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A chat with Melba Rigg July 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, Movies, People.
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Melba Rigg, one of the original proprietors of 4 Women on the Route, now Cars on the Route, in Galena, Kansas, explains the region’s Route 66 tie-ins to the Disney-Pixar “Cars” movie and makes some other observations.

This video is part of KC Keefer’s Genuine Route 66 Life video series.

Rigg didn’t always talk that fast. But her delivery sped up as she polished her spiel, and it sorta became its own thing — and why she calls herself “Melba the Mouth.”

But, in all honesty, Rigg is one of the nicest and most interesting characters you’ll meet on Route 66. If run into her, she’s one of the many reasons Route 66 travelers go back home with great memories.

(Image of Melba Rigg in 2011 being interviewed by a Disney film crew for a documentary)

Albuquerque’s most popular filming locations July 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Railroad, Restaurants, Television, Towns.
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KRQE-TV in Albuquerque produced this fascinating story about the city’s most popular filming locations for movies, television series and commercials.

Not surprisingly, several exist on Central Avenue, aka Route 66 — Lindy’s Coffee Shop and Loyola’s Family Restaurant.

The station reported:

So why are Lindy’s and Loyola’s attractive for filmmakers?

“They’re still period, they still look like they did maybe in the 50′s or 60′s,” said Ann Lerner, the city’s film liaison. “So they don’t have to build a set… they can go to a practical location.”

Score another one for historic preservation.

(Image of Lindy’s by Glen’s Pics via Flickr)

La Posada owner commits to buying Plaza Hotel June 25, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Movies, Preservation, Railroad, Television.
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Allan Affeldt, co-owner of the historic La Posada hotel in Winslow, Arizona, announced Tuesday night in a Facebook post that he signed a contract to buy the historic Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Affeldt’s wish to own the Plaza Hotel had been known for weeks. He had said owning the Plaza would complement his recent purchase of the long-closed Hotel Castaneda, a former Harvey House a mile away across town. Affeldt had explained that modernizing Castaneda — basically adding bathrooms to every room — would give it only 20 guest rooms and wouldn’t be economically viable by itself. So Affeldt wanted Plaza Hotel for more revenue.

The Plaza Hotel had been in bankruptcy receivership since 2012, although it had continued to run. Deemed “The Belle of the Southwest,” the hotel was built in 1882. It underwent a $1 million renovation in 1982, and in 2009 bought the next-door Charles Ifeld Building for more guest rooms, a ballroom and meeting areas. The hotel also is home to the popular Landmark Grill, and has hosted everyone from western star Tom Mix to scenes in the Oscar-winning film “No Country for Old Men.”

In fact, in Affeldt’s Facebook post, he posted a photo of a film crew preparing to shoot a scene for the A&E network’s western series, “Longmire.”

Affeldt completed the purchase in April of Hotel Castaneda, which was built in 1898 and closed as a hotel more than 60 years ago. Because of Affeldt’s well-known success in reviving La Posada, the town and state officials celebrated the purchase of Castaneda, including a visit from the governor just days after the deal closed.

Affeldt bought La Posada, built in 1929, during the 1990s and restored it into one of the most popular and praised lodging properties in the Southwest.

Las Vegas sits a few miles from old Route 66, but has become a popular side trip for travelers on the Mother Road’s Santa Fe Loop.

(Image of the Plaza Hotel by S.A. Sanabria via Flickr)

The Griswolds will take a Route 66 trip next month June 24, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Road trips, Vehicles.
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No, we’re not talking about the fictional family as depicted in the 1983 road-trip comedy film “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

No, this is a real-life family in Georgia that has Griswold as its surname. Better yet, Steve and Lisa Griswold took a 1984 Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon and modified it to look exactly like the ultra-ugly and fuel-inefficient Family Truckster as shown in the movie.

The Griswolds recently announced they’re taking the Truckster and their two daughters on a Route 66 road trip from July 20 to July 30, with the final destination of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, to ride the Colossus, the wooden roller coaster depicted in the Wally World amusement park in “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” The Griswolds hope to be at Six Flags Magic Mountain by July 31, which is the 31st anniversary of the movie. Alas, the Colossus is scheduled to be closed for good in August.

The Griswolds posted on their website:

The biggest concern is will we make it?  10 days on Route 66 is a long time in the heat of summer with such an old original car.  But we think the truckster is up for it and we are up for the adventure. [...]

We will then be heading on Route 66, which none of us have ever been on before, and we are very excited to see all the classic tourist attractions, diners, and hotels along the way.

