The Great American Total Solar Eclipse Journey – Day 2

A day closer to the eclipse

It’s a bright sunny morning as we depart from Winslow, AZ. It’s Thursday, August 17, 2017. Were another day closer to the Eclipse on Monday, August 21. Heading east as we travel down I-40, we’re enjoying the scenery but definitely thinking about this coming Monday. Checking weather forecasts on out phones as we drive, we keep seeing that the forecast is for mostly cloudy. Maybe I made a bad choice in choosing Jefferson City? Only time will tell. Until then, we’ve got many things to see.

We arrive in Holbrook, AZ in mid morning. We exit off of I-40 and cruise through town on Old Route 66. Right away, Margaret spots an old sign at the “West End Liquor” store. It’s a great old sign with an arrow. The colors are good to, blue, yellow and a touch of red. Now, will the blue standout enough against the bright blue morning sky?

As we travel further into Holbrook, it seems as if “Jurassic Park” has claimed Holbrook. There are dinosaurs everywhere. Here are a few.

In Gallup, NM we went to a supper Market to get some fruit to snack on as we were driving. We found a sign with not only an arrow, but also the word “arrow” in the sign. We were now in our third state during our trip and we were finding subjects for my projects everywhere. We need to spend at least a day or two in each town to explore all the possible targets. Definitely I will have to plan to make a much slower trip along I-40 (Old Route 66). I can only imagine what the rest of the trip will produce.

In Albuquerque, NM we stopped to gas up the car and had a quick lunch at Subway. It was then back on the road to get to our days destination, Tucumcari, NM. In Tucumcari out motel was the legendary “Blue Swallow Motel”. It is an excellently preserved remnant of Old Route 66. Being old, I knew it wouldn’t be handicapped friendly. They were very friendly and had it so we could park right in front of room. I could get in and out of room using my cane. The motel area was gravel, I couldn’t use my wheelchair to get around. I could wait until dusk shoot the neon at the entrance of the motel.

Earlier in the afternoon we found some interesting old signs in Tucumcari. There was a sign from an old non-existent “Ranch House Cafe”. The sign was still there, but no cafe. While there are many signs to photograph, I’m having problems getting to the right location to photograph them. Many of the signs I’m finding are located in areas with out a hard surface. This makes getting to them very difficult if not impossible with my wheelchair. But, who said life was easy.

Next there was an old sign for a non-existent Shell gas station.

Hiding in some bushes and trees was a sign for the “Paradise Motel”. It must have been a swell motel at one time. It had TV’s and a swimming pool. There is so much great old reminders of days gone by, we could have spent 2 weeks getting here instead of 2 days. I’m also noticing a trend, signs that still exist, but what they are advertising no longer exists. I’m happy for this trend since without it, I wouldn’t have so many old signs to photograph.

I also found an “Arrow Sign”. That’s what I call them. I first saw these when I photographed RAAM in the mid 1980’s. There are a few in Southern California, but as you get further east and south in the US, they are everywhere. There are many different styles. They vary from being in pristine condition to various states of decay. I’ve wanted to travel and just photograph these signs as a project. Here’s a sample.

Tomorrow will be Day 3. We’ve had great weather the first two days and we’re hoping it continues for the eclipse. Checking the weather report each day it still show partly cloudy for eclipse day.

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse Journey – Day 1

August 21, 2017, that was the day when a Total Solar Eclipse was going to be through out the Untied States. The Total Eclipse was visible in 14 states stretching from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east coast. The rest of the U.S. got to see a partial Eclipse. How could I not go see this event?

I spent about a month researching where I wanted to travel to view the eclipse. I did this about 15 months before the eclipse so that I could make my reservations well before the masses became aware of the eclipse. I took what the weather history was like in each location. But I also wanted to make the trip worthwhile even it should be a rainout. Since I’m working on a couple of photographic projects, they played a major factor in my final decision. After much contemplation, I chose Jefferson City, Missouri.

Why Jefferson City? The weather prospects were good, it was near the centerline of the eclipse and it wasn’t seen as a major and therefore an overcrowded spot. Also, we would travel Interstate 40 from Barstow, CA to Oklahoma City, OK. We had first traveled this route in 1985 when we covered the Race Across AMerica (RAAM). I knew there would be many photographic opportunities for my photo projects along the way. The main projects I’m working on is my “Land of Giants” and a project with old signs, signs with Arrows and signs with Neon. So, over a year before the eclipse I booked our room.

We departed home on August 16th for the eclipse. I had it planned out to be four days traveling to Jefferson City, three days in Jefferson City and five days traveling back home. I could have easily doubled the time and still not have had enough time to photograph all we say. It was 1700 miles back to Jefferson City and I planned the first day as the longest. We traveled 525 mile from home to Winslow, AZ. Since we’ve travelled often to the Flagstaff, AZ, we new the route well and knew we wouldn’t be stopping to photograph until after Flagstaff.

A short distance after Flagstaff we came to Twin Arrows. Well, it wasn’t like we remembered it from the late 80’s. The old Twin Arrows Trading Post was just an old derelict building. Across the interstate was an Indian Gaming Casino. But, the Giant Twin Arrows was still there. Another Giant for my collection.

Pulling up to our motel in Winslow, just 100 yards from the Motel, I see an old sign that has a great looking arrow. Joes Café might not be what it used to be, but it’s sign still has a beautiful arrow.

Driving around town that evening after dinner, we came to Winslow High School and their mascot, a Giant Bulldog.

After a good nights sleep and a good breakfast, we were ready to leave town. But before we left, with the Eagles, “Take It Easy” playing on the radio, we had one more stop.

We were now on our second day. Stay tuned for more.

Printing for my show

I spent this weekend to start printing the Photos for my show as Artist In Residence at the Mojave National Preserve. For those of you who haven’t been to the Preserve or have not heard of it, it’s a beautiful area of the Mojave Desert in Southern California. To get to it, head to Las Vegas from Los Angeles on Interstate 15. When you get to Baker, turn left on Kelbaker Rd. You are then in The Mojave National Preserve.

My show will be displayed in November and December of 2017. The show will be in the Gallery at the Preserve Headquarters in the Old Train Depot at Kelso, about 30 miles from Baker. It’s an old pre World War 2 station that has been beautifully restored and now functions at the Park Headquarters. You can learn all about the Park and the history of the Kelso Station. Also, if you like trains, the Union Pacific Mainline from LA to los Vegas/Salt Lake City passes right next to the station.

I decided I better get started printing as soon as I can so that I can work on my other projects. It’s been a while since I printed large prints. As my Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has progressed, I’m become pretty much confined to wheelchair. As with much of my life now, this provides challenges that need solutions. Being in a wheelchair causes my head to be just little higher than the top of the printer. Because of this I can’t see the paper stop setting for the paper feed and can’t see to load the paper. Luckily, I have a wonderful wife, Margaret, who can function as my eyes and legs.

I would get the file set in Photoshop and she would set the printer and load the paper. Once we had the room arranged so that we could both work it went smoothly. After the prints was finished she would take the print to the table in the dining room and place it on the table so if could off-gas for the next day. We than would start on the next print. The system worked well and we got through quite a few prints each day. Living with MS provides many opportunities to find solutions to problems. Without Margaret’s help, this whole project would not have been possible.

Here are the prints from one days work lying out on the dining room table.