Monday, June 27, 2011

Joy and Peace of the Open Road:
A few days of rest after arriving home.  Beginning to sort and edit photographs made during the ride. Open road feels like a dream brought back with visual images.  I have dreamed every night since returning home I was in the world of the Mother Road. 

Nancy handed me the new Sundance catalog yesterday. I looked puzzled at it. She pointed to a short statement written by Robert Redford. What perfect words for the thoughts in my mind.

"Life. Are we living it or running behind trying to catch it?  What are we observing, smelling, hearing from the life around us? Information-too much of it.  The faster it moves the faster we have to move, but with our minds and fingers. Meanwhile, life goes on around us unobserved, unimportant.

I remember as a child traveling by car from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas.  Camping out along the road at night.  Looking at the stars in fascination.  Aware of the silence, the sheer magnitude of space, then the occasional moan of the coyote, the first distant, then increasing, sound of the truck heaving down the highway-the sound of rubber on road, the whine of the engine, immediate for a moment then moving on, fading into silence again.

I miss that.  I would never instruct, just maybe suggest.  That you might find the sensual joy of the open road, the summer air, the silence, the short term peace.  It is there for all of us, what's left of it, and it's free"...Robert Redford.

The sensual joy and peace of the open road.  It is there and it is free.

be strong, be safe,  Carlan

Friday, June 24, 2011

Postscript: Arrows, Barbies, Dreamcatchers, and Big Cowboys:

Arrived home in Santa Fe two days ago.  It was hard to put the kickstand down after all the miles. Let me catch up on the ride East from California.
I decided to ride the Mother Road from the LA Basin back East to Santa Fe.  Have you ever noticed how things look different traveling East to West and West to East?  Sure I am on the other side of the road, but I felt like I was traveling in new territory again.
Crossed the desert early in the morning during the cool time of the day.  The desert is beautiful in the early morning hours.  Light of a new day, cool breeze on my face, sweet smell of desert plants in the air.  Mother Road devoid of other cars.  A feeling of being one with Mother Earth.
Stopped in Seligman, AZ at the Snow Cap Drive-In for lunch.  Long known as the funniest food spot on Route 66, my lunch brought a big smile to my face! This town keeps up the comical tradition along with really great road food.
Twin Arrows was once an attractive establishment, with its red/white Valentine diner, trading post, and namesake gigantic arrows thrust into the soil. Now boarded up the remains are a fleeting memory of a time past along the Mother Road.
Two Guns was a tourist town with a roadside zoo featuring "Real Mountain Lions".  I only found Barbie enjoying her solitude in a dreamlike state.
Further down the road I spotted the world's largest dreamcatcher. Maybe a stop here could help me catch all those thoughts rolling around in my mind since I started this ride.
In Gallup I caught up with Big Cowboy John keeping a watch over all the used cars. Important work...never know when one of those Mustangs might stray away from the herd.
Five days after leaving the LA Basin I pulled into Santa Fe.  Kickstand down.  Odometer reading 4,228 miles trip total.  Over thirty days on the Mother Road across this great country of ours.

Someone asked me yesterday..."Did you ever think it was good common sense traveling all that distance on a motorcycle most of it by yourself?" I could only reply..."if I had used common sense...look what I would have missed".  Would I do it again...oh yes...ready to get the kickstand back up.

Thanks for reading and joining me on this ride.

be strong, be safe,  Carlan 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Route 66 Ends Here:

Wednesday afternoon June 15 into the LA Basin. Foothill Blvd the last remaining piece of Route 66.

The Wigwam Motel built in 1949 is the final historic motel on the Mother Road.

We had decided this would be our final destination. From this point across the LA Basin the Mother Road has been covered over with a maze of freeways. A 60 mile drive to the Pacific Ocean can take four to six hours depending on traffic. Riding a motorcycle on congested freeways did not sound good to us after all the real Mother Road we had traveled.

When I arrived in Santa Fe two very long time close friends from Seattle joined with me for the ride to California.

Kevin (on the right) worked with me in my Seattle studio for many years. He is a very successful commercial photographer today. Walt (in the middle) reminded me we had known each other for over thirty years. I first met Walt when he was a photography student in one of my classes. His daughter and my daughter played together many times. We all worked together for years doing photo assignments. Most evenings on the road were spent in lively discussions of assignments we had worked on together..."remember the time they delivered all those hamburger buns in the aid car for the Jack in the Box shoot....ha..ha..ha...". We celebrated our time together last night with a good dinner and more stories.

This morning we loaded Kevin's bike into their truck. We looked at each other thinking of our experiences the past seven days on the Mother Road. A quiet moment and then some serious hugs between long time friends.

Kevin and Walt headed north to Seattle. I put my kickstand up and turned my handlebars east back along the Mother Road toward New Mexico.

Odometer read 3428 miles since leaving Santa Fe on May 16. Those miles seem like nothing compared to all the experiences rolling around in my head. I know the Mother Road will help me begin to sort them out on the ride home. That is what she is so good at doing.

Thanks to everyone for being with me on this road trip and for your support and special friendships. It has been an experience which has changed my life...

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Burros, Bank Robbers, and the Bagdad Cafe:

Leaving Kingman the Mother Road climbs into historic gold mining country.

The road really gets hairy with hairpin curves and sheer drops coming hot and heavy. The view of the switchbacks downhill is tremendous.

Oatman is a long past gold mining town. When the mine closed the burros were turned loose. Today they freely roam the streets along with the tourists.

Thank goodness arrived in town just in time to see a wild west bank robbery and shoot out! The bad guys lost!

Met Willie in the Historic Oatman Hotel. The walls are covered with one dollar bills signed by people from around the world. Willie was proud to tell me he had counted and was sure there were over 70,000 dollars on the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

Sportster has lived in Oatman for 26 years. He said, "my name is Sportster as in Harley...been riding all my life...looking for a side car...too hard to ride on only two wheels these days".

