I did not have a great deal of focused direction as a kid. Come to think of it, most of my life has been spent like a puppy chasing the red ball until the green ball distracts him. While this kind of life has its advantages, the downside is that chances are you will still be chasing the ball or balls right up until the time comes to nap on the other side of the grass.
I suppose the consistent theme in my life has been a passion for books, a dream of becoming a writer, and enjoyment in sharing something or someplace special with others. With the age of fifty fading from sight in the rear view mirror, and sixty now looming at the top of the hill, little has changed in this department.
My passion for books is undimmed as evidenced by an office that looks as though a library blew up and a half dozen church rummage sales decided to stash the unsold books amongst the piles. Mixed among them are magazines chronicling a century of American societal evolution.
Some were purchased for research but as I only write on topics that stir my passions, each is a treasure. Others were added to the collection in an effort to dispel myths, to deepen my understanding of a subject, or because the subject matter fills a hole in my knowledge of a particular topic.
With those parameters as my guide there is a pile for everything and everything must be in the proper pile. The size of the piles appear as a bar graph of my primary interest.
The automotive historical pile with titles as diverse as Dr. Dykes Diseases of the Gasoline Engine and How To Cure Them, 1903, and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creationhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1569765499&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, by Steve Lehto, is by far the largest.
Automotive history has long been a source of fascination and it was that interest which resulted in the receipt of my first check as a writer. For that feature, sold to Special Interest Autos, I profiled Myloe, the proprietor of Myloe’s Fort Auto Parts in Huachuca City, Arizona.
Myloe and his wrecking year were more than amazing, they were the stuff of dreams for an auto enthusiast. Acres of pre war era cars, vintage buses and trucks filled with NOS parts, and a staggering array of truly rare automobiles ranging from a 1936 Terraplane pick up truck to a 1955 T-Bird, was merely the frosting on the cake.
Myloe was the quintessential junk yard owner of indeterminate age, somewhere between sixty and two hundred years of age, round with a thinly veiled hint of strength, grease stained overalls, and deeply tanned face below the hat line. He lived in the midst of his empire of rust as a potentate with an island kingdom.
Brushes with the law were common but minor and often overlooked with a warning or small fine for driving a battered but unlicensed 1918 Buick to the store at the bottom of the hill, or driving his 1948 Buick to Tucson without insurance. I cranked out that story of Myloe’s marvelous mechanical menagerie on a 1948 Underwood typewriter (for the younger set a typewriter is a key board that prints directly on the paper without use of a computer and the spell check is called a dictionary).
With the exception of a weekly column for the The Kingman Daily Miner, and a few features for magazines such as Route 66, the majority of my work in the next decade was automotive in nature with the primary focus being the American automobile industry between the years of 1885 and 1940. As it later turned out, one of those automotive features landed me a dream job about ten years later.
In the mid 1990s, I cranked out a few features for Brad Bowling, the editor at Old Cars Weeklyhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000066T0L&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. Shortly after this, Brad left Krause publications and I went on to other things.
Fast forward to late 2006.
Brad has assumed the helm at Cars & Parts magazine. Topping his wish list in regards to revamping this publication was the addition of new feature columns
The long version of a short story is that he remembered my work that focused on obscure corners of the automobile industry, and offered me a position as associate editor with primary duties being a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, and the writing of book reviews. It didn’t quite pay enough to make the house payment every month but it was a dream job.
I now had a podium from which to share inspiring stories about men like Ralph Teetor, the blind inventor of cruise control, an opportunity to help authors get the word out about their books, and, as a bonus, the latest books from a wide array of publishers. The later is another reason the automotive book piles are the largest.
Around the turn of the century my writing began taking a new tact as travel rather than automotive became the primary topics. With the demise of the dream job this past fall, automotive writing has been temporarily shelved and my focus has been on sharing my second passion, adventures on the road less traveled.
As a result, the next largest pile would be travel books. As a result of my personal interests, and the fact that the primary subject of a great deal of my writing the past few years has been Route 66 related, books on that legendary highway dominate this pile.
Mixed among the usual fare of favorites such as Jerry McClanahan’s Route 66: EZ guide for Travelers, 2nd edition,http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0970995164&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr and the little classic 1946 guide by Jack Rittenhouse, are little gems like a 1929 Rand McNally Road Atlas and a 1914 edition of a good roads publication on automobile roads in the southwest. There are also AAA guide books from the period 1927 to 1954, excellent but relatively obscure books by Route 66 authorities such as Jim Ross, and travel diaries from the teens and twenties such as By Motor to the Golden Gate by Emily Post. 
The remaining piles are truly an eclectic collection. My quest to understand how we moved from a nation with institutions of government and the functions of that entity built squarely on Biblical principles to a nation that firmly believes the United States was designed to be a secular nation resulted in the acquisition of some interesting and historic titles as well as a trip to Williamsburg and Monticello. 
An effort to get a real picture of life in the period of western expansion has created another pile. Then there are the “how to” books, another large pile on a wide array of subjects – gardening, photography, home repair, and even Alaskan homesteading.  
With a love for books, and a passion for telling people where to go, the quest to become a writer when I grow up is still being pursued. Last year marked my twentieth anniversary of trading the written word, and a few photographs, for money. Still, success as made manifest in not needing a day job to support  the writing habit remains elusive and, at times, as maddening as trying to nail Jello on the wall.
This is not to say money is my motivation for writing. The spark that keeps the books and feature articles flowing is a passion for weaving colorful tapestries of words that allow me to share someplace special in such a manner the armchair traveler can join in my travels and the adventurer will be inspired to experience them in person
From that perspective writing is a great deal like treasure hunting. You know the odds of finding the elusive gold are not in your favor but seeking it provides a grand excuse for an adventure and that, as well as the people you share that adventure with and those you meet along the way, is priceless. 
Books are also a great deal like a treasure hunt. The reward is wisdom but it is the quest that provides the adventure.

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