We want to surprise you with the stops we will be making along the way, but  I can say we will be stopping at the Grand Canyon, and some historic spots, and some new more modern Route 66 attractions. [...]

We will be posting our road trip adventure LIVE as it happens on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Also at the conclusion of our road trip we will be putting together some fun Griswold webisodes that you can watch right here on our www.GriswoldFamilyVacations.com website.

The Griswolds ought to make sure Magic Mountain is open first:

“National Lampoon’s Vacation” was based on “Vacation ’58,” a short story by John Hughes.

Above the City of Angels June 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies, Towns.
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Filmmaker and photographer Chris Pritchard made this dazzling time-lapse video with the city of Los Angeles as his canvas.

Make sure to watch it on your computer in full-screen mode.

Above LA from Chris Pritchard on Vimeo.

(Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan)

High school class makes superb film about Route 66 June 11, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Highways, History, Movies.
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The film class of Jenks High School in Jenks, Oklahoma, uploaded this 10-minute film about Route 66 in the last few days. This well-edited clip features Tulsa-area Route 66 experts Marian Clark and Michael Wallis.

This sort of excellence isn’t new for the Jenks High School film class. It won an Emmy award in 2012 for the “All That Remains” film, about the dying historic black down of Boley, Oklahoma. G0 here to view it.

DVD review: “Exploring Route 66: The Mother Road” June 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in History, Movies, Road trips.
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David Bowyer’s new DVD documentary, “Exploring Route 66: The Mother Road,” doesn’t explore the entire length of Route 66 — hence the subtitle “Volume 1″  that hints of future editions. But it proves to be a worthwhile addition to a roadie’s video library, especially for those who love the desert Southwest.

“Exploring Route 66″ takes on about 700 miles of Route 66, from the Continental Divide in western New Mexico to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California. Heading west, the film touches on just about every significant town on the route — albeit briefly because of the film’s brisk one-hour length.

Bowyer spent about three years talking to locals and shooting footage for “Exploring Route 66.” He sprinkled the film’s footage with interviews and added brief history about the Mother Road’s rise, fall and renaissance.

He plans to produce another film that explores the rest of Route 66, from Chicago to Albuquerque.

A few observations about the film:

— “Exploring Route 66″ ends up with some of its best moments off the Mother Road, ironically. The side trips — especially Monument Valley, Supai Falls and one sequence in Las Vegas — prove compelling. In Supai, a town at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that receives almost all its supplies by pack mule, an old-timer says a piano even was hauled on the mountain trail by the animals. And Bowyer shoots exciting footage of the Treasure Island Pirate Show in Vegas, including the captain literally going down with his sinking ship.

— The film’s colors are super-saturated, making the region appear more vivid than it already is. The footage from Monument Valley, with its images of a Native American playing a flute amid majestic mesas and shepherds guiding sheep through a humongous hole in an even more humongous red rock, are particularly breathtaking. And images from Route 66 — many of them basking in the golden light of a late-afternoon sun — look terrific. Some may find the Kodachrome-type colors jarring, but I found them proper for the subject.

— The film’s musical accompaniment primarily comes from guitar-playing country-and-western singers who live on or near the Mother Road. The music brings a natural feel, especially during a performance of “Along the Navajo Trail” with the Monument Valley sequence. Other parts of “Exploring Route 66″ use music scores that feel like they come from old-fashioned westerns.

— Bowyer’s identifying subtitles for his interview subjects often lacked context. I recognized Angel “Guardian Angel of Route 66″ Delgadillo and Seligman Sundries co-owner Frank Kocevar. But didn’t know who Buck Williams or many other interviewees were. I often didn’t know whether they were historians, business owners, musicians, or dishwashers. Worse, my high-definition television clipped off the bottom 15 percent of the film’s image and, thus, many of those subtitles. The formatting problem didn’t occur on my PC.

— Bonus material was a 20-minute film by Bowyer, “Jeeping God’s Country,” which provides highlights for those who want to go off-roading in the mountains of the Four Corners area.

— The DVD is formatted to play in all regions so viewers in Europe, the United States and elsewhere can enjoy it — a thoughtful gesture.

(Among the places where the DVD can be purchased is Angel Delgadillo’s gift shop and Seligman Sundries in Seligman, Arizona; Standin’ on a Corner gift shop in Winslow, Arizona; Powerhouse Museum gift shop in Kingman, Arizona; Addicted to 66 and Cruiser’s in Williams, Arizona; Fast Fanny’s in Oatman, Arizona; and the Ash Fork Route 66 Museum in Ash Fork, Arizona.)

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