How do you describe a month that includes incredible highs such as recording an interview with Jay Leno and extreme depths such as the loss of a mother and a sister within a period of less than two weeks? Accurate words or descriptors for the wide range of emotions are an impossibility and plagiarizing the line it was the best of times, it was the worst of times seems the best I can manage. first months of the year were filled with exciting and breathtaking twists and turns. The last month has added incredible climbs and stomach turning drops that blur the vision, make it hard to breathe, and leave you dizzy. month of January was relatively calm, especially on the writing front. I had finished the introductions for the book Greetings from Route 66 in December so the only work was the monthly column, The Independent Thinker, for Cars & Parts magazine, initial planning for promotion of Ghost Towns of the Southwest that was scheduled for a March 1 release, and pitching a few new book ideas as continuation of the quest to find an agent.
Our only road trip was a “Sunday drive” of several hundred miles into the Mojave Desert in exploration of Route 66. We hit all of the high spots – Goffs, Essex, Chambless, Danby, and Bagdad with a light lunch in Ludlow.

Route 66 in the California desert.

On February 1 things took a sharp turn. I arrived home late that evening, checked the phone for messages, and discovered Jay Leno had called and would be calling me back after his return from New York!
As it later turned out he was calling to discuss the possibility of taping an interview for the book club section of his website, Jay Leno’s Garage. The book that had garnered his attention was The Big Book of Car Culture, a title written with Jon Robinson in 2005 that gone nowhere in spite of excellent reviews from prestigious publications and the receipt of the bronze medal at the International Automotive Media Awards in 2006.
Well, as it turns out the publisher had decided to suspend any plans for a second printing of this title. This decision had been made at the end of January!
One of the first stops in the promotion of Ghost Towns of the Southwest was Prescott, Arizona, which provided an excuse for my dearest friend and I to escape to one of our favorite destinations, the lovely and historic Hassayampa Inn. Work related activity included a formal signing at Barnes & Noble in Prescott as well as an interview with Tonya Mock on AM Arizona.

Historic Hassayampa Inn, Prescott, Arizona

The trip provided us with an unexpected bonus, the opportunity to see how well the Jeep performed in snow. Unfortunately the sleet, snow, and rain led us to consider discretion the better part of valor so we abandoned the plan to make the pleasant drive home on the Williamson Valley Road, thirty plus miles of scenic gravel and dirt road across several stream beds.
March and early April were rather low key with the day job that supports the writing habit and a book signing for the new book in Kingman as well as Lake Havasus City. Then came notification of a pleasant but stunning surprise, The first printing of Ghost Towns of the Southwest was almost sold out! left me facing a new dilemma, a full month of interviews and signings scheduled through May, including the KABAM literary festival in Kingman and another signing in Burbank, with no books. So, I signed post cards featuring the cover of the book and talked with potential owners of the new book.
The end of May and June were spent enjoying my favorite pastime, a long, adventuresome road trip with my dearest friend. The catalyst for this adventure, postponed from the previous fall, was research and photography for Ghost Towns of Route 66, scheduled for release in June of 2011, and the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas.

For this grand adventure we set the clock back to 1960, made no with the exception of the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook and the Route 66 Rail Haven in Springfield in Missouri and depended on a 1929 Rand McNally atlas and Jerry McClanahan (his excellent guide book, Route 66: EZ Guide for Travelers – 2nd Edition) for guidance, and the stalwart Jeep for transportation. What a delightful odyssey!
We met Laurel Kane at Afton Station, Ron Jones, the legendary tattoo man, and Melba at 4 Women on the Route in Kansas. We explored the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post, savored the contemplative serenity of Endee, sampled the goods at the Midpoint Cafe, and walked the empty streets of Texola. Best of all, we basked in each others company while enjoying the wonders of America’s most famous highway.

In between the road trips, the job, the writing, the photography, and general activities of life, we enjoyed warm summer evenings at events such as Chillin on Beale Street in Kingman. Enhancing the fun was the addition of themes such as Topless Fun on Route 66, a salute to convertibles, and dinner with friends such as Dries Bessel of Holland and Dale Butel of Australia.
Late summer and fall were the seasons of deep valleys and breathtaking summits. Mother fell and had to be placed in a retirement home, my sister became ill, Greetings from Route 66 made its debut, for the first time one of our photographic prints was sold through the Lile Fine Art Gallery in Amarillo to an international collector, and plans were finalized for the interview with Jay Leno. The wild fluctuations in high and low continued with the birth of our grandson and a biopsy that revealed I had skin cancer.
December has been, well, interesting. I am not sure how this month will be viewed in the years to come but it is with complete, naked honesty that I say it will never be forgotten. Still, in some odd, surreal way it seems almost a fitting end to the wild roller coaster ride that was 2010.

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