Aug 192012
 




 

OK – I have done several projects on the route, including Illinois, New Mexico, and California. I live and work and enjoy Arizona, so I think it is time I ‘keep it close to home’ for my next project.

I actually have (4) in AZ I have my hands in:
The first is an old Richfield Gas Station in Winslow.
The second is the famous Meteor City Trading Post.
The third is a historic sign for a restaurant / motel located on Route 66, in Arizona.
The fourth is, well, a gas station in Tucumcari NM – so I guess that one really wouldn’t count!!

Richfield Gas Station – Winslow AZ

This is an interesting project for me. For the past year, I actually tried to BUY this gas station for my own and restore it back to it’s former glory, and then (one day) maybe lease it out as a gift shop or a little sandwich place for tourists. This would have been one of the ONLY restored Richfield Gas Stations on the route, and it would have been a gem! While going back and forth with it’s current owner (mind you, for almost a year!) I was doing massive research on all things Richfield. This included researching what the building looked like when it first opened, finding old photos, and figuring out what brands this station would have carried (this way I could have figured out which signs to put on the exterior of the building). So it was getting down to the wire and the owner decided to keep it! I was blown away! I felt if I lost one of my children at the mall for a minute as I tried to get everything ready to be a ‘proud owner of American history’ – but alas, it was not meant to be.
I sucked it up and through a few emails we continued to talk and one day, he told me his plans with the building, to ‘bring it back to the way it looked like in the 30’s and possibly run a business out of it’… Now mind you, I NEVER told him my plans – as far as he was concerned – I was just ‘some guy’ who wanted to buy the old building – nothing more. It felt like a weight was lifted off my chest as I knew someone had the same plans I did for the building. With that, I met up with him and downloaded ALL my research to his hard drive as a ‘helping hand’ on how to guide him to preserving this gas station.
Now, I am willing to offer to help him – as long as he will let me…


Meteor City Trading Post – Meteor City AZ

This one came to me via a converstation with Roger Naylor – co-author of ‘Arizona Kicks on Route 66’ – while on a phone call one day.
We were talking about preservation work and how he thought it would be ‘great’ to partake in a project –  as he did not know or want to ‘spearhead’ one, but he was more than willing to lend a helping hand.
We were talking about different sites on Route 66 in Arizona and he mentioned he spoke to the owners of the trading post and they were wanting to repaint their ‘World’s Longest Route 66 Map’ as the elements have taken a toll on it. I told him I would stop in on my (many) trips back and forth to Holbrook and see what they are looking to do. Well, I did as promised and found the owner of the trading post, and she pretty much did not want to believe some ‘stranger’ stops in offering a ‘friendly helping hand’ and help them fix something which tens of thousands of travelers stop and look at. As we went outside to tour the map, she was pointing out the damage done by the winds (note: the wind gusts get up to 40-60MPH in the open desert, and when you have something that big sitting there unprotected, it takes a beating). We talked about it being painted some time ago with the direction of Hampton Inns – but she said it was time for to repair the wood and repaint the map. As we walked around the property, she mentioned to me they still had the ORIGINAL trading post building, built in 1932(ish) and it was covered up by fencing. She then mentioned ‘everyone knows it is here and wants to see it and take pictures, but we do not know how to open it up to the public.’ So the lightbuld goes off. I told her to close up the front window and make sure the front door is secure and then remove and realign the wood fencing to INCLUDE the front of the historic original trading post. She loved the idea! Then out of the corner of my eye, I see two painting on the fence and ask her about them. She said ‘oh, Bob Waldmire painted those…’ Naturally, I replied “who knows that?!? Why isn’t there a sign or plaque letting the travelers know this?!?”
So there seems to be THREE projects at this site, all which are just as valuable as the next.


Historic Motel/Restaurant sign – somewhere on Route 66 in AZ

This one we all know and love BUT I need to check with the current owner to see what his/her plans are. He/she might already be working on something as I have seen work done on a portion of it, but the entire sign needs to be redone to show off its grandeur!
This one I will have to get back to you on, but I would LOVE to have the opportunity to work on this one!


