Tag Archives: New Mexico

A Fun Secret Hobby

From time to time, I like to share new ways to enjoy the history and culture of the American West. Can you identify the figure in the image above? I spotted this one while driving through Gallup, New Mexico last year on old Route 66. If you are a Southwesterner, you probably recognize it as a loose rendition of a roadrunner, and this sign is on display to lure weary travelers into a motel along the Mother Road.

Road Runner Motel

Road Runner Motel

Some time ago, I figured out it was great fun to shoot photos of neon signs at night. The advent of digital photography makes this hobby even more tantalizing, due to immediate results in case a do-over is in order. When attached to motels, neon signs usually indicate some sort of funky retro-decor or history related to the structure. One of my favorite signs is in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Since one must drive over Rabbit Ears Pass to enter the town, the significance of this neon art is readily apparent.

Rabbit Ears

Rabbit Ears Motel

I’m not sure what I will do with these photos, if anything, However, it is a fun challenge to photograph them. I plan to take advantage of the long hours of winter darkness to shoot a few more in Denver this winter. I’ve had my eye on an especially attractive Cheshire Cat sign at a veterinary office nearby, which must look dandy at night.

Keep in mind that neon signs can look good in lighted areas as well. Notice the “Lowell’s” sign at Pike Place Market in the previous article about Seattle.

Joyce Lohse, 11/18/11


Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Western Travel, Writing Life


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Archeology and History


Macaw at Petroglyph National Monument

Why was I riveted to an old Indiana Jones movie last evening? Besides Spielberg’s magic and a young Harrison Ford, it had a lot to do with the archealogical tale of unfolding mysteries through material evidence of past human life. The story also touched lightly on the issue of truth as opposed to myth, one of my favorite speech topics regarding our more modern western history. How cool is that!

Recently, I visited Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Located close to town, we hiked and scrambled through rocks containing messages from the ancients. A brochure contains a quotation by Pueblo Elder, William F. Weahkee: “Each of these rocks is alive, keeper of a message left by the ancestors … There are spirits, guardians; there is medicine …”

Deciphering the messages requires much study and imagination. The macaw, used as a symbol for the site, is probably indicative of trade and prosperity for the value of its feathers. Nothing is certain in this science. These beautiful images and symbols can also be appreciated for their artistic value. After this visit, and a past jaunt to the Talking Rocks north of Thermopolis, Wyoming, I am hooked. Next time, I encounter a petroglyph site, I will make sure I have my cowboy hat, boots, and water jug, and plan better for the hike and scramble over the rocks. Also, I agree with Indy … I can do without the snakes.

Joyce Lohse, 3/6/11


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