First, the updates. We are looking forward to another opportunity for savoring the pine scented breezes in Williams and Flagstaff, as well as to cruise old US 66. This time it will be for a book signing at Barnes & Noble in Flagstaff on the afternoon of September 12, the same weekend as the Route 66 Days festival.
Hopefully, on the return trip we can again let loose the explorer in us and follow the back roads from Flagstaff to Williams. This photo was taken on our last excursion into that pine forested wonderland.
The cash for clunker program continues. I do not know which amazes me more, the folks who dreamed this nightmare up or those who sincerely believe that this is a good use of tax payer monies.
My how times have changed. Today our old Jeep, photographed here, is a clunker. When I was growing up a clunker was a vehicle that was one step away from being condemned for safety violations or as an eye sore.
My first truck was a clunker. It was a very battered and well worn 1942 Chevy half ton. There were so many dents they overlapped. Using the word “patina” to describe the current condition of the Titanic would be almost equal to saying my truck was rusty.
The rear half of the back fenders were non existent. The door latches had worn out and been replaced with screen door slide bolts. There was no back window.
I used four rolls of electrical tape to repair shorts in the system. It had a self changing oil system – what didn’t leak out came from the tail pipe in the form of blue smoke when I shifted.
When I purchased the truck the first order of business was eviction of the field mice colony living in the seat. The second order of business was replacing brake lines, wheel cylinders, and a master cylinder.
Surprisingly this old clunker survived the tribulations of a teenager driver, a teenage driver obsessed with exploring old roads into the desert I might add, for more than a year. A stupid mistake that resulted in the truck turning its wheels toward the sky before sliding into a rock pile ended its illustrious career.
With that said I find it hard to imagine a vehicle with a finish reflective enough to shave in and that delivers durable transportation in all manner of conditions is a clunker. However, in modern terminology that is the case as evidenced by the number of similar vehicles being marked for destruction through the cash for clunker program.
I am a bit behind on the “auto industry and the Great Depression” series. Rest assured we will pick up that topic again this weekend.
Now, a quick peek into the crystal ball to see what the future holds for Kingman. Well, this Saturday evening there is the Chillin’ on Beale Street event which for the first time will include a farmers market. I am curious about the car show end of the event as this is also the weekend for a big event in Williams.
In September, we have the street drags. This year that will be followed with a mammoth block party.
That is some pretty easy fortune telling. Now, let me share what I envision for Kingman if, and I say IF, the ball is not again dropped.
A series of massive, state of the art solar powered generation stations transform the desert near the dry bed of Red Lake north of town. This provides the community with electricity at reasonable cost which in turns fuels residential and light industry growth in the area.
Route 66 finally becomes the centerpiece of the community. Vintage neon again glows brightly, a beautiful museum complex details the contributions made by the community during World War II and stands as a monument to the men and women who served at the Kingman Army Airfield during those tumultuous years.
An automotive driving museum similar to the one in El Segundo, California, a stylish elevated walkway from the Power House to Locomotive Park, and colorful murals make this corner of Kingman the crown jewel. Just to the east the old depot now serves its original purpose as well as serves as a repository for more than a century of railroad history. Excellent regional dishes are served in the gleaming, vintage dining car outside on a spur line.
This all may seem like a pipe dream but in actuality it is a very obtainable goal. So, for the folks in Kingman I challenge you to dream big.
Meanwhile, my dearest friend and I continue to lay plans for the Route 66 adventure in October (research – ghost towns of Route 66) and the January insanity tour (the Adventure Expo in Chicago). We are also finalizing plans to produce and market the next prints in the icons of Route 66 and ghost town series.
The Gilcee printing process is not cheap but the results are astounding. Judging by initial sales and interest, notes from the owner of the Lile Fine Art Gallery in Amarillo that currently handles the prints, and inquiries received other agree.
Last but not least are loose, very loose ideas that are now well on the way to morphing into plans
for an epic adventure. We are giving serious thoughts about trying the Juneau, as in Alaska, area for a year or so.
We love Kingman. It is the closest thing I have to a home town and my wife has family roots here that stretch back several generations.
Still, the clock is ticking and there are some places we need to experience. Besides, what good is a mid life crisis unless you savor it with a friend?
Another idea simmering on the back burner is to try the Silver City, New Mexico area. I lived here for a short time as a kid, kicked off my John Wayne period where I played cowboy here, and learned I did not want to work underground in the mines here.
For endless outdoor and wilderness opportunities in a relatively mild climate I know of no better place and we now have a Jeep, a clunker, for our explorations. Our last trip to Silver City and the Gila Wilderness a couple of years ago reignited my passion for this amazing corner of paradise.
Well, time will tell. In the mean time …

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