Gas Station #10 – Tucumcari NM
OK, this one isn’t in Arizona and this one is pretty much planned with or without me there, but I figured if the timing was right, it is the least I can do to not only help out Tucumcari (again) but to help Mr. Rich Talley for his (several) trips to Needles to criticize me (I mean) help me with not only the 66 Motel sign restoration, but being there with the TEXACO and UNION gas stations before we went to Victorville for the fest.

I believe this should be enough to last me the rest of the year! Although in high country (northern Arizona) it does snow and get really cold, and all of these seem to be on the same ‘belt line’ – I might have to pick only two or three at the most – leaving one or so until next year…

Let me know what you think…

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.

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!’

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!

Sep 072011
 



A ‘quick’ video thrown together of us doing restoration / painting work at the old Phillips 66 Gas Station in Tucumcari NM – right on Route 66!

It was HOT!! I cannot tell you after 8 plus hours in the sun – one wants to simply give up and call it a day – but most of us stuck around to get as much done as possible.

There are gas pumps now at the site (which I do not have video of) so next time you are in Tucumcari, stop by and check out the ‘handy work’ of the locals, business owners, and guys like me who drove 10 hours to ‘lend a helping hand’.

Click HERE to see the video.

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….

Jun 242011
 



Woke up and was eager to stop back over at the U Drop Inn and see it in the daytime.
We went inside and spoke with a lady (man, I forgot her name!) and she went over the restoration process with me and told me while it was great the government funds helped with the restoration, the government told them they could not run the diner / kitchen for 10 years after the project was complete. They have (fortunately) 2 more years to go before they can ‘open shop’ in the diner.

Overall, I was impressed with the building.



Juliana waiting for service – she might have to wait a bit!







The Philips 66 Gas Station in McLean TX.







The fantastic ‘Leaning Water Tower’ in Britten TX.







We stopped at the Cross in Groom TX again. 10,000,000 visitors a year visit this place – did you hear that Groom TX?!?







Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX – Met a woman from Germany here. Juliana was able to use her German on her, and she told me she was looking forward to meeting Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. I gave her my card and told her to tell Rich she could get a free gift!!! (Sorry Rich!)





Juliana spray painting for the first time – very little room to spray paint your name! These cars are covered!






We stopped in Tucumcari in the afternoon, this is a whole ‘nother post for another day – seeing we are BACK in Tucumcari this weekend doing preservation work…

May 112011
 



City and Chamber of Commerce officials are coordinating three community beautification projects in an effort to promote Tucumcari.

“It takes all of us to make our town beautiful,” Cathy Estrada, the city’s code enforcement officer said.

This year’s cleanup has three projects organized by Estrada, Carole Keith and Tucumcari MainStreet.

Estrada said she will run the cleanup at the fitness course next to the Quay Apartments. Tucumcari MainStreet will be painting another gas station on West Route 66 by the Paradise Motel and Keith will organize the cleaning of Dunn Park.

“This is the sixth year I have been a part of the cleanup,” Estrada said. “It has come a long way since its start.”

Estrada said the community’s increased involvement helps make the clean up a success every year.

“In the beginning it was my family and I operating the entire cleanup,” Estrada said. “Thanks to the increasing volunteers every year, we get more done.”

City Manager Bobbye Rose said the cleanup benefits the city’s economic development and tourism.

“These projects help to increase the community’s pride in their city,” Rose said.

Estrada said the city receives state and federal funding for the cleanup projects. She said local sponsorship has been a large part of the cleanup’s success.

“We have 25 local sponsors this year,” Estrada said. “I am so thankful for all they donate to the cleanup. We would not have come as far as we have if not for our local business support.”

Estrada said the three projects will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday. She said the volunteers will meet at the fitness course to be divided into groups for the projects.

“We need the community to come out and help with these projects,” Estrada said. “It cannot be the responsibility of a certain group to make Tucumcari beautiful.”

Thomas Garcia – Quay County Sun