Jun 302017
 








Changing of the guards at the Motel Safari on Route 66 in Tucumcari NM. Richard and Gail Talley have owned and operated the motel for 10 years and now pass the torch to Larry Smith, the new owner.

Starting off with a love to travel, Larry Smith (or “2 Guns Larry” his newly given name) has driven sections of the route over the past decade or so. “I knew what Route 66 was about through shows, music and little things here and there, but I really didn’t know what Route 66 was about fully to the point I probably should have.” A trip from LA to Tennessee (Larry is from Knoxville TN) brought him to Tucumcari. “A buddy and I were driving from LA and we wanted to jump off of I-40 and stay the night somewhere and Tucumcari was the town we stopped in. Even back then there was some neon and these little historic businesses that I started to discover and enjoy’.

After a few trips hitting just a few segments of the route, he decided to embark on a full Chicago to LA trip in 2009 to see what the route was really about and to see and visit the places he researched online.

In 2016, and working for the Scripps Network in the International Division, he felt the open road calling. “It was getting to the point at work where it was nothing but Skype meetings and the same thing over and over and no person to person interaction and I needed a change.” The open road was calling yet again and that road ended up back in Tucumcari.

Ironically, a year later a good friend of Larry’s spotted the story of the Motel Safari being for sale on the Route 66 World website and Facebook page and told Larry this might be the time for something different. “A year earlier (2016) I never thought I would have gone from standing in the parking lot of the Motel Safari taking photos like your typical tourist to actually owning it. When I heard it was for sale I struggled with the time being right or if it was the right time for a change but it kept calling me back and after meeting with Rich and Gail and seeing how the operations are ran and how wonderful the motel was kept and all the neat little architectural details, I knew the time was right”.

Larry moved into the motel last Sunday and is spending the next few weeks going over business details and how to run it and even gets out once in a whole to start getting to know the town of Tucumcari and even stretches of the route – but this time as a business owner. “What should be a quick trip to the store takes a lot longer because folks want to know what my plans are, who I am and tell me about the town and all the other businesses. Rich and Gail not only have been fantastic hosts when I first came to check the motel out, but they have made this transition better than I can hoped for. I just need to keep up what they built so the motel will what the traveler has always known it to be.”

Larry also plans on opening a second suite; the first being the Rockabilly Suite with the new one being the Rawhide suite as well as open the remaining rooms. A small gift shop with Motel Safari merchandise will be available after a little while.

We wish Larry all the best and whole-heartedly thank Rich and Gail for bringing a classic motel back to be a destination on the route.
You can follow Larry and the Motel Safari via Facebook.

Jun 282012
 





Hot off the tail of the restoration of the 66 Motel sign in Needles, another project (or should I say projects) are taking shape…

Not even a week has gone by since the relighting of the historic 66 Motel sign another restoration project is underway.

Having spent a good amount of time in the last year and a half in Needles, one starts looking for things to not only help the travelers who are driving Route 66, but also to try to find ways to help the local economy as well.

The thing which jumped out to me were two small, non-descript gas stations on the west side of town. I have passed these things many, many times as I was in town working on the sign and always wanted to see if something could be done with them.

Well, fast forward to last week and the town has decided to continue with the ‘wave of restorations’ and start planning on working on these two stations. They were very surprised on not only how well the motel sign turned out, but the reactions from local town folk. It is a wise move in my eyes!

The two gas stations will be painted the standard ‘white paint’ they once where painted back in the 40’s and 50’s and signs and other artwork will be added by local volunteers, an artist, and even yours truly. I wanted to be a part of this one, as I have a ‘fondness’ for Needles now!

The owners will also help with the work as well as provide old photos for reference as we will try to recreate them as close to how they used to look like.

If this sounds familiar, look no further than Tucumcari and the work they have done on their stations. To be honest with you, I have been planting this seed for over a year and I feel it was Rich Talley (Motel Safari fame) who pushed it over the edge and convinced them it was ‘the right thing to do for the town, and the tourists’.

I do not expect the stations to look as ‘good’ as in Tucumcari as I know how they work and their ‘secret weapon’ Doug Quareles, but we are going to do a pretty decent job!

The plan is to have both stations completed by the time the Victorville festival starts so folks can not only see the restored sign, they can see the gas stations finished, maybe have lunch at the historic Wagon Wheel Restaurant, and then head ‘west to the fest!’

Apr 202012
 



Phase 2 begins on the sign!

On our trip from Holbrook to Needles (I say OUR because I am traveling with Rich Talley, Motel Safari – Tucumcari fame). We decided to hit a few places on the way to Needles.

