomed to a world that is harsh and colored in shades of brown and muted green. But when the spring blooms come, they bring a welcome burst of color to our arid landscape. The rich oranges and yellows of Mexican poppies, the electric pink of hedgehog cactus blooms, and the striking white of saguaro flowers create a dazzling and surreal tapestry. However, the ephemeral nature of these blooms reminds us to cherish their beauty while we can, as they wither and dry all too soon. Their transient nature only adds to their preciousness, inviting us to pause and marvel at nature’s fleeting creations. In the desert, where the dry underbrush seems to beckon wildflowers to replenish the soil, these blooms represent a delicate balance of resilience and beauty, a reminder that even in the harshest of environments, life finds a way to thrive.

A mesmerizing tapestry of mesquite trees and Mexican poppies, weaving nature's colors across the Sonoran Desert canvas.
Nature’s Tapestry: Mesquite Trees and Mexican Poppies Painting the Desert Canvas – Witness the masterpiece of nature’s brush as mesquite trees and Mexican poppies paint a vibrant tapestry across the desert canvas.

If you’re eager to see a larger version of these Dancing Petals, you can check out the photo on the web by clicking here. Stay tuned for the next installment of Odds and Ends, where we’ll explore two different eras of farming equipment. Join us as we travel through time, delving into the captivating tale of an abandoned grain hopper that stands as a testament to a bygone era and the shiny new silos that mark the modern age of agriculture. Through these odds and ends, we’ll unravel the mysteries and stories within these two vastly different pieces of farm equipment. Until then, cherish the beauty around you, for it may be as short-lived as the delicate dance of the Mexican poppies.

Till next time
jw

BTW:

Queen Anne must not be feeling well. She didn’t get out of bed at 2 am and watch the coronation of King Charles throughout the night. She settled on watching the reruns—without wearing her usual Tierra. You should offer your wishes if you bump into her along the road.

Vintage Charm: A Festive Window Display Bisbee, Arizona

A festive window display showcasing a vintage Chambers gas stove and Christmas decorations.
Vintage Charm – Step back in time with a charming window display featuring a vintage Chambers gas stove and festive Christmas decor.

Prepare to embark on a mouthwatering adventure as we take a bite out of Bisbee’s culinary scene. My first visit to the old mining town was on a double date with another couple. In the Phoenix paper, we read a feature story about the Copper Queen Hotel restoration that convinced us to explore it firsthand. After checking into the hotel, Dick and I went out to find a beer while the girls refreshed themselves. We only walked a block to the Brewery Gulch corner before we were overcome with the aroma of tortillas fresh off the press. We went inside the tortilleria and bought a half dozen—still warm—a couple of Fantas and a stick of butter. Since there weren’t any tables, we sat on the front stairs, let the butter melt on the warm corn delicacies, and then wolfed them down in a few bites. That delightful moment sealed my love affair with Bisbee.

Let’s be honest; I’m a foodie. I know that because when we redid our kitchen, I insisted on a six-burner gas stove; I replaced my college-era Farah Fawcett poster with one of Alton Brown; I buy cookbooks and never use them. My cupboard is full of spice jars arranged in alphabetical order. Maybe, one of the reasons why Queen Anne and I have stayed together for 35 years is a vow that she cooed on a date, “You cook, and I’ll clean.” By sharing my dirty little secret with you, I hope you’ll understand why we try to discover the best local cuisines during our overnight photo trips. As I’ve previously written, it disappoints us when our choices are limited to Burger King, Taco Bell, or Pizza Hut. Bisbee doesn’t disappoint.

When I checked TripAdvisor this morning, there were over 30 Bisbee restaurants, and the list didn’t include the dozen or so food trucks operating in Cochise County. That’s too much food for one man to tackle, so I’ll share a selection of places that Queen Anne and I recommend.

Breakfast— Bisbee Breakfast Club (TripAdvisor #3): Start your day with a hearty breakfast at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, a must-visit spot. This local favorite serves delicious breakfast and brunch options, including pancakes, omelets, and breakfast burritos. The Breakfast Club is down Highway 80 in Lowell at the head of Erie Street.

Lunch—Le Cornucopia Café (TripAdvisor #1): An American café that features soups and sandwiches. Its customers rave about the fresh ingredients, generous proportions, and friendly staff. The café is located downtown on the main street (In last week’s picture, it’s the third building from the left). They’re open for lunch on most weekdays, dinners on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday Brunch.

