Friday, October 14, 2005

"What the...?" MaryAnn exclaimed. I Handed Her the Camera.

WEST CENTRAL--"What the...?" MaryAnn exclaimed. I handed her the camera. We were headed west on Central near Rio Grande when we saw the column of smoke. I was at the wheel.

I punched it and we bulled our way into the heavy traffic. We had been on our way to La Casa Grande for another Red Special...and a few photos of El Vado as well, since it was right next door. But life is pretty adventurous in the Mango_Mobile when Yours Truly is at the wheel. You never know where you will end up going.

We passed the restaurant in a hurry, tore over the bridge, and were headed up the hill. "Getting any pictures?" I asked. She didn't answer...just kept shooting. Just as we got to New Coors Blvd. I could see everything was blocked off. I hooked a left down a side street and drove across a vacant lot on the right. A little hike up a berm brought us to the sidewalk about 100 feet from the scene.

It had been a car fire. I figured it might be: black smoke usually means petroleum. Two guys standing there said they thought it was a TransAm. I guess the owner missed the recall letter. Then again, a car fire at a gas station could have a lot of causes. The fire was out by this time.

On our way back down to the Casa Grande I stopped to take a few pictures of The Beach Apartments. Designed by Anton Predock, they are a really wonderful site to behold, day or night. Daytime they echo the colors and lines of the southwest: earthy, stepped, unapologetic, faintly reminescent of somewhere a person might live.

But at night they take on all the Route 66 kitch of a neon-lit curio shop...all zig-zags...Storms of zig-zags floating in the dark beside the road. I say this because I don't want to get too depressed thinking about them tearing down the El Vado Motel. It IS possible to put up something good. But God I wish it didn't have to be the El Vado...

I stopped by there last Mothers Day with MaryAnn. We were on our bikes. I had heard it was for sale. I had also thought how nice it might be to turn a couple of those outside rooms into a bike rental place. It's right next to the bike trail and in the center of biopark area. We talked to a woman who was managing the place. We went in a room to take a look.

The woman said the sales price was $1,300,000. The rooms were small. The rent was $32. There were 35 rooms, mostly empty. How could it stay a working motel with numbers like that? Not in the private sector at any rate.

Take a look around you. What's next? The properties we like the best are smallish, kitchy, and create an ambience on a human scale. And they are disappearing under the rising tide of real estate prices.

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