Monday, May 20, 2013

Road Runner Retreat - Route 66 Ghost Towns

The Road Runner Retreat was another little desert oasis along Route 66 in the Mojave Desert.  It may not have been an actual town, but it was still an important dot on the map for travelers.  The official Postal address of this place has it in the ghost town of Amboy, but it really isn't that close to it. This place suffered the same fate as many others when the new Interstate Highway (I-40) bypassed it in the early 1970's. Although it doesn't get the same notoriety as Roy's in Amboy, it is just as much of a treasure.

photo circa 1962
Like most of these little outposts, the Road Runner Retreat consisted of a gas station, auto repair shop, cafe and some cabins. I have no idea exactly when this photo was taken, but judging by the cars in the lot, I'd say it was in the early 1960's.  I'd love to give the original owner of this photo some credit, but I have no idea who it was. I also can't find out when this place originally opened. 

I took this photo and the rest of them in March of 2013. Not much left of the place, but it is still recognizable when compared to the photo above.

It is pretty cool that some of the coloring remains in the sign.  It was also pretty cool that some clouds showed up to make the photos better.

Lots of nothing for many miles. 

Here is the gas station.  I wonder what the sign was that hung just to the left of it? 

This was taken across the street from the Road Runner. Once again, I REALLY would like to know what this sign said.  Oh well, it still made for a nice photo.
This week and next we are on our favorite mountain ridge. For the first time ever here, we have a decent phone signal (that makes this post possible). Unfortunately, there has been a high wind alert for just about the entire week and we've pretty much been glued to our RV. I'm not complaining though, this is the view out the door and I'm catching up some much needed relaxation.  Today was much better and tomorrow we're going to get out and do some hiking and exploring around Lake Cuyamaca. 

My wife took this with her phone (Geez, I may switch). The valley floor is part of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The Salton Sea is also barely visible on the horizon, about halfway down that brown mountain to the right. 

Just about the same photo, taken with my camera at sunrise.  It was also taken out of the door of our RV. You can see the huge Salton Sea a lot better in this one. 



  1. Your photos are stunning, especially the last one.

    For the longest time, I thought the road runner was only a cartoon character, then I found it in a encyclopedia.

    Yes, random I know but that is the first thing I thought of when I saw the name of this post :)

  2. I spent so much time outwest looking at mining ghost towns and you remind us there are different kinds of ghost towns. Great shots. Enjoy your travels.

  3. I like the name "Road Runner Retreat", but it's so sad that another town was abandoned.

    The last photo is gorgeous with beautiful colors!

  4. That last pics are amazingly gorgeous. Wow! The first ones tell such a story. You could write a whole book with your travels-

  5. Wow, what a view! Awesome photos, Pat.

  6. Mynx - Thanks Mynx! Although they are fairly rare, it is a treat to see one in real life. Why they would rather walk (or run) than fly, I have no idea.

    Sage - Thanks! We hope to be going to a mining ghost town today. We've also visited some others recently, but I haven't posted them yet.

    Icy BC - I hear you! Another treasure lost in the name of progress.

    Shelly - Thanks! I appreciate that. I'd better learn to edit and proof read what I write first. There were several errors this post. That's what I get for creating them so late at night (I guess).

    Alex - Thanks so much Alex.

  7. I loved traveling Route 66 back in the day.

  8. Wow---you are now in an area I would love.... Great sunrise.... AND oh what a view. The word, relaxation, sounds wonderful on vacation.

    When I read your posts about Route 66, I close my eyes and just visualize all of the cars/traffic/people who drove along this route back in the day!!!!!!

    Thanks for showing us the Road Runner Retreat.

  9. Nice photos. I think I've read about that "town" of Amboy somewhere--maybe the L.A. Times--or perhaps saw a TV show that told about it. I love seeing those old places and I'm with you about wanting to know some of the histories.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  10. Amazing pictures of an amazing part of the country. The last one is a prize winner!

  11. Brenda - Me too! I'm always ready one.

    Kay - Me too Kay. Even though I love what is left of it today, my fondest memories of it are from my childhood. Back then it was the only highway going that way.

