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Archive for November, 2011


abandon wagons
“THEY COME INTO ROUTE 66 FROM THE TRIBUTARY SIDE ROADS, FROM THE WAGON TRACKS AND THE RUTTED COUNTRY ROADS. ROUTE 66 IS THE MOTHER ROAD, THE ROAD OF FLIGHT” writes John Steinbeck in the “Grapes of Wrath” about the crush of humanity fleeing the dust bowl…

Over the years Archie Wilson has accumulated acres of old cars and toys in Moriarty NM.

Few people can testify to America’s Route 66 experience better than Archie Lewis. Early TravelersFor decades Archie has crawled over those roadways, through the nooks and crannies, in old barns and lofts collecting acres of Americana til now he runs the Lewis Antique Auto and Toy Museum off Route 66 (Interstate 40) in Moriarty, NM. His collection of cars that “made it this far and not a foot more…”, all cars that represent another way of life. The history of the automobile and transportation unfolds across Archie’s acres of scrap metal and artifacts.
Crosley Wagon built from 1939 through 1952 a visionary car with a 4 cylinder engine capable of 30-50miles per gallon<
For some it was a world of chrome and heavy steel and for others, a world of muscle, those cars were nothing like our cars today, those cars once kicked ass. They could move in a 0-70mph world and they ruled. Restored muscle-cars fill Bono’s Route 66 Car Museum in Santa Rosa and many more restored cars from the fifties and sixties show up at other Route 66 roadsides all across the country from Chicago to California.
Old Trucks that brought produce and goods to market along the famous Route 66 lie still baking in the hot sun. The architecture of the period, oddities like the Wig-Wam Motel in Holbrook, AZ or garages like JR’s Tires in Moriarty NM built in 1937 and are both still serving passing motorists with tires, oil changes and repairs and a place to stay. Still open for repairs and oil changes. A owner of seven or eight motels, Charles E. Lewis saw his first Wigwam Motel in Kentucky and decided that he would like to build a Wigwam Village of his own. At that time, franchises were unknown, the original motel owner Mr. Redford was more interested in sharing his plans than making money. So Lewis and Redford came to an agreement that radios would be placed in each Wigwam that would play for one half hour for a silver dime. Mr. Redford would then receive the dimes from the radios for a period of some years in payment for the use of his plans. There were seven of these Wigwam Villages built from the 1930’s to the 1950’s from Florida to California, this one in Holbrook, may be the best known because it is on Route 66.

U.S. Route 66 known as the Main Street of America or the Mother Road or The most famous road in the world was a highway within the U.S. Highway System Route 66 it was established on November 11, 1926. One of the original U.S. highways, Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926. Sixty-six originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, before ending at the pier in Santa Monica, California covering a total of 2,448 miles.
Tumacori, New Mexico
The staple of life that brought Route 66 alive and to which it clings yet today, the Mother Road as John Steinbeck called it in the “Grapes of Wrath” was a pathway to opportunity. I0000c9S.wrtzxeM It was an escape from the life folks knew and during the depression there was much to leave behind and California was a beacon of hope, so the towns and communities along Route 66 created an economy from interstate travel; with garages, cafes, travel-lodges, motels, dime-stores, groceries stores and roadside oddities. Any reason to stop and stretch your legs, whole communities took their identity from a single oddity or claim to fame, each town was the birthplace of every kid in town.

Code Talker Memorial in Gallup, NM in front of the Gallup Cultural Center, formerly the Santa Fe Depot, and now the historic Route 66 structure is used for community discussions and lectures. Native American dancing can be seen there nightly during summer months. Today there are websites and state-wide organizations from the eight states touched by the road who have car shows, rallies and planned weekends to celebrate each year the blessing of Route 66. Historical organizations take their hard earned funds and make donations to historic structures along the route who need cash to hold on to the history.
Laguna Pueblo on Route 66 attracts motorists and tourist can often over run the ancient pueblo, some residents sell pottery and baked goods.
Laguna Pueblo Church asks no pictures be taken inside the chapel. It is accepted practice to ask if a person would mind being photographed.
Indian Roadside Village attracts tourist dollars and begs the tourist to bring their cameras whereas the Laguna Pueblo attracts lots of visitors from the highway and the constant pressure on the centuries old pueblo from outside influence is mitigated by new attractions and casinos in the area that welcome the traveler and their smartphone cameras and their business.
Willis Motor Court in Geronimo, AZ is a good example of the early motor court with customer parking, which is disappearing everywhere like these historic structures. TwoGuns
Places like the Route 66 Motel in Kingman, Arizona has been serving Route 66 travelers since 1963. It’s iconic sign has been featured in National Geographic (September, 1997). Diners at the Ariston Cafe still enjoy the dining ambiance of this family-run eatery. The Chicken Basket has been serving its famous fried chicken since 1946. In historic times, the owner would flood the roof in winter and hire youth to ice skate on top of the building. The owner received more than $10,000 matching funds to repair the Route 66 Motel Sign whose towering red and yellow sign remains a beacon for travelers on dark nights and has been for more than 50 years it now will continue to serve as an important Route 66 landmark in Kingman, Az.