Now, on the way BACK to Flagstaff, we will be driving most of the route to stop at a bunch of places….

Until then, here are a few places we stopped at:

We met at the Globetrotter Motel and headed out to Flagstaff.
In Flagstaff, it was MANDATORY we stop at the Mother Road Brewering Company.

This is a new business on Route 66 and Rich really wanted to stop here, and we are glad we did!
It was 2pm and although they did not open until 3pm, they let us in and gave us a tour, and even better, a sampling of beer!

These folks are passionate about what they do and I feel they will be a great addition to Route 66. They are distributing in Arizona, but are looking for distributors all along the route.

After buying a 6 pack, we headed out.




























We then headed out to Kingman and decided to stop and eat at Mr. D’s. I had about 8 glasses of their Root Beer and a burger. I was not disappointed.
















We will spend all day getting the sign looking like it should and I will post the updates as well as our trip back to Flagstaff.

Dec 122011
 



The new owners’ of the Blue Swallow Motel…


This has to be one of the ‘most fun’ stories of the year! I was fortunate to meet Kevin and Nancy TWO DAYS before they were to officially take over ownership of the Historic Blue Swallow motel.

Imagine packing up everything you own and filling (what you can – or what is really important to you, and add two large dogs!) – into a SUV with a trailer hitched on the back, pull out of your driveway in Michigan, head south to Tucumcari with numerous stops on the route to visit folks and take notes, and you have Kevin and Nancy!

We were on our last day of doing preservation work at the Phillips 66 gas station in Tucumcari when we were heading back to Motel Safari for the night. I noticed the neon was lit for the Blue Swallow – and like ANYONE with a camera – we ran across the street to take some pictures. The (good old) former owner Bill came running out, and we thought he was in the process of shooing us of his property! Low and behold, he asked my wife if we wanted to meet the ‘new owners’, and of course we said yes!

Even though they were on the ‘down low’ from officially owning the motel – they were more than happy to swap stories, tell of their several trips on the route, what made them decide to buy the motel, and most importantly, what they were going to DO to it! This was a big ‘hush hush’ at the time, but Kevin has more than generously uploaded so many pictures of not only the visitors who stop in, but the progress he is making, as he told me, ‘to bring it back how it used to be in the 40’s and 50’s’.

The thing I love about Tucumcari is: They take care of their own. Instead of being seen as the competition (and being THE iconic motel in Tucumcari) – several other motels have formed a ‘triangle’ of sorts – helping each other out, talking about ideas, planning events, and working together to give ALL travelers a reason to come back again and again. I can say with all the work which is happening in Tucumcari – it is now a ‘DESTINATION STOP’, versus a ‘visit or a quick pic’ type of place.

I keep posting on the Blue Swallow Facebook page that Kevin makes it look like owning a historic motel – well, FUN!

I am stuck between a rock and a hard place ’cause everytime we go to Tucumcari, we stay at the Motel Safari. Rich and Gail have been better to us than family! And we are greatful for that. NOW, I do know you CANNOT lose staying at either place. And thankfully they are right across the street from each other – so if one is booked up for the night, the other is literally a ‘stones throw’ away!

If you have not visited the Blue Swallow website (how dare you!) click HERE, or visit them on their Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Sep 122011
 



Rich Talley (Motel Safari fame!) sent me a few new pictures of what the Phillips 66 gas station on Route 66 in Tucumcari NM now looks like.

The owner (Junior) told me while we were working he wanted ‘to have a place to hang out with friends, family, and travelers who were driving Route 66′ and get it looking like it should – instead of the old run down place we saw when I first showed up – and I think he did a FANTASTIC job bringing his vision to life!

Junior rotates one or two classic cars in and out of the property so what you might see this week – might look differenet next week!









Please make sure you stop buy – check the place out – and say ‘HEY!’ if he is around…. I am sure he would really appreciate it!

For the video of us doing most of the restoration work – click HERE to watch it!

Jun 292011
 



We left Scottsdale at 6 pm (PST) and started to drive – a LONG drive all night until 6am (MST) when we pulled up to the Motel Safari! Rich Talley – owner of the Motel Safari – had to go to California to meet with some business owners – and while he ‘missed’ the heat – I think we did a pretty good job getting this completed!







The project was a Phillips 66 gas station. I spent about 7 of the 8 hours on the ladder… the legs were sore when I finally climbed off of it!







