The first item of the day pertains to the Painted Desert Trading Post on a scenic section of Route 66 to the east of the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park. In recent years these forlorn ruins set against a backdrop of quintessential western landscapes have become a favorite stop for die hard fans of the legendary double six.

The ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post east of Holbrook.

The property was listed for sale numerous times during the past few years but to the best of my knowledge never sold. This past week the most popular topic on the message board for the Route 66 egroup on Yahoo was the closure of the road to the alignment of Route 66 that provides access to the picturesque ruins. Could it be that the old Painted Desert Trading Post has new owners?   
Next on the agenda is the big anniversary bash at Santa Monica Pier on November 11. Dan Rice, the recently elected vice president of the California Route 66 Association, is spearheading the event which promises to be the last big Route 66 fling of 2010.

Santa Monica Pier

Coinciding with the event is the launch of Dan’s new book, End of the Trail. The book chronicles Dan’s long struggle of recovery from traumatic brain injury and is an inspirational book I am quite eager to read.
Unfortunately we will not be able to attend the festivities. The long road of conflicting schedules is drawing to a close and we will be driving to California shortly after this date to tape an interview with Jay Leno that will appear on his website, Jay Leno’s Garage. Rest assured, I will keep you posted on the trip, another opportunity for adventure on Route 66, as well as information pertaining to the release of the interview.
The topics of discussion are being finalized. Among them are two books, Checker Cab Photo History, released as a second printing this month, and The Big Book of Car Culture
The profile of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company was my first book. Even after writing for some of the most prestigious magazines in the nation, I was as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs about this project.
I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to write a larger, more detailed history of this company. The primary frustration I had with this work was the tight editorial restrictions on size and the resultant decisions about what to leave out and what to include.
The Checker story has it all and I just scratched the surface with this book – poor immigrant makes it big in America, corporate intrigue featuring E.L. Cord and SEC fraud hearings, innovative thinking, and obscure history with far reaching ramifications.
The cars built by this company manifest all of this and more. There was the model M Suburban, a one ton, nine passenger wagon that converts to a panel truck or hearse, a special armor plated Checker for a customer who fled the country one step ahead of the law, a four wheel drive-four wheel steering Jeep, and a car that became an American icon on par with Route 66 or Harley Davidson.
The Big Book of Car Culture, bronze medal recipient at the International Automotive Media Awards, remains one of my proudest accomplishments as a writer. It was also one of the most enjoyable projects ever undertaken even though we had an incredibly tight schedule of just six months from contract to deadline. Tragically, it also represents the high water mark for a friendship as this was a joint effort between myself and the talented author and photographer, Jon Robinson.
The title and cover are deceptively bland. Within these covers are concise, illustrated histories of everything from gas pumps and pavement striping to crash test dummies and seat covers, from the Ford Mustang to the hearse and from truck stops to parking meters.

Dan Rice and Chris Durkin on Santa Monica Pier

Our trip to California will be including a trip to Santa Monica Pier and a visit with Dan Rice and his delightful wife. I need a dose of his infectious enthusiasm, my wife needs some sea air, and we need a signed copy of his book.
As noted previously this week, the postings are a bit sparse as I am back to a six day work schedule at the office. Compounding these time constraints has been a family emergency.
Thank you for the patience.