Mountain Outside Winemucca at Dusk

I love the natural landscapes of the West. This first is just outside Winnemucca, NV. The lighting and sculpting of nature is totally astonishing– especially when you turn a corner, and see things like this. Which happens every 5 minutes. The next shot shows the variations in one glance, in Craters of the Moon National Park-, Idaho. The closest rocks are from a recent, 65,000 old volcanic eruption in. The lakes in the desert, are just there, instead of elsewhere. This spot is on the Emigrant Trail from the 1850s– because there WAS water, and an easier pass through the mountains. But note the snow capped peaks in the very distant– still around on June 23, and a warning of what was to come. The final 2 shots show mankind’s mark on the beautiful West. Just as mind-boggling, about human progress.

GREAT RT.66 RETRO MOTEL JUST OFF i-40 IN NEW MEXICO

Met someone today doing the NC-California driving round trip—her first time.  She’s staying in hotels, not camping, and concerned about travelling as a single woman.  Understandable, but from my experiences,  staying in small family-owned motels is as safe as you can be.   THE SUNSET MOTEL in Moriarity, NM, is a great example.

It’s right in the middle of NM, just off I-40 on one of the few remaining sections of Rt. 66. This is a great choice for a safe, comfortable, clean, friendly, and affordable motel.  Built in the 1950s, it has  the homey furniture and other touches of old-fashioned family-run motels.  Dog friendly, and a free continental breakfast with fascinating owners who are writers and film producers, and happy to chat.

Many of these amazing hotels still exist, but I don’t think there’s a real directory you can use.  So sometimes you don’t know if it’s a gem, or a cheapo flop.  My best test is,  if it’s old, and has a pretty  flower garden out front, it will be a great place to stay.  Warning, if you need everything in your life up-to-date, and embrace the conformity of franchises, it’s probably not for you.

For those travelling I-40 in the West, THE SUNSET is highly recommended by many.  The owners will clue you in on the best locally owned restaurants too!

http://www.sunseton66.com/Home_Page.html

Updated Route West. Leaving May 22!

Here’s an updated Part 1 of my cross-country exploration in my Roadtrek Camper Van.  This is a plan, and the only deadline is to meet Catheryn in Denver on June 3. She’ll be doing Part 2 with me, across Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California for the next 12 days (map to come).

I start Tues. May 22 from Davidson, NC.  First night will be spent in a state park outside Nashville.

Next day, drive down the ancient Natchez Trace Parkway for a couple hundred miles, take a slight detour to Mussel Shoals, Alabama, and visit two of the world’s most famous recording studios there.

Spend the night near Clarksdale, MS after touring several famed Delta Blues museums and night spots.

Then meander down Hwy. 61 to camp in park near Natchez.

Friday, I take a short drive to Eunice, LA, checking out Cajun country, going to a famous Cajun music jam and the Rendez-vous des Cajuns live radio show at the Liberty Theater in downtown Eunice.

Next, I drive along the Gulf Coast south of Houston, continuing along the beach into Galveston, taking a ferry or two.

At Surfside Beach, TX, I finally turn North and spend the night in Gonzales, TX about half-way between Houston and San Antonio.

Then northwest to Mexico.  I’ll stop for a night or two at the border towns of Del Rio, TX and Acuna, MEX to have a look at Acuna—my first time in Mexico!

The next day, it’s north through barren deserts to Marfa, TX, a ‘famous’ artist colony/ghost town, about as middle of nowhere as you can get.

After Marfa, I continue north through Roswell and Tucumcari, NM—one of my favorite towns.  From Tucumcari, it’s about 6.5 hours to Denver.  I might stop about half way, if I find something interesting.  Or, I might need to scoot up I-25, because I’m behind schedule.

Most nights will be spent in the camper in national, state, and county parks—cheap.  In a few places there are not-to-be-missed-off-the-beaten track private campgrounds.  I ’m avoiding Interstates wherever possible, once I get to Nashville.  Some of the roads look a bit sketchy… that’s good.

That’s the plan.  Will I stick to it?  That’s debatable.  I have a few non-travel days built in, and generally max driving to just 3-4 hours a day, and that’s good too.

 

“Werner Herzog Discovers John Waters is Gay” 185,000 views on YouTube

German New Wave director, Werner Herzog, in a gag shot, though he has been threatened by some.

As a Werner Herzog fanatic, I discovered this hidden clip, from what is probably one of the least known films about Herzog, “On the Ecstasy of Ski-Flying: Werner Herzog in Conversation with Karen Beckman.”

