south by southwest – part two   17 comments

Posted at 9:18 pm in Uncategorized

Busy Corner gas bar in Hollis, Oklahoma

A few days ago, I wrote about the first part of my trip to Bisbee. The dogs and I stayed at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for three nights then pushed on toward the southwest. I followed Route 62, through Altus and west to the Texas state line. Along that highway, I spotted lemon yellow crop duster planes flying back and forth over sections of cotton fields. The planes look small with long narrow wings that are squared off at the end. I figure they must be quite powerful for their size as they are carrying spray for the fields. Also, they turn slowly on such a small radius, that they would need a great deal of agility and power to be able to regain speed after practically coming to a standstill as they pivot to change direction.

Busy Corner gas bar in Hollis, Oklahoma

The commercial districts of quite a few of these towns don’t seem too lively, but there are many interesting store fronts and signboards to be seen. Quite a few towns have old gas stations that have been fixed up to look as the would have back in the 50s. The top two photos are of a gas bar called Busy Corner, located in Hollis, Oklahoma. I drove past and did a bit of a double-take as I thought, “Is this for real?”. After circling around and stopping for a better look, I realized that it was not a working gas station, but a museum of sorts, complete with a vintage tow truck. Click on all images for larger views.

Papa Reds sign in Hollis, Oklahoma

On the west side of town, I stopped to photograph the above Papa Reds hamburger joint sign. The building is now vacant, but still has a long menu board posted out front.

Once over the state line into Texas, I took Route 83 north through Shamrock to get back onto I-40. The town of Shamrock very much plays up the name on signage. Lots of shamrocks and leprechauns around town. Once again, there was another of these gas station museums – this time, a Conoco with a tower and shiny vintage autos (see below).

Once on the I-40, I drove on through to Albuquerque to stay at the home of friends. We did some catching up over dinner and then the dogs and I retired for our first night of *not* sleeping in the van after setting out on the trip. It was a very welcome change.

Early the next morning, we set out for Bisbee. From I-25, I turned off at Hatch to take Route 26 to Deming – a short cut of sorts. The town of Hatch bills itself as the Chili pepper capital of the world – or a similar designation. The chili pepper stands throughout town were loaded with garlands and wreaths of chilies of every shape and colour. The roofs of some of the buildings looked as though they had bright red tin, but on closer inspection, they were covered with a layer of drying chili peppers. The scent of peppers was quite detectable even from my moving van. I probably should have stopped to buy a chili wreath or two, but when you are trying to cover a lot of miles in one day, every stop wears you down just a little more. On the way to Deming, I noted many fields of chili peppers and the harvest in full swing.

Just west of Willcox, AZ, I turned off I-10 and took Route 191 south through the Sulphur Springs Valley. I have driven that highway many times during winter, but never in October. It looked so different from the arid landscape I have grown accustomed to over the past three winters. There were fields of tall grain corn drying, cotton fields with the cotton bolls looking almost ready for harvest, walnut and pecan plantations with the tree leaves still green, and vineyards that I’d never even noticed before. At Double Adobe, I turned west for the last few miles into Bisbee. Rolling into town and up to the temporary rental house that we are staying at for a few weeks before moving to the usual house, I felt such relief at being “home” for another winter.

Conoco gas station in Shamrock, Texas

Written by bev wigney on November 13th, 2011

17 Responses to 'south by southwest – part two'

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  1. one wonders what wholesome chemicals the crop-duster planes were distributing?


    13 Nov 11 at 10:59 pm

  2. Nothing that I would want to breathe. Interesting little planes though.

    bev wigney

    13 Nov 11 at 11:02 pm

  3. Nice shots of those gas stations, Bev!

    Larry Ayers

    14 Nov 11 at 1:53 am

  4. boy, do the gas stations bring back memories! good that you are able to rent the same place each year. i return to the same places, too, since that personal connection and familiarity feel good.


    14 Nov 11 at 9:07 am

  5. oops…”feel” – excuse the grammatical error!


    14 Nov 11 at 9:08 am

  6. Larry – Thanks!

    Sky – I like being at t he same house from year to year as I can settle in quickly and know a few of my neighbours. Also, the house that I rent has a flat garden – something of a rarity in this town – and that makes it easy for Sabrina to get around. I came down south earlier than usual this winter (in part, to see Carel’s exhibit at the ASDM), so rented another place that is more in the middle of things on Old Bisbee. It has been kind of fun to be able to walk down the canyon to attend various events, but the physical layout of the yard is a bit difficult for Sabrina. I had quite a time getting her down to the house ( a lot of stairs), and will have even more of a time getting her back up to the van when it is time to move to our usual house! She weighs about 75 pounds, so it iwill be a struggle for me to carry her up the stairs! :-O
    Oh, fixed the “feel” up above!

    bev wigney

    14 Nov 11 at 10:05 am

  7. Interesting photos. Love the look of those gas stations. There’s a certain kind of charm to the old 50s look that disappeared with strip malls and the faster pace of everything.

    robin andrea

    14 Nov 11 at 5:58 pm

  8. My kind of pictures Bev, love this!! I lived this in the 50’s going across country with my family. It was alive…all the flashing neon signs, the created memories that will be with me forever, I am so thankful to my mom and dad for giving us kids something wonderful that we can relive in our minds forever. Thanks for making me smile today Bev 🙂 Good luck with your move, hope it goes smoothly for you.


