AND THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES

It is with child like enthusiasm that I check the “Book Club” section of the website Jay Leno’s Garage every day. After twenty years of by lines in prestigious publications, the publication of six books, and countless interviews on television and the radio, I should be able to move beyond that child on Christmas morning feeling that comes with seeing a book climb in the rankings on Amazon or an interview go viral.
Well, it hasn’t happened yet and that is why I check every morning. It is not vanity as much as disbelief that fuels the fascination with each publication and each interview. Now, from that perspective, if I http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=158388100X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrstruggled with a sense of unreality when a writer from the New Yorker called to get information on the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company as a result of a book I wrote, imagine what will happen when the interviews taped with Jay Leno hit the web.
See, in my mind I am still a kid dreaming of being a writer when I grow up. So, when I end up sitting down with Jay Leno there is a sense of unreality about the whole affair.
To be honest, I hope to never loose this child like wonder. I suppose if that were to happen the adventure of writing would be gone for ever and the awareness of just how blessed I have been would be dulled.
I still have a day job that supports the writing habit. So, I still have away to go before fulfilling the dream.
Meanwhile, I will enjoy the adventure and be amazed when people from Germany or Holland stop by the office, ask for an autograph, and tell me that something I wrote inspired them to make the trip. To know I inspired someone to discover the wonders of Route 66 is a reward in itself!
With all that transpired in 2010, and all that is lurking on the horizon for 2011, there is a quickening in my spirit, a sense that fulfillment of the dream to become a writer is drawing closer. So with eager anticipation I await the release of Ghost Towns of Route 66, continue work on the Route 66 encyclopedia, and lay plans for the project after that.
The lesson I hope to impart to aspiring writers and artists is this, if you have a gift or talent that can transform a dream into a reality pursue it. Suffer the slings and arrows of rejection. Let the joy of the work and the pursuit of the dream become the reward.
If, by chance, you become one of the lucky few who are privileged to live the dream rejoice but never loose the sense of wonder, of awe. Moreover, never forget where you started so you may be of encouragement to those starting on their path to grand adventure.
Don’t forget this weekends post. It will be the second weekend for our book reviews and travel tips feature.

DON’T ASK OR I MIGHT TELL

Counted among the lessons learned in more than a half century of wandering this earth is that opinions are like backsides, everybody has one. Now, some folks just have to share theirs as though it was the secret to all the worlds problems. Others have learned to wait until asked.
I am somewhere in the middle. In general I won’t share my opinion until asked but be forewarned, if you ask, a response will be forthcoming. The exception to this is the occasional outburst given in response to a massive display of stupidity masquerading as intelligent, informed opinion.
I give this long winded introduction as an explanation for what is about to be written. For most of the past year I have been besieged with requests for thoughts on how to breathe life into Kingman, how to make it a destination rather than a stop, and even urgings to abandon common sense and run for public office.
In an effort to save time, I decided to address these issues as a step by step manual. As always, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and suggestions.
ONE –
With completion of the depot restoration we link it to the second anchor in the historic district, the Power House Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum. This is accomplished with continuation of the new fencing at the depot, and construction of a gently curved sidewalk linking the two sites that is bordered by a low water, desert botanical garden.
Enhancing this corridor would be the use of vintage neon signage to light the path, informative kiosks providing detail about the signs, and historic markers that provide information about key sites, such as that of the former Harvey House. Now we have continuity that promotes walking rather than driving.
In light of the current economic situation, funding is a joint effort between the Chamber of Commerce, the tourism office, the city, and area businesses. Perhaps we would also be able to obtain some funding from the railroad.
TWO –
We link the third anchor, Locomotive Park. This is accomplished by building a pedestrian bridge from the Power House Visitor Center to the park that appears to be a vintage railroad trestle.
The most expensive aspect of this transformational stage would be conversion and restoration of the caboose. Upon completion this becomes a source of revenue through leasing it as a food kiosk or souvenir concession.
THREE –
The third step is creation of three promotional packages; one for individuals or businesses making inquiries about relocation, one for those that do relocate to the area that is distributed though local truck renting agencies (Penske, Uhaul, Budget) as well as real estate offices, and one for travel journalists.
The latter is key for the development of tourism. Several years ago when I was on assignment in Chattanooga, Tennessee a similar package was presented to me.
It included a 24 hour number for the answering of questions, a discount on my motel room, a coupon book for free or drastically discounted admission to area attractions, brochures from area attractions with contact information, information about availability of public transportation, and samples of local specialties such as Moon Pies, originally developed in that city.
FOUR –
The fourth step would be development of a mural program that serves as a potential fund raiser, masks empty buildings, and that provides a service to business owners. This should also be a relatively reasonable objective that can be funded from numerous sources.
These murals would be painted on plywood. With permission from business owners, these would then be used to cover windows in empty buildings preventing vandalism and enhancing the look of the property.
At the time of the buildings restoration the murals could then be sold. Proceeds could be used to fund the restoration or the program.
Okay, this may be overly simplistic. Does that mean it can’t be done? Does that mean it wouldn’t serve as a great foundation for the transformation of the community?
Care to share your thoughts? I did ask so…