Tucumcari by day shows off its grimmer side

May 21, 2007 13:53 UTC

While Tucumcari at night showed off a nice dash of neon color, Tucumcari by day was a differentucumcari.jpgt story.

This town is just one more example of what the creation of Americas Interstate system while good for the broader the economy and the lifeblood of many businesses today – did to many small towns.

Tucumcari clearly lived and breathed on Route 66, which brought people and money through the town. A raft of small, family-run motels once thrived up and down the highway, along the towns entire length. Some are still in business, but a number have already gone and for others it may just be a matter of time.

Along the towns main street, these disused motels and other businesss are a sad sight. The buildings are slowly decaying, with grass growing in their forecourts, swimming pools empty except for sickly green, trash-filled puddles.

Almost the only hotels that seem to thrive here, as in any small or medium-sized town on Route 66 so far from Santa Monica to here, close to the Texas Panhandle are the big chains, Motel 6, Econo Lodge, Days Inn and others. These chains have set up shop by the off-ramps of Interstate 40, so travellers dont even need to go into town.

I love your shirt

May 20, 2007 09:51 UTC

I am not entirely sure what it is that gives press conferences at the Cannes film festival their special, slightly awkward, feeling.

They are usually presided over by Henri Behar, a veteran French journalist with swept-back silver hair who looks out from the podium at his fellows with what seems like ill-disguised disdain, and they generally amount to a search for a sound bite in a tide of banality.

The stars and directors of the films are shamelessly flattered and they seem to do their best, but illuminating answers are at a premium.

Money power

May 19, 2007 12:52 UTC

At the Cannes film festival, a lot of both was on display heading into the first weekend of parties Friday night. Along the beach on the Croisette, Relativity Media, which in recent years has been a major financier and producer of films, held a late afternoon bash at a flashy restaurant on the beach. You could spot the likes of Harvey Weinstein, who runs Weinstein Co., Jon Feltheimer, the chief executive of Lionsgate Entertainment, and Cassian Elwes and Rena Ronson, the powerful film agents from the William Morris Agency.

That was all money power.

That night aboard a yacht moored in the harbor, independent producer Nu Image, whose Millennium Films earlier Friday unveiled a deal to make a $60 million film starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, held a swanky affair attended by celebrity actress Jessica Simpson. Simpson was trailed by hundreds of photographers and television crews shouting her name and snapping her picture. She paraded up the gangplank, spent about 15 minutes in a room guarded by security, then paraded right back out and into a waiting limousine cameras chattering all the way.

jessicaAnd that is star power.

Simpson will get you splashy pictures on covers of movie and celebrity magazines. Over at the Relativity party, those men and women will get your movie.

Old motels along Route 66

May 18, 2007 23:07 UTC

hotel.jpgWhen Route 66 was decommissioned, and cross-country traffic moved to the then-new Interstates 40 and 44, the motels along its old path didn’t have the option of moving.

In some towns, the businesses quickly shut theHotel2.jpgir doors. In others, death was a more drawn out affair, as the hotels tried to hang on by lowering their rates or finding some other way to compete.

In Albuquerque, some of them have been turned into residences for people who are down on their luck. But this has become a point of increasing tension in recent years as the surrounding neighborhood, which was once decaying along with the motels, has gentrified.

‘Tucumcari tonight’ in the best light

May 18, 2007 23:01 UTC

Night5.jpgFor years, this city in eastern New Mexico has used the slogan “Tucumcari tonight” to entice travelers on the cross-country highways that have passed through here or near here to stop and spend the night.
Judging from the rundown look of the main drag, which was hard hit when Route 66 was decommissioned, fewer and fewer people are taking the town up on its suggestion. But Tucumcari still has a faded charm, probably best viewed after sundown, when the neon lights turn on.
Here’s what the city looked like on a recent night.
Photos Nick Carey/James Kelleher on May 17, 2007 in Tucumcari.

Visit to the church with the spiffy url on Route 66

May 18, 2007 22:45 UTC

Church2.jpgImmanuel Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque isnt the only house of worship located on the old cross-country highway.

Not by a long shot. Route 66, after all, passed through some keys states in the  Bible Belt, including Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Churches were as plentiful as Whiting Bros service stations in the heyday of Route 66.  

But Immanuel Presbyterian can confidently claim to be the primus inter pares among the many roadside houses of worship thanks to its website at

Snapshots from Albuquerque to Tucumcari – Part 2

May 18, 2007 18:39 UTC













Upper left, clockwise: One of the last surviving Whiting Bros. service stations once ubiquitous on old Route 66 – in Moriarty, New Mexico; a rather unusual Route 66 sign in Moriarty, which doubles as a bird perch; motel on Tucumcaris main drag, which was hard hit when Route 66 was decommissioned; nice variation on a theme; a hitchhiker in Clines Corners, New Mexico. We first saw him west of Moriarty, then here and never after; truck driver checking his load on Interstate 40.

Photos NickCarey/James Kelleher, May 19, 2007 

Snapshots from Albuquerque to Tucumcari – Part 1

May 18, 2007 18:19 UTC



From top, clockwise: View of a bridge on Historic Route 66 from the back of a police car. Luckily, Nick was allowed to walk free; Albuquerque’s anti-gang unit officer John Sullivan examines a gang members tattoos, to the amusement of both; a homeless man in Albuquerque; gang member in Albuquerque shows off his impressive tattoo collection; real piece of Americana: a drive-in liquor store; storm clouds over a mountain, seen as we headed east from Albuquerque.

Photos Nick Carey/James Kelleher, May 18, 2007

For the real Albuquerque diner experience

May 18, 2007 17:27 UTC

               Diner1.jpg                    If youre looking for a Route 66 experience that looks the part, then this Route 66 Diner (left) in Albuquerque on the highway itself could hardly fit the bill more closely:

Its not the first diner weve seen on this trip that evokes Route 66 and it most certainly wont be the last before we reach Chicago.

But while its clean, locals say its just for tourists. 

If you want the real Albuquerque experience, they say, the Frontier Restaurant, a little further east and opposite the University of New Mexico, is it, faded yellow roof and all.

Pit stop to meet Roswell Alien Amber Ale maker

May 18, 2007 17:18 UTC

Rich Wbeer1.jpgeber is midway through fixing up a large batch of beer for a Benedictine monastery in Pecos, New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe.

This mildly hoppy Belgian-style ale is not for the monks to drink, mind you, but to sell under their own label: Monks Ale (made with care and prayer).

The recipe comes from the monks themselves and is just one of a number of beers that Rich Weber produces all within a few minutes walk of old Route 66 – most of them under the label of the Sierra Blanca Brewing Company he runs.