Dinner—Café Roka (TripAdvisor #2): Known for its upscale dining experience, Café Roka offers a seasonal menu featuring creative fusion cuisine. Their dishes incorporate local ingredients and flavors, resulting in a memorable culinary experience. This is my go-to spot for an upscale dinner in Bisbee. While it leans toward the pricier side, it’s a YOLO experience. Café Roka is also on Bisbee’s main street, almost directly across from Le Cornucopia.

Bar Food— Old Bisbee Brewing Company (TripAdvisor # 8): If you’re a beer enthusiast, stop by Old Bisbee Brewing Company. This local brewery offers a range of handcrafted beers, including IPAs, lagers, and seasonal brews. Pair your beer with their pub-style food for a satisfying meal. The brewing company is a short walk-up Brewery Gulch.

Mexican—If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food, Douglas and Agua Prieta are only 30 miles away, and Naco is even closer. You can’t get any more authentic Mexican food than in Mexico—where they just call it food. As a word of caution, stay away from unbottled water and ice, and wear a bulletproof vest.

Before I move on, there’s one more place I think you should experience. It’s the Spirit Room at the Copper Queen Hotel. The restaurant is low on the TripAdvisor totem pole because the food isn’t inspiring, but I feel that the hotel’s grand history and mystique are food for the soul, so you should try it at least once.

You may wonder what sparked our appetite to delve into the delectable world of Bisbee’s culinary scene. Well, let me introduce you to this week’s featured image—Vintage Charm: A Festive Window Display—a captivating glimpse into the heart of Bisbee’s gastronomic heritage. This charming image invites us to take a step back in time, where the centerpiece is an old Chambers 36″ wide gas stove, an emblem of vintage cooking prowess. With its unique features, including the pointed handles and the accompanying seasonal cookware, this snapshot serves as a delicious reminder of the rich traditions and joyous moments associated with home-cooked meals. Wouldn’t this be the perfect gift for a chef with a retro kitchen?

The historic Phelps Dodge Company Store, an Art-Deco gem, with an American flag waving proudly.
Art-Deco Delight: The Historic Phelps Dodge Company Store – A glimpse of the historic Phelps Dodge Company Store, a stunning Art-Deco building adorned with an American flag.

As we bid farewell to Bisbee’s culinary adventure, we end our month-long exploration of this charming town. We’ve taken a Technicolor stroll down Tombstone Canyon, delved into the fascinating history of Bisbee’s Pythian Castle, immersed ourselves in the vibrant art scene, and marveled at the exhilarating coaster races and stair climb. It’s been a captivating journey filled with diverse stories and visuals. But fear not; our exploration doesn’t end here. Next week, we’ll embark on a new project, uncovering the secrets and wonders of a different location and theme. So stay tuned for more exciting adventures! In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the larger version of the captivating Vintage Charm: A Festive Window Display photo on its webpage by clicking here. We hope you’ve enjoyed our Bisbee tour and that it inspired you to visit this great town.

Till next time
jw

Technicolor Stroll Down Tombstone Canyon Bisbee, Arizona

Technicolor Stroll Down Tombstone Canyon - A group strolling down the sidewalk on Bisbee's colorful main street-Tombstone Canyon.
Technicolor Stroll Down Tombstone Canyon – A group strolling down the sidewalk on Bisbee’s colorful main street-Tombstone Canyon.

Welcome back to a new month and a new project! To play a joke on you, I almost sent out a blank post yesterday for April Fools. But, being the clever person you are, I deduced that you’d be too smart to fall for it. So then, I switched days on you and almost sent the prank out this morning, but I realized that you, a person of superior intelligence, wouldn’t be tricked by that ruse, either. Instead, I fooled you and wrote this new article, and you never saw it coming—HA! Inconceivable! Happy April Fools’ Day! – (thanks, Rob)

This month, Queen Anne and I will drag you back to Cochise County and Bisbee because we have a soft spot for this little mining town nestled in the Mule Mountains. Of all of Arizona’s ghost towns, Bisbee has been our favorite since our first visit, sticking with us like a catchy tune you can’t get out of your head. With its mile-high elevation, the weather’s usually pleasant, even in the hot summer months—as if Mother Nature herself turned down the thermostat. Instead of decaying wood shacks, Bisbee’s structures were built to last, and most of them are still standing, like proud survivors of a bygone era. The town boasts a thriving art community and a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and architecture. Oh, and let’s not forget the Copper Queen Hotel, once the poshest place to rest your head between St. Louis and San Francisco, where even its ghosts have high standards.

