Jan 032013
 



Albuquerque, at one time, seemed hell-bent on tearing down the old sections of the route for all new development – but it seems they are seeing what a lot of other folks and towns are seeing – the added value of the attraction that is known world-wide as Route 66!

Klarissa Peña remembers cruising on West Central, and now she’s part of the city’s push to try and restore the glamour and the glitz of old Route 66.

“We all appreciate cruising,” Peña said of the West Central community that includes one of the longest stretches of actively used Route 66, the iconic “Mother Road.”

Peña, president of the Southwest Alliance of Neighbors, Mayor Richard Berry and other dignitaries were at a recent ribbon cutting for a gleaming new fire station on 57th Street and West Central. They briefly described to celebrants upcoming projects intended to improve safety and to spur economic development in the area in the next several years. Mentioned were a new library, a series of road, safety and sidewalk improvements, new senior housing and a new visitor’s center on Nine Mile Hill, along with a long list of other potential economic development projects.

“What we hope to do is entice people to get off the interstate to come into the community and shop and to take in some of the sights, like the breathtaking view of the city viewable from historic Route 66,” Peña said.

The City Council in fall 2010 began planning a new West Route 66 Sector Development Plan. The plan noted that in the past 20 years the area suffered from stagnant commercial development, while single-family housing boomed in surrounding areas.

That left a significant imbalance between jobs and services and housing, and thus West Central became a commuter road instead of a destination for jobs, service, retail or more diverse housing.

Peña said she’s “absolutely thrilled” that the building of a new community library is slated to start sometime next summer at Central and Unser, providing critical educational services to area schools and residents.

During public hearings as part of developing a sector plan, the city heard recommendations that it encourage new multifamily and senior housing, attract new commercial development and retain its cultural legacy, including the preservation of Route 66, agrarian traditions, expansive views and the eclectic and unique character of the area, which is marked by its collection of roadside neon lit travel motels, gas stations and cafes.

Particularly involved with the plans for the area have been the mayor, City Councilor Isaac Benton and County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, Peña said.

“We want to bring back the character of the Old Route 66 and develop an Uptown center kind of shopping experience for people on West Central and the West Side,” Peña said. “We still have a long way to go, but with the enthusiasm and the tenacity of the people here, I have no doubt we’re going to be successful.”

Nov 122012
 




This is our third guest article on Route 66. This one focuses on the ‘winter’ of, or ON, Route 66!

Traveling down the historic Route 66 is a unique way to get your family together during the Christmas holiday. Gather the troops from across the country and reconnect on the old historic “Mother Road” that, at one time, was best passageway from the Midwest to the West.


Drive through the streets of a fabulous world of kitschy Americana, follow each other in a caravan of cars or pile in an RV (try to avoid motorcycles during winter — it can get cold!). Each little town you pass has a legend attached to it. You may find yourself touring an old school house, visiting a nostalgic ice cream shop and looking over your shoulder in one of the many ghost towns along the tour. With the wind in your hair and not a worry in the world, this will be the best Christmas EVER!

Step into a history rich with roadside attractions, neon signs, rusty gas stations, 50s diners and vintage motels. It’s all part of the experience, part of the adventure. What do you need to know and where do you go?

Driving Tips

  • Be sure you have appropriate car insurance (with roadside assistance) so you are 100 percent protected and carefree on your journey.
  • Don’t advertise you are away from home. When in a city with inhabitants, keep your maps out of plain sight when stopped and use the truck stops if in need of rest — they are generally the safest place to rest your eyes.

Great Idea No. 1

Before you go on this fabulous family vacation, make a playlist of Christmas songs and old country driving tunes (Willy Nelson would be a great choice). Burn it to a few disks and bam! Christmas gifts, done! You’ll be singing all the way from Amarillo to Tucumcari. Pair that with the EZ66 Guide for sale at Route 66 World Bookstore and Roadfood and you’ll be on your way to worry free holidays.

Great Idea No. 2

Roadfood. It’s a must-get book. Ever wanted to eat at little off the beaten path at classic regional restaurants but don’t know how to find them? This book was written by a couple who went on a country-wide trip, finding and rating the best unknowns. While the directions are good, a navigational device is extremely helpful.

Fun Places to Stop

Christmastime along the Route 66 is vibrant with life and lights. It’s quirkiness illuminates with decorations aglow.

