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Dan Jordan’s Wild World: Utah Adventure Day 4


Exploring the fabled Route 66

By Dan Jordan, Jordan Photography and Consulting

If you’ve read my blogs about Day One through Three of my Utah Adventure, you know that Day One was all about bald eagle sightings and photos.  Day Two was supposed to be a travel day but I made a detour to a National Wildlife Refuge which resulted in few photos but confronted us with major weather challenges.  Day Three was mostly driving but the highlight was our visit to the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, TX.  If you haven’t seen these blogs, you can find them in the history of posts in the Wellsville Sun.

Bruce Hawkes and I embarked on a 15-day journey to Utah and points west May 6 for an epic photography adventure.  Day Four still had quite a lot of driving.  We had to finish off Texas, all of New Mexico, and most of Arizona to get to the Grand Canyon National Park.  In fact, we never made it into the park this day, but made it to the scenic areas around it.  Instead, we spent some quality time at various stops along Historic Route 66.

Tucumcari, New Mexico was our longest stop.  On my previous road trip along Historic Route 66, my daughter and I were very impressed with this nostalgic town.  They have preserved most of the old Route 66, and it is just a short detour off Interstate 40. 

One thing you should know is that I like photographing my Bronco, Eagle One, alongside scenic views, iconic landmarks, and, well, just about anything.  In the rest of the blogs in this series, you may spot Eagle One in a photo or two.  Here’s one from Tucumcari with an abandoned old truck.  It should be easy to tell which is which.  One is a Chevy.

Vehicles like this, I love them!, can be seen all along Route 66.  One day I want to travel the length and photograph each and every old vehicle (new bucket list item).  I better allocate at least a month for that trip.

I read in a 1960’s vintage brochure to be sure to stop at the Ranch House Café for authentic Mexican food.  It was lunch time, and I was hungry (always am), so I pulled into the parking lot.  The previouse photo was that parking lot.  I assumed the owner of the Chevy truck was having lunch, so we tried the door.  It did not appear that they were open, or even had been for a while.  Hmmm, I wonder what was up with that?  They need to update that brochure!

So, we tried the Paradise Café, just outside of town.  Same result.  What’s the Deal?

Yep, thre’s Eagle One photobombing another photo.

And, don’t pull into the Magnolia Mobil to fill up, like I did.  Their gasoline tanks have run dry (about 50 years ago).

Perhaps, I paint too bleak of a picture of Route 66, with all these abandonment photos.  Many of the original businesses are still open and thriving (?).  Like the Blue Swallow Motel, replete with this classic Buick.  See that their rooms come with 100% Refrigerated Air!  And, a TV!  I wonder if the TV’s are black & white.

OK, enough about Route 66, although I could go on, and on, and…….well, you get the point.

Near Tucumcari, NM, I spotted a Mississippi kite on a power line near the road.  Knowing that most raptors are very skitterish, we photographed it from afar, then more closely, then more closely……..We ended up with some very close shots of this beautiful and “new to us” species.

After crossing into Arizona, we came upon this gorgeous canyon called Keams Canyon.  The road through it was all switchbacks, which was fun and the views were amazing.  We stopped at a pullout and discovered yet another “new to us” species of bird, called a black-throated sparrow.

I’m sure many of these bird species we “discovered” are old hat for people living west of the Mississippi, but they were downright exciting to Bruce and me.

And, finally, here’s a shot of Keams Canyon, it’s actually the backdrop for the previous photo of the sparrow.  To do the canyon justice, I would have had to set up a tripod and done a panoramic image.

For the record, I filled up Eagle One with 87-octane in Amarillo, Texas  at a PPG of $ 2.999, in Moriarity, NM at $ 3.579, and in Navajo Nation, AZ at $ 3.889 (ouch!).  Average price for gas to this point, not counting that first fillup in tax-crazy NY was $ 3.316.  Arizona gacoline prices are worse than NY’s, at least where I filled up.  MPG for Day Three was 21.1, and the trip-to-date MPG was 21.8  Again, a lot of Interstate driving pulled the trip-to-date MPG by 0.2 miles per gallon.

The photo tally for Day Four was 270, bringing the total for the trip to 1603.

The next blog will cover Day Five, which includes our visit to the Grand Canyon National Park, and Page, Arizona.

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