The Mule Mountains and Bisbee area have a rich natural and geological history. Millions of years ago, the mountains were formed through volcanic activity and shifting tectonic plates, resulting in deposits of copper and turquoise hidden beneath the surface—the juniper-covered Mule Mountains cradle Bisbee, nestled in the folds of its canyons. The region’s unique geological history has also led to the formation of these valuable deposits, shaping Bisbee’s identity as a mining hub. Anne and I enjoy capturing the breathtaking landscape and remnants of the town’s mining heritage. The area’s natural beauty and rich history have made it a true gem in the heart of the Southwest.

Long before the arrival of European settlers and the establishment of Bisbee, the Mule Mountains were already painting a masterpiece in vibrant hues of copper and turquoise, like a natural work of art that only the Hohokam, ancestors of today’s Tohono O’odham and Pima tribes, had the privilege of appreciating up close. These skilled farmers, traders, and artisans were the original caretakers of the land, leaving behind a legacy of pottery, petroglyphs, and other artifacts that offer a glimpse into their rich and colorful culture. The mountains were their muse, the copper and turquoise their paint, and the result is a stunning canvas that still takes our breath away today. The Mule Mountains had always held a special place in the hearts of those who called this land home long before Bisbee became the colorful town it is today.

Bisbee’s European history began in the late 19th century when prospectors discovered rich copper deposits in the Mule Mountains. The town proliferated, attracting miners, merchants, and entrepreneurs worldwide. By the turn of the century, Bisbee was a bustling hub of activity, with saloons, hotels, and shops lining its streets. Bisbee has had its fair share of both good times and bad. The town has a rich history, from its early days as a mining community to its recent incarnation as an artsy, quirky town. But with its history comes some dark moments, such as the Bisbee Deportation of 1917 and the Bisbee Massacre. These events left a lasting impact on the town and its residents, reminding us that Bisbee’s story is not just one of beauty and charm but also struggle and resilience.

This week’s photo is a street scene of Bisbee’s main street—Tombstone Canyon—lined with a row of historic buildings painted in various colors reminiscent of San Francisco’s Painted Ladies. As was expected before WWII, the shops share a common wall to maximize their interior space. The most colorful building is topped with a plaque identifying it as the Letson Block. A small group of pedestrians is walking down the sidewalk; perhaps they’re window-shopping tourists. On the otherwise drab street, reflections of the sun off windows create interesting random rectangles.

Dot's Diner - Don't care to stay in a stuffy ghost-laden hotel. Then head down to the cemetery and stop at Dot's, where you can book a night in an Airstream, Airplane, or Yacht. Besides, it's an excellent place for breakfast in the morning.
Dot’s Diner – Don’t care to stay in a stuffy ghost-laden hotel. Then head down to the cemetery and stop at Dot’s, where you can book a night in an Airstream, Airplane, or Yacht. Besides, it’s an excellent place for breakfast in the morning.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s photo of Bisbee’s Main Street, showcasing Bisbee’s charm. You can view a larger version of Technicolor Stroll Down Tombstone Canyon on the official website by clicking here. Join us next week for another exciting photo and tale from our favorite ghost town. We can’t wait to share our enthusiasm for this quirky, historic town.

Till next time
jw

BTW:

I told you so. If you haven’t gotten out yet, you need to get going. The fields are awash with flowers now. Grab your camera and get out there.

Spurs The Town Too Tough to Die

Spurs - Silver spurs on display in the window of a Tombstone boot shop.
Spurs – Silver spurs on display in the window of a Tombstone boot shop.

I got spurs that jingle jangle jingle, n’ I get so embarrassed at the movin’ picture show.”—John Wayne impersonation by Rich Little (I think).

Today is our final article about our Tombstone visit, and in the fine Disney tradition, we’ll exit through the gift shop. After all, that was the point of driving four hours to visit—overpriced beer, expensive burgers, tacky T-shirts, and a memento trinket that was most likely made in China.

Like most tourist towns, Tombstone has a variety of gift shops where you can buy anything your little heart desires—as long as your heart is lusting for cowboy stuff. Much like our hometown of Wickenburg, Tombstone is a one-trick pony. It’s all cowboy, all the time. It’s a formula that works for them. After all, they draw visitors from across the globe. Some fans regularly return for the OK Corral Shootout anniversaries—like Bob Boze Bell, noted Arizona illustrator and editor of True West Magazine. They go there to study the gunfight in painstaking detail for minute details that determine the outcome. So, why change a good thing? Me, I’m not that fascinated by gunfights.