Mural work done by the legendary Doug Quarles! Doug has been a mountain of ideas and work behind bringing Tucumcari back to a ‘must see’ stop while traveling the route!







Bob and Tom (local business owners – project managers / volunteers – GREAT guys) cooling off in the shade for a bit. It was around 104 degrees – not a cloud in the sky – HOT! Bob was the project manager and Tom somehow spent WAY TOO much time on the scolding hot roof painting the overhangs – my hat goes off to him!







Junior is the owner of the gas station – here he is posing with his ‘Phillips 66 truck’ which will be parked on in front of the property to match the decor. He has a collection of old restored cars he will ‘rotate’ a car out every other weekend so there is a fresh ‘photo op’ for travelers.







Juliana and Doug posing in front of the finished ‘mural’. We toured the town looking at some of the murals he had already painted – quite impressive!






We painted for about 8 hours straight with very few stops. Dehydration set in as well as sunburn, doughnut cramps (not always a bad thing!) and a lot of laughter and hard work!

There was MUCH more work done than the pictures show – it is hard to run around and snap photos when everyone has a paint brush in their hand!

A local reporter came out to take pics and get some information for a story for the local newspaper – he will email me the article which I will put up as well.

I have seen video of the gas station a day after we left and when the gas pumps get installed and all the little details are finished – I will post an updated picture.

Even thought we drove for a total of 23 hours to and from to help paint – I would do it again!

Tucumcari is a town rewriting the rules on how these smaller towns on Route 66 should embrace the route and the travelers and visitors.

Tucumcari will always be a destination on all of my future trips….

Jun 272011
 



OK – back to the ‘trip’ – we just came back from another trip to Tucumcari – and I did not have time to post.









Came into Tucumcari NM and headed straight to the Motel Safari to meet up with Rich and Gail Talley.









The Three ‘not so’ wise men! – Rich took us over to his buddy Dan’s place where we looked at a lot of old antique cars. Dan is a good man! Glad to have met him!









Rich with Juliana in front of one of Dan’s many classic cars….









Me with the ‘movers and shakers’ of Tucumcari – these folks are getting thing accomplished all throughtout town – and I am now honored to call them my friends! We talked a good part of the night about Route 66 and what has been done and what needs to be done to preserve and grow it.





The next morning, we headed out of town and pretty much went straight to Scottsdale, except to stop at the Continental Divide shop to get ice cream and water….






Overall – it was a quick, productive, and well received trip. As I said earlier in this post – we just came back from Tucumcari (10 hour drive ONE way BTW) and I will post restoration pics tomorrow….

Jan 032011
 

Really – the two most important things that makes Route 66, Route 66 is the road (obviously!) and all of the attractions!

A few wided-eyed entrepreneur’s had the crazy idea of building gas stations, restaurants, motels and all sort of things to help the weary traveler get from Chicago to Los Angeles.

I am showcasing the Motel Safari in Tucumcari, New Mexico for two reasons:
1) It is a historic motel that has just about stayed close to character as you will find (plus internet and a flat screen TV!!)
2) These folks saw the importance in preserving the motel, as well as many other stops along the route, for thousands of travelers and future generations.

The owners of the Motel Safari sit on the town’s Lodger’s Tax Board and were instrumental in bringing back a focus on Route 66 there, as well as bringing back the long forgotten “Tucumcari Tonite” billboard theme. One of the most recent projects, in conjunction with the Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce, is an all volunteer project, where they have begun re-painting old gas stations throughout town in old original gas station company themes. So far they have completed an old Texaco, a Whiting Bros., and are currently working on an old version of a Continental Oil Company (Conoco) station.

In addition, the town’s Main Street Program is revitalizing the old Tucumcari Train Depot, which will open as a Railroad Museum in 2011 and hopes to gain a state designation as the New Mexico State Railroad Museum.

It’s things like what these folks are doing to keep Route 66 alive, that really puts a smile on my face! I am all about preservation and restoration! And they are doing a grand job!

I will have to admit – I have not taken the chance to stop and stay the night at the Motel Safari – BUT I promise I will next time I am crusin’ Route 66 through Tucumcari!

A VERY good friend of mine recently stayed there and he said he had such a great time, the owners were so good to him and his wife, an the town of Tucumcari was so alive with the spirit of Route 66 – he told his wife he was moving there!!

Then he got home to Florida and she said no……

Anyway – please visit the Motel Safari’s website by clicking HERE and add them to your friends list on Facebook by clicking HERE (I did!!)

Most importantly – JUST VIST THEM next time you are driving Route 66 through Tucumcari NM!