    Betsy - We really do love this place. Although there is room for more, sometimes we are the only people up here. I do the same thing about Route 66. In fact, many times we were one of those cars. Thanks Betsy!

    Arlee - Thanks Arlee! I'd say that Amboy is probably the most famous of the Route 66 remains. That is mostly because of Roy's Cafe. It was featured in the movie/cartoon Cars.

    Marlu - Thanks so much! It was New Year's Day and were the only people on that ridge. I'm sure I would have been quite a sight running all over taking a bunch of photos of that amazing sunset in my pajamas.

  12. Your camera and you outdid yourself on that last photo Pat!!! (a little competition between you and your wife???) We just drove from El Cajon back to Mammoth...through areas like Adelanto...not a lot out there...I thought of you as we were driving..."Oh! Pat would probably stop and take a pic of that...and that...and that!!!" We were on a mission to get home (and pick up the dog) so I didn't ask to stop...the one photo I really am sad that I didn't stop for were some of the Joshua trees on the road...beautiful!!! Getting ready to bloom...I think if they were actually blooming, I might have begged a stop!!!

  13. Great views out the door! Dramatic difference in that daylight/sunrise shot.

  14. really cool shots and the sunrise is beautiful!

  15. Very nice pictures, images appear of this world! Wonderful sunrise with exquisite colors! regards

  16. The sky in those first two photos is the perfect frame. Nice. Sorry, I always notice the sky :) Looks like another great stop.

  17. TheChieftess - Thanks so much Kathryn! No competition here, I just think it's amazing how good the cameras are in our cell phones these days. I know what you mean about not stopping. It's very hard for me.
    El Cajon is less than an hour from where we are camped right now.

    Ms. A - Yep! We are in a really nice spot no matter what time of day it is.

    James - Thanks James! I was so happy when I spotted that colored light coming in the window.

    Leovi - Thank you Leovi!

    M Pax - I understand. To me, the sky makes up a huge part of a photo. A really nice sky helps make a really nice photo.

  18. I gotta tell ya Pat, I could spend a month in the desert just photographing sunrise and sunset...well maybe not a month but you get the idea.

    You have such cool before and after shots of all those places you find. I think that is the most entertaining of all.

    Have a good trip and enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend.

  19. You get to see the coolest places Pat and we really like that you take us along for the ride!

  20. Yay! I love these posts! and photos! I look forward to them. How cool it is you are in an RV. I'd love to do that some time.

  21. Your route must be through the biggest history museum in the world.

  22. Chuck - That's funny! There is plenty to see in between those two events. I really enjoy that part also. Sometimes the before photos just don't exist though. Thanks Chuck!

    Brian - It's my pleasure Brian!

    Seriously Though - Thanks so much! I really appreciate that. We love our RV. It is our hotel, restaurant and we tow a jeep behind it.

    Esther - I totally agree with you! There is just too much to see...

  23. my dad always took the back roads when we traveled. he had a ghost towns book we would follow. i love seeing these!
    thanks for stopping by my blog, newest follower!!

  24. Awesome pics...I see I have missed much since I've been away...

  25. wow those mountains are wonderful and I love your pictures ( today with lovely colors and so blue sky!).
    I also like to see the differences between the vintage picture and the same place nowadays. In some way, a sad feeling to see everything abandoned.
    I like a lot this post, because I'm here thinking of several stories in this scenery!
    wow that last picture is breathtaking,poetry to our hearts, thanks so much for sharing! :)
    hugs and a nice week,

  26. It really is amazing that there is any colour left in the sign Pat, it gets really hot out there right! All those years standing out there in the scorching heat! Last two shots are super, you're right, it's amazing the quality of the pictures you can take with phones these days, your wife took a super pic!

  27. If that was my view out an RV window, I'd probably enjoy being inside too! Also, I know the cameras in phones have gotten a lot better, but that is still surprisingly good quality.

    I love that rusted over old sign. Great picture, though I too am curious what it was for.

