I felt a few words on the Thanksgiving holiday were in order. Instead I defer to these words of Abraham Lincoln from 1863.
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied, enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all of these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray clemency and forgiveness upon us.”
I pray you have a very blessed Thanksgiving full of family, friends and reflection.
After nearly a month of obsessive planning, evaluating motel options on trip advisor http://www.tripadvisor.com/ and generally driving my wife crazy we loaded up the rented mini van Friday evening after work and headed for the hills (Burbank). Even with an hours advantage as a result of the time change it seemed a better option than trying to drive 365 miles and find an address in a town I was unfamiliar with all before 10:00 AM.
Rolling along I40, longing for the solitude of Route 66 under starlit desert skies, we made good time and pulled into Hesperia around 9:30 PM. To a large degree this was the result of light traffic with the exception of the leg from Barstow south.
The following morning after a light breakfast at the motel we saddled up and rolled up the Cajon Pass along with what seemed like half the population of Arizona. For a man who felt Kingman was getting to big when the fifth stop light was installed and who will make a detour of one hundred miles to avoid the congestion of Phoenix this wasn’t a relaxing drive.
Still, I fully realize we were quite blessed. The traffic flow allowed for a consistent speed without a great deal of crowding, the weather was delightful and the sky was a light brown with hint of blue.
The Magnolia Boulevard shopping district was a surprising delight. There was an overwhelming sense this was Main Street in Anytown USA circa 1960.
For years the store has been a Saturday destination for the area car crowd. Pastries courtesy of Porto’s Bakery http://www.portosbakery.com/ , fresh ground coffee, books and cars make for a great morning no matter how you slice it.
The store is a delightful throw back to an earlier, more relaxed time. The inventory is nothing short of stunning with the latest aero and automotive titles, a wide array of magazines and all manner of repair and how to guides intermingled with original materials such as a repair guide to B24 hydraulics, vintage highway maps, and an owners manual for a 1938 Cord.
It was the best possible way in the world to launch into book promotion via formal signings. Suffice to say the owners were wonderful and I would say that even if they hadn’t bought us a delightful bar-b-que sandwich lunch. The customers were fascinating and I was awarded a near constant parade of automotive history from quality street rods to vintage Jaguars, Corvairs and even vehicles customized by those who truly marched to the tune of a different drummer.
All good things must come to an end so at 2:00 PM we began packing our gear, said our goodbyes and set out for Santa Monica. For weeks my answer to every upset and frustration was, “I don’t care because I am taking my wife to the beach!” Eventually this became a running joke.
Well, the time had come to make that mantra a reality. We battled the traffic on the drive south, hit Santa Monica Blvd. (Route 66) and found our motel.
After checking in we made the one mile drive to the end of the road (Route 66) and headed south to historic Santa Monica Pier, the west coast answer to Conney Island, hoping to catch the sunset. http://www.santamonicapier.org/
Again we were blessed as the crowds were relatively light and we easily found parking near the pier ($7.00) At this point we discovered we had left the camera in the motel room.
So we held hands, listened to the pounding of the surf, watched the sun sink in the west in an orange blaze of glory, and the colorful lights of the attractions on the pier reflect on the dark waters. Play the hand your dealt and smile, rule one for maintaining sanity, enjoying life, and avoiding premature death via hypertension.
Next we walked the pier, bought a disposable camera (pictures coming soon), and savored the vitality and atmosphere. I quietly thanked the good Lord for the many blessings enjoyed that day but most of all for being able to share them with my best friend. All things considered it was a near perfect end to a near perfect day. The next morning we tried the Ihop next door and watched the traffic roll along Santa Monica Blvd. (Route 66) in the early morning fog. Stuffed with good food and coffee we headed south for El Segundo and the Automobile Driving Museum, our next destination.
I decided to try Highway 1 in the hope of catching a little more beach time and another opportunity to stroll the sands with my lovely bride. The well laid plans of mice and man.
Well we finally found a quiet spot in the shadow of a power plant in El Segundo (parking $7.00). The skies were gray but we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves so in my world it was sunny. Perhaps that was the result of my wife’s smile.
Love cars or hate them the Automobile Driving Museum http://www.automobiledrivingmuseum.org/ is a must see attraction. Moreover, if you have a passion for all things automotive this museum has to be listed among the top five attractions in the nation.
More than 100 automobiles, some rare, all unique, mingled among interesting gadgets such as an accessory 1915 turn signal device are merely the frosting. The cake is on Sunday, based on a rotating schedule, the cars are driven and rides are given providing unique opportunities to experience automotive history in a tangible way. The most valuable and most rare (a Fraser four door convertible, a Plymouth bodied as a town car by Brewster for Eleanor Roosevelt and a V16 Stutz to name a few) are under glass in a setting reminiscent of a 1930s showroom.