Local communities spruce up their connection with Route 66 or build on it like in Williams, Az there is the Cruiser Drive-In for shakes and burgers with a hot rod on the roof, Elvis Presley graces the doorway of one novelty shop and every business have Route 66 souvenirs. >Just off I-40 Williams, Az exit (one turnoff to the Grand Canyon) is a drive-thru animal safari featuring black bears, called Bearizona, and white buffalo, several species of wolf, mountain sheep and mountain goats, south west burros and a fine raptor show. I0000B3jgOPTefpwWilliam’s also has the Bill Williams Wilderness and nearby lakes are a big tourist draw but all the smart money in town is invested in Route 66, the mystic and history that evolves around the road that once built it’s own TV series, had it’s own theme song and slogan: “Get your kicks on Route 66”. It is a story that repeats itself in every little town or village that was “once touched” by Route 66 over the years new alignments, bypasses, new roads have replaced the highway that once brought America together. Route 66 was born in a whirlwind love affair with the automobile, freeing us from the tracks laid down by railroads and opening the west to investigation by the masses. The road trip was born and the roadside attraction came shortly thereafter. “are we there yet” chorus came from the backseat and home-cooking was a big attraction and towns all across the US managed to pull in a few dollars from gas, food and lodging developing enough economy to encourage, nurture and develop the heartland of America after the Depression.

Built in Flagstaff, AZ to showcase animal heads to tourist passing on Route 66 at one time the largest log cabin in the United States.

The Museum Club built in Flagstaff, AZ by unemployed lumberjacks hired to build “the biggest log cabin in Arizona” built by a taxidermist to showcase his lifetime collection of stuffed animals, six-legged sheep, Winchester rifles, Indian artifacts, two-headed calves, and more than 30,000 other items. Operating as a museum, taxidermist shop, and a trading post, scores of Route 66’rs stopped in to visit Dean and his collection during the five years that he operated the museum. Before long, locals dubbed the museum “The Zoo.” Today the popular Flagstaff nightclub offers refreshment to weary travelers seven day a week. I00007tCV.7TzdNEAfter World War II a thankful America elected General Eisenhower who had seen the Autobohn in Germany during the War and knew the important role it had played in the national security of the countries of Europe, so he wanted one. For decades Main Street America fought the Interstate Highway Act but slowly and surely Route 66 was replaced by Interstate Roadways that stopped for no one, no town, nothing–toll roads had their own gas stations and convenience marts–it took time to hop off the interstate and go into town. Slowly but surely those towns on the blue highways dried up and Route 66 became more of a state of mind, a place in time, a TV Show, a period of discovery and growth, simple times that once defined America as a land of opportunity made up by hard-working individuals who had yet to meet their match…in America anything was possible !

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John Steinbeck wrote of the dust bowl immigrants in his controversial book “The Grapes of Wrath” in 1939. No one knew of the impact this story would have on Route 66 when it first came out. It established the mythical Joad family in the American psyche, connecting them with the highway itself. It chronicled a vast migration along a road of flight. Steinbeck described Route 66 as “the path of a people in flight, refugees from dust and shrinking land, from the thunder of tractors and shrinking ownership . . . they come into 66 from the tributary side roads, from the wagon tracks and the rutted country roads. 66 is the mother road, the road of flight”.

Starring Route 66 is an American TV series in which two young men traveled across America. Route 66 was the first TV show shot entirely on location starring Martin Milner,George Maharis I0000Q8yFrqyjaoswhose moodiness was later replaced by smiling Glenn Corbett. Some of today’s biggest stars launched their careers on the Route 66 TV Show. Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, James Caan, Alan Alda, Stephanie Powers, Suzanne Pleshette, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorie, Walter Matthau, Martin Sheen, Leslie Nielsen, Ronny Howard, Edward Asner, Jack Warden, Deforest Kelly, Inger Stevens, Julie Newmar, Barbara Eden and more…

In late September the InterNational Route 66 Mother Road Festival celebrated its 10th Anniversary with over a 1000 restored classic cars cruising downtown on a friday night. Seventy Thousand spectators are expected in the heart of Springfield’s Illinos historic downtown each year for a weekend of family fun, non-stop live music, entertainment,food and don’t forget friday night’s Mickey Thompson Tires BURNOUT Competition in Horsepower Alley. The prior weekend the Route 66 14th Rendezvous held each year in San Bernardino, CA celebrates the Highway and in early August MEET ME IN ST LOUIS on Route 66 celebrates for three days.