Like most Arizonians, our first visit was enough. It’s not like we sit at home and suddenly drive four hours to discover what’s new in Tombstone. It’s always the same mediocre hamburgers in the same dives. The same good guys fight the same bad guys at the OK Corral, and the same people die. The same pink-rose patterned dishes are always collecting dust on antique store shelves. That’s why—for Queen Anne and me—a Tombstone trip is reserved for our out-of-town company or a lunch stop on the way to somewhere further along the road.

When we visit, however, we walk the boardwalks and window shop. On this most recent visit, I saw something unique. It was a display of silver spurs in the window of the boot shop. Since it was the week after Christmas, the store’s fully decorated tree was in the background. I thought, “What a perfect gift to give your favorite bull-rider.” Never before in my 75 years have I thought, “I wonder where I can buy a pair of spurs for my topsiders?” Now I know—in a Tombstone boot store.

I called this shot Spurs for apparent reasons. The actual display was much more comprehensive, but I had to move in close to cut the reflected window glare. This image is also a self-portrait—sort of. That’s me casting shade on the display. I might have gotten more spurs in the shot if I were a few pounds heavier.

You can see a larger version of Spurs on its Webpage by clicking here. Next week, we start a new project that’s thirty miles further on Old US 80. I’ll bet you it’s not the place you think it is. Come back next week and prove me wrong.

Till next time
jw

BTW:

Most importantly, Queen Anne is fine and recovering well. The emergency room doctor cleared the blockage with a can of Shasta Cola. I’m relieved that she’ll be around for a few more episodes.

Motel Du Beau Picture of the Week

Motel Du Beau - This 1929 establishment was one of the first to cater to tourists driving those new-fangled motor carriages.
Motel Du Beau – This 1929 establishment was one of the first to cater to tourists driving those new-fangled motor carriages.

When Queen Anne and I spent a week in Flagstaff last month, our primary goal was heat relief, but I was confident that I could snap a few shots of historic buildings and signs to add to my Route 66 collection. In this journal, I’ve written several times about my experiences traveling the Mother Road as a kid, so I’ll spare you from repeating them. Instead, I must say that I was disappointed at how hard it was to find kitschy motel and dinner signs along the main street. More profitable strip malls and professional offices are rapidly replacing them. Interstate 40 travelers prefer the newer hotels on Butler Street, where the Little America Hotel is. Nobody drives 66 anymore—too many lights and too much traffic.

John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, the depressing story of dust bowl migrants, searching for survival, didn’t make Route 66 famous. Nor did that fame come from my father’s generation, who—like the Joad family—moved en masse to California after World War II. It came when Angel Delgadillo—the Seligman barber—pitched a historic highway idea to the State of Arizona. When that designation came through, tons of beer-guts had a play-pen to gather and drive their car toys. We’re dying off now, and like the coals in your Webber Grill, that passion is dying with us.

Master photographers Ansel Adam and Minor White influenced how I photograph the world. Still, in 1975, the George Eastman House showed a photo exhibition called The New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape. The show still floats between museums today. It was a collection of ten photographs made by ten photographers that were opposite the landscapes I embraced. It was heresy. The photos are stark images of industrial buildings and houses devoid of people. I didn’t even think some of the artists printed very well. But I did kind of like the ones John Schott did. His pictures were of Route 66 motels. You can see where this led.

Flagstaff Train Depot - Either this is new or I've been blind, but the coolest Route 66 sign that I saw was the train station's address.
Flagstaff Train Depot – Either this is new, or I’ve been blind, but the coolest Route 66 sign I saw was the train station’s address.

I’ve considered compiling a book of my Route 66 photos. I have several, but most are from Arizona, with a couple from California and New Mexico, but nothing east of Texas. If this horse hadn’t been flogged to death, I still could work on my own Mother Road project. Now that I’m retired, I have time. I figure a month on the road should do it. To do it properly, I’d have to drive a classic car—something from the ’50s or ’60s. However, it needs air-conditioning, cruise control, and a good stereo (I won’t put up with AM radio stations dropping out under bridges). My ultimate ride would be a red ’62 Corvette—like the one Buzz and Todd drove—but hold the whitewalls. I could haul my camera equipment behind it in a small aluminum trailer like the autocross guys lug their race tires. October is a perfect month for a road trip, so if anyone out there wants to be my Angel investor, let me know. You’d get all the bills, half of the proceed, and a free book out of the deal.

