BARSTOW • A short white brick wall along the Route 66 Motel was once a trouble spot for owner Ved Shandil.
After constant repainting was required due to graffiti, Shandil said the idea came to him to have a mural painted.
"To me it (sticks out like) a sore thumb, the wall," Shandil said. "When you come from east going west you can see the wall pretty good so I thought well, it's a good advertisement."
He said a small black and white graphic map of Route 66 was inspiration for the much larger, more colorful depiction connecting the eight individual states of the route with icons from each. The text on the mural reads "Get your Kicks on Route 66" and "Mainstreet of America!"
Local freelance artist Kim Capp said she's been working on the mural for more than a month. Capp has also painted local murals at the Mexican Restaurant Platas and a hill off Highway 58. She said she is not affiliated with the nonprofit Main Street Murals, which is responsible for the gallery of historical murals around town.
Right now Shandil said business at the motel is slow but he frequently gets international guests. Inside his tiny square check-in office where the walls are lined with license plates and various Route 66 memorabilia, he pulled out two large books filled with notes, signatures and small bills and coins from countries like Russia and Germany that tell their stories. He excitedly shared that just two weeks ago a family of four from Mongolia stayed for a night.
"We'd like to see a little more tourism here," he said. "If we get 10 (guests) we think we've gone to heaven."
The mural is one part of a few aesthetic changes he has made to draw in more tourists. About 10 years ago he also purchased circle-shaped beds which he thoroughly advertises on his street sign and online. The business also recently completed installing a new roof and has plans for Capp to paint small murals in each of the rooms.
Shandil said he helped co-found the Barstow Route 66 "Mother Road" Museum connected to the historic Harvey House Railroad Depot after many visitors inquired if the motel was a museum. If his social security number is any indicator, Shandil may have been destined to be connected with the iconic highway.
"The middle part is 66," he said.