There is an excitement that is hard to describe with the beginning of each new project. I suppose it is similar to that of an artist with a vision and blank canvas. In part the initial fervor behind the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas is due to the scope of the project, the challenge, and the fact this is something I have wanted to do for almost as long as I wanted to write a book about the ghost towns of the southwest. Second is the fact that there has not been full realization of just how deep the water is.
I am eager to begin but before I can assign a series work schedule to the project there are a small herd of details to attend to such as the book signing next weekend in Chloride. This event has morphed into a an interview with KNAU radio, a photography assignment, and, possibly a small feature story.Then there is the need to service the Jeep. I changed the oil and gave it a top to bottom inspection before we left on for our grand adventure on Route 66 but that was almost 3,000 miles ago.
This Saturday evening is Chillin’ on Beale Street in Kingman. I hope to be in a position to offer assistance beyond my role as official photographer for the Kingman Route 66 Association, a title that has grand connotations similar to saying a homeless person that devises the best way to get aluminum cans from a dumpster is a resource reclamation engineer. These are all thrilling endeavors but also a source of frustration as the urge to begin the new project is almost unbearable. There is also the sense that the clock is ticking and again a deadline looms on the horizon. Perhaps that too is part of the thrill derived from writing.Still, the initial steps have gone well. I spoke with Jerry McClanahan, author of the must have travel guide, EZ 66, and have been assured of assistance. Likewise with Buz Waldmire and Kerrick James, the photographic master that provided many of the illustrations for previous books including Ghost Towns of the The Southwest. 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=ifrI have also graciously received unlimited access to the extensive post card collection of Joe Sonderman. Next, I compiled a list of the post cards from my collection that includes a linen card showing the Green Spot Cafe in Victorville and the White Rock Court in Kingman, photo cards of the Arcadia Lodge, the Corral Court, an aerial view of the Chain of Rocks Bridge, and about a dozen street scenes from communities along Route 66 between 1910 and 1960. So, the quest for 1,000 images (plus or minus a few) is well underway. Tonight my Father’s Day present arrives and tomorrow after work assembly begins. With part two of my “L” shaped desk, and some new used file cabinets, the command center will be almost complete. One last item is needed, maybe.I have a perfectly good 18 inch monitor but have been toying with the idea of buying a large flat screen from the initial advance to ease eye strain and streamline the work process but am having difficulty justifying the additional expense. After all, the current monitor still works so there is a sense a new one might constitute a luxury. Anyone have thoughts or ideas about these new monitors that they would care to share? I always struggle with decisions such as this, which is quite odd when I will dip into the savings in a heartbeat for a road trip. We just aren’t in the habit of buying things if what we have works. As an example, we retired the 1973 Olds after more than 15 years of faithful service. We paid $350 for the car but it ran so well we just didn’t see the need for a replacement just because it looked like a refugee from the junk yard. We would still have our avocado colored, “Leave it to Beaver” vintage rotary phone if I hadn’t had to install a phone jack for the Internet. Likewise with the eight track if we could still get tapes (I was perfectly happy with my wire recorder, four track player, and 1940 Spartan radio with phonograph).
The structure for the new book that currently resides between my ears may not resemble the finished work but it is a place to begin. The general framework is a profile of each community on all alignments of Route 66 from the inception of that highway to the modern era (Amboy to Zuzax). Next will be bios of the movers and shakers in the highways history, site specific entries such as for the Painted Desert Trading Post, and then large thematic sidebars on general topics like the Desert Classic Cactus Derby automobile races in the southwest.
As the book is to be heavily illustrated I will need at least one more trip on Route 66 from Chicago to Kingman and another trip west from Kingman to Santa Monica. Ideally, I would make the drive from Chicago west in late September or early October to capture some fall foliage color as backdrops.With only one weeks vacation time it would be almost impossible to drive to Chicago and back again. As I refuse to suffer the humiliation and insult of airport security flying would be a last resort. So, that leaves the train (a direct run from Kingman to Chicago is 36 hours). Between today and the trip east, or west, and the reward of a road trip, I need to put some words on paper. So, if all goes according to plan, I will put the brush to the canvas for the first time this weekend.
The new adventure begins!