Where do you begin when the time is short and the subjects run the gamut from Kingman tourism, from the legendary GTO to ghost towns, from Route 66 to Harley Davidson motorcycles? Lets start with Harley Davidson. Several years ago the company wisely began linking the legendary motorcycle with iconic Route 66 in its advertising. Now, a new promotional campaign expands on that theme but this is only one example of the international appeal of Route 66 as evidenced by the wide array of companies looking to promote their products by utilizing the most famous highway in America. I recently read an article pertaining to marketing and it was stated that of the top five locations used as backdrops for advertising campaigns three were on Route 66. In fact, the number two location was Roy’s Cafe in Amboy and this was for products being marketed throughout the world.
This leads me to the second topic, destination Kingman. After decades of false starts and even a few successes such as the refurbishment of the old power house into a world class attraction and the Route 66 Fun Run, it appears that efforts to transform Kingman from a stop into a destination are well underway.
With the Kingman Route 66 Association as ring leader, a number of diverse groups and entities are being brought together to pool resources and avoid duplicated efforts that waste precious resources of time and money. As an example consider this past Saturday; the Kingman Area Books Are magic Festival filled shade dappled Metcalf Park with authors, artists and music, Martin Swanty Chrysler provided trucks to pull the trams donated by the Kingman Army Airfield Museum and other groups providing transportation to the Kingman Downtown Merchants Spring Fair with the Beale Street Brews & Gallery, and the Bob Waldmire Memorial exhibit as the center piece. That evening the vendors from the spring fair were replaced by rows of vintage vehicles and garishly painted hot rods as the second Chillin’ on Beale Street unfolded. Visitors to Kingman are encouraged to escape the confines of the motel and unwind after a long day on the road by joining in on the festivities. To keep visitors informed, or to aid in their trip planning, a group, Destination Kingman, has been established on Facebook, and a calendar of events heads the opening page of Route 66 Info Center. Long delayed projects that are now on the fast track toward completion include restoration and refurbishment of the City Cafe sign and its placement in the parking lot at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. If all goes well the soft neon glow from this sign will again shine on Route 66 by the end of summer. On the new project front a radical and ambitious idea is being pitched to transform Andy Devine Avenue, from the Mohave Museum of History & Arts to a point half way up El Trovatore Hill, into a one way east bound corridor and Beale Street to Grandview at Metcalf park being converted to one way west bound lanes. The idea was sparked by the success Williams, Arizona has had in spurring revitalization of its historic business district. Another component in the effort to transform Kingman into a destination are promotion of its proximity to a number of fascinating and easily accessed ghost towns. In addition to Oatman and Chloride, two of the more famous locales, there is also Hackberry, a former frontier era mining boom town and service center for travelers on Route 66, and Cerbat, a former county seat nestled in a beautiful canyon. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrOn a personal note, I have tangible evidence that indicates the subjects of ghost towns are extremely popular. As noted previously, my most recent book, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, sold the first printing in less than sixty days! To put that in perspective, two previous titles sold the first printings in just under two years. Another title took five years to reach this milestone. My book delved into the towns found in Arizona and new Mexico, including those built by the Spanish as frontier outposts and Native American’s as trade centers. People associate the desert southwest with ghost towns, but how about Nebraska, the Midwest, or the northwesthttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0896585921&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr? With that lead in, I suggest you consider these titles if you are interested in ghost towns or travel to forgotten places not often considered vacation destinations. That segway takes to the next order of business. Several months ago I launched a series of limited edition, signed and numbered, prints on ghost towns of the southwest that are being sold through the Lile Fine Art Gallery in Amarillo. For the budget minded collector who is looking more for ambiance or color than investment potential, we have a new series of 11×14 inch prints, and note cards, profiling ghost towns as well as select Route 66 and southwestern sites that will be available after June 1. The prints retail for $19.95 and are also offered at wholesale prices in quantities of 12. A percentage of each sale will be donated to the Kingman Route 66 Association.