In the early days of Route 66, 1926 through 1937, the old alignment of Route 66 left Santa Rosa to continue on towards Santa Fe, the capitol of New Mexico then drop back down to Albuquerque. In late 1937 Route 66 was straightened out to go directly to Albuquerque and by pass Santa Fe completely. During the 1930’s it was estimated 65% of international westbound traffic and 50% of the eastbound traffic used Route 66. Today the longest remaining section of this famous highway is the 140 mile stretch that runs I0000Af0SZY9RU9I from Seligman,AZ to Topock, AZ passing through Kingman, and the old mining town of Oatman.
Today it is easy to drive Route 66, each state has it’s own website and you can work Route 66 celebrations into your trip and visit car show or visit with other folks nostalgic for the old days. And secretly wonder if that magnificent looking GTO is the one you sold back in the 1970’s when the Iranian Gas Shortage made it impossible to work if you needed gas to do it.


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Fiery Finale of the Tucson Day of the Dead 2011 Procession

“It’s for people who have died and we are celebrating the death of them” says 7-year old Paloma Handro Sunday night at Tucson’s 2011 Day-of-the-Dead Celebration this year Paloma was thinking of her friend’s dad who died of cancer and wants to everyone to remember to “always be nice to people because you never know when they may die…”

“I’m missing my mother tonight” says Irma Lopez, “Refugio Rosales, she’s been gone for eight years now! She taught us special traditions about celebrating those who have gone ahead. “Our family would sit among the headstones, eating and drinking enjoying and remembering the music and earthly pleasures our ancestors loved and mom would tell us stories about my uncles, grandparents and father.” “It was a never-ending lesson in Life and Love!” Then she would make us promise to clean the graves each year and to celebrate our families Day of the Dead. “You have to do this!” she would say, “I won’t be here, so you have to carry on our families tradition.” This memorial takes place each year at the downtown cemetery in Agua Prieta, Sonora and tonight Irma has brought her family to the Tucson’s 2011 Day of the Dead Procession to carry on the same tradition and to build new ones. Tonight Irma, her daughters and grandchildren stand along Congress Avenue and watch hundreds of people walking-by covered with photos of loved ones, shrines so large they are mounted on wheels.

Some pay homage to friends, neighbors and relatives, even the family dog. One small terrier wore wings, each wing had a photo of puppies who had come before and left a knot in the heart.The sounds of drums and bagpipes filled 4th Avenue – along with the smells of burning incense – as the procession began.

The University of Arizona Marching Band turned out as skeletons a hundred strong, many organizations who have adopted the twenty year old event have marching groups and floats. The Tucson’s Gay alliance had a red banner maybe 200 feet long bearing the names of Aids deaths and counseled the crowd to “Be honest about your status! “Get tested! It’s the only way we will stop Aids!”

Made for Flight chronicled 116 Transgender Deaths world-wide in 2011, Humane Borders journals lives lost in the desert due to lame immigration laws and others marched to “Kill Hate”. On the walls of building, slide shows of beloved family pictures, past and present each representing someones remembrance…!

This year’s grand finale was held west of the Santa Cruz in the Rio Neuvo construction site featuring a 75′ crane that lifted the giant urn onto position and took the man-sized fire ants aloft. This year the crowd easily moved about and while vision from the viewing area was still limited it was safer, fewer flaming embers and the huge 20,000 person crowd disappeared without incident.


Entry way for spectators to enter the performance arena west of downtown.

Tucson's Day of the Dead Celebration

Tucson's Day of the Dead Celebration held at the end of the 2 mile march

Lights sweep the arena as the Tucson Day of the Dead Celebration Begins

fFire Ants ignite flares to add drama

Day of the Dead Celebration lights up and fills fills the air with smoke and drama

The torched Urn sends aloft the prayers from Tucson well-wishers.

FlamChen Fire Ants Ignite the Urn full of Tucson Hopes, Dreams and Prayers


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BEARIZONA! ENTER at YOUR OWN RISK! South West BLACK BEAR Preserve Productive Stop for Photographer



“Keep your windows rolled Up” they remind me as I pull away from the beautifully carved BEARIZONA front entrance and pass the work crews attacking one wall with metal screen and stucco. With mud flying in all directions, rolling up my window afforded protection from both bears and flying construction material. When it comes to making pictures of creatures native to North America, forty species can be seen at Bearizona, that makes it a great find, a real diamond in the rough. A work in progress situated on a beautiful 160 acres outside of Williams, AZ on a Interstate 40 off-ramp about an hour south of the Grand Canyon, the wild animal “safari-style” drive through is the only place where my Sheltie “Chester” in the backseat serves as bait for my next subject to draw them in closer. Once my front wheels break the first electric barrier, I know I am on foreign soil, the sign says DATHL SHEEP but I don’t see anything.