It is a must for anyone who admires Herzog’s frankness as a creative filmmaker and cultural commentator.

The number of views of this clip seems to accelerate, since I posted it on YouTube.

The non-profit producer/distributor of the documentary allowed me to post it, with the hope that it might give their work more visibility.  It think it is a success for them!

See the whole film:
“On the Ecstasy of Ski-Flying: Werner Herzog in Conversation with
Karen Beckman”

Produced and edited by Aaron Levy and Nicola Gentili, with the
2007-2008 RBSL Bergman Curatorial Seminar, University of Pennsylvania

Published by Slought Foundation

http://slought.org   and   http://www.microcinemadvd.com/product…

 

Controversial Confederate Memorials vs. Slavery Memorials

Image may contain: people standing, sky, tree, shoes, plant and outdoor

A recent story from THE GUARDIAN featured recent conflicts in New Orleans stemming from the city’s decision to remove many monuments deemed to celebrate the ideals of the Confederacy– mainly slavery– as offensive to modern concepts of human equality, justice, and opportunity.

https://www.theguardian.com/…/gun-shoot-civil-war-statues-n…

This reminds me of the 2015 flap in Cornelius, NC, about it’s very own Confederate Soldier Monument. It was erected around 1910, after most Confederate vets had died.

Many believe these statues were erected in Southern towns and cities– so long after the Civil War, to reinforce the spirit of the new Jim Crow laws, and inform Yankees that the ‘South’ (or at least the people who had money for such statues) had not

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Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, tree, sky, shoes, outdoor and nature

 

VANLIFE, LIVING IN A CAMPERVAN –THE NEW YORKER

VANLIFE, THE  NEW BOHEMIAN SOCIAL-MEDIA MOVEMENT

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/04/24/vanlife-the-bohemian-social-media-movement

An anonymous neighbor put this article on our Roadtrek Camper Van.  The article was shockingly similar to our aims (sorry, without the nekkidness).  But who knows, trekking in a van is a growing thing for boomers too– for sure.

County Park in Pampa, Texas

On my last trip through the Texas panhandle, I took a break in this small town, well off the Interstate.  It was a small park with a dry lake, a few trees, and very hot feeling.  Not much to look at, but the town of Pampa did the best they could with their flat semi-desert land with ball fields, picnic areas, 5 acre lake, and even RV hookups and lavatories.

This sign was at the entrance, and put a slight edge to the visit.  I was the only person in the park– and didn’t stay long, rattled as I was.

Ghostly Golf Course in Cheyenne, Oklahoma

Two summers ago, avoiding I-70 West not far from the border with the Texas panhandle, I stumbled onto Cheyenne.  It is notorious for General George Custer’s night raid on a Cheyenne Indian village in 1868. Hundreds of natives, many sleeping women and children were murdered in one of the most horrifying deeds perpetrated by the US government against Native Americans.

Cheyenne today is emptying out– especially of young people.  This photo, taken in 2015, illustrates similar abandonment seen across rural America.  Even the sign looks like a gravestone in this haunted play land that has been shuttered for 8 years.

Custer was killed in the Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer’s last stand) 8 years later.  He was found, shot in the head and heart, and it was claimed his body was desecrated with ‘an arrow inserted into his penis,’ by the people he had been hounding across the prairies for nearly ten years.

The first leg (2,366 miles) of my 8,000 mile drive to the Pacific and back this summer

lEAVING THE END OF mAY

Prepping our trusty (hopefully) 2003 Roadtrek camper van for its first big journey.  Catheryn flies to Denver, then we head west through Nevada/Utah deserts. Stop in San Francisco/Petaluma  to visit friends and Evan, and pick-up Philip, who’s flying in from Portland, Maine.

Leisurely drive up the California Coast to spend a few days in Redwood National Park, then back to SF.

Catheryn and Philip fly east,  but I drive back the northern route through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, then down through Baltimore to visit old friends– then home to Davidson, NC.

The first leg of the trip West– Davidson to Denver, about 7 days mostly off-Interstate.

Will shoot vast quantity of stills and video, and blog each night for Atlas Obscura— mostly from State and National Park lands.  The van has a kitchenette, so will buy/cook food from farmer’s markets and groceries– with some exceptions.  Seeking quirky museums, ghost towns, old theaters, and all manner of roadside curiosities, personalities, and neglected cultures

Welcome

Robert Maier is a writer, producer, educator, specializing in cinema.