May 2020, LA to Santa Fe pandemic trip

06 Jun 2020

Itching for a road trip and to see friends a couple months into the 2020 pandemic I worked out the logistics (plans and contingencies for every fuel stop, pee break, lunch, even breakdowns) and headed to visit Scott and Erika who were maintaining isolation as tightly as we were.

Rather than poke around through secondary roads I stuck to major highways to minimize variables: I40 out, the return I40 to Kingman, then 68 etc past Nipton CA and home in I15.

I wanted to see for myself what the story was in small AZ towns. It's devastating. Winslow looked abandoned. In spite of the so-called news, I saw pretty much total compliance with distancing and shutdowns.

The smallest towns were heartbreaking to see.

About the photos

They suck. While I'm not a photographer I'm capable of framing my phone shots. This trip was very different. I didn't even bother to take the phone out of the holder on the windshield, so they're 1/3rd the hood of the car. These were meant only as rough record of the road. I've never presented so many crappy photos.

LA to Santa Fe

Left LA in the morning, raining. 210, 15, 40. Barstow gas, chatted with a guy going back to Oklahoma.

Lunch on Mountain Springs Road exit.

I'd intended to camp/motel in Seligman but I got there early, 4pm. Pressed on to Winslow, stayed at the lovely Delta Motel. Sandwiches etc I'd brought for dinner. Their restaurant was closed, but I'd brought my own food anyway, microwaved hot water and made my own coffee in the morning. This worked out so well I'll probably continue this practice. It was too cold (40's) for my light-duty camping anyway.

In the morning bought gas then drove through Winslow, to the furthest-east exit to see the town. Devastated. I tried to photograph all activity I could find on the main road, this was it. A small cluster of cars at one open cafe and some pavement work. Winslow is small, but over the last 20 years has been doing OK, or so it seemed to me passing through. I wonder now.

The infinite-seeming stretch of 40 between Flag and Holbrook.

Joseph City is a small town right off 40.

Holbrook is the big town on the east end of AZ 40, and serves the ranches and towns to the rural south, so it's got some activity.

Hmm. I marked these photos "40 NM" but I don't know which are coming and which are going. Doesn't really matter I guess, it's not like there's narrative sequence.

Local traffic.

Santa Fe.




Santa Fe to LA

Four days in Santa Fe then home again.

Apparently Navajo/Hopi land was/is a pandemic disaster, but the smaller pueblos in NM at least apparently fared better, having closed up fast and seriously. Though hardly a serious survey, the few pueblo roads I saw were blocked with giant concrete blocks, directing traffic in through presumably-controllable main roads. Obviously I didn't attempt to see that.

Cheapest gas I saw/bought.

There was very little of this. Three '*rump' expositions. I also saw not one single '*rump' bumper sticker. They used to be common.


As a measure of how fucked up things are/were, I didn't realize I was driving on Memorial Day weekend until the morning I took these photos. 9 or 10 am I think, non-staged/non-selected photos. This is old town Kingman, should be heavy with tourists.

Some Texas bikers in the motel parking lot said gas in TX was 1.10, 1.15 per gallon.


Last lunch stop, Baker CA, western end.



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