  • Chain of Rocks Bridge — Constructed in 1929, the bridge crosses the Mississippi from Alton, Ill. to St. Louis, Mo. and has a 30-degree turn midway across a mile-long bridge, according to nps.gov. Today, it has trails for walking and biking — fun for the whole family.
  • The Blue Whale — Sitting in Catoosa, Okla. is an 80-foot long smiling blue whale that Hugh Davis built for his whale-collecting wife, Zelta, as a gift. The attraction dates back to the 1970s.
  • Sandhills Curiosity Shop — Located in Erick, Okla., this wacky shop is full of music memorabilia. But it’s not just a shop, it’s an experience. Sit for awhile and have a chat with the owners, Harley and Annabelle Russell.
  • Restored Phillips 66 Gas Station – Between Clinton and Amarillo, Texas, this is where gas is 19 cents a gallon. That was all the way back in 1927, according to ridingroute66.us.
  • Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas has a mythical land covered with 10 historic Cadillacs, noses stuck in the earth as they erect from the land. You are free to graffiti your presence on the pieces of art, says legendsofamerica.com. They are open to the public to decorate.
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico – A pleasant reminder of the good old days. With historic motels like the Blue Swallow and Motel Safari, you can sleep under the pretty neon signs which light up the route through town.
  • Winslow, Ariz. — Simply, so you can stand on the corner in Winslow, Ariz. and live in the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.”
  • The Grand Canyon Railway’s Christmas Polar Express — In Williams, Ariz., a charming little town sits along the Route 66. During Christmas, the railway turns into a magical Christmas train to the North Pole.
  • Santa Monica Pier — Route 66 ends with an amusement park, an old carousel and the lovely California coast.

Lastly, be sure to take special care of our Route 66. Help preserve historic landmarks along the 2,400 -mile stretch. What can you do? Clean up after yourself and others, drive slow and enjoy the sites and get into the nostalgia by helping the local businesses survive.

Article by Olivia Lewin

Sep 162012
 





SAN BERNARDINO — Route 66 is more than just classic cars and motorcycles.

For decades, the historic highway served as an integral part of the nation’s transportation system.

And in an effort to raise that awareness, the Historical Society of Trucks sponsored a 40-truck convoy that traveled from Illinois along the old Route 66 Highway to the Rendezvous.

On Saturday, the society completed its inaugural Historic Highway Convey by joining the third day festivities of the 23rd Annual Stater Brothers Route 66 Rendezvous in downtown San Bernardino.
“We picked this destination because the event memorialized our Historic Route 66,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the society.

The national organization, which aims to preserve the history of trucks as well as the trucking industry, began its trek in Illinois on Sept. 6 and drove more than 3,000 miles.

It began with 30 classic trucks in Morris, Illinois, and on Saturday morning they made their final stop of the tour, picking up 10 more vehicles in Barstow.

By 9:30 a.m., the convoy, which stretched about half a mile, were traveling down Old Cajon Boulevard, the original Route 66.

Ken Lund, of San Bernardino, worked with the society’s organizers to bring others from the local chapter to join the final leg of the jaunt.

Lund drove his 1953 GMC half-ton pickup truck but said the local chapter has models dating to 1916 as well as more modern models. A bulk of the trucks come from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

“It was interesting to see how far away some of these trucks came from,” he said about Saturday’s ride.

Lund was joined by Richard McNamara, 62, who rode into the festivities in his 1946 Mack tow truck.

“It was a lot of fun,” the Riverside resident said about the short road trip.

McNamara’s truck, of the faded orange paint coat is covered in rust, was once used by the American Automobile Club of Southern California. A faded image of the logo is still visible on the side of the truck.

It was used by Highland based company called Bell’s Garage and Tow Service. But for years, it sat in someone’s yard unused. In fact, it hadn’t been registered since the 1970s, he said.

“I just fell in love with it. It had my name on it – Mark,” he said. “These are rare to find on the West Coast, the models were made in New York”, McNamara said.

John Vannatta, current president of the society was among those who road the whole portion of the trip.

“It was it was great everybody has a bucket list, its something you always wanted to do,” he said.

Along the way, the convoy made nine stops different stops at local Travel Centers of America. It was then the public could meet the drivers, or for members to come out and support. The largest turnout was at the Albuquerque, New Mexico stop.

There were even portions of the cross country trip that the convoy was joined by other truck enthusiasts, he said.

