Sunday, January 19, 2014

McLean Texas, Route 66

Generally I don't think of myself as a Route 66 kind of guy in terms of having any overarching interest in it any more than the average dreamer, but when you criss cross the America as much as we do, it is inevitable that you are going to be spending time on the 66 and lately due to certain extenuating circumstances like Jackie's love affair with the historic LaPosada Hotel in Winslow, Arizona,  or our work on documenting Highway 83 which intersects with Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas where we were staying to divine the essence of the epicenter/cosmic convergence of the American pre-interstate highway system, we have begun to develop a curiosity that has taken us on a new road.  Today, that road lead us to McLean, as we traveled east on the 66 from Shamrock to get to Amarillo and a certain BBQ place, Jackie had her eye on.
Once a vibrant and relevant hub of commerce and activity, along Route 66 when it was still the only way west, sporting 6 or 7 gas stations, movie theaters that operated, and 56 stores, ...., it now lies all but abandoned and in a state of decay that is deplorable, but not at all uncommon in the thousands of towns across the country that have been left to implode or wither away quietly now that they've torn up the railroads they once serviced and/or built interstates that allows the world to bypass them at 70 mph.  Now there is next to nothing left in McLean other than the few tattered buildings that make it an object of curiosity, a 1 or 2 hour stop over for Route 66 aficionados, longer if you decide to take in the Barbed Wire Museum.

If this photo looks like a hundred others I have taken, that's because it is.  Just another American main street empty and abandoned, devoid of life and searching for relevance.  If little else, there always seems to be a Dollar Store, consignment shop where people sell their possessions to stay alive in the absence of any real employment, a tattoo parlor,  beauty salon, convenience store and little else.  Below is the Avalon Theater, in name and facade only, that are falling apart and provide a photo op for any serious 66er.  I was fortunate that the clouds were with me that day and the sun was in the right place.  When you are just passing through, which is so often the case with us, either you get lucky or you don't, condition wise.  There is more to McLean, but not much, sadly, but this gives you the idea.  Hope the Avalon will still be standing if you get there. 

As I said, there are 6 or 7 abandoned old gas stations from a variety of eras dating back to the 20's and 30's in McLean, most  of which had their backs to the sun or were not photogenic for one reason or other.  This 1950's vintage one was not the best of the bunch, but was well lit.  It looked like the newest of the old abandoned stations, and of at least some historical interest.

As we were leaving town to head west, we passed the Cactus Inn Motel which was quite, a pleasant surprise relative to the rest of the town, and a nice place to stay if you should want to spend more time in McLean in order to see the barbed wire museum, the main point of interest in town.  In view of the inherent brutality of the concept, we passed on it.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Allenreed Texas, Route 66

I always look at certain photos like the trailer below, as a gift.  Here we are in Allenreed, Texas, and while I am sitting on a hillside on the side of the road next to the general store/post office/gas station which makes up 1/3rd of the town,

lamenting the fact that the light was not even close to being right for a certain potentially great photo I wished I could have taken, when these people pull up to fill up, et voila, the perfect Route 66 photo, a vintage 1960's trailer pulling up to the pump to fill up in Allenreed, Texas.

and just when I thought I couldn't have been luckier, this Coca Cola truck pulled up to make a delivery...