My dearest friend and I were out for a stroll through the deep canyons to the east of the White Cliffs Wagon Road when the odd thought came to mind that my world is currently suspended in limbo. This photo of the Hackberry General Store, part of the cover collage for my last book, Route 66 Backroads, seems to have cemented that thought.
I was doing a bit of organizing, a wonderful way to spend time suspended in limbo, when this photo caught my attention. In the weeks following the day I took this photograph it seemed as though there wasn’t time to spit or pay attention. Now…
The next book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, is approved but is on hold pending final contract. Release for Ghost Towns of the Southwest has been bumped from fall of this year to spring 2010 which in turn means the final edit is hanging over my head.
I am quite excited about the next two scheduled signings but both are almost a month away. Again, limbo.
The project to restore the vintage Packard sign and rehang it on the front of the historic Old Trails Garage along Route 66 is ready to go. The city is on board, the estimate has been approved, the owner is ready, but … Now begins the process of raising the funds for a matching grant.
It seems as though there are fifty projects all suspended in time for one reason or another – planting the garden and getting Barney ready for summer, painting the house and the summer moving season, our first exhibit of photos at a gallery and the Route 66 Fun Run.
Well, the good book says to rejoice in all things and that is really what I should be doing. This a time for reflection, for gathering thoughts, and enjoying a good book or two. This is the time for thanksgiving as I am truly blessed.
Perhaps that is the very reason for this season of limbo, another lesson in the importance of taking the time for being thankful, for counting blessings rather than problems, and for savoring the simple pleasures of each day. Perhaps a step back for reflection, for enjoying the companionship of my dearest friend, and another opportunity to cruise Route 66 under a desert sky rather than worry about the next book, the future of my job, taxes, or even the bleak economic outlook of the coming year is just what the doctor ordered.
I would chalk it up to spring fever if it were not for that fact that my ability to drop even the most important things at the drop of the hat for an opportunity to take to the open road have been a part of my life for at least forty years. Quirks such as these are not to be over analyzed. That just gives one a headache and hinders the ability to savor the adventure, the voyage into the unknown that quickens the pulse. One of the great blessings in my life is I have a wonderful wife who suffers from the addiction of the open road as well. Needless to say this can make things quite interesting. Last Sunday presents an excellent case study. It was a quiet, relaxing day with no deadlines, no commitment and no pressures. About 1:00 in the afternoon my wife informs me that she has a crazy idea. Of course, I respond by informing her that there is no such thing. With that said we were soon on the road to Williams, 115 miles to the east, for dinner. Usually our adventures east or west begin with Route 66 but as I needed to be home by around 7:00 and there was a fierce storm due in that evening we chose I40, a sacrilege to the most ardent fan of the old double 6. It was truly a grand adventure. On the long grade east of Ashfork we passed a pair of vintage Mercury sedans, a 1950 and a 1951. The storm clouds building over the mountains presented an ever changing panorama of ominous shadowing and the goldne oldies station set the mood. Our arrival in Williams was met with blowing sleet and temperatures about twenty degrees lower than home. This just added to the feel we were really on an adventure and fueled our appreciation for the coffee at the Pine Country Restaurant. Dinner, as always, was good. It was a near perfect blend of appetite sharpened by the cold mountain area and the adventure, a meal shared with a dear friend, and good food. Restored and invigorated I again turned my attention to the website (www.route66infocenter.com) on our return. Still, I must confess, my mind was not fully engaged on creating a one stop site for those who also are addicted to adventures on Route 66 and other orphan highways. In the back of my mind thoughts of the next grand adventure and the ones that await us as we begin work on the next book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, were gathering with the intensity of storm clouds over the Black Mountains on a summer afternoon.
In the past few years it has become a tradition for Martin Swanty Chrysler on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, to host a free lunch for the participants of Mopars on the Strip in Las Vegas as they roll through town from the south and east. Last year I was amazed by the diversity, the rare cars that were on display. This year I was overwhelmed.
There were Superbirds and hemi powered ‘Cuda convertibles, vintage Dodge trucks and station wagons, customs and antiques. The final tally was an astounding 115 vehicles!
