Posts

Route 66 – 2

Progress to date:

Thursday – Tulsa OK to Oklahoma City OK

Friday – Oklahoma City OK to Shamrock TX

Saturday – Shamrock TX to Tucumcari NM

Sunday – Tucumcari NM to Santa Fé NM

Monday – Santa Fé NM

Tuesday – Santa Fé NM

Wednesday – Santa Fé NM to Albuquerque NM

 

Motel morning, Shamrock

Motel morning, Shamrock

 

Colourful, Santa Fé

Colourful, Santa Fé

 

Junk, Shamrock

Junk, Shamrock

 

Morning shadow, Tucumcari

Morning shadow, Tucumcari

 

Autumn near Taos

Autumn near Taos

 

Workshop, Shamrock

Workshop, Shamrock

 

We had all manner of good intentions for our rest day in Tulsa and ended up achieving almost nothing. The weather was wet and the temperature down by a good 10C over the previous few days, so a warm hotel room and some essential catching up was called for.

 

On Thursday our Toyota Yaris decided that Xmas was near and started lighting up its dashboard with festive looking warning lights signifying low tyre pressure, cold temperatures and finally, a servicing warning. Rather than risk a complete meltdown, we decided to head straight to the car rental office near Oklahoma City’s airport and seek advice as to what to do next.

 

The answer was a car change, affected by the extremely helpful guys at Hertz. The Toyota being taken off to get some TLC and us leaving only minutes later in a sIightly roomier Nissan. It was quite late by then and we agreed to head for our nearby hotel, rather than fight the mounting rush hour traffic 20 miles into town for some sightseeing. Good move – we checked-in, relaxed for an hour or so, then headed for the grillhouse across the road, a couple of drinks, a fine rib supper and an early night. Worked for me.

 

Abandoned diner, Newkirk

Abandoned diner, Newkirk

 

Yukon Mills, Yukon

Yukon Mills, Yukon

 

Whatever, Chandler

Whatever, Chandler

 

Poster leftovers, Tulsa

Poster leftovers, Tulsa

 

Wilkerson's, Newkirk

Wilkerson’s, Newkirk

 

Yukon Mills, Yukon

Yukon Mills, Yukon

 

Friday’s run was marked by a series of navigational problems. What should have been an easy exit from Oklahoma City, became an hour long nightmare of wrong turns and mounting marital frustration. Finally, the satnav decided it knew where we were and got us back on track. Just as well, I had twinges of Groundhog Day starting to appear.

 

Then the EZ66 guide book decided that it was going to be BloodyMinded66 and later still, FuckYou66, such were the misleading directions it gave us. Of course, several areas of roadworks didn’t help, just like in the UK, where miles of motorway (Interstate here in the US) had been coned off, but absolutely no workers were in evidence and even less work was actually going on.

 

By Sunday, we were both feeling frustrated by the guide book’s willingness to lead us into the unknown. In response, Mrs P set about Googling a solution and soon found a series of satnav routes derived from EZ66, but which didn’t end up in gravel roads going nowhere, or farm roads leading across private property. Wish we’d done this before leaving home.

 

Desolate, San Jon

Desolate, San Jon

 

You can get there from here, El Reno

You can get there from here, El Reno

 

Parkersburg

Parkersburg

 

Wilkerson's, Newkirk

Wilkerson’s, Newkirk

 

The Blue Swallow Motel, Shamrock

The Blue Swallow Motel, Shamrock

 

Sculpture, Canyon Road, Santa Fé

Sculpture, Canyon Road, Santa Fé

 

Which brings us to Santa Fé, a favourite spot for the next couple of days R&R. I sense some fine food on the horizon…

 

And there was – fine food that is and all too soon our time in America’s arty pueblo was up and we were back on the road to Albuquerque. More of that next time.

 

Art Deco and old New Mexico, Santa Fé

Art Deco and old New Mexico, Santa Fé

 

Abandoned, Tucumcari

Abandoned, Tucumcari

 

Moonset, Shamrock

Moonset, Shamrock

 

Canyon Road, Santa Fé

Canyon Road, Santa Fé

 

66 ruminations

A few seconds of thought will probably provide a logical answer to this one. I’ve always found it weird how when driving in the US, a car/van/truck can be behind, filling my rear view mirror, often for a considerable distance, when the next glance in the mirror shows that it’s completely disappeared.

 

Yeah, I know it will have turned off, but it seems to happen so suddenly; one moment all you can see in the mirror are the chromed slats of a grille and the letters LIBRETE (ETERBIL in the mirror), the next moment, the road behind is completely empty. Even when I don’t recall passing any other roads, or turnings. Odd that.

