Its odd where the twists and turns of life lead, especially here in the electronic age where the tangled web of the Internet can transform a good old boy from the back woods of Arizona into a celebrity of sorts in France or even Japan. Take this photo of me in front of the murals at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts in Kingman, Arizona.
The photo was part of a series taken when I first received the Olympus camera. I was playing with the timer and various settings when this back drop gave me the idea of fulfilling the request for a shot to be used in some press releases.
Fast forward a little more than a year. I have met folks in Williams and Prescott, Arizona, that knew me from this photo. Some of these fine folks were on vacation, one was from New Zealand.
I have had people look me up as they roll through Kingman to ask where the photo was taken as they are interested in the mural behind me. The last request was from a couple that resided in Fiji!
Now, I suppose tying this odd, dark title with this rambling train of thought is warranted. Well, simply put that was the best way to describe my mood this afternoon, a mood influenced by thoughts of Route 66, its many faces, and a late lunch.
To my rear is the path already traveled, a long and not always pleasant journey through self induced misery, unmerited grace and favor, and a multitude of blessings that leave me with the impression that for a man of such high mileage I am very, very fortunate. Just ahead, somewhere just below the horizon but still far enough away to be obscured by the haze of distance, is a couple of forks in the road.
One leads to that place where I derive all, or at least the majority, of our income from writing and photography. That one hints of excitement but I am sure it is a rather unnerving path filled with uncertainty. Still, it is the one I have been seeking for some time now.
The other looks much smoother than most of the one that lies behind me. In fact it looks a lot like the one I am traveling now.
Regardless of chosen path, the margin for error in decisions made is now very, very narrow. Another issue is the thought of climbing some of those steep hills on the road less traveled now that I am well past the half way point in this journey called life on planet earth causes me to hesitate every once and awhile.
I know that somewhere out there these roads will converge. The question is which one do I take first and what adventures await as I skirt the abyss that is creeping age.
If this seems a bit gloomy I apologize. Life is good – if we choose to look beyond the pain, strive to leave this place a little better than when we got here, laugh more often than we cry, and think of others more than we think of ourselves.
As noted all of this meditation was sparked by the two faces of Route 66 here in western Arizona. The post 1953 alignment through Yucca, now largely erased by I40, is the path of least resistance. This is the route of same old, same old, business as usual, don’t rock the boat, set the cruise control and enjoy the ride.
The pre 1953 alignment that snakes through the Black Mountains is fraught with dangerous twists and turns. Inattention can be disastrous. However, the reward is adventure, stunning views, and lots of opportunity for stopping to smell the roses.
The road through Yucca is working for the pay check and hoping the pay checks don’t stop flowing. The price paid for this “security” is boredom at best and in the worst case scenario, golden years spent as a greeter at Walmart.
The road through Oatman is an uncertain one but at least there is the possibility of adventure. At least there is that rare opportunity for making the last half of this show much, much better then the first and leaving a little something behind besides paycheck stubs.
In either case the decision as to which road to take is still miles ahead. I have just cleared Truxton Canyon and that long stretch across the Hualapai Valley is just ahead.

Written by jimhinckleysamerica

Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.

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