6 Reasons to Visit New Mexico

New Mexico – the land of enchantment and the fifth largest state in the USA is a photographers paradise. Here are 6 reasons to visit New Mexico: stunning landscapes, Americana, amazing small towns, beautiful churches, Route 66 and big skies.

Join this photographic journey through the state. Enjoy browsing!

Reasons to visit New Mexico – 1: Stunning Landscapes

Much of New Mexico is desert. The roads through the desert make this state perfect for road trips. Here are three wonderful landscapes which show what New Mexico has to offer.

6 reasons to visit new Mexico Shiprock New Mexico Dawn

Shiprock New Mexico

Bisti Badlands New Mexico

Bisti Badlands

White sands New Mexico

White Sands

Reason 2: Pure Americana

Old cars, motels and gas stations from an era long gone.

Interstate 40 (which took the place of Route 66) crosses just north of the centre of the state. Its a wonderful drive from Glenrio in the east to Gallup in the West. New Mexico features one of the real gems of Route 66 in Tucumcari. Other highlights include genuine stretches of the old route around Albuquerque as well as the Santa Fe loop which passes close to the wonderful town from which it takes its name. Albuquerque, Grants and Gallup are all worth a look.

Americana - Old Truck and Gas Sign

Americana – Old Truck and Gas Sign

Old Car New Mexico

Old Car

San Jon New Mexico

San Jon

Reason 3: Amazing Small Towns

The great thing about New Mexico’s small towns is that many are off the beaten track. Drop down South of Albuquerque and visit the towns of Socorro, Alamagordo and Rothwell – the later famous for its UFOs! Dig a little deeper to find  the tiny villages of Winston and Chloride, places few visitors to the US reach.

Alamagordo at Dawn Pink sky

Alamagordo at Dawn

Santa Rosa New Mexico

Santa Rosa

Chloride New Mexico

Choride

Winston General Store Storm Clouds

Winston General Store

Reason 4: Spectacular Churches

The churches of New Mexico are simply beautiful. It goes without saying that they are sacred places, and many are on sacred land. So if you visit be respectful and check with local people whether they are happy for you to be there, especially if you are taking photographs.

White Church - Indian Pueblo

White Church – Indian Pueblo

Church, Socorro at night

Church, Socorro

Taos New Mexico

Taos New Mexico

Reason 5: Route 66 Neon

New Mexico is one of the eight states along Route 66, or at least once along Route 66. The Blue Swallow Motel has legendary status. There is no better example of a 1950’s motel anywhere in the US. The Route 66 Diner in Albuquerque is another example of wonderful neon.

Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari

Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari

Route 66 Diner Albuquerque

Route 66 Diner Albuquerque

Reason 6: Big Skies

Panoramic landscapes, desert scenes and big skies. Because New Mexico is so sparsely populated you cannot miss vistas like this one. Pure escapism.

Big Sky New Mexico

Big Sky 1

Big Sky Stormcloud New Mexico

Big Sky 2

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SEE OUR FAVOURITE ROUTE 66 IMAGES

Route 66 Exhibition – Meet the Photographer

Route 66 in Texas

Route 66 in Texas

Last week my latest exhibition – Route 66 –  opened in Hertford just north of London. The event has been curated by Courtyard Arts and is taking place at Hertford Theatre. There are eighteen prints on display including the above photograph of Route 66 in Texas. A more comprehensive post about the exhibition will follow later.

On Friday evening, at the suggestion of Courtyard, we hosted a “Meet the Photographer” evening. I was delighted to show visitors around the exhibition and talk about my work.

The evening was a great success. Visitors had various different interests. Attendees included Courtyard members with a passion for art, local residents interested in Americana, young photographers embarking on their careers and even a rock musician.

We will be repeating these sessions on two November afternoons. ( Wednesday 5 November ftom 4 pm to 7 pm and Thursday 13 November from 4 pm to 7 pm) Please feel free to visit – I will be pleased to see you. And if you can’t make these particular dates, by all means give me a call and we can set up an appointment at another time.

View Photographs of Route 66

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Photographs of Route 66

Route 66 became something of a passion of mine a few years ago. I made my first journey along the Mother Road in 2005. Then I just scratched the surface of what it had to offer. In 2009 and 2010 I spent some time along the Arizona and New Mexico stretches. Then I travelled the route in its entirety several times from 2011 to 2013. My portfolio of photographs of Route 66 is growing all the time and hopefully will continue to do so.

