Where Pluto still has weight

May 16, 2007 14:20 UTC

OldLowell_web.jpgNewLowell_web.jpgThe Lowell Observatory, located off old Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona, is where astronomers first discovered Pluto in 1930.

The scientitific community’s decision in 2006 to demote it from a planet to a dwarf planet was taken rather personally by the city.

(Old Lowell and new Lowell towers, left to right)

A tale of two towns on ol Route 66

May 15, 2007 18:19 UTC

Needles, Ca./Seligman, Az. Before the four-lane highway that is Interstate 40 opened up in this part of the United States, Route 66 was the main artery serving the U.S. Southwest.

roadkill.jpgThe road brought visitors and business to many small towns here and elsewhere along its route.

When the interstate came, towns like Seligman, Arizona population 456 as of 2000 continued to do well out of Route 66 and do so now even long after this famous highway was decommissioned in 1985.

This is an improbable place, Bullhead

May 15, 2007 17:57 UTC


If you look at just the numbers, Bullhead City seems like one of a number of small and upcoming towns as people move out to the suburbs.

It’s grown from around 10,000 people at the time of its incorporation as a city in 1984, to just a few dozen short of 40,000 today.

The city has just added another 14.3 square miles of land to its eastern limits and is banking on growBullheadre2.jpging to around 100,000 people within the next quarter of a century or so though according to Janice Paul, the citys development services director, the number of building permits is currently down after an intense property boom over the past few years.

America’s most expensive gasoline

May 15, 2007 17:46 UTC

As far as Mayor Jeff Williams is concerned, the town of Needles is often famous nationwiexpensivegas2.jpgde for entirely the wrong reason.

Weve been on the national news too many times as the town with the highest gas prices in the United States, Williams said with a grimace in his city hall office. Its an embarrassment.

While the average price for a gallon of gasoline has risen to record levels or just above $3, at least one gas station here showed a per gallon rate of $4.09.

Roadside poetry lives on

May 15, 2007 17:37 UTC

Sign1_a1.jpgBetween Kingman and Seligman, old Route 66 re-emerges gloriously intact, winding through Arizonas high desert, past the Hualapai Indian Nations tribal lands on the southern edge of the Grand Canyon.

Alongside this stretch of highway, every few miles or so, are cheerful reminders of a roadside advertising campaign that used the old highway as its medium — and whose life roughly coincided with Route 66s glory days.



Train approaching
Whistle squealing
Avoid that
Rundown feeling


A Man, A Miss
A Car A  Curve
He Kissed The Miss
And Missed The Curve

Drivers of aSign2_a.jpg certain age will immediately recognize the witty public service messages as vintage Burma-Shave ads though the companys name appears nowhere on the signs.

Hualapai lessons – hear how tribal language sounds

May 15, 2007 17:24 UTC

Charlie Vaughn, the 54-year-old Chairman of the Hualapai Tribal Council, thinks many in his 2,300 strong tribe have tried too hard to assimilate with the dominant English-language culture of the U.S.

Many in the tribe work seasonally in the lumber industry and elsewhere which tribal officials has contributed to an erosion of the community and the Hualapai dialect. Funding from the state of Arizona for bi-lingual courses at school has been cut, sBeecher.jpgo fewer Hualapai children are learning their native language, Vaughn said. (The  2,300 strong tribe become known worldwide earlier this year for its Skywalk over the rim of the Grand Canyon)

In response, the tribe has launched Hualapai lessons. Once a week a class meets in reservation, where teacher Cheryle Beecher (left) leads a group range from children under the age of ten to adults in basic Hualapai conversation.

Postcard from Bullhead City, Arizona

May 15, 2007 14:25 UTC

This is the start of the busy season for the employees in the animal cACoutside.jpgontrol unit of the Bullhead City Police Department.

As the mercury rises in this Arizona city, located across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada so, too, does the number of emergency calls involving animals overwhelmed by the searing temperatures, which can top 130 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Leah LeahRojas2.jpgRojas, a 10-year veteran of the animal control unit, consults a white board that the unit uses to keep tabs on animals processed in the first three months of 2007. With temperatures already topping 100 degrees on some days, employees have been too busy to update the white board since April. Rojas predicts that the number will reach 5,000 by year end a new record.  

Cannes complain, won’t complain

May 15, 2007 10:37 UTC

“Look after it, even on the street.”

This was the stern warning from an official at the Cannes Film Festival, as she handed me my press pass. It made me slightly paranoid. Is the town full of badge snatchers? Will I be safe walking back to the hotel after dark? If so, do I conceal my pass, look straight ahead, pretend to be a stumbling drunk?Mike's badge

Of course, she has a point. You see, my badge is quite high up the pecking order of badges. At Cannes they come in a number of colours yellow, blue, pink and pink with a yellow dot. Yes, thats right, I have a pink-with-a-yellow-dot badge, allowing me to jump most queues into press screenings for the next 11 days, and that means more sleep and longer breakfasts. Of course, there is also the white badge, the all-access badge of all badges, which most Cannes goers aspire to but few ever achieve. White badge holders probably get their own bodyguard.

So tomorrow the 60th festival gets underway, the greatest show on earth, as the Observer reasonably calls it, and the town is preparing for the deluge of reporters, stars, agents, producers, filmmakers and movie fans who crowd into the palm-lined resort every year to wheel and deal, criticise, fantasise, report and party. The sun is shining, the yachts are sparkCannes prepares for film festivalling clean, and the prices have gone up.

Route 66 Revisited – One for Bill Richardson

May 14, 2007 21:38 UTC

Eds note: As Reuters correspondents Nick Carey and James Kelleher travel through America in a vintage Porsche, they’re reaching out to Americans on what issues matter to them.

I came across Carl (he declined to give me his last name) watering his lawn in front of his home at 322 D Street in Needles, California, an old railroad town on the ColIMG_3711.JPGorado River close to the Arizona border. Carl, 65, says he’s “semi-retired” from the Southern California Gas Company because he still works one day a week driving a company-sponsored bookmobile to even more remote towns. He voted twice for President George W. Bush, though he admits, “I don’t know if that was a mistake or not.” As he looks to the 2008 election, he says he’s attracted to Bill Richardson (pictured right), the Democratic governor of New Mexico.

“My big issues are immigration and Iraq — not necessarily in that order. I’m mixed about Iraq. Those people (in Washington, D.C.) know more than we do, supposedly. But I don’t see an end to it. On illegal immigration, Carl thinks the U.S. should not only deport migrants in the country illegally but punish those who hire them too.

Route 66 Revisited: Bill gets serious

May 14, 2007 21:21 UTC

Route661.JPGOur two-week road trip tracing old Route 66 from Los Angeles to Chicago isn’t getting off to what you’d call an auspicious start.

The trip was never going to be easy, even though it sounded like a real lark as we were dreaming it up. The highway was decommissioned decades ago, torn up in some places, paved over in others by the new interstates and its remaining segments are not always easy to find.

But now, with just days to go before we set off, we have new worries. The master mechanic, who has worked for years on 1967 PorBill Roberts, a Porsche mechanic in San Diego, Californiasche were taking, has expressed concern about its ability to survive the 2,500-mile journey. The car has been in storage for the past two years. The mechanic, Bill Roberts, is the go-to guy at Dieters, the Porsche and BMW repair shop in downtown San Diego, when it comes to older Porsches.