Here is an example. This photo is of an old mill in Cerbat. The next item of interest are books, in particular highly recommended titles for vintage automobile fans. Each of these books are more than shelf filler or color for the coffee table. The first is the definitive work on GTO. Through concise, well researched text, and museum quality photography the legendary “Goat”, the car that kicked the muscle car movement into high gear, David Holstrom and David Newhardt build a veritable shrine to one of America’s most famous post war http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033515X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrclassics. The next title on the list is for those who manifest their love for vintage automobiles with skinned knuckles and grease under the fingernails. This well written, easily understood, and heavily illustrated book on http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1932494960&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrMustang restoration is the latest in a long series of specific titles from this publisher. Each covers a particular model or skill such as body work. The last item of the day pertains to the forthcoming road trip. Final dates and arrangements are still pending but chances are there will be no posts for seven days. I do not have a lap top as of yet and still prefer the simple, hand written journal for road notes. I sell the blank journals, with a Route 66 themed cover, through our gift shop accessed via the link at the top of the post column. Among the items to be resolved are my sons schedule that will allow him to assume the role of guardian and caretaker of the homestead, a caregiver for mother, and Jeep repairs. I have decided to avoid reservations or a set schedule where applicable so that is a nonissue. This is to be a vacation, something that is not feasible when trying to keep a schedule. The exceptions will be for appearances, book signings, or to meet with friends along the way which will be listed on the schedule tab above. The target destination is Springfield in Missouri as we will have only seven days. The loose plan is Route 66 east with a return through Kansas to U.S. 56, south to Las Vegas, New Mexico, and then follow the pre 1937 alignment to Albuquerque. Again, dependant on promotional scheduling, we will allow the road to dictate which might mean we make it no further than Amarillo. See you on the road soon!
More often than not, history is taught in a manner that leaves the subject as dry as overcooked toast without butter, a three day insurance seminar, or a marathon reading of the latest IRS issued tax code. As a result, few enter adulthood with the faintest interest in the subject. In actuality history is a deeply fascinating topic. It is also key to the resolution of many problems we as a society face today. Without historical context how do you know these are the worst, or best, of times? As a featured author and speaker at the KABAM/Downtown Merchants Spring Fair this was the subject I addressed. It would seem I struck a chord, especially when broaching the topic of immigration and the recent law passed in Arizona. Did you know that it was immigration issues and the way they were addressed that toppled John Adams? Did you know that in the late 1870s the subject of illegal Chinese immigration was a hot button topic that divided the nation and that to address the issue President Roosevelt, almost thirty years later, appointed special border agents? Here is another little tidbit from history that may sound very familiar. In the late 1920s the federal government intervened in a major banking combine that was on the brink of collapse and that was deemed to big to fail. The intervention prevented, temporarily, the banks failure, allowed a few to prosper greatly, and magnified the depth and duration of the Great depression. For the fan of vintage automobiles and Route 66, here is another example of how a distorted view of history affects the modern era. If you attend a car show anywhere in the country you are bound to find a small herd of ’57 Chevies. Did you know that Chevrolet dealers in 1957 were very unhappy with the 1957 models or that Ford outsold Chevy in that year. When was the last time you saw a 1957 Ford? Route 66 has transcended its role as a highway to become a shrine to the golden age of the American vacation, to the tail fin, and to the pregeneric world. Its almost as though the Green Book for the Negro Motorist never existed. The bottom line – whenever you are alive, it is the best of times and the worst of times. With history as a foundation we clearly see that in many ways we have the absolute best of both worlds, the past and the present. We can cruise the double six for enjoyment, not necessity. We can savor the fresh mowed grass scented breezes as we motor through Missouri or insulate ourselves from the smells and heat with our climate controlled, motorized cocoons. So, do we frustrate ourselves by reinventing the wheel or do we look toward the past for answers to resolving the issues we face, many of which are the same issues faced often during the past 250 years? Now, let me step down from the soap box and share a few things as well as suggest a great read. Lets start with the latter, a new book entitled Crosleyhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1578603226&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. This book is far more than a biographical profile of two men who played a pivotal role in the transition of America during the first decades of the twentieth century. It is a three dimensional portrait of America’s evolution from a nation of farmers pushing the frontier westward to a major, industrial world power where citizens enjoyed the highest standard of living in world history. Now, a couple of quick updates. The photos in the gallery on the home page of Route 66 Info Center, just under the calendar of events, are now available as 11×14 inch prints as well as blank backed note cards. The price for the prints are $19.95 and for the cards .50 each in mixed batches of one dozen. Twenty percent of the sale price will be donated to the restoration efforts being spearheaded by the Kingman Route 66 Association. For more information drop me a note. As noted in previous posts, we will be heading east soon. If you have sell any of the books I have written and would like signed copies please let me know so a stop may be added to our schedule. Likewise if I may be of assistance in the promotion of a nonprofit or educational endeavor.