Into California. Not a single car on the Mother Road. Know that won't last.

Stopped at Roy's in Amboy for gas. The entire town was recently purchased for $425,000. Buyer got motel, gas station, cafe, school, and post office. There are deals still out here!

The movie "Bagdad Cafe" was filmed in Newberry Springs. The motel and cafe are very original, including the folks living here.

Into Santa Monica on Thursday. Riding along the open road today I began thinking of Forest Gump. Maybe when I get to Santa Monica I'll turn around and head back down the Mother Road to Chicago. If I keep doing this maybe...just maybe...I can get things figured out just like Forest did...

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday night in Kingman, AZ:

Internet connection again. Past two days technology stood still. May not be a bad thing. Weather has been good. Smoke filled the evening skies for a couple of days. Clear tonight.

Crossed into AZ. Route 66 enters part of the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest.

So much of the area I rode through looks like the country around the Four Corners area where all the coal mining is occurring. I thought much of that area could qualify to be a National Park as well.

Fascinating to think tropical giant forests once stood in this now desert region.

Slept for nine hours in my wigwam at the Wigwan Motel.

Stopped and stood "on the corner in Winslow". Music was in the air and the mood was light and bright.

Short detour to visit the Grand Canyon. It is very grand to say the least. Tried to make a picture not like the usual canyon shot. Found a funny looking guy and used him for scale.

Met Benetton from Brazil in Seligman. He bought a Harley in Chicago. Came to the US to ride the Mother Road from Chicago to Santa Monica.

Discovered you can find everything you need on the Mother Road.

Hackberry General Store. Desert ahead tomorrow. Sign says 300 miles.

Running the past few days on "Indian Time". Stopping, putting the kickstand down whenever it feels time to put it down. Meeting people who live along the Road and those traveling the Road. Rode with the Hawks today...actually felt like I was soaring with them.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hubcaps and Cash Pawn:

Riding the Mother Road between Grants and Gallup today. East of Prewitt up over a rise in the road the famous Swap Meet 66 came into view.

More chrome hubcaps from the 50's and 60's than you can imagine. Looked like no one had been at the swap meet for quite some time.

The Richardson Cash Pawn and Trading Post was established in Gallup in 1913 in the heart of Indian Country.

Met Bill Richardson who is now 94 and works everyday in the trading post.

Bill shared stories with me for a few minutes. Years ago Navajo would come to the trading post and trade woven rugs and silver jewelry for livestock, bags of flour and coffee. Money never changed hands. Today the trading and pawn maybe for tires or a battery for their truck. Sometimes money is needed for a child's education. Bill has traded with three generations of many families on the Navajo Nation.

After a few minutes he said...would you like to see some of the back rooms? Opening a door we stepped into a large room filled from floor to ceiling with over a thousand beautiful Navajo rugs. Another similar room contained nine hundred leather saddles...another with jewelry cover walls... a hundred years of history and trading. Another special day riding the Mother Road.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Leaving Santa Fe:

Early phone call this morning to arrange meeting some friends to ride from Santa Fe to Grants. Two close friends arrived from Seattle to join the Mother Road ride. Five bikes riding into the smoke filled skies. Just outside of Albuquerque one bike experiences a broken throttle cable. It was the "rice burner"...not one of the Harleys. Several phone calls later we locate a unique motorcycle shop where they make a new cable. Back on the road.

Open road...smoke skies. Throb of the Harleys fill the air. After riding so many days alone the past three weeks I enjoy the company of my friends riding the Mother Road together.

We ride the road not seeing another car. Past red cliffs, black lava beds, into a time of the past. Budville Trading Post was once a major stopping point along the road.

Whiting Bros gas stations and motels were some of the early services on the Mother Road. Now only the signs can be found.

Into Grants as the sky fills with heavy smoke from the AZ fires. We are only about 60 miles north of the fires. Ash falling from the sky casts a white shadow on my bike. We talk about the weather, the fires, all the things that are changing. A common thread flows through our conversation...time to start paying attention to these things.

Time for Steve, Frank, and Saturnino to turn back east. They ride with the setting sun on there backs returning to Santa Fe. It was a very good day..a very good ride...filled with brotherhood.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Murals, Windmills and Real Indians:

This past Thursday we were in Tucumcari, NM with our Route 66 Photography Workshop. Nancy and thirteen students met me in Adrain, TX on Wednesday. We travel together spending four very fun filled days exploring Tucumcari and Route 66 into Santa Fe. Incredible group of photographers! Made beautiful photographs. A big thanks for all the good energy everyone shared together.

Tucumcari is alive and well. The entire town celebrates the history of Route 66.

Life size murals are being painted on buildings through town. It is a very good idea to keep an eye out for the Route 66 traffic when crossing the historic highway.

Mesa Community College is developing an exciting wind energy program. Standing under one of the windmills in the evening can be an experience to remember.

Just outside of Santa Fe traveling the Mother Road provides opportunities to experience times and places past.

Rest day at home in Santa Fe. Changed the oil, washed the bike, did some laundry. On the Mother Road west early in the morning. Skies are filled with smoke tonight. Fires in AZ. Tornados, hail, rain, wind and now smoke filled skies...never expected to see what I have. Excited to get the kickstand up.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Where am I, what is it?

Hard time Googling this one?

Carl Short, Jr III had the answer. The first known stone outhouse with a flush toilet. "When you lift the seat, auto flush occurs". Very modern for it's time. Located along Route 66 in Warwick, in the great state of Oklahoma. Carl, there is a ticket with your name on it in the SFPW raffle. Good luck!

In Tucumcari tonight!

be strong, be safe, Carlan