First, old business. This photo of the Hackberry General Store may be recognized as the one from the cover of Route 66 Backroads.
It now has a second purpose.
An oversize signed print of this photo, as well as a limited edition, publisher issued post card of the books cover, have been custom framed and matted. This one of a kind Route 66 souvenir, as well as an autographed first edition of Route 66 Backroads is the prize for a fund raising silent auction hosted by the Route 66 Association of Kingman.
The last bids will be accepted on May 26, 2009. The proceeds will go towards the organizations efforts to “light the way” on Route 66 with restoration and placement of vintage neon signs. A Packard sales and service sign is the first chose for restoration. For more information or to place a bid contact the associations president at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, new business. In the morning we will be breakfasting with Dries Bessel from Amsterdam, his wife, and a few traveling companions. We have been corresponding via email for quite some time and it will be nice to finally meet.
As with so many who seek the wonders of the legendary double six he and his companions are motoring west on motorcycles built by Harley Davidson. Recent polls merely serve to verify what has been observed from my perch here on Route 66, Harley Davidson is the number one choice for travelers on this legendary highway.
In this we are not alone. It would seem these motorcycles are also fast becoming the primary choice for those touring the historic Lincoln Highway as well.
I truly enjoy the open air feel of riding a bicycle. However, motorcycles have never grabbed my interest enough to motivate learning how to ride one. Perhaps the noise often associated with the motorcycle has been a deterrent as one reason I ride a bicycle is to savor the sounds of the road and neighborhoods through which I pass.
At some point in life I will have to give it a whirl. Maybe I can pencil in “buy a vintage Harley or Indian and tour the country” as a goal for the 90th birthday. Number 89 is already taken up with sky diving.
In an odd turn of events that seem to happen rather often here on Route 66 a fascinating gentleman stopped in the office to rent a car for a quick trip to Las Vegas. He is fulfilling a long term goal of riding a bicycle across the United States via Route 66.
As it turns out he is Dutch and has also been involved with an email correspondence with Dries Bessel. So, now he has decided to cut his Las Vegas trip in order to join us for breakfast!
Events such as these as well as a recent series on ABC about Route 66 coupled to a conversation with a friend sparked an interesting train of thought. The ABC program focused on what was gone, my friend laments what it has become. Both perspectives are right but are really only a small part of the larger picture.
Route 66 as a main artery of commerce is dead. What it symbolizes, the non generic, the quirky, the perception of a simpler, easier time, is alive and well.
As with anything, when it comes to Route 66 there are those that cross the line from passion to obsession. Both are needed if life is to be breathed back into something that is dead.
I love the old ghost towns of the southwest. I wish they could be preserved in an arrested state of decay. Then, however, they would have all of the excitement of a mummy.
It is the art galleries that have replaced brothels and the coffee shops that have replaced assay offices which keep these old towns alive. Likewise with Route 66.
As the ABC program noted much has vanished along Route 66. Still, it is a passionate few, and eccentric few that have transformed an abandoned highway into an internationally recognized icon. Just as when this was the Main Street of America it is the quirky, the different, the unique, and the mom and pop shops that give the highway life, flavor and vibrancy.
My hope and dream is that other forgotten highways will soon be rediscovered. More importantly is the hope that, as along Route 66, the empty places along those highways will become more than photogenic relics and that they will be given a new lease on life.