 

While in Chicago, I made sure of the sunrise time and was on the streets well before 07:00, in good time to grab some early morning light. By the time we reached Cuba, that had inched closer to 07:15. In Oklahoma City, at 07:00 it was still pitch dark outside. Further west, Shamrock TX only sees the sun from 07:47 tomorrow (Saturday).

 

Sunrise in Santa Fé today (Monday) is 07:12 – we’re an hour later here as we’ve crossed into the Mountain Time Zone.

 

America’s road network is great and in the main well maintained. The byways of Route 66 unfortunately don’t enjoy the same level of maintenance and pot holes are everywhere. One I spotted this morning (while making yet another U turn) was so big that I did wonder whether it hadn’t been used to bury the car from the BBC’s drama serial One of us.

 

On the subject of road surfaces, many, many roads employ concrete slabs, with expansion joints between. Easy if you have an American car with soft springs and soggy shock absorbers, but a European (or Japanese) car generally has much stiffer suspension and so there is a lot of b-dum b-dum b-dum road noise and driving any distance can become a bit of a trial for driver and passenger alike.

 

Del's Restaurant, Shamrock

Del’s Restaurant, Shamrock

 

Trump support, Shamrock

Trump support, Shamrock

 

Autumn colour, New Mexico

Autumn colour, New Mexico

 

Wind turbines - Route 66

Wind turbines – Route 66

 

About photographing Route 66; Philippe sent me a blurt after the last post, saying that I should produce more colour images. Well, I’ve done that this time. They are images that I think work well in colour and there’s still some b&w threaded through them all.

 

Pascal suggested a run up to Hernandez, with a view to recreating Ansel Adams famous moonrise shot. Well, we went to scout the location en route from Santa Fé to Taos yesterday, but it doesn’t look quite like it did in Adams day. Idea binned – see below.

 

Not quite how Adams saw Hernandez

Not quite how Adams saw Hernandez

 

Once again, most images have been shot with the Fuji X-Pro2, a couple with the X-Pro1. Favourite lens? Still the 23mm f1.4, with the 90mm f2 and 16mm f1.4 coming into use where appropriate – the latter at the Taos Gorge over the Rio Grande.

 

Junk yard, Shamrock

Junk yard, Shamrock

 

Breakfast friends, Santa Fé

Breakfast friends, Santa Fé

 

Rio Grande - Taos Gorge

Rio Grande – Taos Gorge

 

Rio Grande near Hernandez

Rio Grande near Hernandez

 

Gone, Newkirk

Gone, Newkirk

 

Wilkerson's, Newkirk

Wilkerson’s, Newkirk

 

Tow truck, Shamrock

Tow truck, Shamrock

 

On Route 66

On Route 66

 

Window, McLean

Window, McLean

 

Scrapyard bonnet, Shamrock

Scrapyard bonnet, Shamrock

Route 66 – 1

Dick's, Joliet

Dick’s, Joliet

 

If it’s Wednesday, this must be Tulsa. A down day after around 700 miles (1150km) on Route 66. Not a huge distance for anyone living in South Africa, Australia, or the US and used to driving long distances, but quite a challenge on the single lane, less well maintained 66, where every few minutes there is something to stop, look at and photograph.

 

So much so that the 200-odd mile (appx. 350km) daily itinerary is proving to be quite a lot more taxing than I’d initially imagined. What I’d envisaged as a gentle 4+ hour daily drive is proving to be much more a six or seven hour journey, punctuated with sights, meal and coffee stops and the inevitable comfort breaks.

 

And, it’s been brilliant, we’ve loved every inch of it. Except getting lost in some pretty bad spots in St Louis. That wasn’t fun. To be fair, EZ66 does warn of how difficult it can be to negotiate the roads around the city, but we had no clue and are much wiser now.

 

Near Plano's Ghost Village

Near Plano’s Ghost Village

 

Abandoned

Abandoned

 

And, a few words from my navigator: We’re on our way along Route 66: yesterday Springfield, Illinois, today Cuba Missouri. Although it’s lovely and we’ve passed through dozens of pretty little villages, many are not much more than living museums. I’m all in favour of progress and I realise that the Interstate has given far more than it’s taken away, but it’s still sad to see these towns and villages marginalised, and relying only on memories (apparently).

 

You can relax as I won’t be detailing every nook and cranny along the way. Too many people have done it already, infinitely better than I ever could. I also don’t expect you to wade through a succession of we did this, then we did thats.

 

I will share some Route 66 observations though, those thoughts that pop up as the miles roll by.

 

Near Carthage

Near Carthage

 

Munger Moss motel, Lebanon

Munger Moss motel, Lebanon

 

River at Devil's Elbow

River at Devil’s Elbow

 

First up; don’t imagine you can arrive from outside the US and expect your driving experience and common sense will help you to make sense of the road numbering, signs and driving habits.