Vannatta said it was a big commitment to drive across the country. He commended those who took part in the trip adding that they probably spent around $1,500 on fuel.

Aside from being able to commit about two weeks, most of truckers spent between $7,000 and $8,000 on the excursion.

“The idea of doing it was fun,” Vannatta says. “A lot of people always want to do this, here (was my) chance.”

Liset Marquez – The Sun

Sep 152012
 






The tenth (and final gas station of the year) was just completely repainted and cleaned up with the help of volunteers as Tucumcari continues with their plan to make their town a true destination for travelers on Route 66.

The group started at 8am and worked all day until the building was painted and all the trim was completed. A special thanks to the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce for their funding assistance…






























































































Throught the next week – Doug Quarles of Quarles Art Gallery will do what he does best – start with the many murals and artwork on the building to complete the restoration.

This gas station is located right nexct door to Junior Garza’s gas station we painted last year. Click HERE to see that video.

Sep 022012
 


There are new owners of the old Redwood Lodge by the Tucumcari Convention Center, they’ve been completely remodeling the place for student housing, and I have been told the place looks great.

They gave the place a nice new paint job, all new doors, new a/c, with work done to the exterior and the interior. All 24 rooms will receive a makeover. The units will be fully furnished, utilities and Wi-Fi will be included.

The story is this is a retired family out of Santa Fe NM, who during this economy couldn’t get satisfactory returns on investments with stocks, CD’s and the likes, decided to invest in some real estate rehab projects. Rumor has it they might be interested in buying the Historic Odeon Theatre in Tucumcari, which is on the National Historic Register and for sale by its long time owner, who simply wishes to retire.

They are planning on reopening the Redwood Lodge as student housing for the students who are (or are planning to attend) Mesalands Community College.

It’s a nice change seeing most older motels are being converted to monthly rentals and start slowly deteriorating to the point where they are no longer inhabitable.

Click HERE for their website.

Aug 292012
 




 

A local committee received approval from the Tucumcari City Commission to convert portions of the Tucumcari Convention Center into the New Mexico Route 66 Museum.

Frost said having a Route 66 museum would be a great asset for the community, and could help the city further take advantage of tourism dollars.

Frost said the museum could even be added to a proposal submitted to the New Mexico Racing Commission for a racetrack and casino. He said it would show the commission there is a greater plan in mind.

Frost said Don Chalmers and Coronado Partners, LLC., are on board with housing the museum at the race track and casino grounds. He said they offered to provide a 10,000-square-foot building at no cost.

Frost said Chalmers stressed to the group that he and the partners needed to see that the community showed an actual desire and commitment to this project — and not just a bare-bones museum with a few classic cars.

Frost said the immediate goal is to open a interim museum in the Fort Bascom and San Jon rooms at the Tucumcari Convention Center. He said the two rooms would serve as the museum and gift shop.

Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue asked if the committee would cover renovation costs for the two rooms, and was told that would be the case. Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval said the commission should receive progress reports.

Frost said the committee wants to pursue this project, though they do not want to step on anyone’s toes. He said the city would receive 10 percent of the net proceeds from admission and gift shop sales, and the museum board would be formed with representatives from both the city and county.

Frost said he also contacted the Tucumcari Rattler Alumni Association to clear the use of the two rooms. He said the Rattler Reunion has used those rooms in the past for their reunions and the committee wanted make sure they had their approval before they proceeded.

Frost said if approved by the commission the museum would also be used as a project for the University of New Mexico’s school of management. He said Vicky Watson, director of Mesalands Small Business Administration, would use the college’s partnership with UNM to bring students in to work on the business plan and make sure the museum is going in the right direction.

The commission approved the use of the convention center and will draw up a lease agreement outlining the cost for the use of the building.

By Thomas Garcia: QCS senior writer

Jul 302012
 


I had the honor of being interviewed about Route 66 and the preservation work I do on the route.

I was asked to come into the studios of KPHO – CBS 5 Morning News Show here in Phoenix to talk about Route 66 and the preservation effort currently going on.

I met Paul Horton, the host, and the Arizona Governors Conference on Tourism a few weeks ago and he simply said to me after the conference ‘you have to come on our program’. He followed up and came through!

I did not know the questions going in, I did not really know the pictures and video they were going to show, but he updated me a few things which would be discussed before the cameras rolled.

