Not The Best Public Relations
Unlike many of the abandoned places in New Mexico, I actually remember when this gas station was operational. Given it's location on a busy section HWY 550 north of Bernalillo, it's hard to imagine that they didn't have enough business to stay open.
I'll tell you this though...
I only ever stopped for gas there once. When it was open, there was all kinds of fun stuff on the outside of the building, including a really cool antique Dr. Pepper sign. I was parked at a gas pump, planning to buy a full tank of gas plus snacks and drinks from the store inside, but first I wanted to grab a quick photo of the Dr. Pepper sign. Camera in hand, I made it about half way across the parking lot when the proprietor of the business burst through the doors like the Tasmanian devil, arms flailing and screaming like a tornado that I can't take photos because we're on the (Zia) reservation.
Ok, I get that the gas station is on a reservation (and I have many posts about how not to make an unwelcome ass of yourself with a camera), BUT it's a gas station that is clearly set up to attract tourist activity. It's not a private residence, or a church, or a cemetery and since when does a Dr. Pepper sign constitute a sacred native american artifact?
Needless to say, I left without buying anything and barely made it to Bernilillo on fumes. Never went back.
A Career In The Film Industry
Some of you may recognize the Big Chief Gas Station Market from it's appearance in the show, Breaking Bad. Jesse stops here in the motor home to buy gas & cigarettes and convinces the clerk to accept a dime bag of blue meth as payment. Later, Hank has the bright idea of reviewing the surveillance footage from the ATM in the parking lot to identify the make and model of the RV.
In other film news, from time to time my cousin works on movie sets and I recently found out that he is the one who repainted the "Big Chief" sign (in the photo above) for this location's use in a movie.
All photos shot with Motorola Moto X4 and edited with Snapseed.
Is It Real Or Is It Hollywood?
Located around the southern end of the Manzano Mountain Range, Mountainair, New Mexico is not exactly a bustling metropolis. To the contrary, population and the number of open businesses seem to have declined since my previous visit which was about ten years ago. Because of this, there are plenty of abandoned buildings to photograph but are they really what they appear to be?
I was told by a Mountainair resident that the first two photos in this blog post were never what they appear to be. The Grey Hound Trading Post (complete with the grey hound bus company logo) and the Tomahawk Service Station were never these things but the buildings were made to look this way because they were movie sets. So, at least something interesting happens in Mountainair from time to time.
What's Up With This Place?
I have never seen the Shaffer Hotel open for business but the hotel and dining room currently appear to be under renovation so maybe its on the comeback trail. There are many truly odd things about this property including, but not limited to, the swastika motif and the most peculiar stone work wall.
Now, before you get all indignant about the swastikas, understand that this hotel was built in 1923 - before the swastika became the most universally recognized symbol of racism and hate. Prior to World War Two, the swastika had an entirely different meaning to many people. Several Native American cultures, including the Hopi and the Navajo used the swastika as a symbol of peace and goodwill. The swastikas on the Shaffer Hotel were intended to welcome visitors to a friendly place, which just goes to show that you can't make assumptions in the absence of context.
I found a really great newspaper article Valencia County News-Bulletin about the Shaffer Hotel and the history of the Shaffer family in general. I highly recommend giving it a read byCLICKING HERE.
But Wait, There's More
Clem "Pop" Shaffer didn't just build the hotel and dining room, he also made this super weird/cool/creepy stone work fence.
And then there's these other buildings... I don't know if they were part of the hotel and used for something else but there are several beautiful stone buildings on the property. Currently they are all abandoned and boarded up but there are gaps in the boards so I was still able to get a couple interior shots through the windows. Don't worry, no buildings were tresspassed in the making of this blog post. ;)
Punta De Agua, New Mexico
Punta de Agua is a very small town between Mountainair and the Quari Mission Ruins. There's not much to see here but there is this ancient church and cemetery. The Church is called San Vicente de Paul, established in 1878.
Manzano Mountain Range
The drive from Los Lunas to Mountainair includes stunning views of the entire Manzano Mountain Range. I live at the north end of these mountains so it's not too often that I get to see the south end.
All photos shot with Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
There's nothing I love more than photographing abandoned houses in New Mexico but I shot a few of them while I lived in Maryland too. Abandoned houses in New Mexico are one thing but the abandoned houses in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia take the creep factor to a whole new level.
All photos in this post were shot with an iPhone 6 SE and edited with Snapseed.
Mt. Airy, Maryland
Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
Time Gone By
These images were originally published on a previous incarnation of The Dry Heat Blog on March 1, 2009 following a road trip from Albuquerque, NM to Las Vegas, NV for the annual WPPI convention. So, not only is the town old but so are these photos!
Ashfork is a must-see stop on Route 66 through Arizona. If memory serves, the nine hour drive from Albuquerque to Las Vegas took two and a half days due to all the Route 66 photo stops. It was time well spent!
All of these photos were shot on a Canon 50D with a Lensbaby 2.0 and edited with some fancy Kubota Actions which were purchased at WPPI.
Can't You Read The Sign?
Ramah is a tiny little town on HWY 53 southwest of Grants, New Mexico. In and of itself, it is not a place worth traveling too but it is on the way to some more noteworthy destinations such as the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary, El Morro National Monument and the Bandera Ice Cave.
Ramah is part of the Navajo Nation and that means you had better read the signs. If the sign says that the speed limit is 20mph (and the signs do say that), it is safe to assume they're not messing around, especially if you "ain't from around here". Additionally, if the sign says "No Trespassing", it is not a suggestion and, with the police station, courthouse and jail all less than half a mile away, I highly recommend shooting from the safe-side of the fence.
This abandoned farm house is at the edge of town and behind a barbed wire fence with a locked gate. Word to the wise: don't climb through the fence.
All photos shot with a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.