Cultural Mirages: Route 66 and the Mojave Desert - 2005

My third venture into the outback of California to record the vanishing desert-erata of the old California Route 66. This trip spanned Jan 28-30, with veterans John, Blake, Allen, Kit, Carole, Dave and I, and first-timer Sam. With the town of Amboy on the auction block Jan 31 and the Ludlow motel reserved with miners, this time we spent both nights in Barstow at the Route 66 Motel. Friday afternoon began at Tom's Welding, then dinner and impromptu computer slide shows in Dave's room until 1am. Saturday morning skies were blustery and very cold as a storm was blowing through. We snapped some sunrise lighting on the artifacts at the motel, then drove to Newberry Springs and the Bagdad Cafe for breakfast. Then onward to Amboy, where we waited in vain for the sun to illuminate the Roy's Cafe sign. A quick run up the road towards Chambless, then to Bristol Dry Lake and what has proven to be the highlight of this workshop - the back yards of the National Chloride Company. The recent heavy rains had filled the salt trenches to the brim and even made a shallow lake maybe a square mile in size adjacent to National Chloride. As sunset neared, we returned to Amboy and were rewarded with spectacular lighting as golden storm clouds lit the row of 3 long-abandoned houses that comprises the residential district of Amboy. My plan was then to give the crew the opportunity to photograph Comet Machholz and the winter Milky Way star fields using the guiding mount I had brought. But skies clouded up with high winds for the remainder of the evening. So instead of a wok-fried feast with panoramic views of the sky and desert from Pisgah Volcanic Crater, we settled for a "mystery meat" dinner at the Ludlow Cafe before driving back to the Route 66 Motel. Then more hours as the Mac-heads (everyone, that is, but WinBlows Nolthenius) couldn't wait to tweak all imperfections out of the day's haul of images. Actually, it was all good. I learned a lot, and even took a few good images myself of the image-massagers massaging. Next morning, we drove out to Tom's Welding again for morning light on his amazing array of signage from the golden days of Route 66. Then to the bizarre array of road warrior vehicles we visted last year. Then breakfast at the Amigo, then to the retirement home to say hello to General Bob. Then to the Daggett Pioneer Cemetary, the railroad museum and Route 66 museum across from the train station. It was a very full weekend! Enjoy the pictures. More images from this trip can be found here...

Rainbow over the Central Valley

Storm front over Wasco at sunset...

...produced these darkly ominous clouds...

...and captured golden glows from the setting sun.

An 1885 wooden headstone at the Daggett cemetary

Sunset from Amboy...

...lit these clouds in the eastern sky

Alpenglow after sunset in the west...

...and east.

Twilight over Amboy

Stylized image of a stylized hood ornament

Sunday morning shooting at Tom's Welding

Brass fire extinguisher from 50 odd years ago...



Ancient gas pump

Hand crank on an old gas pump

Scene from "Alien"? or macro shot of glass lens on an old gas pump

Channel iron

Tom, bigger'n life

Above Tom's

More signs

Guard dog muscling through the bars to get at intrusive photographers!

Moon over the Route 66 Motel

Stark and empty, the Amboy church

Abandoned Amboy cabins


Dave and the crew clog Route 66 waiting for the perfect lighting on Roy's.

At the boneyards...

...Chevy from the 50's

Colorful oxides of copper and iron

This evil black headlight and bared teeth makes me think of Stephen King's "Christine"

Grill work on "Christine"


Gear on a salt crusher

Trenches of salt, filled with rainwater on Bristol Dry Lake

Eroding paint on "Christine"

Weathered doorframe

Dave's room at the Route 66 Motel-1am. Mac-heads Photoshop and trade around the day's shots

At the Railroad Museum, Barstow native and '40's beauty, actress Jeanne Crain

Dave, Sam, Blake Mac'ing away