 

Next; make sure you have a good guide book (Jerry McClanahan’s EZ66 is fantastic) and a satnav and if possible a map as well. EZ66 is incredibly granular and has taken us to many spots we might otherwise have missed. It’s also taken us onto some odd stretches of tarmac, most a few hundred metres long, left to deteriorate after a new Interstate is in use, bypassing these tiny strips of tarmac.

 

You’ll also need the satnav when (to quote my fab navigator) the guide goes “off piste”, leading us into a strange dead end, or simply fails to provide guidance in the middle of nowhere. The excellent Route 66 signage is everywhere and helps enormously, but when the guide book goes temporarily AWOL, the certainty of heading in the right direction is a great confidence restorer.

 

Asses forming(?), Carthage

Asses forming(?), Carthage

 

Coffee bar, Carthage

Coffee bar, Carthage

 

Make sure you have something to listen to. American FM radio is pretty good if you can find a station that delivers music, or talk you enjoy. We do that, but prefer an iPhone which is already in the car for its satnav capabilities, loaded with good content. We’re both fans of BBC Radio 6 Radcliffe and Maconie show – a three hour double hander, with news, chat and a seriously good selection of music. I download these shows from the BBC – they’re ideal for this kind of travel. Bored with the BBC? There is also a large library of music on my phone which can be set up to random play, giving us hours and hours of additional aural content.

 

Electrical adaptors are your friend. We have two small adaptors (flat twin pins for the US to round two pin Euro-style), but with a computer, iPhones, an iPad, camera batteries and a Kindle to charge, we could really use a third, but have failed to find one yet. We’ll keep looking.

 

Derelict

Derelict

 

Cuba

Cuba

 

Trailer park, Cuba

Trailer park, Cuba

 

More insights(?) next time.

 

Photographically, I’ve used the X-Pro2 and new 23mm f1.4 almost exclusively. It’s a fantastic combination that fits my requirements perfectly.

 

NB! photographs are not shown in any specific order. The preference for black and white? To me, Route 66 just cries out for this treatment. Colour just doesn’t hack it.

 

And our progress?

 

Saturday – Chicago to Springfield IL

Sunday – Springfield to Cuba

Monday – Cuba to Springfield MO

Tuesday – Springfield MO to Tulsa

Wednesday – down day in Tulsa

 

Carterville

Carterville

 

Devil's Elbow

Devil’s Elbow

 

Sunrise near Cuba

Sunrise near Cuba

 

Sunrise near Cuba

Sunrise near Cuba

 

Luna Café Mitchell

Luna Café Mitchell

 

Greenway Motel, Mitchell

Greenway Motel, Mitchell

 

Shell service station, Mount Olive

Shell service station, Mount Olive

 

Lichfield's drive in

Lichfield’s drive in

 

Filling station, Odell

Filling station, Odell

 

Farmland

Farmland

Yes, we do plan to motor west

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The El (or L) - mankind's noisiest commuter railway The El (or L) – mankind’s noisiest commuter railway

 

Chicago

Last time we were here, it was almost winter time and not very warm. With the wind chill added in, cold enough to make me head straight for the nearest North Face emporium to buy some breeze-proofing. Fortunately, this time we’re better prepared, but the Windy City is just that and this time, quite temperate.

 

Morning sky after the rain Morning sky after the rain

 

Battered Bluesmobile in the morning sunlight Battered Bluesmobile in the morning sunlight

 

Closed Closed

 

Closed 2 Closed 2

 

Our Emirates 777—300ER touched down at O’Hare a few minutes early on Wednesday afternoon, after its 15 hour marathon from Dubai. On top of a nine hour flight from Cape Town and a two hour change of planes, it was predictable that our physical and mental reserves would be close to exhausted. A hang up with the usually achingly slow immigration and security process saw Mrs P hauled into a separate screening area to sit and wait (me with her) while someone delved into her personal information. After about half an hour, her passport was returned and we were told we could go – seems the fingerprint scanner hadn’t captured her prints properly – I wonder why they think it’s OK to be so faceless, officious and couldn’t just tell us what the problem was at the time.

 

But things were about to get worse for these weary travellers.

 

The Thrifty car rental documentation told me that I had to phone them to get a shuttle bus to collect us from terminal 5. That didn’t work – all I got was the “Press 1 for a headache, press 2 for irritation… and press nine for …rip someone’s head off.” Useless idiots.

 

A nearby airport guide eventually told us that the shuttle bus would arrive anyway, so we waited. And waited and eventually, for our sanity and to prevent us both from falling asleep at the bus stop, hailed a cab.

