Day 31: A Hitchless Day in Arizona

It takes a day like a yesterday to really, really make me appreciate a today like this one.  Perfect weather (cool), relatively little traffic, and tons of photo-ops.  Mostly the unexpected blog-quality stuff — not the sought-out website stuff.  So, go get yourself a cold one or a hot one — this is gonna be a long post.  I covered a lot of ground today — from the southeast corner to just about the northwest corner of the state.  A chunk of interstate driving in the afternoon — but mostly desert — and then forests.  Tonight here in Williams, they say it will be 27 degrees.  What a switch from the lows in the 80s of Phoenix just a few nights ago!

Let’s start with something completely random — a birdhouse assemblage in Bisbee:


A couple of travel trailers at the Shady Dell in Bisbee that I don’t think I’ve shot before:


This neat panel truck (is that what you call them?) in Lowell:


And speaking of vehicles.  This is how I’ve been driving her around for the past week or so.  This hand towel pretty much stops the squeaky hood sound.  It’s humiliating enough with her bruises and misaligned headlights — but this is really over the top.  Poor Sparkle…


Just outside of Douglas.   The DQ is gone — although they didn’t bother to remove the sign.  Imagine all the disappointed kids (and adults!):


Also in Douglas:


Still Douglas.  I love these “to do” list signs on the downtown theatre:


On to Willcox.  Why so many signs?  I AM actually looking for interesting buildings — but just not finding a lot:


I had to walk through a car show to shoot something in Willcox so I shot this one for you.  I’ve never seen a split hood like this — pretty neat:


But I liked this vehicle that wasn’t in the show even more.  Never seen such a thing.  Could it be customized?  Behind the big window is a bed-like set-up.  But you’d have to be my size to fit:


One of my main staples lately — maybe one every other day — has been the Gas Station Burrito.  This one was particularly great with the crunchy tortilla.  Normally, they come wrapped in foil — which is fine, too.  Just a softer and usually spicier approach.  Hard to screw up beans and cheese.  Though most of the time, there’s beef or chicken in there so I’m out of luck.  The crunchy tortilla was almost like pie crust — yes PIE — I haven’t forgotten.  The taco stand burritos that I grew up on in Southern California had rice and lettuce inside.  And if you paid extra, sour cream.  But nothing wrong with this simplistic approach:


A couple from Bowie.  I don’t know what happened to this sign:


One of the most intriguing signs of the whole trip to me.  Never seen such a thing.  Surely, the thing must have spun — and there are lights on both sides:


I’ve been getting a lot of emails about my “process” lately — how I find so many things, how I put trips together, etc.  Most of those questions will be answered by the pages with links on the right below the calendar “how to plan a roadtrip”, etc.  I need to update them slightly at some point.  For instance, I remove the yellow stickies before these trips now since it just gets too messy.  Once the route is firmed up, I just draw a big circle around the city and then draw crow-flies lines between them.  This helps me stay focused on what’s ahead, plan for where the day will end more or less, or shift things around a bit if needed.  Then I just scratch out each city as I finish it — a feeling of accomplishment.  And then I just buy a new atlas every couple of years.  Here’s what I’ve done to part of Arizona:


On to Safford:


Another “perfie” — a perforated cone thingie on top:


From Thatcher — the Infamous Bar & Grill:


On to Globe.  This rolling pin sign seems to be attached to Chalo’s Casa Reynosa Mexican restaurant.  Maybe symbolizing rolling the tortillas?


More from Globe:


From Miami.  It doesn’t get much funkier than this.  Looks like Traveler’s Motel originally:

Same building, around the side:


And, last one for the night, from Williams.  A nice bright & cheerful sign:


According to my calculations, I should be able to wrap up Arizona tomorrow.  Then I’m debating about what to do for the next couple days.  I want to be in Cincinnati to do some shooting on Thursday.  That leaves roughly three days — which has to include a hefty amount of interstate time as well.  I will probably do some of my Colorado pack which I have with me  — maybe a day’s worth.  And then a little Kansas City that I brought along.  Or I could be wild and crazy and head to Vegas which is very nearby — but that will probably wait til next year en route to California.   If I whack out some of the Colorado stuff now, then I can probably sneak in some Utah and/or Montana stuff this summer.

11 thoughts on “Day 31: A Hitchless Day in Arizona

  1. I hope you won’t be disappointed when you finally get some pie.

    Well, you certainly had a full day. Glad to hear (and see it).

