Western Travel Writing Life

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