  28. The landscape reminds me of he movie "Cars". The sunrise is breathtaking.

  29. These places get me every time - wonderful.

    Evolution on a huge island that got cut off from the rest of mammalian evolution says a lot about Australia!

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  30. wow, these photos are really amazing! And yes, there really is nothing for miles!

  31. Beautiful photos! You are a master.

  32. Once in awhile on Pickers, I see people who have assembled buildings from abandoned towns.

    I always think that's a cool idea. But then, how would we get amazed when we're driving in the middle of nowhere?

    Cool pictures!

    I love your gypsy spirit!

  33. Tammy - My pleasure! Thanks for signing on here, I appreciate it. The back roads are the best roads.

    Bendigo - Hey there! Long time...
    I'll be over.

    Leia - It's always nice to have some old photos for comparison. Thanks so much for all the nice words.

    PerthDailyPhoto- I agree! I was very happy to see that. One of the websites I follow is made up entirely of cell phone photos. It proves the point that a "good eye" is half the battle.

    Wayne - It sure is! Right now the wind is threatening to blow us off this ridge and down into the scenery!

    Tim - We agree with that! We are heading home tomorrow morning. I already can't wait to get back here.

  34. Nora - It is my pleasure! I agree about the gas station. I wonder what happened to the people working there.

    Laura - I did a post about Amboy and Roy's Cafe a few weeks ago. It was actually featured in the movie!

    Stewart - Me too Stewart! That is exactly why we go to them. You are right about the evolution of Australia. That is one of the reasons that it's so darn awesome.

    Lynda - Thanks Lynda! It's a big big desert.

    Eve - I don't know about the "master" part, but I thank you for the nice words!

    Jenny - You are so right. It's like they built those remote places on their own property and only they see it. Speaking of "picking," I need to go to your blog to see if you got to go do your "picking!"

  35. Funny old desert 'towns'.... that climate just preserves stuff forever! They'd be hidden in the jungle here by now.

    You have me missing RV travel so much --- and the desert! (How can I love it here and there both equally -- so different!) The view out your picture window is spectacular .


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  37. You are in "Big Sky Country" for sure. This series of photos makes me remember we are here for so short a while and time moves on without us. The people who lived and worked and played and had families there are all gone. Memories are all that's left. Kind of melancholy don't ya think? It's nice that you appreciate the remnants.

  38. I somehow missed the Road Runner Retreat. I'm glad the sign is still standing. It's a really good one! I drove across the country 5 years ago now, wasn't into photography when I did so, but never saw anything from the 40 that could compare to photos I've seen of Route 66 back in the day. It's too bad. Anyway, it looks like you've at least found a great spot to chill for a bit — Love that sunset!

  39. A-B, one of my favorite places on earth. Your sunrise made me sigh.

  40. Sallie - it all just sits there for a long long time. I understand what you're saying. I like the desert, mountains and coast equally now.

    Rosemary - Yep! We are only here for a little while. I think that it is very melancholy. I love the history though. Either actual or imagined.

    Stickup Artist - A lot of people seem to miss this one. One of the old route 66 actually moved to the 40. I think it was Newberry Springs. There is also some old places along the 80, that was bypassed by the I-8.

    altadenahiker - I'm right there with you! I LOVE it there also. It helps that there is an outstanding little restaurant in Borrego Springs. Thanks! I think it might have been my favorite sunrise ever.

  41. That last photo is stunning....absolutely beautiful.

    Also, can I join you and your wife on your travels?

  42. Excellent post, Pat. Looking at those sunny open spaces is therapeutic! (And maybe the heat of that day would be too.) Everybody who lives in a clammy climate would benefit if they could just meander through and feel their chilled, uptight minds unclench...

  43. I visited the Anza Borrego area last November when I was down there for the very first time. Some of the canyons we drove through to get to the park were amazing. I am sure that the area is very pretty in the spring, but not so much in November. The Salton Sea was quite the site. Surprising I never got to see any of this in the 20+ years living in So Cal. The sunrise was incredible! Since retirement I dont make it up that early anymore! :)

  44. Just say the words Route 66 and I get all kinds of giggly nostalgia. Not to mention a craving to get in a car and just ride. Sure miss those days.