Of course Route 66 barely exists these days. It was by-passed by the interstate highways in the 1960s and 1970s. But its legend lives on.

Route 66 holds many attractions for me. I like the retro feel about many parts of it, whether faithfully restored (like much of the road in Arizona) or a shadow of its former self (like parts of the route in Texas and Oklahoma). I also enjoy the Rock And Roll culture. It is visible all along the Route – the many bikers and cruisers  are impossible to avoid. Then there are the old style hotels and attractions – the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, the Wigwam Motels in Holbrook and Rialto, the Boots Motel in Carthage and so the list goes on.

But it is the people along the route who have made my many travels so enjoyable. If you haven’t met Gary Turner at Gay Parita near Halltown then you are all the poorer for it. I was pointed in his direction by Ramona Lehman of the Munger Moss then in turn to Laurel Kane at the Afton Service Station, Emily Priddy at the Hotel Campbell in Tulsa and Kevin and Nancy Mueller at the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, and another list goes on…

Creating photographs of Route 66 is the main reason I travel the route. But as with everywhere I am lucky enough to visit it is the people and places that make the photographs and not the other way round.

When I revamped my blog I committed to myself to publish a series of occasional posts about the places I had visited and the people I had met on Route 66. This I hope the first of many.

I have attached just a few photographs of Route 66 to this post. Please follow this link to see more. Or call me to discuss the wider collection that is buried in our digital vault.

Photographs of Route 66 in Pontiac Illinois

One of many murals in Pontiac Illinois.

Photographs of Route 66 in Baxter Springs Kansas

Route 66 restored gas station at Baxter Springs Kansas

Photographs of Route 66 in Arcadia Oklahoma

Giant Pop bottle at Pops Arcadia

Photographs of Route 66 in Albuquerque New Mexico

Neon sign of the Route 66 Diner in Albuquerque New Mexico

Photographs of Route 66 in Springfield Missouri

The original Shake and Steak Diner at Springfield Missouri

Photographs of Route 66 in Amarillo Texas

The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo Texas at dusk

Photographs of Route 66 in Holbrook Arizona

The Flatbed Ford – standing on a corner in Winslow Arizona.

Photographs of Route 66 in Amboy California

Roys Motel and Cafe at Amboy in California

Standing on a Corner

Standing on a Croner, Winslow, Arizona

Standing on a Croner, Winslow, Arizona

 

Standing on a Corner in Winslow, Arizona. Well I was. The lines from the Eagles first hit record, “Take it Easy” written by Jackson Browne and Glen Frey have now became the main feature of this town on Route 66. Drop in the next time you’re passing.

 

 

 

Tulsa

Art Deco Buildings, Boston Avenue, Tulsa

I arrived at Tulsa during my latest trip along Route 66 and spent a little longer there than planned. Why? Because Tulsa is a real gem.  A vibrant city with stunning art deco architecture, lots going on and most of all some great people. I visited several places around the city with the help of some locals I would like to thank.

My base was the excellent Campbell Hotel, a beautifully restored 1930’s building where no expense was spared on the refurbishment. I was grateful to the staff there – Jackie, Alyssah, Justin and especially Emily, who took me on a guided tour of Route 66 in and around the city.

The city and surroundings has lots of  places along, or in the spirit of, Route 66. The blue whale and giant mushrooms at Catoosa, Tally’s and Hanks Hamburgers in the City, the Oasis and Brookstone Motels, the Meadow Gold exhibit, and the list goes on. The historic Cain’s Ballroom, where I was lucky enough to take in a show is a superb building. Fifteen minutes from Tulsa is the town of Sapulpa, well worth a visit, and where I was grateful for the assistance from the lovely ladies at the Chamber of Commerce, not forgetting Betty from the bank, for guidance on local points of interest.

The music venues of the city are numerous. I came across Soundpony, where the owners Josh and Mike encouraged a shot with a difference in the CBGB’s of Tulsa, and the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame where I was shown round by Jeff and Jason.

The fact that Tulsa surprised me reflects on its low international profile. As one gentleman said to me, “We kinda like it that way” but later on he added “Don’t forget to tell the folks back home about us”. Consider it done.

I look forward to exploring the city further on a future visit.

