Faded Roadrunner


The Faded Roadrunner sign marks where the famed Roadrunner Retreat rests. Although it doesn’t serve travelers, it remains an important landmark on the Mother Road


Cruising down Route 66 in California’s Mojave Desert can become tedious. Mile after endless mile of the highway rolls by, up and down small hills, with the end never quite in sight. Any distraction at all is welcome, and most welcome of all are the gas stations, hotels, and other attractions. Motorists passing by Chambless, California stopped at the RoadRunner Retreat, although today, not much remains.

Photographed in the late afternoon light the faded Roadrunner sign glows in the golden rays of the sun. Although not powered by electricity, the sun lights up the sign; you can be see it from miles away. Once again it calls to travelers, and once again there is a reason to stop.

The illusion quickly fades away, however, as nothing but tumbleweeds greet the visitor. The pumps and the store are long faded along with the sign. As for the retreat itself, that too has been swallowed by time. Perhaps one day even the RoadRunner retreat sign itself will come down, leaving even fewer memories that are already here.

It’s easy to imagine the RoadRunner Retreat in its heyday. As we drive closer to the bright lights, our anticipation builds until we can’t wait a moment longer. The second our car stops we are out of it like a shot, headed to see what delights we might find.

The desert lies behind us, forgotten for now, and something we’ll trek across at a later time. For now, at least, we’re happy, festive and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Leaving the Roadrunner Retreat

Sadly, it’s time to start the engine and drive on, both in miles and in time. Looking in the rearview mirror we can barely make out the sign, now faded into the night. The memory of the RoadRunner Retreat is just that, at least until we stop there again.


Additional information


Matted Photograph, Finished Aluminum


12×18, 20×30, 8×10