I am of the opinion that in a nut shell the grand adventure we call life is a great deal like treading water interspersed with occasional respite found in a small piece of flotsam that in turn gives us the energy to swim against the current. This is not to say that life is tedious, boring, or pointless. I have another birthday looming on the horizon and with each passing year it becomes more obvious that much of what we think is important is in fact either irrelevant or is only important to us. Hence the odd refelection on life and its meaning. An old cowhand once explained it to me this way. “The next time you feel frustrated and rushed to meet a deadline or task, stop and take a deep breath. Then ask yourself if this particular issue or project will seem as important six months down the road. If the answer is no, get it done but don’t worry about it. Now, if it will make a difference ten years down the road, or change the lives of others for the better, then it is very important, needs to be a priority, and is worthy of stress and frustration.” Brad ended my lesson of the day with two points that gave me plenty to think about over the next couple of weeks as we strung wire along the Mimbres River bottoms in southwest New Mexico. “Quick, who was the speaker of the house in 1956? See, less than thirty years ago (this was in 1981) this feller was one of the most important people in the world and today nobody remembers him. Now, consider Jesus. Love Him or hate Him you have to admit He is remembered and that those who have sincerely tried to do as He said have changed the world for the better.” “Here is one last thing for you to chew on. I have been blessed with a long life spent doing what I enjoy best. I have a good wife, two good boys, and a healthy crop of grandkids. Still, if I pitch over deader’ than a door nail out here in this brush, who besides them will miss me ten years from now?” I think about Brad and his homespun wisdom quite often, especially now that fifty is fast fading from view in the rear view mirror. Over the years it has served me well and on more than one occasion it has kept from doing something stupid in response to frustration, the tedium of being saddled to a regular job, or the anger that comes from cleaning up after someone elses ignorance induced disaster. Life is an endless opportunity for frustration if that is what you choose to seek. Been there, tried that, didn’t like it. So, with our long awaited trip in limbo (we will be on the road at some point in the next couple of weeks) I have a brand new opportunity to put my money where the mouth is and see a silver lining. Well, the first that comes to mind is that if we have to postpone the trip by a couple of days there will be a room open at the Wigwam in Holbrook. Another is that my wife’s hard work is about to payoff in fresh tomatoes, the first of the season. I won’t lie and say a possible delay makes me happy. I am eager to share a table with my wife at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas, and watch the smile spread across her face as she takes the first bite of their wonderful pie. In the research for Ghost Towns of Route 66, I discovered a few things about Newkirk and Montoya in New Mexico that have me chomping at the bit for some exploration. There are also the folks I am eager to meet, like Ron Jones and Laurel Kane at Afton Station. This grand adventure, this long anticipated road trip has been more than twenty years in the making. So, why stress over a delay of a week or two? Besides, there is ample opportunity in the next few weeks for treading water as I earn the money that pays the bills, keeps a roof over the head, beans on the table, gas in the Jeep, and pays for the road trips. To spice things up a bit we have more than a few of those things that make treading water so worth while. We have an authors reception at the college tonight, a book signing in conjunction with the Downtown Merchants Spring Fair on Saturday, and Chillin’ on Beale Street tommorrow night. Then there are alway the “have tos.” I have to prepare the swamp cooler for summer and get the Jeep ready for the road trip, finalize a few website issues (Route 66 Info Center) and make arrangements for the book signings in June and July after the second printing of Ghost Towns of the Southwest http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrin a couple of weeks. I will leave you with two thoughts as a close for the day. None of us are getting out of this alive, so enjoy life as much as possible and leave the place better than it was when you got here. Second is for the folks along Route 66. You have had ample notice. The Hinckley hillbillies are heading east very, very soon.
