south by southwest – part two   17 comments

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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