Monday, July 8, 2013

What Price Progress?

I'm about a third of the way through my "Route 66 Ghost Towns" posts. It's time for me to start mixing in some written stuff and photos from other places we've been visiting.  My post today includes a few things relating to Route 66, but without photos.  Just about the time this post is up, we'll be on our way to our favorite mountain ridge for a couple of weeks. There is a fire in the area though and I hope we can get through. They gave it a name (The Chariot Fire), so it must be sizable.

Route 66
The story was the same for many towns in the south west 
The railroads needed water stops across the desert and built them
Route 66 and the National Trails Highway breathed life into them
John Steinbeck's Joad family memorialized them
Interstate 40 ripped the hearts out of them

What Price Progress?
It's one thing to see
An old mining town
Fall into decay
After giving up
Her treasure
It's quite another
To see a place die
For no other reason
Than progress

Vapor Lock
I remember sitting in the back seat
of various old cars
the only air conditioning
was four windows down
at sixty mph
burlap desert bags
full of water
hanging in front of the radiator
hood slightly open for air
blistering heat 
threatening us
with vapor lock
and overheating
cactus, yucca, Joshua trees and rocks
mostly nothing though
except for the silence and solitude
of the desert
one arm out the window
flying my hand
like a plane in the hot wind
the only real relief
to be had
resided in the little towns 
and even smaller places
like Amboy
and Needles



  1. You paint wonderful images with your words.
    We heard news of Arizona fires here and the sad deaths of the firefighters.

    Be safe and enjoy your travels

  2. Nice writing. I love those old towns, but I have mostly been to ghost towns in the Great Basin region and central Idaho. Have you traveled any on the old Lincoln Highway? Years ago I did a good piece of it in UT and NV with a friend--lots of dirt/gravel and far away places.

  3. Your book, and I do hope there is one in the making, is going to be terrific.

  4. Vapor Lock is well done, Pat.
    Stay safe around that fire.

  5. I like your added perspective with words. You are like a ghosts best friend out there.

  6. I really enjoyed reading your post for the day, Pat, you do have a great way with words as well as photos! Take care around the fires and have a great week!

  7. Be safe in your travels, please.

  8. Your words capture it all beautifully. Such a different time we live in now. Good luck getting past the fire!!

  9. Hi Pat, I do 'wonder' about PROGRESS at times --if that is what it is called. The interstate system is good when one is in a hurry--but not good when there is an accident and you can't get OFF.... AND--it certainly does hurt the areas like Route 66 --which have almost died since the interstate came in... Kinda SAD...

    It's the same thing with Mom and Pop Businesses. The big chains are taking over and the small businesses can't make it these days. Not sure that is progress.


  10. As always, I love your poetry and written pieces. Vapor Lock is fantastic. Wonderful imagery and even a touch of whimsical humor.

  11. Beautiful poems! You describe this area just as your photos..

  12. Beautiful poems! You describe this area just as your photos..

  13. I agree Pat, those words just painted a memory in my mind!

  14. love these poems. heard about the fires. hope you got to your destination safely.

  15. Pat, I always forgot how powerful of a word-painter you are.

    Your tour posts are really amazing, but these.



  16. Mynx - Thanks! Yep, that was a terrible thing. We are safe, but it is hotter than expected.

    sage - I have traveled some of it, but not with a camera or enough time to explore with it. I will do it again though!

    Shelly - Thanks Shelly! I have so many ideas for books and several in progress. I just don't know if I'm capable of the extended periods of concentration it would take to put it all together.

    Alex - Thanks Alex! It's about 4 miles from us and I can't get close enough to actually see it. Lot's of smoke though. It's burning in and around some of our favorite areas. So we're pretty much just trying to stay cool right now. The wind is blowing in the right direction and there is no talk of making us evacuate.

    Sharon - Thanks Sharon! There is lot's of talk about ghosts in those old places. I've yet to meet one though...

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! I appreciate that. We are safe, but able to do much yet. The highway is closed just past where we turn off.

    Ms A - Thanks my friend! We have a granddaughter with us and will be taking no chances.

