This dream might actually be the most interesting of the three blog-related dreams I plan to post, but they will be posted in chronological order. I dreamed this one over a year ago. It's edited for clarity, but I am not making up any additions after the fact.
First, two bits of background info:
1) On I-40 between Amarillo and Albuquerque is the town of Tucumcari, New Mexico. My family used to travel through there fairly often, never stopping for much more than a quick meal or a tank of gas. Historic Route 66 branches off of the Interstate, so there is a little bit of that particular sort of retro-tourist-y stuff in town.
2) James Lileks has many photos of retro 50's, 60's & 70's buildings, like motels and restaurants. If you haven't seen those photos, or don't remember the style, go take a quick look at the links.
In the dream, my family had decided to meet and have supper at this (in reality, nonexistent) tourist-trap-restaurant on the west side of Tucumcari. Several aunts, uncles, cousins, plus my immediate family and grandmother were all going to converge on this place from various directions in various vehicles (not an uncommon occurence for our family). I arrived shortly after my parents, and we all wandered around the place while waiting for everyone to arrive so we could all eat together. I wasn't too sure about eating there, but apparently "this was where everyone decided to meet..." before I was invited.
This place epitomized the retro look shown in the aforementioned Lileks' photos, in the tackiest possible way. In the restaurant, orange laminate tables and shag carpet under an angled ceiling with fake exposed beams holding up acoustical tile. Cheap paneled wainscoting below velvet paintings of tigers, bullfighters, and sailing ships. Geometric wood and brass light fixtures. A skinny woven basket full of two-packs of Captain's Wafers, next to textured red plastic water glasses with faded white logos.
The bar looked something like this, only darker.
Other rooms were divided with fake paneled half-walls with lathed posts on top. All the woodwork had the darkest wood stain available, possibly applied with a mop. Some places had indirect lighting with cheap buzzing flourescent bulbs, including the restrooms which had burgundy velvet wallpaper with a floral pattern only visible by its glossiness. The gift shop had the typical tourist trap variety of toys and souvenirs for sale, like state emblazoned ashtrays and $1.69 rubber tomahawks with fluorescent feathers. The bric-a-brac was displayed on racks in several stages of disrepair, which stood on gold-flecked linoleum tiles underneath giant gray concentric-circular air conditioning vents. Near the entry was a gold spray-painted concrete fountain with water-spouting cherubs and fish.
Past the gift shop, there was another room, which was relatively empty. It had some sort of fake reddish stone flooring, with a matching circular fireplace in the middle, with a black conical hood suspended from the ceiling above it. A small cash register (mechanical, but not antique) stood in the corner near an alcove for the pay phone and restrooms, next to a set of large windows to the west. The windows looked out over the huge but almost empty gravel parking lot, with its one-skinny-letter-per-pastel-colored-rhombus sign, across a scrub prairie with a couple of old trailers, up to Tucumcari Mesa. The windows probably hadn't been cleaned that year, and there were dead flies in the windowsill.
Get the picture?
My thought was exactly that - I wanted to get some pictures, thinking of how much Lileks would get a kick out of seeing this place. Then I realize I didn't bring my camera. The gift shop (oddly) didn't sell any kind of cheap or disposable camera . So I start asking family members if they have brought theirs. Mom had hers, but it was without film, and she had already found that the gift shop didn't sell that kind of film either. My aunt was carrying my grandmother's polaroid camera, but we discovered it was broken, as was my cousin's small digital camera. Finally, everyone arrived, and we took our seats in the restaurant, but I woke up before we even got to order.
When I awoke, my first thought was one of disappointment that I didn't get any photos of the place for Lileks...