This week’s featured image is of a prominent Flagstaff landmark. It’s called Motel du Beau, and the subject is the sign. It’s one of three hotel signs towering above the city (can you guess what this month’s project is). With the Lowell Observatory on top of the hill, Flagstaff has adopted a dark-sky policy, so the zoning people would never allow these enormous signs in town. If they weren’t historical landmarks, the city would tear them down.

In the late 1920s, Albert Eugene Du Beau vacationed in northern Arizona and envisioned a new way to make money. Instead of building a multi-story building for railroad and train travelers to stay, why not create a place for people traveling in these new-fangled motor cars? So, he designed and built a single-story motor-hotel (later shortened to motel) to be convenient to unload and load their vehicles in 1929. His design featured a U-shaped layout with steam-heated garages (they burned down in a 1970s fire) and indoor toilets. He built his motor court adjacent to downtown’s main street, which was brilliant because, in time, the busy highway became Route 66. The Motel Du Beau was one of the pioneering businesses to use neon signs and elevate them on towers.

In today’s modern world, the Motel Du Beau still looks like a nice place to stay, with rooms starting at $75—a far cry from the original price of $2.50 per night. Their website shows various room types, and they have a lovely little wine lounge called Nomads. I’d certainly be willing to try it after they reopen the bar.

I hope you enjoy seeing a part of Flagstaff’s history. You can view my Motel Du Beau web version on its page by clicking here. Next week, we’ll look at another historic Flagstaff motel sign, so be sure to join us then.

Till next time
jw

White House Picture of the Week

White House - An abandoned dwelling of some sort in the ghost town of Dos Cabezas.
White House – An abandoned dwelling of some sort in the ghost town of Dos Cabezas.

Ghost towns are a big business in Arizona. That’s good because we have our fair share, and a few of them attract many tourists. They’re our Disneyland. As soon as your relatives hit the tarmac and demand to see the state, the first suggestion out of your mouth is, “Let’s go to Jerome (Bisbee-Oatman-Tombstone-etc.).” You’d think that, by definition, ghost towns are abandoned places—they had their heyday long ago, but the residents left when things went south. But, that’s not necessarily true. The population count in some of our mining towns rivals the numbers they had in their prime. Our hometown of Congress is an example. People move here to get away from Phoenix’s smog and traffic—or the Minnesota snow—and they’re all on the road and in my way.

I’ve concluded that somebody loves it and wants to live there no matter how remote one of these places is. Take the town I introduced last week—Dos Cabezas. Among the derelict buildings, there are two surviving businesses. One is an art studio/gallery (Dos Cabezas Art Gallery), and the other is a bed and breakfast (Dos Cabezas Retreat Bed and Breakfast). At least those are the two places that advertise their presence. There are several cattle ranches in the area, and there is an emerging wine presence, but not within the town limits.

I don’t know anything about the gallery, but enjoying a glass of local wine while staring at the stars on the B&B patio would be a treat. Since it’s closer to the Chiricahua National Monument, it’s an alternative to the chain hotels or downtown dives in Willcox. The two guest rooms are in an adobe walled casita, and as the name implies, the hosts include breakfast. A drawback for Queen Anne and I would be dinners. The nearest restaurants are 15 miles away in Willcox or Douglas, over an hour’s drive south. If you’re a person that needs bright lights and noise to sleep, the retreat wouldn’t be your cup of tea—the nights in the middle of Sulphur Springs Valley are exceptionally dark and silent.

As you can tell from this week’s picture, the little ghost town is at the foot of the Dos Cabezas Mountains. It’s near the range’s southern reach, so you can only see the south head (Cabeza). There’s a road and trails that will get you to the top, where I imagine the view of the valley and Willcox Playa is spectacular. You need permission to cross a locked gate, and the top is steep, so why bother?

In this image that I call White House, I assume it was a dwelling. It’s a palace compared to some of the miner’s shacks I’ve seen. Unlike the other buildings in Dos Cabezas, this one is a fixer-upper. You have affordable housing with a bit of paint, a few shingles, and a yard clean-up. But there’s probably a community historical committee that needs appeasement, so you can’t paint it purple.

Unlike last week’s photo, the white stucco pops against the brown mountain and clear blue sky, and I like that. There’s plenty of side yard where I visualize Queen Anne hanging laundry on a solar drier. Then, this would be a picture that Norman Rockwell or Andrew Wyeth would envy. Where’s the Saturday Evening Post when you need them?

You can see a larger version of White House on its Web Page by clicking here. Next week, we continue down County Highway 186 in search of an image worthy of another car stop. Please join us.

Till Next Time
jw