    My favorite has to be the Sultana Bar night shot, plus the other night neon as well. Just shows you about judging a book (or in these cases) signs, by their “covers”. Look how wonderful they look, when you’d think that they probably wouldn’t light up at all!

    Lightning Shoe Shop sign is in cool shape, but can’t find any night shots of it. Boo!

    Caruso’s is also very cool.Wish it would have been kept up better, it should have been a stunner when new. At least the “Caruso’s” part still lights, which is at least something Do love the “PIZZA-PIE” part of the sign, too.

    Love the trailers (SO CURVY!).

    Thinking Sparkle would look cool with painted orange flames too.It would coordinate well with the blue towel.

    OK, this my last comment on lens hoods.(I know you’re glad). As I have said,you are better off without it. However, when you tried it,this is why you probably had vignetting: IF it happened outdoors, it IS possible the hood wasn’t on correctly. Could happen.

    You WILL have vignetting at 18mm (widest angle) WHEN
    you use the pop up flash with the hood.

    That’s all, folks! Long enough for ya?
    Continued good luck with Sparkle & keep Dee busy.

    • Busy day — but most of it on I-40 just trying to stay awake. Bagged photos for the night since there aren’t that many of them and sleep seemed a priority. I’ll catch up tonight. Will do pie research — must be some great place in Cincy?

  2. Forget the lens hood. Always in the way, big and bulky. When I’m shooting into the sun, I’ve had good luck using my hat to block the rays. You end up holding the camera in one hand, and the hat in the other. Use your neck strap to avoid dropping camera on ground.

    Love the font on Motel Tour Rest. Such a 1960s ratfink design! I’m so jealous you’re in my favorite town, Williams. So much neon!

    I know you have a schedule of neon and roadside attractions to shoot, but how can you resist taking a quick peek at the Grand Canyon? You are so close to it. When I go there, I usually don’t even bother taking pictures because photos of it look lame compared to the real thing.

    Can’t wait to see where you end up going with this luxurious extra day.

    • What I thought might be an extra day will most likely be consumed with interstate hell. I did some numbers as I was driving last night and it’s a LONG way between NW Arizona and SW Ohio. Jesus. But there will be SOME stops and SOME photos.

      Yes, I avoid the sun flares by holding up my hand mostly. Also, I have a foldie umbrella which I balance between my arm and shoulder (rain & diner interiors and such where the sun’s behind me).

      Not so much good stuff in Williams now. Still the two nicely maintained motor courts and a handful of neon signs. A couple fake gas stations. And the neat 76 station with original signs has been replaced with generic signs:
      Shoot them while you can - 2006

      The town is now overrun with tourists and bikers. Old Smoky’s has closed and the sign is gone which was devastating to me:
      Old Smoky's Pancake House

      I was probably 2 miles from the Grand Canyon rim — but yeah, a tight schedule. I was there 25 years ago and was not all that impressed. TOO big. And I’ve had incredible scenery for the past 3 weeks or so. Arizona and New Mexico have it all: all that red rock, desolate sands, foresty moountains. But not so many swimming opportunities for the dogs as most states. I think Nik got an eye infection from the “reclaimed” water at the dog park in Gilbert — but it’s looking better now.

      Must get on the interstate — can you tell I’m procrastinating?

  3. I am really enjoying your words and photos. My mini (2 week) road trip starts in about 12 days and I can hardly wait. I doubt I’ll find as many cool things as you have but I will work on it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Can’t rely on “finding” if you’re going for quantity. My secret is tons and tons of research, a compulsively organized route, and best time of year to shoot. Have fun!

  4. Did you see the sign directly to the right of the Milo’s Liquors sign in Willcox? It says Family Recreation Center and has some non-working lights. There is some rust melting onto the plastic, but the sign is quite readable. The Milo’s sign is of fairly recent vintage; the actual sign has been there for years but it was repainted and redone perhaps ten years ago, maybe a bit less.

    • Yes, the Milo’s sign looks like an oldie that was either refaced or painted. That’s the sort of thing that I include at my blog: the weathered stuff, the funky stuff, the reworked stuff. My website has the higher caliber stuff.

      By the Family Recreation sign — I assume you mean this one:
      Family Recreation Center
      I didn’t shoot it. I usually go for more graphic stuff. That one just has a standard bulb arrow and a plastic disk in the middle.

  5. That “Coachman” is a real kitbash. Looks like the front end of a van, mounted on a dually chassis, with a sleeper behind the cab. Bet there’s a fifth-wheel on the rear someplace too. I’ve seen a few of these (or similar). I suspect that a trailer for hauling car-show car(s) is someplace nearby.

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