Busting the second barrier things change fast. “BUFFALO!” one large Brown Bison ranging about a 300mm lense off in heavy shadow but moving about, trying to be picturesque. The third barrier, I drop the telephoto and move to the wide angle lens as the action quickened with Lobos — I had a canine on board and they knew it. The White Timber wolves sniffed out my Sheltie and swarming my Xterra seemed to agree it had potential. The Mountain Sheep were cute and their feeder was situated next to the 3 mile drive (Breakfast is dished up between 9am-10am bringing the critters close to the road) that allows cars to pull right off I-40 and drive through a wild animal preserve featuring Bears, Buffalo, Bobcats, babies, Lobos, Mountain Sheep and Raptors. At the end of the drive-through there is a walk through which allows folks to get out to see Raccoons, Bobcat, Lynx, the fab four Bear Cubs plus hibernation caves and the amazing Raptor Show.
Since many of the 12 bear come from different climes, their hibernation cycles vary, bears from Minnesota get sleepy in November while South West natives might stay up later, into December.

The Park closes during January and February and opens March first when the bears start wandering out for something to eat in early Spring. Driving through the Bear enclosure visitors are told to roll up their windows and to drive away if a bear approaches their car. Usually the bears sleep, roll around and some pace back and forth in the sunshine. Few paid much attention to the vehicles rolling through their enclosure. Drivers are warned in case of car problems, to stay inside the car, turn on their emergency flashers and honk the horn. Never get out of the Vehicle. Help will arrive! Cameras cover the whole drive and park and reviews say help arrives fast. Fort Bearizona is the old west log fort design in a semi-completed state, the drive through is about 70% complete hopes include a future Elk enclosure soon and since the Grizzly Bear and Mountain Lion “are far too dangerous for the drive-through” the walk-through area is only 35% of the final plan which calls for Grizzly Bear, Mountain Lions and Armadillos enclosures with a restaurant, an expanded gift shop, and a 800 room hotel.
The Park this spring birthed it’s first Bear Cub and named it “Doc” after Doc Casey, father of Sean and Dennis Casey, owners and operators of Bearizona. The brothers have entertained more than 100,000 visitors since their “soft” opening May 2010 and have spent a reported $15M to get the park off the ground, new animals arrive as their enclosures are completed. Bearizona Raptor Show engages the spectator. Spectators at Raptor Show

The Casey family developed the original Bearizona USA which today is the 4th largest tourist attraction in South Dakota second only to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills–the brothers hope to duplicate that success “out in the wild west” and to build green using solar and water recovery, reuse and not to mention access to all that traffic headed to the Grand Canyon. The Park provides the perfect opportunity to see many of the wonderful creatures that wander the trails of North America and a place to get out stretch your legs and look around. I rather liked the flute player but some folks are less tolerant ! Everyone likes the four bear cubs in the kindergarten, two are rescues and two were born at Bearizona. Those big, beautiful bisons, Irma, Yankee, Doodle, Dandy ! Are all beautiful and standouts and worth the drive without the bears….they move in and out of the shadows close to the road, their size force me to use a wide angle to include their entire 1200 pounds! Bearizona has built shallow animal enclosures that keep the creatures close to the road with greater access for photographers half of the inmates are rescues and half are from private institutes like zoos or preserves, so most have seen people before and have a level of domestication and enjoy posing.

For a keeper’s view at Bearizona Arizona Daily Sun’s Betsy Bruner gets up close with bears /


Location: Williams AZ, Bearizona has easy access located just south of I-40 at Highway 64 (Historic Route 66)
Only 58 miles to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and 25 miles west of Flagstaff, 216 miles southeast of Las Vegas
Directions: Take U.S. Highway 93 south for 103.8 miles. Merge onto Interstate 40 via the ramp on the left toward Flagstaff/Phoenix and travel 112 miles. Take Exit 165 (Williams/Grand Canyon). Go south for 0.25 miles. Bearizona is immediately on the left.

General information: Bearizona, (928) 635-2289, bearizona.com.

Visitors should allow one to two hours for their Bearizona adventure.
Hours: Open daily at 8 a.m. from March 1 through Dec. 31.

Closing time varies based on daylight hours. Park may close because of inclement weather.
Visitor rates: $16; $15 for seniors; $8 for children ages 4 to 12
Free for children 3 and younger. Season passes are $125.


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