The thrice cancelled adventure eastward on Route 66 is now less than three weeks away and the anticipation is building. Likewise, the list of issues to be resolved before departure and the typical last minute schedule conflictions is also growing. The original game plan was to make this trip in April of 2009 to develop a hands on, first person foundation for the new book, Ghost Towns of Route 66. Well, the real job, the one that keeps beans on the table and gas in the Jeep, takes precedence and so that trip was canceled as was the one planned for August and the one planned for late September. Rather than cry over spilled milk, we turned westward and burned up a few weekends exploring Route 66 in the Mojave Desert. Two delightful discoveries were made on these explorations, Goffs and Daggett. The former, on an alignment of Route 66 bypassed in 1931, is often overlooked even by fans of the double six. I may be sticking my neck out on a limb but the museum complex there rates in my top ten list and is something that should be included in any trip tot he Golden State. The latter has a long and fascinating history. What is most amazing about Daggett is the number of surviving structures that predate Route 66 by decades. So, I relied on research, my past adventures on the double six, the telephone, email, snail http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrmail, and the eyes of Kerrick James, the primary photographer for this book as well as several previous titles we have worked on together including Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona, and Route 66 Backroads. Even though the book is completed and submitted to the publisher, this trip will provide material that will be utilized in the final edit to add some additional depth and photographs to the final product. On a personal note the most exciting aspects of this trip will be to share fondly remembered places along Route 66 with my dearest friend who has never driven east of Albuquerque on this storied highway and as we will have the Jeep, to seek out the forgotten places such as the Painted Desert Trading Post. Also, as with every road trip, I eagerly anticipate meeting new people as well as those never met even though we have corresponded for a number of years. The trip has been truncated from the original plan as we will have but seven days. So, rather than frustrate ourselves with a structured schedule that transforms the adventure into a job, we chose to make Springfield, Missouri, the eastern terminus for the trip. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760326894&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThe rough game plan is to leave on a Saturday afternoon as the office closes at noon and follow Route 66 to at least Seligman. This would allow for an early dinner at the Pine Country restaurant in Williams, and an informal signing of books at Barnes & Noble in Flagstaff. The open question is in regards to lodging that evening. The La Posada in Winslow or a Route 66 icon in Holbrook? Sunday the target destination will be Santa Rosa in New Mexico. In between will be some exploration around the Painted Desert Trading Post, Chambers, Sanders, Lupton, Houck, and as much of Route 66 as we can find in between the state line and Albuquerque. Monday we will chase ghosts in the old towns of Cuervo, Newkirk and Montoya as well as San Jon, Endee, Bard, and Glenrio. The final destination for the day is scheduled to be Amarillo. As we wish to have pie at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, check out Vega, meet with Bob Lile at his gallery (the outlet for our signed, limited edition prints), as well as talk with Becky Ransom at the Big Texan, chances are that Amarillo will be the end of the http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076032817X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrroad for the day. Besides we have much to see in the east half of the Panhandle. Tuesday we set our sites on Tulsa with a few detours such as the Jericho Gap. Also topping our list of must see sites are Alanreed, McLean, Shamrock, Texola, the museum in Clinton, Bridgeport, Foss, and Warwick. Wednesday we will shoot for Springfield. I am eagerly anticipating a stop at Afton Station and meeting with Laurel Kane, the proprietress, and exploring the ghost town trail in Missouri that includes Spencer and Paris Springs Junction. We will drive through Galena, Riverton, and Baxter Springs in Kansas but save exploration for the return leg. On the return leg I plan on breaking with Route 66 a bit to rediscover, and introduce my dearest friend to, the singular wonders of the Oklahoma Panhandle. So, we will explore Route 66 in Kansas and overnight somewhere around Enid. Then, the next day we will cut across the vast, lonely, and beautiful landscapes of the Panhandle on U.S. 412, catch U.S. 56at Boise City. We will follow this highway through the Rita Blanca National Grasslands into New Mexico, and then catch I-25/the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 into Santa Fe. In rough numbers, I am guessing 2,700 miles and eight or nine days , one week vacation plus Memorial Day. To say the very least, this will truly be a grand adventure!