After a couple of hours with many questions still unanswered and many things yet to see we bid adios to the wonderful staff and set our sites on home.
Again we were blessed with “light” traffic that allowed for near constant speeds of seventy and the feeling we were trapped on a never ending race track/demolition derby course.
With the deadline of beating the closing time at the Barstow Harvey House Route 66 Museum we held the speed and resisted the urge to take to the road less traveled, Route 66. By the time we made Victorville we were ahead of schedule and succumbed to temptation.
The Harvey House in Barstow is a rare and forlorn gem. Isolated from the rest of the town when main street was relocated to make room for the rail yard it was lovingly refurbished but remains empty with the exception of two excellent museums, one preserving the communities rich rrailroad history and the second its association with Route 66. http://www.route66museum.org/
After signing books we found a good cafe for dinner and fueled the van for the trip home. There is much to see in Barstow pertaining to Route 66 including a series of first rate murals. With that said I can’t really recommend an extended stay in Barstow and would go so far as to say be careful, especially after dark.
The plan was to take Route 66 through Amboy and catch a few good sunset shots along the highway. Time ran out and the best, and only, thing photographed was this unique structure in Dagget.
A sense of impending exhaustion led us to decide at Ludlow that it would be best if we hit I40, set the cruise at 75, cranked the tunes and rolled east.
Suffice to say it was a good, profitable, fun, blessed and enjoyable weekend. The kind that makes you glad to be home and look forward to the next grand adventure.
What do these two photos have in common? The answer in a moment but first these news updates.
This past weekend was of the type the word idylic was created to describe. The weather hovered around eighty degrees with a slight breeze. A great deal of satisfying work was accomplished. There was ample time for spending with family and I had time to read a bit; a couple of chapters from a book on how to market what you write and a few chapters from the book of Acts. Once again the common thread that tied it all together was Route 66.
The weather was so stunning on Saturday morning it was with extreme difficulty that I left the bicycle parked and fired up old Barney the wonder truck for the drive to work. However, as I needed to move towing equipment around the yard and had a small herd of errands to run after work there was really no other option.
Play the hand your dealt and smile, that is my moto. So, I enjoyed driving old Barney down Route 66 with my AM radio blasting out the best of talk radio.
Work went surprsingly smooth, Barney earned his keep by dragging trailers and tow dollies from the desert into the yard and time flew by.
After work it was a quick lunch with my dearest friend and then a short drive down Route 66 and up Highway 93 to Fort Beale where I met Joe Powsky, a local artist that specializes in native American murals. The Route 66 Association of Kingman is initiating a mural project and this was to be project one; a mural depecting Haulapai history near Fort Beale, site of the first Haulapai Indian reservation.
Next, I finished the editing of a feature profiling the first generation Hudson Super Six for my Independent Thinker column. This will run in the March issue of Cars & Parts. http://www.carsandparts.com/
The rest of the day was spent compiling a list of projects for Monday, a quiet dinner with my deaerst friend followed by a pleasant evening of conversation, another installment in the Soprano chronicles, and a little reading.
Sunday morning dawned with a promise of even nicer weather. To celebrate I cooked some eggs, made some toast with strawberry preserves, caught up on some correspondence and delved into the travels of Paul as outlined in the book of Acts.
My son arrived at our door mid morning with a request for assistance in picking up a washing machine. To expedite the task we drove to the office, on Route 66, and picked up a small truck with lift gate.
On the way to his house we made a couple of detours, one to the swap meet on Route 66 and the other to the gun show at the fairgrounds. I love gun shows, there is a touch of the old southwest that is fondly remembered everytime I attend.
After installing the washing machine we made a few repairs to his Saturn, grabbed a bag of burgers from the local In & Out, and settled in for a quick lunch. My dear grandaughter seems to be a chip off the old block – Kicks, the top bun from a hamburger, milk, a bite or two of onions, a couple of chews on a pickle, and a bit of apple sauce sufficed for her lunch.
I received a call from Penske SOS regarding a down trailer so once again Barney and I, with my wife as moral support and good company, took to Route 66. Again Barney was put to work but the task was a short one and soon we were on our way home.
The remainder of the day I spent on a long walk with my friend, reading, and laughing at old Steve Martin clips on You Tube. Our favorite has to be his video to the tune of El Paso.
Monday was a whirlwind of activity. I returned a book on Hudson history to an interesting collector of everything and anything that will be the topic of discussion for another day, took care of the odds and ends that needed attention at mother’s house, completed an interview with a Sedona radio station, ran a few errands with my dear wife, bought a cherry ginger ale, and settled into the task of taking another step towards being a writer.
I have come to the conclusion a succesful writer is someone who derives their entire income from the written word and still can afford to eat at least once a day!