    Baby Sister - Thanks Amanda! The closed highway is actually a two lane road and it isn't traveled that much up here. We made it to where we wanted and are now hoping we'll get to stay.

  17. Betsy - I agree Betsy! The old roads and places had character and history. Most of the new highways are just ugly slashes through the country side. I agree about chain stores also. Whenever possible, I go to a small store, even if it costs me more.

    TS Hendrik - Thanks Tim! I truly do appreciate your nice words.

    Icy BC - Thanks so much! I guess I do see the images of these places while writing about them.

    Brian - Thanks so much Brian!

    nutschell - Thanks for saying that and for stopping by and commenting!

  18. Wonderful desert poems (really they are poems); they speak to those of us who love it there.

    I hope the fire doesn't interfere with your plans and look forward to the next posts from wherever you are as well as the Rt 66 ghosttown continuation.

  19. ✿✿°•.¸
    Passei para uma visitinha.
    Boa semana!

  20. Thats a great poem.

    Am sitting in the desert in central Australia - with the first internet for a while watching the mist clear and the mails tick in - strange!

    Stewart M

  21. Your Route 66 series has been haunting, beautiful, and depressing all at the same time.
    Very nicely done.
    Wonder how many people will get the Joad reference?

  22. I can't imagine traveling across these deserts in the summer without air conditioning! Lots of towns and careers have been ended by progress...

  23. I feel the desert heat, the silence while the zooming by Joshua trees, big cacti, and signs of former communities like you described before. Wonder if this could be put in a book of some kind as a record of the past...
    I can imagine it would be very interesting for people who have never been in a desert!

  24. It's so nice to read your writing again, Pat. You have a magical way with words. I especially like these very powerful, prolific lines:

    "To see a place die
    For no other reason
    Than progress".


  25. Enjoy your time away, Pat! I hate hearing about all the forest fires. So much destruction. Progress has a way of destroying much too.

  26. Well, I can't improve on that with any sort of comment (not that that will stop me). Just lovely, Pat.

    The desert has such a strong pull. Whether that's for its kitsch or its purity depends on the traveler. Personally, I'm fascinated by both.

  27. I still love playing my hand out the window of the car in the streaming wind, like an airplane. Your poem makes me see myself riding in the family car, on summer vacations, bored, tired, hungry.....
    Great post.

  28. Jenny - Thanks Jenny! That was so very nice of you to say those nice words.

    Sallie - Thanks Sallie! I appreciate that. The fire has interfered, but we are still doing well. Relaxing is also a good thing!

    Magia - Thanks Magia!

    Stewart - Thanks Stewart! We aren't in the desert, but I can sure see it from here. The ridge we're perched on was cool and rainy today. Looking about 4500 feet down the mountain, it was over a hundred degrees. If we stand in the right spot and there is very little marine layer, we can see a little bit of the ocean and the desert at the same time.

    Al P - Thanks Al! I also feel those things about the desert. I hope a lot of people are familiar with the Joad family. Steinbeck was the one who named Route 66, The Mother Road...

    Al - I can't imagine it these days, but I spent a lot of my life doing exactly that. Yep, progress is a mixed bag.

    Jesh - I'm glad you felt it. It makes me happy. One of these days, I'll tie a lot of things together and just maybe...

  29. Robyn - Thanks Robyn! I've still been writing, but doing nothing with it.

    EG Camera Girl - Thanks! I am enjoying it. Progress and fires...

    altadenahiker - Thanks Karin! You are right, the desert does have a huge pull. At least to me it does. I'm actually kind of glad that a lot of folks want nothing at all to do with it.

    Rosemary - Me too! I remember the day my granny taught me to do it. I think it was the same day she taught me how to shoot. I miss her.

  30. Nice work Pat.
    Highways in many parts of the world have ripped the heart out of little communitys - in many cases, destroying them totally.

    What an amazing experience you've had.

  31. Anthony - Thanks Anthony! I agree with you. Highways and big box stores...

  32. Yes, really impressive and beautiful photos. A shame to see all that has destroyed the fire. Shocking that road covered by rockfall!

  33. Leovi - Thanks Leovi! I know this comment goes with my next post.


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