    14 Nov 11 at 7:27 pm

  9. Hi Bev

    It is interesting to see you discuss visiting the same place several times. My wife and I have visited Charleston SC a number of times for a conference in November. It sort of combines the therapeutic aspects of change ( no snow, totally different history) with a sense of home as we revisit several favourite haunts. Good you see are all settled in.

    All the best to Sabrina and Sage.



    14 Nov 11 at 9:23 pm

  10. I have a friend who has lived in the Albuquerque area for many years. I love visiting out there. Once maybe 15 years ago I went with my parents in their RV in the fall when people were roasting chilis at the roadside. We bought a basket and put them in the back of their little SUV. They were great to eat by themselves, and the back of their car smelled like chiliis for a long, long time.

    It makes me sad to read about Sabrina having trouble getting up and down the stairs. All of my dogs have died before they reached that age.


    15 Nov 11 at 8:37 am

  11. robin – Yes, I agree. Everything is so large and impersonal now – all set up for speed as the volume of customers is so great. It is really a bygone age even in all but the most remote regions.

    Kathy – Glad you enjoyed the photos. There are still remnants if the old Route 66 buildings and signs along roadways throughout the west. You just have to do a little looking. I thought you might get a kick out of these. I will try to shoot more if I take the diagonal route again.

    Guy – It is nice coming back to the same town each year – not just because I like Bisbee so much, but also because it takes very little time to get settled in and no time wasted trying to figure out where to get things that you need. I feel similarly about traveling the same routes during my trios – know where the parks, laundromats, grocery stores, etc.. are located. I think all three of us are glad to be here for the winter!

    Mark – What a nice memory about the chilies in the RV. That is what it was like down in Hatch when I drove through. Yes, very hard to watch Sabrina getting old. She can still walk around on flat areas, but stairs present a major problem. Although I am quite strong, carring a large 75 pound dog up a long flight of stairs is quite difficult. I have had two other dogs that lived to be really old. It is difficult to know what to do. For now, Sabrina seems happy enough, gets around okay, eats very well, loves to lie outside watching the world go by, so I guess things are okay for now.

    bev wigney

    15 Nov 11 at 11:58 am

  12. Great to hear that you are writing and working on art projects now that you are in Bisbee for the winter. I went on Google maps to see what your diagonal route might have been. It just occurred to me that must have been the route Georgia O’Keeffe took when she went back and forth from New York to New Mexico. I enjoy seeing some of what you saw while traveling this falll, as well as your portrait of Sabrina. Always astonishing to see the change in the light as you go south and west.


    15 Nov 11 at 9:53 pm

  13. am – I believe you’re right about Georgia O’Keeffe’s route. Some of the older highways that I take would probably have been just the ones she would have traveled.
    The light is so different here – and the colors of the land. It is such a different palette. I see and think differently when I am down here and it has an effect on everything I do.

    bev wigney

    15 Nov 11 at 11:38 pm

  14. I loved the photos. The gas station in Shamrock made me think back to the times I’ve drifted through that town…I’ll have to do it again soon. And Hatch…I do love Hatch chiles! The smell as I’ve driven through that town was wonderful! I ate at two little places in Hatch the last time through, just so I could have fresh Hatch chiles with my meal. Great post, Bev!


    20 Nov 11 at 6:23 pm

  15. There’s a lovely “Route 66” feel to this post with its vintage gas stations (er museums) and deserted burger joints – loved the shot of Sabrina (what a dear girl) and the one of Larry with his homemade fiddle.

    Yours is a route I’ve always wanted to take, Bev, and thanks for sharing it!


    20 Nov 11 at 8:11 pm

  16. I’m doing catch-up here Bev. Life is whirlwind these days.

    About that Papa Red’s sign: Having watched American Pickers with fascination at the way people hang on to ‘things’ – on seeing your picture I automatically started wondering about the interest it would generate if a picker found it pitched under a stack of rubbish in an abandoned barn.

    Made me smile to read: “Home for another winter.”

    Lovely. And lucky sun-drenched you 🙂


    17 Dec 11 at 11:07 am

  17. Cathy – I know quite a bit about whirlwiinds! (-:

    Oh, I’m quite sure that the Papa Red’s sign might bring quite a few dollars. I’m often amazed that funky old motel, gas station or diner signs are still in place! I saw quite a few in front of boarded up establishments on my way through New Mexico on a less used highway last year. I stopped to shoot photos as I thought to myself that the signs might well be gone next time through!

    It’s been a somewhat cooler and wetter November and early December here, but still waaaay better than how it would be back up north!

    bev wigney

    17 Dec 11 at 12:05 pm

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