Route 66 - Albuquerque, New Mexico

Yesterday, marked the second of twenty-three journeys to be taken for our art project, Walking Enchantment. We are so excited to be doing this project that it's hard not to do the happy dance every time we do a photo shoot.

So this week was Route 66 - at least the part that goes through Albuquerque, New Mexico. We chose this section partly because we want to highlight the urban neighborhoods of our town, but also because Route 66 is, for the most part, no longer passable through some, if not most parts of New Mexico. Believe me when I say that if I could, I would do the coast-to-coast trip.  Nothing like a road trip to get the creative juices flowing. However, currently the original Route 66 is not on any road map, anywhere (at least what we could find). In addition, it has not been maintained and for the most part is impassable. That said, we hit the road at 5:45 a.m. to see what we could see of Route 66, armed only with a highlight map that is who knows how old, my camera bag, tripod and two smart phones.

First stop...the La Puerta Lodge. Some very cool signage here, however, that's where it ends. Like many of the motels along Route 66, it is run down and in dire need of some TLC. These old hotels would be so cool if renovated and the grounds maintained. As it stands, they represent the ghetto of Albuquerque. Neither I or my project partner, Carey Rose, wandered very far from the car or each other. Thankfully, I have a telephoto lens so we didn't have to. I believe we both felt a very uncertain vibe being in this part of town.    

We ventured further down the road to another of the "highlighted" stops on Route 66...the Pioneer Motel. Again, very cool signage, but not much else. We actually came upon one of the other motels on the highlight map that advertised having - wait for it - phones! Those images will likely be in the actual exhibit at the end of the year, so if you want to see them, you'll just have to come to the exhibit. Christmas in New Mexico is like nothing you've ever experienced!

As our trip progressed, we eventually made it to the rail/bus station. As most rail/bus stations are wont to be, this one was full of very colorful characters. The architecture was typical southwest and we did go to the tunnels over the underpass and there were colorful lights and pictures of old Albuquerque within the tunnels. Awesome shots there. Also, likely in the exhibit.

We left the station - by car, not rail or bus - and moved on to the "the purest Route 66 motel surviving", "open 24 hours". The problem is, it wasn't - pure or open.  There were "No Trespassing" signs everywhere, but being the rebel photographer that I am (not!) we parked and began our sojourn around the building(s). Sadly, it was surrounded by chain-link fence and was definitely showing every one of its 70 years.  It's a shame too because it would be killer if it were renovated.  As we walked around the property, we noticed that it is actually in the process of being either purchased or renovated - the latter I hope - because it's very cool. Like I said previously, loads of TLC.  The one bright spot was that it had an amazing, old Yucca tree on the grounds that was blooming and beautiful.  I hope it gets to stay since it's the state flower and contributes to the authenticity of the place.


Onward ... to the beach!  Wait...did I say beach?  Yes!  Actual water and ducks and trees and everything. Beautiful! When Carey Rose told me about it, I was stunned!  How did I not know about this place?  Where have I been for seven years!  Under a rock apparently. Tingley Beach is part of the city rejuvenation project and it's been there for a while.  Who knew?  I can hardly wait to do a return visit - with my dog this time. He will love it! It's more like a park with a lake and fishing and paddle boats, etc., but I'm good with that. Loved it!

Island in the middle of the lake.


These two didn't want anything to do with people!


A gorgeous little waterfall.


All aboard!


Last stop on the agenda was headed out of town to where the sign announcing Route 66 is suspended over Central Avenue on the way into or out of Albuquerque. There are so many other landmarks along this route that it's hard to keep track.  Mostly places to stay, restaurants announcing New Mexican cuisine, vintage cars, and businesses trying to make a go of it. The diversity, friendliness, and camaraderie in this town is amazing and I, for one, hope it remains so. Route 66 is a stunning example of Americana at it's best.