Rock star

March 31, 2010

I think I promised a while back that I’d post a picture of Harvey once his barbed-wire wounds healed and we put some weight on him.

This is what he looked like this evening, approximately two minutes after I discovered his talent for destroying furniture. It all started innocently enough: He liked the texture of the papasan pad, so he began licking it, just to feel it against his tongue. One thing led to another, and he forgot himself and started to nibble. A nibble led to a hole, a hole led to the amazing discovery that there is white fluff inside that comfortable seat, and … well, let’s just say he shows real promise as a rock star. He’s already figured out how to trash a hotel room.

His ability to make himself appear small and charming is really all that saves this dog sometimes.

Today was beautiful — about 85 degrees outside, with enough breeze to keep it from getting too hot — so I worked on my exterior painting project. I still have a lot to do, but it’s getting easier to imagine how it will look when it’s all finished.

We had two guests tonight: a guy from Germany who barely spoke English, and a lady from St. Louis who drives the length of Route 66 all by herself at least twice a year. I don’t know how much the German guy understood, but he listened to the lady’s stories for a long time.

Every day, I get more excited about the prospect of entertaining tourists all summer….

— Sierra


March 30, 2010

Sorry I haven’t posted in a couple of days. A trucker fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a telephone pole in front of the Tumbleweed on Sunday evening. The phone company finally got us up and running again this morning.

Mercifully, the trucker wasn’t seriously injured, and no one else was involved in the accident. His rig was pretty messed up, though, and he wound up staying at the Tumbleweed a couple of nights while Hank worked on his truck. Nice guy. His name is Ed, but he said everybody calls him Mouse. (I assume this has something to do with the fact that he is roughly six-foot-four and weighs about 250 lbs.)

He kept apologizing to Joey and me for knocking out our phone service and putting ruts in the front yard. I told him I was just glad that he was OK and that his truck didn’t end up in our lobby or anything.

Mouse is from Springfield, Mo., and knows a friend of mine who used to be a dispatcher for a trucking company out there. He’s a second-generation trucker. His dad used to drive for the famous Campbell “66” Express, and Mouse inherited his collection of Snortin’ Norton memorabilia. Joey, who drinks hot chocolate from a Snortin’ Norton mug every morning at breakfast, thought that was pretty cool.

Mouse thought my Firebird was pretty cool. I told him he could drive it if he promised to wait until he got back to his room to take a nap this time. He looked pretty embarrassed for a second, but he got over it when I laughed and handed him the keys. He took it out to Sangre Mesa and blew the carbon out of the engine, which I’m sure it needed after being parked for several weeks.

After he checked out this morning, I found an envelope on the nightstand with my name on it. Inside was an incredibly generous tip and a note promising to come back later this spring and smooth out the ruts in the lawn.

What a sweet guy.

— Sierra

Saturday in Coldwater

March 27, 2010

A photographer came by today, selling postcards of Route 66. I bought some, partly because I thought they were pretty, and partly because I’m a sucker for photographers who are trying to make a living with their work.

I have no idea whether I’ll ever sell them all, but I like them. I need to get a wire rack to display them.

Jesus’ friend came by to give me an estimate on the ceiling work in Units One and Two. After finding out how cheap he works, I decided to let him do the drywall and rewire those units as well. He says he can have them ready for me to paint in a couple of weeks. I was tempted to let him do the painting, too, but I just can’t bring myself to pay someone else to do work I can easily do myself.

When my new contractor left, I bought some masonry caulk off of Bill and filled the cracks in the stucco. I’ll let it cure out for a day or two before I start scraping and painting.

It feels good to sit out here in Dad’s coat, listening to the wind and drinking cappuccino while Harvey puts his chin on my knee and tries to look endearing. (In case you are wondering, it is not very hard for Harvey to look endearing. He looks like a short-haired version of Lassie — all earnest brown eyes and good-natured smiles — and has a habit of snuggling up as close to his humans as he can get in hopes that someone will scratch him behind the ears.) He looks much better than he did when Joey found him a few weeks ago. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of him if he ever sits still long enough for me to do it.

— Sierra

Too much free time?

March 26, 2010

I was looking at the doorbell next to the office door today, and I noticed something interesting about it.

Have you ever seen another doorbell with instructions written on it? Was this a standard convention when the Tumbleweed was built, or was this the work of someone with more free time than faith in human intelligence?

Upon closer examination …

… I’d put my money on the latter. Look at the individual indentations in the metal. The irregularities in the spacing and depth of the dots suggest to me that this was not a factory job. It looks to me as if someone hand-chiseled each little dot — 45 of them in all — to make the letters.

Who did this work? Why? Did someone think visitors would have trouble figuring out how to operate the doorbell? Was this done at some point in the distant past, when doorbells were a fancy, newfangled idea that would have been likely to confuse guests? How long did it take to do this? How was it done?

Living at a slow, deliberate pace gives you time to ponder all sorts of little mysteries. Owning an old motel gives you all sorts of little mysteries to ponder.

— Sierra

Dear Harvey …

March 25, 2010

… you are a lovely dog, and I appreciate your outpouring of affection for me. I understand that it is customary in the canine world to show one’s appreciation for the boss by presenting her with small gifts. It is not, however, necessary to uphold this custom while interacting with a human, and while I appreciate the sentiment, I would prefer that you refrain from depositing any more prairie dog carcasses on my doormat. They are difficult to clean up and alarming to the guests.

