What an amazing weekend this will be on Route 66! We have the annual Route 66 Fun and the Laughlin River Run being held at the same time.
That means we will have more than a thousand vintage and special interest vehicles on Route 66 in our corner of the world and more than 30,000 motorcycles converging on Laughlin. Add in a few dozen specialty events to piggy back on these two, such as Chillin at the Still, a get together at the distillery in Kingman, and the big events at Mother Road Road Harley Davidson and boredom should be a very rare commodity.
The on going cycle of odd weather is the only threat to a perfect weekend. Yesterday we had a light breeze and around eighty degrees, today the temperatures are supposed to be in the mid sixties with high winds.
For my dearest fiend and I this years Fun Run is rather special. Dale Butel and his group from Australia will be attending. Dave, a friend from Australia is also in town, and Bob Stevens, a friend who weathered the demise of Cars & Parts magazine with me last fall, will be driving in from Ohio.
I will be in the office until noon today which means we will miss the big cruise from Seligman but will catch the main event in Kingman as we will be photographing the cars for a publication or two and for the blog. I also promised to send photos of the most interesting vehicles to Jay Leno. month of May and the first months of summer promise to be a very busy, high stress time in our household, a continuation of the fun that began last October. You might say it is an opportunity to put the money where the mouth is when it comes to faith.
Review copies of the new book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, are headed out and the publicist I have worked with for several years had to take an early retirement effective this past Friday. About five years ago I survived a similar episode but the new book at that time, The Big Book of Car Culture, didn’t fare very well even though it was the recipient of the bronze medal at the International Automotive Media Awards.  
The KABAM (Kingman Area Books Are Magic) festival is now less than two weeks away. The event continues to grow in scope as well as popularity and I am quite honored to be a part of it.
In June we have the official kick off for the new book at the 2011 International Route 66 Festival in Amarillo. It will begin with a singing and discussion at Barnes & Noble on Thursday evening.
Jay Leno called last week and we discussed an interview about the new book for the book club section of his website. Now, we just have to find a point when his schedule and mine will intersect as my vacation time will be spent on the road to Amarillo and I still have a day job that supports the writing habit.
Then, if I get bored, there is the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia, to finish. The word count has topped 90,000 with a projected text for the final draft being somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000.
If you ever find yourself craving additional stress, and want an illusion of fame with the tantalizing promise of possible fortune, try becoming a writer. Then if you really crave that pressure that comes from floating checks to forgo eviction quit the day job and depend solely on the written word for your income.


You had to laugh. What else was there to do? Edgar had convinced me it was a short cut that would save us time. Edgar had said, with authority, that he knew those roads like the back of his hand. Edgar looked me right square in the eye and asked, “Don’t you trust me? Have I ever got you lost before?”
As a matter of fact he had gotten us lost before, on several occasions. So, I did trust him, I trusted him to get us lost but I also trusted him to find his way out. And, yes, I did believe the short cut would save time, if he didn’t get lost, and, yes, I did believe he knew that country quite well.
This was where he grew up. This is where his grandpa taught him to hunt. But Edgar had no sense of direction. If he were a weatherman he would get yesterday’s weather wrong.
Still, there really wasn’t any other option at this point. After all, we were running late because we had gotten lost.
It really did seem like a good idea at the time as this was before the completion of I-40. Rather than drive into Kingman from the Big Sandy and then east on Route 66 to Ashfork, before turning south toward Prescott, we could simply follow Trout Creek into the area of Fort Rock and that would get us directly to Seligman.
The going would be slower as the roads were fairly rough but it could save us close to seventy five miles and jobs like this were going to fill fast, time was of the essence. So we tossed our gear into the back of Edgar’s old GMC and away we went just as the sun was cresting the ridge line.
That was on Sunday morning. The interviews kicked off at 7:00 AM Monday morning but registration for these would start at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon.
My first inclination that this was going to be another Edgar adventure came around 10:00, that was when we rounded a bend and were awarded a spectacular view of the road we were on dropping into a sand wash. I do mean dropping, as in a ten foot drop.
So we back tracked about 15 miles and picked up another road that headed in a general northeast direction. At 11:00 we had our first flat tire. That was when Edgar remembered he not had the last flat fixed and that meant the flat tire was actually the spare.
