A Relic Of The Past
I've been driving past this Route 66 landmark for years and have stopped to photograph it many times. Unfortunately, most of those images are lost to time and upheaval so I have gone once again to photograph what's left of the Whiting Bros. Filling Station and Motel that is off of I-40 west of Albuquerque, and about 10 miles east of Grants. These photos were shot on May 26, 2019.
The Whiting Bros. company was established in 1926, the same year that U.S. Route 66 was designated across the southwestern United States. Whiting Bros. was based in St. Johns and Holbrook, Arizona and, at it's peak, operated more than a hundred filling stations and fifteen motels (including at least forty on the former U.S. Route 66 through Arizona and New Mexico).
This particular station had a motel, according to the sign, but that building was apparently torn down. Next to the gas station there is a concrete foundation with nothing on it.
All photos shot with a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
There's Water In The Trees
Due to the runoff from heavy snow fall this winter, The Rio Grande River is running at an unprecedented level. The water is all the way out in the trees and when you drive over the Main Street Bridge in Los Lunas, it feels like you might fall in because the water is so high. My family moved to Lunas in 1982 and I don't ever recall seeing the river this way.
The truth of the matter is that the Rio Grande should (and would) probably flood like this every year except for all the diversionary tactics we humans employee to mess it all up.
These photos are from a few of different outings to Bosque Open Space areas in Rio Rancho, Corrales, and Los Lunas.
All photos shot with a Motorola Moto X4 and edited with Snapseed.
Bosque Open Space in Corrales, New Mexico.
The river has not overflowed it's banks in Corrales but it's all the way to the top and is still proving much needed water for the Cottonwood Trees.
Flooded Bosque in Los Lunas, New Mexico
The flooding is especially pronounced here in Los Lunas.
A Curious Place in Old Town
I've been fascinated with this little chapel since I first discovered it back in the day, that day being sometime around 2008. It's well hidden and most regular visitors to Old Town don't even know it's there. I feel like it exists in a slanty dimension and will reveal itself on a need to know basis.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel was built in 1976 for the students of Sagrada Art Studios, giving them a place to pray as a group. The project was headed up by Sister Giotto Moots, making this a chapel built by nuns that is not a church.
Not a church.
Which is why I like it.
For me, the biggest attraction is the large round window depicting the phases of the moon. In case you were wondering, the window also has a name. It's official title is Feast Days Of The Virgin and Phases Of The Moon. FYI, nowadays the window is barely attached so don't lean on it, touch it, breathe on it, or look at it funny. Be respectful.
Over the years, I have shot more portrait sessions in and around this chapel than I can count but I never noticed, until viewing these images that I shot with my phone, that there are spots in the wall on either side of the big window that have been closed up. Once upon a time there were two other windows in that wall. According to the chapel website, these windows are now in storage but it doesn't say when they were removed. It may have been after the dumpster fire in 2010 that spread to the roof of the chapel and caused a good deal of smoke damage, but the website doesn't specify.
In other news, the chapel is also haunted and is a featured location on the Old Town Ghost Tour. It has also been visited by paranormal investigators from across the country. I'm not usually there at night but visitors have claimed to see the apparition of a "woman in black" who sits on the built-in benches in the main room either meditating or praying. I don't think anyone has died in this chapel but the now quaint tourist-trap that is Old Town has a violent history. Long before the art galleries and Kokopelli incense burners, this area was very much The Wild West so it doesn't seem far fetched to think that an Old Town ghost would make itself at home in this friendly chapel.
Our Lady Of Guadalupe Chapel is open to the public. Anyone may go there to oogle the round window, look for ghosts, or to pray. The chapel website bills the location as a wedding venue and I suppose that could work so long as the wedding does not require guests or chairs.
For more information about Our Lady Of Guadalupe, visit their website by clicking here.
All photos shot with Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
So, uh.... what happened here?
If there were one question to sum up the area known as Meadow Lake, it would be, "What happened here?" You could look in any direction and ask this question dozens of times. For starters, there is a man-made lake that was built who knows when or why and was closed for reasons that remain mysterious. Aside from that, run down, abandoned, gutted and often burned mobile homes are strewn across the desert like forgotten dominoes, but right next door could be a beautiful and well maintained home.
And then there's this house.
By any standard of measure, this house would've been considerably nicer than most anything else in the area. For one thing, it's actually a spacious site-built home but then there's also the enclosed courtyard and the in-ground pool. No one up here has an in-ground pool.
And then one day, the whole thing went to hell. From the looks of things, I would guess ruination day was around ten years ago.
As I approach the entrance to the courtyard, the ground is absolutely covered with every manner of thing from the house. There are clothes and shoes and toys and trash..., soo much trash. Aside from this small stuff, furniture is cast about all over the place. There are several couches sitting in the yard.
I tried to find a news story that could explain what happened but came up empty handed. It looks to me like the residents of the house did not salvage any of their belongings after the fire. As you can see in the photos, the house was completely destroyed, and these people just walked away.
Or did they?
It's possible, likely even, that they didn't survive the fire. It's also possible that the fire was not an accident, making whatever happened here a crime as opposed to just an unfortunate event.
Why was nothing cleaned up? Why was nothing rebuilt? If they survived, I would assume they had home-owners insurance but you know what they say about assuming. Where did they go and who owns the land now?
So many questions...
What happened here?
All photos shot with Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
Not Really Here Or There
An easily overlooked stop on the Turquoise Trail road trip, Cerrillos is literally a living ghost town. At least six or seven people still live here and they even put up historical markers providing interesting information on the town's ancient buildings.
Most tourists will want to visit Madrid, which is just a few miles to the south. Madrid has fun things like restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops and is welcoming to visitors so long as they spend money don't stray off the main road. Should one decide to venture off the road with pavement, the hills suddenly have eyes and you could easily be cursed by a stray dog, disappearing through a portal to the nether world, never to be seen or heard from again.
And then there's Cerrillos.
There's nothing for tourists to do here so the whole town has eyes. Everywhere you go, someone is watching, possibly living and possibly not, but they'll let you know if step out of line.
The ghosts of Cerrillos are surely unimpressed by flashy jewelry and pretentious enlightenment so, if that's your bag, just drive on to Santa Fe.
All images shot with a Motorola MotoX4 and edited with Snapseed.
The historic marker was on around on the back end of this house but I didn't go back there due to the extremely shady looking fellow who was crawling around on the train tracks. I wanted to know, but I didn't want to know that bad.
I am DeAnna Vincent, fine art and portrait photographer in Los Lunas, New Mexico. These are the photos from my everyday adventures.