I wasn’t sure if trying to write a post this evening was a good idea. To put it mildly I am beat down, dog tired weary but in a good sort of way. For the past couple of days I have been working the office and the lot. This means running the counter as well as getting trucks ready to roll. So, I have been spending long hours outside and under the hood, just like old times. The old Carhart jeans with the double knee, the heavy leather boots, and the long sleeved, khaki Wrangler shirt are the uniform of choice for me. The sun on my neck, the smell of diesel and 90 weight gear oil, and sore muscles that come from mucking out trucks and clambering over hot engines to clean a windshield transport me to a time when I still had all of my teeth, my hair wasn’t grey, my shirts were tight in the chest instead of the waist, and a cold beer at the end of the day made it all seem worthwhile. To be honest I have always enjoyed physical labor but learned long ago that working a shovel was a sure death, albeit a slower one than starvation. So some years ago I traded the blue collar for a white one and discovered that earning a living by polishing a saddle with my pants or pushing a pen were both a great deal like cleaning stables. The mess comes in different colors but it all smells about the same. For the past several weeks, evenings have been spent taking care of mom, working on the book, or revamping the website, Route 66 Info center, for a third time. Surprisingly, I am also finding time for a bit of reading at night in bed even though the book often wakes me up when it hits me in the face. My latest acquisition is a light read. In fact it is more of a picture book. However, the captions and details in the photos and old post cards are filled with detail that encourages the savoring of the book rather than rushing it. With that said I give Joe Sonderman’s latest book, Route 66 in Arizonahttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0738579424&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, a thumbs up. If you have the slightest interest in Route 66, the evolution of American society between 1920 and 1980, or just like to look into portals from another time this book is a very valuable addition for the library. Don’t ask how I got my copy before its release. Lets just say I have an inside contact. Would you like a signed copy? I have also found time for another pursuit, seeking an agent. In my opinion writing has been ridden about as far I can take it. So, a few months ago I initiated contact with James Fitzgerald. As it turns out he is the agent for Michael Wallis and as a result feels that our work is to similar in nature. However, I did receive two boosts from the correspondence, one for the ego and, I hope, one for the career. So, lets see where this string leads. Meanwhile, its time to hit the sack as 4:00 AM rolls around pretty darn quick.
Our day started at 4:00 AM, a half hour early for me and about an hour early for my dearest friend. By 6:00 AM we were on the road to adventure once again. With an early morning appointment in Prescott as the goal we rolled east on I-40 rather than our usual choice for east bound travel which is Route 66 to the Crookton Road exit. The highest peaks of the Hualapai Mountains were tinged pink with the first rays of the morning sun as we rolled through a landscape sculpted by shadows and some vintage C & W music set the mood. The sun broke over the ridge by the time we reached Fort Rock Road and the shadow began their daily retreat leaving the juniper and cedar studded hills bathed in a warm, welcoming light. It almost made the journey on I-40 rather than Route 66 worthwhile. We arrived at the television station with 15 minutes to spare and visited with the other guests scheduled for an appearance on AM Arizona, Debbi Grogan with Peak Events in Flagstaff and Paul from Minneapolis promoting the Papa Lemon Little Wanderer series of books. The topic of discussion for my portion of the show was the international fascination with Route 66 that included a plug or two for books written and a teaser for the new title, Greetings from Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, scheduled for release in early October. Our original plan to make it a two day adventure with several interviews, a possible book signing, and the long promised trip to Crown King were cut short as the situation at the office that has resulted in six day work weeks has only been partially resolved. In fact, I needed to be back in the office before 2:00. Even with the abbreviated schedule my dearest friend and I decided to make the best of a bad situation. So, we took our favorite shortcut home, the Williamson Valley Road from Prescott to Seligman. I have never evaluated the savings of a gravel road that cuts about twenty miles but results in speeds in the 35 mile per hour or less range over the main road, heavy traffic, and miles of stop lights. All I do know is we prefer the road less traveled.
Your intrepid author on the old bridge north of Prescott.
To ensure we stayed on budget, time and financial, lunch consisted of a few sandwich items from Fry’s and a shady spot near the vintage bridge on Williamson Valley Road. You might say it was a picture perfect outing; the weather was delightful, my dearest friend loves to pilot the Jeep along dusty back roads, and for the most part we had the road to ourselves. One aspect of this road that always fascinates me is the diverse textures of the soil that it cuts through. In some places the stone is powdered to a white flour consistency. In other places it appears to be compacted beach sand. Then there are long stretches of fine red volcanic cinders. In some places these various colors and textures blend together almost seamlessly.
