Sunday, August 2, 2015

Signs of the Times: The Neon Wonders of New Mexico

If you're in with Instagram, you might have noticed that the better part of a wacky tacky road trip is dedicated to searching out the coolest in vintage signs - neon, figural, hand-painted, animated, you name it.  It is a pastime infinitely more pleasurable than spying out-of-state license plates and decidedly less painful than hours of slug bug/punch buggy (a brand of family "fun" for which I am still nursing decades-old bruises).  Freshly rehabilitated, completely defunct, or merely operational, we go nuts for the gravity-defying wonders rising from America's dusty byways.  Our recent road trip across the state of New Mexico yielded a bumper crop of dazzling signs; here are some of our favorites.

Century 21 Motel - Las Cruces, NM
The mid-20th Century was so full of bright ideas and optimism for the 21st Century,
I can't help but feel that we let our forebears down; our contemporary signs are lackluster
and we don't have hover cars!!!

Tommy's Roller Rink - Las Cruces, NM
Apparently, Tommy's was a small chain of roller rinks that
went belly-up after an employees-conspired murder. 

Pancake Alley - Las Cruces, NM
We tried to taste the fruits of Pancake Alley at least three times
but were greeted each time with the worst kind of sign -  "CLOSED."

Cattleman's Steak House - Las Cruces, NM

Royal Host Motel - Las Cruces, NM
Las Cruces' crowning glory!

Town House Motel - Las Cruces, NM
(Or)Gan Mountain Lodge - Organ, NM
This is the only game in town for the yearly Harvest Festival.  If you wake
up in a bath tub full of ice, you might be at the Organ Harvest Festival. 

Satellite Inn - Alamogordo, NM

Thunderbird Plaza - Alamogordo, NM

Mr. W. Fireworks Gorilla - Alamogordo, NM
"Mr. W Rules!"

White Sands Motel - Alamogordo, NM
"You don't belong in a place like this!"

Western Scene Motel - Santa Fe, NM
We tried to make the "scene" but there was no vacancy.

King's Rest Court Inn - Santa Fe, NM
Where Santa Fe royalty rests their heads.

Santa Fe Lodge - Santa Fe, NM

Cottonwood Court - Santa Fe, NM
Bless this lil' ol', cotton pickin' sign! 

El Camino Family Restaurant - Socorro, NM
Now this is a sign with balls!

Roadrunner Lounge - Socorro, NM
Roadrunners are kind of "thing" in New Mexico.  Meep! Meep!

Butterfield Stage Motel - Deming, NM
Animated horses at full gallop?!!  SIGN me up!

The last photos in this group are two of my very favorite signs from our journey.  In the interest of full disclosure, I will readily admit that they were taken not within New Mexican state lines but rather in the fair city of El Paso, Texas, where the signs at night are just as big and bright as the state's infamous stars.

Charcoaler Drive-In Restaurant - El Paso, TX
Even if the menu offerings were not delicious (incidentally, they were), this sign left our mouths watetring!

Sunshine Bakeries - El Paso, TX
We almost died twice figuring put how to get close to this sign but it was so worth it!

Knowing that the sum of a state is greater than its signs, we also commit ourselves to learning about the history, the culture, the food, and the people of the places we visit.  But in a world ever more darkened by drab, humorless signage, we'll continue to count on the glorious glow of vintage neon to show us the way.  Can't you read the "Signs?"

"Signs" - Five Man Electric Band


Mr. Tiny

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