As the sun sank in the west I was able to enjoy a good but simple dinner with a sense of satisfaction. For my efforts I have four more book signings ( the schedule is posted in the top left column) and at least one more interview. New press releases are about ready, everything is ready for the trip to Burbank (http://www.autobooks-aerobooks.com/ ) and several new projects are on the horizon including a possible series of ghost town features for True West. http://www.twmag.com/
It is weekends such as these that lend promise to the future, place a smile on the face, and quicken the spirit.
Now as to what the two photos have in common. One is of a landmark that looms above Route 66 on the crest of El Travatore Hill and the other is of Fig Springs station on Route 66 in the valley to the east of the Black Mountains.
Sorry for the tease but that’s it. They are both sites on Route 66.
www.route66news.com, November 12, 2008 (vpm unkown) Jim Hinckley’s gorgeous new book, “Route 66 Backroads” (Voyageur, 208 pages, $24.99), is a guide to more than 40 side trips that use historic Route 66 as a jumping-off point….It should be noted that Hinckley gets equal billing with photographers Kerrick James, Rick Bowers and Nora Mays Bowers. This is appropriate, because “Route 66 Backroads” is the best-looking road book since Michael Wallis and Michael S. Williamson’s “The Lincoln Highway.” The volume is loaded with stunning images, especially the Arizona chapter with its photographs of the Grand Canyon, a rainbow in the Painted Desert, Wukoki Ruin in the Wupatki National Monument, and Havasu Falls….Because of the book’s format, Hinckley’s text may seem lean at times. But one gets the sense he doesn’t want to reveal too much — those side trips should be more fully discovered by the readers themselves…Also, it’s wise that Hinckley gets out of the way of the book’s photography. An well-framed image will do as much to sell an unfamiliar destination as anything. Recommended (especially for wanderlust roadies).
http://route66chronicles.blogspot.com, September 29, 2008 “As the release date for the highly anticipated Route 66 Backroads fast approaches it seemed a good idea to provide a sneak peak, a preview of forthcoming attractions if you will. Courtesy of Voyageur Press here is the introduction to the Route 66 guide with a twist.”
Kingman Daily Miner October 17, 2008 (circ.: 8,900) “Discover a 66 you thought you knew ~ In 1950, a billboard on the border of Arizona and New Mexico proclaimed the wonders awaiting discovery along Route 66 on the journey west. It also teased the traveler with hints of the many attractions found just north or south of that highway. The book is available at local bookstores or online.”
http://www.postcardsfromtheroad.net/afton.shtml “I received a copy of Jim Hinckley’s book today. I haven’t been able to spend much time on it yet, but it certainly looks like a beautifully photographed, informational, and interesting book. I can’t wait to sit down and read every page.”
Ironworks, November 2008 (circ.: 53,150) Listed in IW Reference Shelf: “Find hidden gems along the way, Chicago to LA.”
AM Arizona – KAZ-TV, November 3, 2008, Author on air interview
11/22 Autobooks, Burbank, CA 12/13 Hastings Books, Music & Videos, Kingman, AZ 1/10/09 Mohave Museum of History & Arts, Kingman, AZ 1/17/09 Hastings Books, Music & Videos, Flagstaff, AZ 1/31/09 Hastings Books, Music & Videos, Lake Havasu City, AZ 5/2/09 Route 66 Fun Run, Route 66 Association of Arizona gift shop, Kingman, AZ
Print Jackson Citizen Patriot, November 2008 (circ.: 31,600) Route 66 Magazine, Nov/Dec., 2008 (circ.: 55,000) Esquire Magazine, Publication date unknown (circ.: 726,300)
That line from a classic work of literature may never have been as applicable as it is today. The tattered remnants of our once vibrant auto industry stand on the abyss, one step from joining the ranks of Hudson, DeSoto, and Studebaker in the dust bin of history.
The flip side is an increasing fascination with vintage automobiles and experimentation with new technologies.
Folks are loosing their jobs and their homes. Folks are rediscovering lost arts of canning and the importance of family.
All of this reflection leads to thoughts on lost highways and their future in America. Will there be a place for them in the future? Will there still be the romanticism for these lonely stretches of asphalt?
Well, we have Neil Young converting a vintage Lincoln into an alternative energy/hybrid. We have the automobile driving museum that has the attention of a demographic from nine to ninety. http://www.automobiledrivingmuseum.org/
Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway have become larger than life icons. Can you imagine America without the Oregon Trail, the Osage Trail or the Post Road?
In spite of hard times, in spite of the storm looming on the horizon take a breather. Rediscover the back roads in your neighborhoods. Perhaps a refresher course in what is so special about America will change the perspective, perhaps on your return you will be amazed to find the glass half full instead of half of half empty.