Red cinders add contrast to the dusty trail.
When viewed against the flowers, the dark greens of the cedars and junipers, and the dark rocky ridges under a cloudless blue sky the road appears as a colorful thread in a rich tapestry. Then without hint or warning the road twists its way to the top of a ridge and a vast panorama of quintessential western landscapes stretch to the very horizons. On our list visit to Prescott the snow was coming down in sheets and even though we desperately wanted to see this road and the old bridge dusted in snow, we decided discretion was the better part of valor and took the highway. As it turned out this was a very wise decision, the snow in places ended up being several feet deep with a layer of muddy pudding underlying it. I am quite sure that with the Jeep we would have pulled through. Still, the fun has a tendency to leave an adventure real fast when your wet, cold, and mud covered from digging a vehicle out of a hole.
Perhaps this winter we can give it a go. I wonder if we could catch a photo of the herd of buffalo that roams a ranch along the road in the snow with the red cinder hills as a backdrop?
The subtitle for this blog alludes to the life, times, and adventures of a starving artist on Route 66 and the road less traveled. Obviously, I am not starving and the artist reference may be debatable but the part about adventures on Route 66 and the road less traveled is factual. Consider the past week as an example. There was the final edit for Ghost Towns of Route 66, the submission of the first section of the Route 66 Encyclopedia and Atlas, preparation of photograph samples to be submitted for review, coordination of schedules for an interview with Jay Leno for his website, the full time job that supports the writing habit and that pays the bills, and the situation with mother. To round out the week I played guide to a French documentary film maker, Chris Tres, who is chronicling the story of Route 66, the people who live along it, and the people that seek it. Her enthusiasm for the project was infectious and as an added bonus I learned a great deal about France and the French perspective of America. Living along Route 66 provides an endless array of opportunities for adventure, the meeting of new and fascinating people, and an almost endless stream of automotive history in its native habitat – on the road. This past Friday the motorcycle cannonball run, an event with the primary requirement for participation being a stock motorcycle manufactured before 1916, stopped in Kingman. Now, I am not a fan of motorcycles. I fall into the “take em or leave em” category. This, however, was truly amazing. It was as though the curtain of time had parted and motorcycle riders from a century ago were allowed to roar into the present. My work schedule prohibited my taking in the spectacle but my dearest friend and partner was able to attend the lunchon and obtain these photos. The riders began this odyssey in Kitty Hawk in North Carolina with the goal being Santa Monica Pier. Here are just a few of the highlights.
When hiking deep into the desert wilderness, I like to take a breather on a knoll or ridge and look back on the trail. To see the landscapes from the perspective of the return trip ensures the chances of getting lost are slim, enables me to see where I made wrong turns, and provides a realistic understanding of just how far I have traveled. For the most part that is an analogy for the way I live life. I have a goal in mind but look ahead just far enough to find a high point for a bit of rest and reflection on the road traveled, mistakes made that I do not wish to repeat, and an honest evaluation of just how far I have traveled. I am in sight of the ridge, my resting place, but there is one more small hill. The final edit for Ghost Towns of Route 66 was sent to the publisher this morning. Now, I have to polish the first segment of the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, gather a sampling of photos for review, and submit them to the publisher next week. Tomorrow after work I will meet with a French film crew that is making a documentary about Route 66 and the international fascination with that highway. On Monday, as we are still short handed at the office, it will be a rushed trip to Prescott for an interview on AM Arizona and then home via my favorite shortcut, the Williamson Valley Road. Then I can take that breather and a moment or two for relaxation and reflection. Today, the final segment in the ghost town series ran on KNAU and last evening I participated in the call in program on this topic. If the subject of empty places and why we are drawn to them fascinates you, here is a link for all five segments as well as last evenings program. I have to give a hats off to Diane Hope and the staff that made this series possible. They did an excellent job in providing a well balanced perspective with the series and in rounding it off in last nights program. Over the years the fascination with the past, the ghost towns, and the people who wandered this earth before we arrived, has spawned a wide array of “movements”. During the late Victorian period there was a mania for the old Egyptian empire that resulted in a veritable gold rush in antiquities, which in turn fueled a lucrative counterfeiting of antiquities business, exploration, and obsession with all thing mummy related. I suppose