Yesterday marked my first full day on Route 66. Constant stopping for photographs and conversation ruled the day and the mileage I made was minimal. But the people and stories were worth the price of admission.
The road reminded me of what pioneers some of the earlier auto travelers were. Little town upon little town with local cafes, small charmingly unique motels and various signs and artifacts beckoning you to come in and spend some of your extra cash. And not one familiar name of a store you have seen before.
For the most part these places are now relics and overgrown hazards of a time before. Especially true in one town called Truxton Arizona (take notes, there may be a quiz later!) Truxton had the glory of being a heyday Route 66 stopping place. That changed when the Interstate moved travel away from the town. The unofficial numbers were 12000 cars a day before the Interstate was built, less than 200 after it was built. Needless to say, Truxton was a victim like so many other Route 66 towns.
It was the decaying sign, the overgrown weeds and the near ghost-like appearance of the place that drew me to stop and see if that little neon OPEN sign was truth or archaic. It turned out to be truth. It turned out to be the best stop of the day.
Inside I met Al. A historian, lover and fan of all Route 66. After 25 years in the corporate world, Al packed up his stuff from New Mexico, took his wife, two kids and moved to Truxton when he heard the Frontier Motel was for sale. Along with the hotel, Al got three other properties in town with this purchase and now is living his dream of restoring the hotel to it's original glory. Of course this was after his wife asked about three hundred times if this was really what they wanted to do.
As our talks went on he showed me plans, dreams and ideas he had for the place. The new floor he just installed, the collection of toilets waiting to be picked up so new ones could be installed. He gave me free hand to run all over and photograph the other properties... "Watch out for Rattlesnakes" was the only warning. Like you need any other warning after that one!
I doubt I will be able to get back to experience the end result of his dream, but I know I will stay in touch with him. Maybe because the conversation was so good, maybe because I like his attitude of following his dreams or maybe to remind me that an old motel restorer can be an artist also. Seeing a dream, transferring to some media no matter how small or large and being able to share it with others is a gift. I can't wait to see Al's gift to us.