It is the fastest 3 minutes of my life, especially when you are in from of the camera!

The only regret is I did not mention Needles CA by name for the 66 Motel sign and the two gas station currently being restored.

Who knows, maybe I will have another opportunity?? ; )

Click HERE to watch the video.

Feb 252012
 



I have been putting a few posts up on my Facebook page about a ‘model truck’ I was building. I used to be a avid modeler when I was – like 10!! – so I have built my share of model cars.

This one is a little different.

I wanted to use the model as a ‘sketch pad’ of sorts. I had, in my mind, what I wanted a truck to look like if I were ever to buy one, but I didn’t want to use the real truck as a blank canvas and then mess it up and have a real mess on my hands. Insert model truck here: A 1950 Ford F-1 Pick Up truck.

I had a concept: to built an old pickup truck as if it were, lets say, a service station truck. I went through the lists of all the old service station on the route and decided I wanted to go with a Richfield Yellow / Blue theme, and make it as stock as possible, and make it look like you can park it in an old gas station and it would look like a natural fit.

Easy enough – you would think.
After a bunch of research, I finally found the color pattern I wanted and started to build my model of the truck I would one day want to own.

So, after a month, the model is done. I could have spent 3 months making the model truck perfect, as I usually would if / when I build models, but I really was interested in the paint scheme.

So, the model is as done as I need to to be, now what?








Insert REAL 1949 Ford F-3 3/4 Ton Long Bed Pick Up Truck!

Actually, it is a pretty clean truck with VERY little rust (and I mean very little!) The ‘brown’ on the truck is primer and the metal is all pretty straight and solid.

Since this picture was taken, I have already stripped the truck down to (almost) bare frame with only the cab to be lifted off. It is just sitting there waiting to be removed. That will probably happen next week.



The goal: To get this thing up and running by next year, and drive it in the AZ or NM Route 66 Association’s Fun Run.
That’s the goal – the reality might be a little different.

I will post a pic here and there – as I have a full restoration thread going on a separate Ford Truck blog. I feel that is where it should be documented – I want a variety of Route 66 stuff to occupy this site!!

My wife actually gave me the ‘green light’ to do more of these projects, which means I might be able to keep a Route 66 theme going and possibly loan them to different museums along the route…. would be a nice way to ‘give back’ to the route – sounds like a resolution someone made in January

Dec 212011
 



The ‘saviours’of the Mother Road…


You truly cannot be part of Route 66 unless you are part of one of these. They are the backbone of keeping the route alive!

The many different associations of Route 66 make sure the route is not only preserved, they make sure ‘travelers’ are informed, updated, and even entertained.

The list below shows all of the state associations and their website links and Facebook links (if they have one):

Route 66 Association of Illinois
To me, they are the ‘leaders’ on how things should be done on, and for, the route!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Missouri
The folks in Missouri are also on top of their game with preservation and information on the route!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Kansas
Kansas has made a strong running in 2011 with the route – and I feel 2012 will be even better!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Oklahoma
Oklahoma has done a good job in 2011 working on the route!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Texas
I don’t know about this one – so if you think I have the wrong guys (the page was updated 2002!) let me know!
Click HERE for their website.

Route 66 Association of New Mexico
Brand new website full of information and ‘what’s happenings’ on the route in New Mexico!
Click HERE for their website.
Click HERE for their Facebook page.

Route 66 Association of Arizona
My ‘new home state’ – and sadly – they will have to get up to date on their website and preservation efforts…
Click HERE for their website.

Route 66 Association of California
Although recenlty updated, another association which needs to get caught up with the times.
Click HERE for their website.

While some associations do better than others – it is also because of the fact the ones which seem to do better (nice active website, Facebook page, activities for travelers) actually DO MORE for the route – in my opinion.

But this is the thing: If we do not support the individual states, then the resources start disappearing, which means the route starts suffering. And with such a tidal wave of interest in the route, the numerous blogs, posts, stories, pictures and most importantly, the travelers – we need to do what we can, not matter WHERE you are, you can help!

I, myself, am a member of 5 of the 8 – and a business member at that! I have to pay a little more but it is worth it. I joined an association every month or two to keep my renewal costs spread out (hint!)

Pick one, any one, whether you live in the state the route runs through, or live in a state which the route DOES NOT run through, or even in a different country – you can help…

What a great Christmas gift a membership would be!!

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.