As it was a desire to encourage folks to seek the road less traveled that spawned the writing of travel related books and feature articles, I always try to respond to requests for information or assistance in travel planning. With summer looming on the horizon the number of requests have been escalating and as a result it is often difficult for me to respond in a timely manner. For this I must apologize. In recent days I have received numerous inquires pertaining to Route 66 related travel in Texas and New Mexico. To expedite a response to these requests, and to provide others with information, it seemed that a blog posting would be the best answer. An adventure centered on this section of Route 66 must begin with the photographers paradise that is Texola that dates to 1901. There are a number of fascinating sites in this modern ghost towns but topping the list has to be the territorial era jail built in 1910. The drive west on Route 66 is almost surreal. Enhancing the feeling are the empty streets in Texola, and a nearly empty modern highway flowing across a vast empty landscape often in sight of the modern, bustling super slab. Shamrock is a bit large to be a ghost town but the slide from the boom times of the 1920s has left remnants that give that illusion. There are a number of excellent mom and pop businesses that are as time capsules from the era of the tail fin. The crown jewel here is the recently refurbished U-Drop-In dating to the 1930s. This stunning art deco masterpiece is a must see stop for any fan of the double six. The road to Amarillo is a string of forlorn dusty remnants interspersed with time capsules from the glory days of Route 66. If the schedule prohibits intimate exploration in Groom, Lela, McLean, Alanreed Conway, or the other forgotten communities along America’s most famous highway in the Texas Panhandle, don’t miss the recently restored circa 1930 Super 66 Service Station in Alanreed and the Devils Rope/Route 66 Museum in McLean. Amarillo has a wide array of attractions but the Big Texan is the most famous to roadies. Other recommended sites would include the Sunset Gallery housed in a former mall. From Aamarillo, I have to strongly suggest a slight detour to the south. The colorful spires and well watered canyons with weathered rock walls in Palo Duro Canyon State Park will surprise anyone who expects the Panhandle to be a vast empty plain. West of Amarillo each little town has something to offer those in search of roadside remnants and unique photographic opportunities. Two stops of particular note are the Midpoint cafe with its delicious pies in Adrian and the ghost town of Glenrio. I suggest following the old road, now a graded gravel track from Glenrio to San Jon in New Mexico past empty Endee. Inquire about road conditions is the first suggestion and the second is, if possible, drive it under a full moon. For fans of Route 66, Tucumcari and the Blue Swallow Motel are inseparable. However, there are other less famous time capsules including the Safari Motel. Again, inquire about road conditions and then consider following the broken remnant of the old road through the ghost towns of Montoya, Newkirk, and Cuervo west of Tucumcari. These are accessed via exit 311 on I40. Santa Rosa is a delightful and overlooked treasure trove of vintage roadside Americana. Another often missed wonder is Blue Hole City Park, a water filled sink hole of stunning beauty. If time allows, I suggest the pre 1937 alignment from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque with a slight detour to Las Vegas. Overall the drive, beginning with U.S. 84 north, is well signed. The attractions are many. Romeroville, now a ghost town, is the namesake of Don Trinidad Romero, a colorful frontier era personality. Among those who visited his palatial home and that partook in the gala parties was President Hayes, president Grant, and General Tecumseh Sherman. Las Vegas can easily be a base for an entire vacation. More than 900 buildings are listed on the National Historic register, including the Plaza Hotel built in 1881, and the surronding countryside is littered with historic sites and stunning natural beauty accessed via old roads and miles of hiking trails. The little towns that border old Route 66, just off I-25, are dusty, tattered links to more than two centuries of history. In the plaza at tecolota General Kearney announced the end of Mexican soverignty during the American-Mexican war. In San Jose the truncated steel truss bridge was built in 1921 and the church that casts its shadow across the old highway, also the Santa Fe Trail, dates to 1825. The Pigeon Ranch with its adobe barn and well, and Glorieta Pass, are also historic and storied. The well has met the needs of travelers for at least four hundred years. The barn served as a hospital during the battle that raged below the pass during the Civil War. Santa Fe can not be experienced in a visit of a day, a weekend or a week. The history and subsequent sites are just to numerous. If time constraints are an issue at least check out the plaza and the Palace of the Governors that served as the seat of government for more than three hundred years. As Route 66 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque is broken in many places by the interstate I suggest an alternate route that has all of the flavor of old Route 66, state highway 14 accessed at exit 278 on I-25 west of Santa Fe through Madrid. Ghost towns, small town America with a distinctly southwestern flair and stunning landscapes are just a few of the charms found on this drive. In Albuquerque, I have a few stops that are sure to enhance a visit. Among these are Old Town, the Rio Grande Zoo, and the Sandia peak Tramway. Albuquerque to the Arizona state line presents endless opportunity for back road adventures including Cubero, Acoma, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States, the Laguna Pueblo, the mining museum in Grants, ahttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076032817X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrnd trading posts in Gallup. Again, if time allows, I have a detour to suggest. From Grants continue west on state highway 53. The landscapes are truly awe inspiring and there are a wide array of unique and fascinating stops. These include the ice caves and Bandera Crater, the Zuni pueblo, a wolf sanctuary, and El Moro, a towering stone monolity where more than four centuries of travelers have inscribed their names. This is a rather abbreviated tour guide to a region that features some of the best Route 66 has to offer as well as a wide array of awe inspiring natural wonder and centuries old historic sites. For more detailed direction and suggestions I suggest these two books. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0970995164&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr