Two Artists Take a Road Trip to Portray the Beauty of the West

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James and Barbara Cowlin will be driving the slow road, US Route 89, between Canada and Mexico this spring. The purpose of their road trip is to make photographs and paintings of the majestic scenery of the West. They will also be bringing attention to the places in between the national parks and big cities. Called the Life’s So Fine On Route 89 One Month Mexico to Canada and Back Road Trip, fellow members of the slow road movement are sponsoring the trip.

Barbara and James Cowlin

Just because a small town is bypassed by the Interstate highway that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.

James and Barbara Cowlin will be driving the slow road, US Route 89, between Canada and Mexico this spring. The purpose of their road trip is to make photographs and paintings of the majestic scenery of the West. They will also be bringing attention to the places in between the national parks and big cities. Called the Life’s So Fine On Route 89 One Month Mexico to Canada and Back Road Trip, fellow members of the slow road movement are sponsoring the trip.

James Cowlin exploration of US Route 89 started as a project to create a new portfolio of fine art photographs. It grew into a major undertaking and a way of life which soon captivated his wife, Barbara, a painter and printmaker. Now they hook up their teardrop trailer, and set out on a regular basis to drive the West’s most Western highway.

The Cowlin’s hope to convey the mystique of a driving vacation on America’s slow roads in general and US Route 89 in particular. As Barbara says. “Just because a small town is bypassed by the Interstate highway that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting.” They are working to change our thinking about vacations from destination-oriented travel to appreciating the journey as an end in itself. By doing so, they also hope to contribute to the revitalization of communities along the way.

During their road trips on US Route 89, the Cowlin’s have had many memorable encounters and found unusual sights. One morning while having breakfast at the Old Town Café in Cottonwood, Arizona, they heard some surprising music. Going outside they were met with the sight of a man giving an impromptu concert on a twelve-foot long Alpine horn.

A small poster in Gunnison, Utah, lead them to the Sanpitch dragon, a tile mosaic in an underpass on highway 89. Not only is the dragon beautiful, but it seems to roar when vehicles pass overhead.

A mural of a dinosaur on the side of an old church building in Bynum, Montana, prompted them to stop and investigate. Inside they found a world renowned gem and mineral shop presided over by 95-year-old Marion Brandvold. She told them the story of her discovery of a dinosaur nest that caused paleontologists to revise their concept of dinosaur society.

None of these experiences would have been possible if they had been speeding along the Interstate focused on a destination and not the journey.

The Cowlin’s are inviting the public to participate in their adventure by sponsoring a section of their upcoming one month road trip which begins on May 17th. Sponsors can select from a list of road guides on the US Route 89 website or one of the twenty National Parks and Monuments along 89. A sponsor could also pick a few miles and contribute a dollar a mile.

Detailed information and a sign up form are available on the 2010 Road Trip Sponsorship page on the US Route 89 website. All sponsors will be recognized on the website and receive special rewards for their contribution during and after the trip. Supporters can contribute $100 for one of 19 uniques sections of highway 89 or one of the 20 national parks and monuments or they can select a smaller section for $1 per mile.

James and Barbara Cowlin are optimistic that the time is right for the slow road movement to grab the imagination of the traveling public. Just as the slow food movement has changed the way people think about what, how and why they eat, the slow road movement will bring about a new attitude in vacation planning. With the help of fellow adventurers, real and virtual, members of the US Route 89 Appreciation Society are working together to build a new kind of road trip. Slowing down and enjoying the ride becomes a vacation rich in new possibilities.

The US Route 89 Appreciation Society is a resource for planning a western road trip vacation and a place for sharing stories and photographs of this unique highway. It is part of the “slow road” movement that encourages travel on the two-lane roads that lead to the heart and soul of America. For more information, visit http://us89society.org/. Media Contact: James Cowlin, 602-944-3286, jim(at)us89society(dot)org.

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