the American equivalent in the first years of this new century would be Route 66. There is an international fascination with all things related to this highway that shows no sign of waning. As it has come to symbolize the glory days of the open road, is perceived as an icon that long ago transcended its initial role as a highway, and is a tangible link to the pre generic world, it is only natural that a symbiotic relationship between the highway and all things Harley Davidson would result. In recent years this has been made manifest from April until October in a seemingly endless stream of motorcycles manufactured by that venerable old Milwaukee company. Enhancing the illusion that every motorcycle made by this company that is still operational was on Route 66 this year would be the massive H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group)rally, Ride for the Relay, the annual Mother Road Rally, and numerous European tour groups including the one from Holland led by Dries Bessels. Enhancing the illusion is the motorcycle cannon ball run that stopped in Kingman today. A coast to coast rally with the primary stipulation being that entrants drive a motorcycle manufactured before 1916 is nothing short of astounding. The novelty of the race and the fact that a large portion of the route follows old U.S. 66 has resulted in truly international participation including a team from Japan with a 1915 Indian. Here on Route 66 it has been a summer of endless thunder, automotive oddities, and historic moments. Earlier this summer it was the micro car rally and a French stilt walker. Then there was the Australian contingent in their Mustang convertibles, and a small herd of bicyclists from throughout the world. Whats in store for 2011 on Route 66? Well, there is the big international festival in Amarillo, a new season for Chillin’ on Beale Street, the Route 66 Fun Run, the Route 66 Rendezvous, and at least several dozen other events. And of course there is the forthcoming release of Ghost Towns of Route 66. As an added bonus there are plans afoot for an alternative energy vehicle rally. This has really piqued my interest as the organizer is looking at attracting participants of home made vehicles, historic vehicles, and modern factory prototypes as well as hybrids. It would seem the idea of getting your kicks on Route 66 is an international one that may just keep this old highway in the spotlight well past its centennial.
Lets start with some new business. As noted yesterday arrangement was made with the Lile Art Gallery in Amarillo to sell our prints. Today a tab was added at the top of the blog with contact information for prints ranging from nice office wall liners to museum quality, limited edition, numbered, matted, and signed series prints. The limited edition prints in two series, Icons of Route 66 and Ghost Towns of the Southwest are almost sold out. A new series, Ghost Towns of Route 66, is being developed to coincide with the release of a new book by the same title late next spring. Photos available in the regular print series include these favorites: #1001 – Route 66 on the eastern slope of the Black Mountains with the snow covered peaks of the Hualapai Mountains in the background. #1003 – Route 66 in Daggett – b/w (this appears at the top of the blog)
1004 – Painted Desert Trading Post
#1004 – Painted Desert Trading Post – sepia
#1005 – This would be the same view of the Painted Desert Trading Post but in color. Please inquire if you have are looking for a print of a specific location. This tab also has the information pertaining to other photographic services offered. These include limited license stock photography for print or media as well as site specific assignment work. Also in the “New Business” category is the news that we have completed arrangement for a line of unique gifts that capture the essence of Route 66 and travel on the road less traveled utilizing the photographs of Jim Hinckley just in time for the holiday season. A tab for this with link has also been added to the top of the blog. The next item on the list is updates on some old business. The final edit for Ghost Towns of Route 66 will be in the hands of the publisher on Monday. The scheduled date for release has been adjusted to coincide with the big Route 66 event next June in Amarillo. If you are interested in ghost towns I suggest you listen to the series on this topic that runs this week on KNAU radio in Flagstaff. Here is the link to listen on line and tonight there will be a one hour call in program beginning at 6:00 PM with yours truly fielding questions. While we are on the subject of ghost towns, it would seem Las Vegas is desperately working to avoid becoming one. I have sad news for the folks that floated this idea. Yes, ideas such as this have kept towns like Jerome or Bisbee in Arizona from blowing away but they are still ghost towns. On a final note for the day there is a very interesting motorcycle rally trolling through Kingman tomorrow as the riders make their way to the Santa Monica Pier. These intrepid riders left North Carolina about ten days ago on their pre 1916 motorcycles! I am in the take it or leave category when it comes to motorcycles but this is something to see. Not surprisingly, their stop in Kingman will be for lunch at the local Harley Davidson dealership. Here is a link with more information and the schedule of stops.