 

The Brady District of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Hanks Hamburgers, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Beer, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Graffiti, Soundpony, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, Tulsa

Ghost Sign, Sapulpa Drive In, Route 66, Oklahoma

 

Morning Light, Route 66 Road Marking, Sapulpa, Oklahoma

 

The Route 66 Chamber of Commerce

During my visit to Missouri I was lucky enough to meet up with Ron Hart, Director of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce. I cannot thank Ron enough for the afternoon we spent together as he showed me round some of the lesser known locations on Route 66 in Carthage. And as a former professional photographer (and storm chaser!) he could help steer me towards some the locations he knew I would be looking for.

Ron set up the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce to provide visitors with information to help them  plan an adventure on the Historic Mother Road of America. He also established the Chamber website, which at 94 pages is largest Route 66 website in the world! It is well worth checking the site out if you are planning a journey along Route 66. It would also be worth tracking down Ron if you are in Carthage. I found him generous with his time and he has a wealth of useful information about all of Route 66.

And about Carthage? It is one of the most interesting towns on the Mother Road in Missouri. For the historians there are several different alignments of the route around the location. Carthage is also home to the Route 66 Drive in Theatre, the Boots and Keri Lake Motels and Whisler’s Drive up Hamburgers.  A short drive away is the unique Red Oak 2 village and Gary Turner’s Gay Parita at paris Springs near Halltown.

At the time of my visit the office of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce was located in the Boots Motel.

Car in front of old motel in Carthage - Missouri

One of the evocative locations we visited

The Boots Motel on Route 66 at Carthage, Missouri

Room at the Boots Motel in Carthage

Room at the Boots Motel in Carthage

What a wonderful place. Located on the intersection of Route 66 with Route 71 at Carthage, the Boots Motel was saved from demolition by the local community. In 2011 it was bought by sisters Deborah Harvey and Pricilla Bledsaw who are painstakingly restoring it to its original style with period features in every room. These have to be amongst the best rooms on Route 66, one of which was a favourite of Clark Gable in the 1940’s. But the appeal of the Hotel does not stop at the rooms. Hotel Manager, Debbie Dee ensures the motel provides offers a quality of service to die for. The nightly cost of a room is interesting. Either 66 or 71 dollars, acknowledging the numbers of the routes intersecting at the location of the motel, described as the crossroads of America.

The Boots Court Motel opened its doors for business in 1939 with a gas station, in front of the residential building, later transformed to the Motel office. The architectural style of the motel is art deco / moderne. A failed attempt to demolish the building and erect a Wlagreens on its site may have been the catalyst for change which resulted in the Motel’s current incarnation. Since my first stay I have kept an eye from abroad on developments. The raise the roof campaign has fascinated me. It is a matched funded project to restore the original roof of the Boots Court Motel.

This hotel is a must for travellers on Route 66.

 

 

Photographic Tour of Route 66

Philips 66 McLean Texas

Gas Station, Route 66, McLean Texas

I will be co leading a photographic tour along Route 66 with the renowned landscape photographer David Ward in October 2012. The tour is limited to just twelve people and we are looking to fill the  last remaining places.

Route 66 – which once epitomised the American Dream and now holds cult status with travellers and rock and roll music lovers – is a photographer’s paradise.

One of the most famous roads in America and from 1926 till the mid 1970´s linked Chicago, Illinois with Los Angeles, California, 2400 miles of ‘blacktop’ that became a national icon in the post war years. As world economies recovered and people returned from the second world war it
was boom time in the USA. Americans became a nation of travellers, and Route 66 was the chosen route for many. Restaurants and motels, gas stations and drive-in theatres were the backdrop for a road populated by thousands of fine motor vehicles.

In 1956 the Interstate Highway Act signalled the beginning of the end for the Mother Road, Historic Route 66. But the efforts of several enthusiasts have enabled many parts of the road to be restored and bought back into being. Whilst the route itself is a shadow of its former self, its legend lives on. The exuberant architecture and other symbols which helped make the Route so famous are now in differing states of repair making them ideal photographic subjects.

Join us on this two week tour through Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to photograph the highlights of the Mother Road

Key Facts about the trip

When?

13 – 27 October 2012

Where?

The tour starts in Oklahoma City and finishes in Las Vegas

How Much?

£2995  Deposit of £300 due at time of booking

Included

all ground transportation, accommodation and breakfasts.

Not included

international flights, insurance and other meals not mentioned.

Group size

12

How to book

For further details contact Martin Smith on 020 8275 1040 or David Ward on 01432 830 781

 

Please note:

This is a photographic tour so the leaders will be doing all they can to maximise photographic opportunities. This will involve some early mornings and late evenings!