  45. Kato - Thanks you! Of course you can! Always room for one more...

    Margaret - Thanks Margaret. I sure can breath better in these dry places. I do not like humidity!

    Michelle - AB is an amazing place. In the spring, parts of it explode with wild flowers. Isn't it interesting that people are more likely to tour places they have to travel to, instead of in their own area? Thanks! Michelle... Hey, how is Alaska? You should start a blog relating to your move and the things you are going to see now that you are living there!

    Karen - I'm right there with you Karen. I got from my granny as a kid and have never lost it.

  46. I'm loving photos #3,4, & 5. wow, those are excellent shots. your travels take you to some of the most beautiful places on earth. I hope the winds died down for you to enjoy your hikes and exploring. The one weather event I have zero tolerance for is wind. It will drive me inside faster than rain, snow, heat, anything. Happy week to you Pat.

  47. Becky - Thanks so much! We are pretty fortunate to have the freedom to roam as we please. Well, almost anyway! I agree about the wind, it makes it hard to do anything! You have a happy week also.

  48. Lol. Well that's an interesting name. :) Looks like it would be a fun to visit. That sunset is beautiful!!

  49. Man, do I love to drop by and see your most recent roamings. Thanks for sharing these photos.

  50. Man, do I love to drop by and see your most recent roamings. Thanks for sharing these photos.

  51. Awesome captures for the day Pat!! It's so good to be back online and enjoying all of the wonderful blogs/photos!! Wow! I have missed all of you!!! Have a great week!

  52. Great pics. Your travels make me want an RV to go toodling about in.

  53. beautiful sunrise pic! Brilliant shades of colours in the sky

  54. I love seeing all of the crazy places that you have come across. Is there a website you go to to find these places ahead of time, or is it just luck that you find these time capsules? I love seeing the pictures and reading about your adventures.

  55. Hmmm.

    I read this on the i-pad and left a comment.

    I was just checking to see if those comments show up, but I don't think so.



    I love the way you immerse yourself into your surroundings.

    Such a neat way to experience history!

  56. Lovely and sad.
    The last pictures are fabulous - such beautiful views.

    Question: You are driving this in an RV, correct?
    Do you aim for camp sites? or do you just pull over in the middle of all that "nothingness" and overnight?

  57. Amanda - It is and I bet it was more interesting back-in-the-day! Thanks.

    The Geezers - My pleasure! It's all about road trips! We've been home for two weeks and we have cabin fever big time.

    Sylvia - Thanks Sylvia! It's good to see you back on-line. Thanks!

    mshatch - Thanks! Yep! Tootling about is what we do...

    DEZMOND - Thanks! I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I think I took around 50 photos in just a few minutes.

    Carly - Thanks Carly! I find most of the stuff one of four ways. On the internet, in old books, word of mouth, or exploring. Thanks so much, I'm glad you them.

    Jenny - I hate it when that happens! I love history so it is easy for me to get immersed in this old stuff. Thanks so much!

    Gingerspark - I also think these things are bittersweet. Yes, we drive an RV and we do aim for campgrounds, but any public land is available to camp on. As long as you can get to it. If there is a fence, but it's not locked, you can open the fence and drive on in. Our RV is totally self contained, but if possible, we prefer a regular campground with hook-ups. We tow a jeep and use the RV as our hotel. We have no problem driving the jeep a couple hundred miles a day exploring the area and then returning at the end of the day.

  58. Wow!! Stunning view both in the daytime and at sunrise!!

  59. Liz - Thanks Liz! I have to admit that I see many more sunsets than sunrises.

  60. Fantastic location and the pictures are stunning. This spot looks like it could be used in Hollywood movies. I wonder if it was?? Glad you've gotten some good R & R on this trip. Hi to the wife!

  61. Bouncin Barb - Thanks Barb! I tried to find out exactly which movies were filmed on Route 66 in that area, but it seems nobody has a definitive list. Every day is R&R for us!

  62. once again, your ending photo is just gorgeous!!!


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