Thanks for your cooperation in this matter.

Your Owner

Holding pattern

March 24, 2010

It is snowing.

I can’t really do any more with Units One and Two until I get the ceilings replaced. Jesus gave me the number of a contractor he knows in Santa Rosa and said to call him up and drop his name if I want a good deal. Apparently the guy is a friend of his and helped him remodel a rental property he bought a few years ago. He says he’s really good, so I called and asked him to come out and give me an estimate. He’s supposed to take a look sometime Saturday.

Meanwhile, I was planning to spend today patching the cracks in the stucco on the exterior walls so I can give the place a fresh coat of paint, but the weather put the kibosh on that, so I just gave Harvey an obedience lesson and then wandered down to Bill’s to find out what kind of paint I should use on the sign out front, which is so rusty you can’t even tell what it says. He told me I’d be better off just coming up with a design and then hiring Rudy Gonzales from Tucumcari to come out and paint the actual sign.

After thinking about it for a minute, I decided that wasn’t a bad idea. Rudy has painted just about every sign on Route 66 between Adrian and Clines Corners, and he really does beautiful work. You can see samples of his work here.

I came home and spent part of this evening scribbling ideas in a notebook. This is the one I think I’m going to take to Rudy:

I’m planning to plant some prickly pear or yucca or something around the base of the sign as soon as the weather gets reliably decent. I wish I could afford to hire somebody to fabricate a big Holiday-Inn-Great-Sign-style neon sign with chasing lights and an animated tumbleweed to grab travelers’ attention, but I’m pretty sure that would cost more than I paid for the entire motel, so for the time being, I think I’ll just settle for some of Rudy’s handiwork and maybe hire a neon artist to dress it up when funds allow.

— Sierra

Signs of spring

March 23, 2010

I spent the whole morning and most of the afternoon dragging filthy, water-damaged carpet out of Units One and Two and scraping the glue off the floor, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover is actually hardwood. I have no idea why these units have hardwood floors when all the others are stuck with terrazzo, but I’m looking forward to restoring them. They should be really striking when I finish.

I got back from the landfill in time to walk down to the high school and watch the boys’ baseball game. Joey was very excited about this, although I’m not sure whether he was truly interested in the game or just happy to have an excuse to sit outside in the sunshine and drink soda through a Twizzler he bought at the concession stand. Either way, we had a good time.

There’s something reassuring about a small-town baseball game.

After the game, I got out my macro lens and took a picture of the tiny flowers growing under our rusted-out sign:

To give you a sense of scale: I could easily fit six of those little blossoms on a dime. I have no idea what they’re called, but I thought they looked pretty.

— Sierra

Civic pride

March 22, 2010

Right after I bought the Tumbleweed, I went to the Coldwater Chamber of Commerce office to introduce myself and let the director know she needed to update her Rolodex with my name and contact information.

We struck up a conversation, and I let it slip that I’d been a photojournalist for several years. The director promptly offered to waive my membership dues next year if I’d shoot a nice picture of Sangre Mesa and make a rack card for the Chamber to hand out at trade shows and visitors’ centers.

For some reason, I was too keyed up to sleep last night, so I put together what I think is a pretty decent card. Take a look:

Front -- heavily 'Shopped, but I think it looks OK.

Back -- complete with cartography by yours truly.

It isn’t perfect, but I think it looks pretty good, especially when you consider the fact that I’m a photographer, not a graphic designer. I was pleased with the way the map turned out. I’ve always loved maps. I like to look at them and daydream about what it would be like to live in some other place. Maybe somebody will look at my map of Coldwater and daydream about living here. (Honestly, the fact that this town has a shaved-ice stand named “Scout’s Yellow Snow” would probably be reason enough for me to want to move here if I hadn’t already.)

In other news, I’ve just about finished clearing the debris out of Units One and Two, so I should be able to start tearing out carpet pretty soon. The ceilings need to be replaced, but I haven’t a clue how to do it (and don’t really want to mess with it, to be perfectly honest), so I think I’m going to have to break down and hire that done.

— Sierra

Buried treasure

March 21, 2010

With the roof project finished, I’ve finally started clearing out Units One and Two. Miss Shirley basically used them for storage, so they were full of old furniture — most of it water-damaged from roof leaks during monsoon season — and boxes of linens, towels, and supplies she’d stashed in there and then forgotten about.

Most of it was ruined, but I found a few hidden treasures, including a whole case of this stationery, which I’m guessing may have been here longer than Joey:

I love the retro font. I am SO using this for all my correspondence.

— Sierra

Sangre Mesa

March 20, 2010

It’s been pretty cold and overcast around here the past few days, but we had a little sunshine this afternoon — enough for me to get a quick shot of Sangre Mesa.

Looking at those red striations, you can see where they came up with the name. (In case you didn’t know, sangre is the Spanish word for blood.)

According to local legend, Sangre Mesa started out gray, like Tucumcari Mountain and some of the other mesas around here, but it was stained with the blood of the noble warriors who died in an epic battle with a shape-shifting monster that lived on the mountain and used its powers to torture and kill the people of the village below. In honor of their sacrifice, the people named the mountain “Sangre Mesa.”

If you ask me, we ought to play up that legend a little better. It seems like the sort of thing that would sell at least a few coffee mugs and postcards.

— Sierra


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