In order to give an authentic Route 66 experience, and to broaden photographic opportunities, we will stay in authentic Route 66 hotels on some nights. Whilst they will be clean and include private facilities, by their very nature they will not offer the more modern facilities of some of the other hotels on the tour.

 

The Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico

An old Pontiac outside the Blue Swallow Motel Tucumcari New Mexico on Route 66

Twilight at he Blue Swallow Motel in Tucmumcari on Route 66

Is this Route 66’s most iconic shot? All Route 66 travellers and officionados know this location well and it is almost impossible to come up with a photograph of this fine building that has not already been done. This is my take – the Motel at twilight featuring the old Pontiac belonging to the Motel’s new owners Nancy and Kevin. And a word about this lovely couple – if you want the warmest of welcomes and a true Route 66 experience, then make Nancy and Kevin, for whom nothing is too much trouble, your hosts.  I was lucky enough to spend three nights at he Blue Swallow making it my base for photographing the many pieces of memorabilia of Tucumcari as well as the ghost towns or near ghost towns of San Jon, Montoya, Newkirk and Cuevo.

Grain Elevator, Route 66, Texas

Grain elevator on Route 66 in Texas after sunset

Can a grain elevator be a thing of beauty? Perhaps not, but set against this beautiful sky just after sunset, this structure looks pretty stunning. I spent a couple of hours at the end of a fine Texas autumn day capturing the effects of changing lighting effects on this grain elevator at Landergin on Route 66 in Oldham County.

Conoco Tower, Shamrock, Texas

Conoco Tower, Shamrock, Texas, Route 66

Conoco Tower on Route 66 in Shamrock, Texas 

Te end of another great day in Texas. As I drove into Shamrock the clouds got more and more dramatic and the evening sun more powerful as it lit up the art deco styled Conoco Tower. This was as close as a building can get in smiling for the camera.

 

In the footsteps of Billy Connolly on Route 66

Seligman Barber, Arizona

The barber’s chair, Angel Degadillo, Seligman, Arizona

I have visited Seligman, Arizona on Route 66 four times. And each time I go there Angel Degadillo, once a barber, and now a route 66 legend, makes me feel as welcome as he did the first time. When I visited in July 2011, Angel’s daughter also greeted me and asked whether I knew fellow briton Billy Connolly. “Alas no” I replied, but learned that he had passed through Seligman and visited Angel’s shop just a couple of weeks before me. I am now amongst the many people who are finding Mr Connolly’s Route 66 programme on ITV compelling viewing. And about Angel and his legendary status, I’ll keep my version of events until my blog posts docuemnting my journeys along the mother road commence in 2012. If you would like a taster, please visit my Route 66 gallery.

 

Joplin, Missouri

Tornado, Joplin, Disaster, May 22, Crisis,

Devastation in Joplin following the May 22 Tornado

Tornado, Joplin, Disaster, May 22, Crisis,

Devastation in Joplin following the May 22 Tornado

In July I travelled across America on Route 66. I passed through Joplin in Missouri, a city directly on the route and close to the Oklahoma / Missouri border. I witnessed first hand the damage caused by the tornado which wiped out part of the city, killing more than 100 people on 22 May this year. I took this shot and have included it in my blog in the hope that it may reach one or two more people not yet aware of the sheer devastation caused by the tragedy. If just one person is able to respond positively it has been a worthwhile post. (Update, 5 years on Help Joplin is no longer a fund raising campaign.)

Route 66 in Arizona

Seligman, Arizona where a few guys got together in the late seventies. They realised that interstate 40 meant their village would be bypassed forever so decided to do something about it. They began the restoration of their own village, right on Route 66, which caught on in neighbouring places, then across the route as a whole. I like the dominant blue of this shot including the Corvette parked outside the motel.

Route 66, Seligman, Arizona

Route 66, Seligman, Arizona

Route 66 – The Mother Road

Old Truck, Arizona

Old Truck, Arizona

I loved my first journey along Route 66. Each of the States it crossed seemed to offer something different. Personal highlights were Arizona and New Mexico where restoration is outstanding and the mix of retro artefacts and old wrecks is compelling. I return to Arizona in the fall and would be pleased to share photographic experiences with any one else who has travelled there. The sight of this old pickup takes me back to that first journey of five years ago.