 

I suspect that the the cab driver couldn’t have found his arse without a mirror on a stick and definitely couldn’t find the Thrifty lot even with his satnav. Without increasingly frustrated yelling from me, he would probably still be myopically driving around the airport, meter running, trying to work out where the hell he was.

 

And yes, he still shouted at me when I didn’t give him a tip on top of the $15 the three minute taxi ride cost. Twat.

 

Thrifty didn’t seem to give a flying toss about the disappearance of their shuttle bus when I told them, but nonetheless did quite a swift job of the paperwork and with Mrs Garmin in full dominatrix mode, we set off for I90 and the South Loop.

 

I think some aeons ago when Ms. Garmin was new, I set a default a million menu layers deep and now un-findable, to avoid toll roads. So we drove the entire length of Milwaukee Avenue (12 miles, almost 20 kilometres) parallel to the I90, instead of said tolled Interstate. On the one hand, it was a blessing because at 2 m.p.h. and a zillion sets of traffic lights, I managed to avoid mowing anyone down, or swerving violently from lane to lane as my attention lapsed due to what was fast becoming life threatening exhaustion.

 

Of course, the downside was yet another hour of travelling.

 

Our hotel was where Ms. Garmin assured us it would be. A miracle as things often aren’t when she is in charge. Bags in our room, we fled for the bar, several shockingly expensive (e.g. Heineken@ $5 – R75) nerve-relaxing drinks and a tumble into bed not long after 20:00.

 

Awake at 02:00, I got up and read the South African and UK newspapers on line and then thought I might just manage an extra couple of hours back in bed. I did, but it was still just after 5 when the jet lag woke me up to tell me how tired I was.

 

Bah. Travel with the Pertons has always been spelled a d v e n t u r e.

 

At 07:00 I wandered across the now raining State Street (yes, that great street) to seemingly the only breakfast provider in the area. Coffee and BLTs in our room – nothing wrong with that. And there we sat, still half asleep staring at the rain, wondering whether we could be bothered to stir ourselves to get a bus into the city and do some of what we came here for.

 

Some time later, the über convenient 29 bus delivered us into the city, which was shrouded in low cloud and mist. Fortunately, the rain held off and we were able to wander the streets, stopping to buy a few essentials; a SIM card (for a phone-based satnav backup – essential if you think a Garmin is going to get you where you plan to go without freaking out at least once in every city), some toiletries, a couple of craft beers and a more than acceptable local diner-style lunch.

 

Friends at lunch Friends at lunch

 

In the mist, the city looms and its skyscrapers photograph well in the Fuji’s Acros black and white, delivering OOC JPGs of exceptional quality, requiring little additional editing. Tomorrow, we must prepare for our departure and find the Route 66 sign on East Adams Street – that’s where it all begins.

 

Misty car parks with apartments above Misty car parks with apartments above

 

Downtown looms in the mist Downtown looms in the mist

 

Our couple of days R&R passed easily enough, allowing the jet lag to subside. Now it’s time to hit the road. We are planning to motor west, after all.

 

Morning car park, Bronzeville Morning car park, Bronzeville

 

Not what you want to see tailgating you Not what you want to see tailgating you

 

Loading bay Loading bay

 

Eureka A Eureka A

 

Trompe l'oeil Trompe l’oeil

 

Downtown Downtown

 

Untitled, State Street Untitled, State Street

The thousand yard stare

Cape Town quickie

I’ve made a couple of quick trips into Cape Town recently. Yesterday, I had an hour to kill, so wandered the streets with my now much loved Fuji X100T and added a few images to a small, but growing collection.

 

Plein Street

Plein Street

 

EFF spoor

EFF spoor

 

Truth Coffee - steampunk comes to Cape Town

Truth Coffee – steampunk comes to Cape Town

 

Buitengracht St

Buitengracht St

 

Building supply by IKEA

Building supply by IKEA

 

The thousand yard stare

The thousand yard stare

Shinjuku street scene

Tokyo in black and white pt. 1

 

A week in Tokyo with a new camera – there’s lots to see, plenty to do and an entire world of interesting food to eat.

 

I’m hoping to get to the food posting shortly, but we only have three days left before the great trek back to Cape Town, so we’re making the best of it. In the meantime, enjoy this small sample of the images I’m bringing back with me.

 

More soon. Promise.

 

Level crossing, Yoyogi

Level crossing, Yoyogi

 

Meiji Temple

Meiji Temple

 

Yoyogi bar

Yoyogi bar

 

Yoyogi bar

Yoyogi bar

 

Shinjuku street scene

Shinjuku street scene

 

Didn't make it home

Didn’t make it home

 

Well fed, tired in Shinjuku

Well fed, tired in Shinjuku