Gray Mountain, Arizona – September 2022 – Painted Desert Project

Dr Chip Thomas is a native of North Carolina who went to Diné (Navajo) Nation decades ago as a fulfillment of a National Health Services Corps scholarship he had received. He arrived in this area in 1987.

Decades later he began to paint large scale murals on abandoned buildings throughout the area. Early on he painted what he believed to be an abandoned roadside stand, only to find it was still used and the new art attracted more business. These stands are crucial to the economic survival of the community.

The mural in Gray Mountain is on an old motel that had been owned by a group known as the Whiting Brothers, who had a chain of motels all along route 66 and elsewhere in the west.

The art is a tribute to the Diné Nation and their struggles and heritage, and was completed by Dr Thomas as well as Diné artists.

Holbrook, Arizona – April 2022 – The Wigwam Motel

Dating from the 1940s, the Wigwam Motel is a throwback to the times when the route west was the famed Route 66. We had the opportunity to spend a night in the ‘Wigwam’.

There were originally 7 Wigwam Villages built, with only 3 remaining. The one in Holbrook has embraced the Route 66 connection, complete with strategically placed, rusting vehicles, along with a large collection of petrified wood.

As the sun set on the end of a great day, we prepared to settle in for the night.

Night time brought the fantastic neon sign to life.

Waking the next morning to comments about the frequency and volume of the trains all night. Walking outside we saw why, a major dual track freight line was about 100′ from our wigwam. Despite being rocked to sleep, it was well worth it for a night to time travel back to the 1950s.