I grew up in the era of the muscle car and worked on a used car lot during the age they had fallen from grace. Once we removed the spoiler and front nose from a Superbird just so we could sell it!
I appreciate any vintage vehicle that has been restored or that is a survivor. That appreciation doubles when the car is in its native habitat, on the road, and not a trailer queen.
Still, I am not a real fan of the muscle car and will never understand why a Superbird or Road Runner brings a higher resale price than an Airflow or letter series 300. The bottom line is this gathering of vintage Mopars really was amazing for its diversity, for the fact so many extremely valuable and rare cars were being driven long distances, and for the attention to detail some owners had given these cars during the restoration process.
As a judge I had a great deal of trouble picking just one car for best of show. I am partial to trucks and the meticulous attention to detail given to the restoration of a one owner 1966 Dodge truck really grabbed my attention.
Station wagons are another weakness. Here too there were some outstanding examples of Mopars finest from the 1960s and early 1970s.
Finally, I settled on the 1958 Chrysler 300. This car was gorgeous and rare. This car was on the road for the first time in 20 years and had been driven 300 miles without a hitch. This is one of those rare cars that looks as good on the road cruising at 80 miles per hour as it does parked.
It would seem I was not along in my selection. Nine of the ten judges chose this car as best of show, an honor for which the owner was bestowed a certificate and a $150 gift certificate at the Martin Swanty Chrysler parts center.
To tide me over until the return of the Mopars next spring I have the Route 66 Fun Run in May, the cars that cruise Route 66 throughout the spring and summer, the car show and street drags in September, and the big Halloween gathering in historic downtown Kingman.
For more than sixty years traffic has ebbed and flowed along Route 66 in front of the window of this service station. Packard’s and Fords, Studebaker’s and Edsel’s all filled their tanks here before rolling east or west on US 66.
For more than a half century weary travelers and locals alike sipped their morning coffee, watched the shadows creep across the flanks of the Hualapai Mountains as the sun rose in the east, and guests at the Siesta motel across the highway prepare for another day on the road.
By this time next week that era will be little more than a memory. An entire block of Route 66 landmarks will be swept from the stage. Only faded photos, vintage post cards such as this one on loan from Route 66 enthusiast Mike Ward, and the old signs will remain to mark its passing.
In addition to the City Cafe and this vintage Texaco station, a small warehouse to the west and the Imperial Motel, an establishment that has met the needs of Route 66 travelers for more than forty five years, will also vanish. In their place will rise a new Walgreen’s and the face of Route 66 will forever be altered.
A special thanks needs to be given to Lewis Construction, the demolition company handling the project, Walgreen’s, and the efforts of the Route 66 Association of Kingman. With their combined efforts the City Cafe and Imperial Motel will be memorialized by more than post cards and faded photographs.
The signs for both establishments will be restored and take their place with other historic signs in the forthcoming neon, outdoor museum planned for the Kingman historic district. For more detail please click on either the photographs or post cards.
On the “to do” list today was photograph a 1929 De Soto that was for sale. I was told the car was rough but complete.
Well, this is what I found. A rough but fairly complete and largely original 1929 De Soto sedan that is drivable in the sense that it will start and move under its own power as well as stop.
Here is the amazing part of this story. The car was donated to a local charity as part of an estate settlement.
The two fellows sent to recover it in Golden Valley, a small community about twenty miles from Kingman on the other side of a steep mountain pass, were told the car was drivable. What they weren’t told is that the car had not been driven in about a decade so they brought a new six volt battery, as requested, a few tools, and some gas.
They poured some gas into the tank and carb. Then they checked the oil and installed the battery. They then drove it to a nearby station to air up a low tire and proceeded to Kingman!
The car is in need of a full restoration but most everything seems to be with the car and there are even numerous spare parts including another dash. The chrome is excellent.
The left front fender is rusted through at the running board and there is a silver dollar size hole cut near the top of the crown. The rest of the body seems to be straight and rust free. I am unsure if the headlights are original or if just the lenses have been replaced as they have Ford script.
The charity is listing the car at a non negotiable price of $3,500. For more information contact Bernie at 928-718-9011.