Relics of the Mother Road, Route 66

Milepost 1336:  Conway, Texas, virtual ghost town.

Kaye and I have been traveling on our road to adventure through the American southwest the last couple of days, from Oklahoma west through the Texas panhandle  and into New Mexico.

We keep seeing relics left behind by earlier travelers, as we are roughly tracing the abandoned path of the famous Route 66, the two-lane blacktop highway that connected Chicago to California before the modern era of the interstate expressway.  Mind you, we are traveling on the freeway, not the two-lane, because ours is not a leisurely venture this time through; we have someplace we need to be by the end of next week.

But every time we get off the super-slab we see the ghosts of those former adventurers and the gutsy entrepreneurs who built the roadside tourist stops.  There are deserted houses and businesses everywhere, often within sight of the new travel plazas.

The abandoned Phillips 66 filling station, Conway, Texas.
The abandoned Phillips 66 filling station, Conway, Texas.

Last night we drove till after sunset and ended up getting off at the wrong exit while searching for a hotel.  We ended up checking in at a dubious outfit on a deserted blacktop running parallel to the freeway, a run-down motel with tumbleweeds lined up against the chain-link fence around the used-to-be-a-swimming-pool.  I was heartened to see several other cars parked in front of rooms.

Conway, Texas, a ghost town, at twilight.
Conway, Texas, a near ghost town, as we approached it at twilight.

The proprietor, Arwin,  was reassuring enough and told us where to park the rig and said it would be safe because he hadn’t had any trouble in 30 years.  We went to bed and were warm and comfy all night.

Morning dawned, and having slept in, we reported late for the free breakfast, walking across the parking lot where we noticed that the other cars were all still there…  and they all had flat tires.  Yes, they were dummy cars, clever props parked there a long time ago to make the place look busy.  The only vehicles that had moved were the two semis that I had parked our rig next to, and they had left early.

Arwin Patel, proprietor of the Conway Inn at the ghost town of Conway, Texas.
Arwin Patel, proprietor of the Conway Inn at the forgotten town of Conway, Texas.

My respect for Arwin might have taken a hit, but I starting thinking about what I would have done to stay alive if I owned a once-beautiful establishment that 60 years ago had been frequented by the intrepid wanderers on the the once-famous Route 66.  An aging motel that was now bypassed by the super highway.

I saw the abandoned gas station and restaurant next door and eagerly grabbed my camera for the now rare photo shoot.  I’ve been stuck to the highway for 1,336 miles now and haven’t had the luxury of time for anything aesthetic.  There is a lot of decaying beauty here on this deserted prairie.

Here are a few photos.

Abandoned car, Conway, Texas.
Abandoned car, Conway, Texas.
5 VW's sticking out of the ground.  Tourist attractions along Route 66 were zany and imaginative.
Five VW’s sticking out of the ground. Tourist attractions along Route 66 were zany and imaginative.
A typical scene along the famous old Route 66.
A typical scene along the famous old Route 66.
Abandoned tourist market, Conway Texas
Abandoned tourist market and restaurant, Conway, Texas,
Empty shop, Conway Texas
Empty shop, Conway Texas
"Do more for others" at the VW graveyard, Conway, TX
“Do more for others” at the VW graveyard, Conway, TX
Kaye waves from the truck at a rest area in the Texas panhandle.
Kaye waves from the truck at a rest area in the Texas panhandle.

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