A rich landscape, an impoverished people

May 17, 2007 18:02 UTC


Take a drive through the Navajo Indian Reservation in New Mexico and youll find plenty of views to wonder at, amazing rock formations that can entertain most new visitors for hours on end.

Contrast this with the poverty of the homes of the Navajo that you see as you pass along the road. Almost all are single-storey, basic structures, many with abandoned, rusting cars out back in the desert scrub.

This is not a wealthy area, nor is life here easy.

Navajo President Joe Shirley said that many people on the Navajo reservation “live in Third World conditions with no running water or power.

“Unfortunately, we have only so much money available to tackle these issues,” he added. Shirley said that the Navajo Nation aims to build six casinos – which may bring in up to $100 million in revenue annually and created hundreds of jobs – and negotiate selling some of its water to growing desert towns such as Flagstaff, Arizona.

“Some of the money we raise will be set aside to tackle social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse,” he said.

Chooshgai, a puzzlingly deserted desert community

May 17, 2007 17:31 UTC


Heading north up state highway 491 from Gallup, New Mexico, the community of Chooshgai appeared on top of a flat hill on the right hand side of the road just a few miles inside the Navajo Indian Reservation.

The tops of street lamps were visible from the road, as were the roofs of small houses which peeked over the rise in a manner reminiscent of shy children wanting and not wanting to be seen.

empty-village4.jpgFrom the road it looked like the perfect opportunity to take some pictures of a Navajo community with rocky outcrops and cliffs in the background and the highway below. A few shots of families and cars outside houses with a desert backdrop that would look good on

View from Bloomfield: Higher gas prices and the war

May 17, 2007 16:24 UTC

We met Remi Nathan, 23, who lives in Albuquerque but hails from Connecticut, at a gas station in the town of Bloomfield in northern New Mexico. Remi sells wholesale perfumes and colognes he said hes a part owner of a company that operates from here to California and he travels extensively to towns like Bloomfield to tout his wares.

RemiNathan.jpgRemi had this to say on life in Albuquerque:

We have a pretty serious problem with gang violence in Albuquerque at the moment, but if you know where not to go, you can avoid trouble very easily.

Education is also a big problem in the city, the system is under-funded and not working well.

At Cannes, it is showbiz as usual

May 17, 2007 15:35 UTC

Talk about showmanship. Jerry Seinfeld and the makers of “Bee Movie” set Cannes buzzing on Thursday — the film festival’s second day — when Seinfeld dressed up as a bumble bee, strapped himself into a harness and rode a wire from Seinfeld performs stunt as bumble beethe top of a swanky hotel down to the beach.

Seinfeld performed the stunt in front of hundreds of photographers, television crews, reporters and movie fans lining the Croisette here. It was, as Seinfeld himself joked, a “movie promotion that smacks of desperation”. (see the story titled “DreamWorks chief downplays ‘Shrek’ record” at

But it was less desperation than the kind of good old Hollywood showmanship that has existed for years here at the world’s top film festival. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who runs DreamWorks, said he had been planning the stunt for a year, and certainly there will be many more promotions to come from other movie makers before the festival winds down.

Southwest cool in Gallup, New Mexico

May 17, 2007 14:54 UTC

elrancho1.jpgelrancho2.jpgGallup, New Mexico is a key embarkation point for travelers interested in visiting the nearby Navajo Indian nation.

It’s also home to El Rancho Hotel, an old school hostelry with an Amerindian-meets-Hotel-California vibe that has served as an irresistible beacon to travelers on Route 66 since 1937, when the brother of film great D.W. Griffith first opened its doors.

The hotel’s debt to the old highway is honored in the shirts that front desk clerks like John Moore wear when they greet guests.

Development pressures and ‘the peaks’ in Flagstaff

May 17, 2007 14:49 UTC

EdgarUqualla2.jpgEd’s note: As Reuters correspondents Nick Carey and James Kelleher journey through America, retracing the path of Route 66, they’re talking with people they meet along the way, asking them to tell us — in their own words — what issues matter most to them.

We met Edgar Uqualla, a 50-year-old disabled member of the Supai Indian tribe, in a park in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he was enjoying a sandwich and beer with Marlene Baldwin, a 79-yearold Hopi.

Asked what issue was most on his mind these days, Uqualla looked toward the mountains that surround Flagstaff and said simply, “The peaks.

Don’t forget Winona… and an orange asphalt sighting

May 16, 2007 21:11 UTC



In the song “Route 66,” Bobby Troup said “don’t forget Winona,” though why, is anyone’s guess. It may be the most unprepossessing piece of real estate celebrated in American song.

It does appear to be one of the places along the route where you can see the orange asphalt — one of the three ways Route 66 was paved over the years. Photo: Nick Carey

High-altitude training in Flagstaff

May 16, 2007 21:01 UTC

altitudetraining4.jpgLocated at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet, Flagstaff, Arizona draws world-class athletes from around the world, who come here to train. The reason? Because there’s less oxygen up here, exercising is a lot harder. The athletes believe the high-altitude training gives them an edge in terms of speed, strength and  endurance when they return to lower altitudes to compete — though the scientific evidence on the subject is mixed. Still, many endurance athletes believe in the magic powers of thin air, and so The Center for High Altitude Training at the University of Northern Arizona is an official training site for the U.S. Olympic Team.

Flagstaff battles forest fire

May 16, 2007 20:53 UTC

Joe Haughey needs no time to think about what this mountain Arizona towns biggest worry is.

We live in an island surrounded by trees, the Flagstaff city council member said. The single most deadly threat we face here is forest fire.


(Listen to Fire Dept.’s Mark Shiery on the dry conditions in Flagstaff)

Like much of the U.S. Southwest, Flagstaff has been experiencing a drought since 1999. Upper Mary Lake, a reservoir that provides much of the towns water, is now down to 18 percent of its capacity. Trees not only surround Flagstaff, they are all over town.

From Zane Grey to Karl May: Germans on Route 66

May 16, 2007 20:38 UTC

For many Americans RoGermans.jpgute 66 is the ultimate road trip, but the 2,500 mile highways appeal goes well beyond the borders of the United States and nowhere more apparently than Germany.

We get a lot of people passing through here who want to trace the heritage of Route 66 and surprisingly large number of them are Germans, said Dan Lutzick, a partner at La Posada, a former railroad hotel and restaurant in Winslow that once served rail crews and passengers. Lutzick and his business partner Allan Affeldt are in the process of renovating.

The Germans have surprisingly detailed and well-organized guide books and they love to find out more about the history of the places they visit along the way, Lutzivk added.