So, we dug out the tube repair kit and the little compressor that plugged into the cigarette lighter, and got to work. By, around 1:00 we had fixed the flat, and ate a pretty fair chunk of our supplies.
I am not sure if more speed would have helped us clear the stream or if we should have found another way around. In any case we made it about half way across before the distributor got wet and the truck quit. And that was just minutes before Edgar had asked if I trusted him.
So, there I was, up to my knees in water, wading back and forth between the tools in the back and the engine. Did I mention it was late March and the stream was running high from snow melt?
Well, in short order we had the GMC running but not going. The rear end had settled into the sand of the creek bed.
By the time we got the truck extricated from the stream, and changed into dry clothes, our best Sunday go to meeting, job interview clothes, the sun was about to sink below the western ridge line. This wasn’t going as I had hoped but if I were to take the time for honest reflection, what else could I have expected.
We had our bed rolls and plenty of water but the hearty lunch had left us thin on things to eat. So, about four in the morning, with stomachs growling we continued our adventure in the dark.
I still blame the dark for the total loss in direction but long story short, we crested a hill and saw headlights on the highway far below. If I try real hard, Edgar’s broad grin in that deeply tanned face accented by the glow of dash board lights still is a vivid picture.
Well, the joy of triumph was short lived. We hit the pavement of US 93 about half way between Wikieup on the Big Sandy and Kingman, this was thirty miles from where we started our nearly 200 mile drive.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this story is that without a word we rolled into our former job site, about five miles from where we hit the highway, where the foreman was waiting for us. We had quit on Friday afternoon but he had heard a rumor at the Double Diamond Bar that we were headed for Prescott and that Edgar was driving. He just figured we would be back. 
He met us that morning with barely suppressed laughter and told us to report for work on Tuesday morning. Nothing gained, nothing lost.
It has been many years since my thoughts turned to Edgar and our many adventures and I puzzled over why they returned with such power at this time. Then it dawned on me, the rhetoric for the next presidential election is already beginning.
Elections always remind me of Edgar and his almost uncanny ability to get lost, especially for the past dozen years or so. Promises are made, we sell our vote to the one who pledges to meet our needs from public funds, or we deceive ourselves into believing there is a difference between candidate “D” or candidate “R” because they promise a short cut in fixing problems that took decades to create, then they lead us around in the wilderness for awhile, and if we are lucky we end up at the same place.
Of course by that time the pockets are a bit more empty, the truck has suffered just enough abuse to be in need of serious repair, and we are perceived the fool. Unfortunately, in recent years we don’t seem to be able to find our way back and instead are left wandering in the wilderness facing a future of grave uncertainty.
I suppose Edgar might have missed his calling. He would have been a damned fine politician.


When I was a kid dad bought me a toy dashboard that hung on the back of the front seat. It had fake gauges, a steering wheel, various switches, and a horn, something I am quite sure he disconnected on the second day. It had a lot of pointy things and to play with it you had to stand up on the back seat floor or sit on the edge of the seat. 
This little gadget and laying on the package shelf in the rear window were my favorite way to pass the miles. I am quite sure providing a child with a toy such as this, or allowing that kind of behavior today, would be considered child abuse, or at least endangerment.
There was little doubt in my imaginative mind that turning the wheel actually had a bearing on which way the car was going. In retrospect, I suppose it was those imaginary journeys along U.S. 127, U.S. 66, U.S. 12, and other stretches of two lane blacktop that were the catalyst for my life long passion for the road trip.
In all honesty, I think this was also the seed that grew into a deep fascination for the almost unlimited capacity humans have for self deception. As with so many things in this old world, a little self deception can be a very good thing provided its kept in the back seat and not actually allowed to drive the car.
I can almost bet money that old man Fowler’s fascination with space travel began as a hobby and a few flights of fancy. Even the self deception that he could build a space ship wasn’t really a bad thing as it got him to college.
The he let the fantasy take the wheel. That was shortly before I met him, and just a year or so before he began work to convert his VW bug into a spaceship.
The explosion of international interest in Route 66 is a manifestation of harmless self deception. The old highway has become a 2,200 mile attraction that blends the best of the Yellow Brick Road with Disneyland, and that vanilla ice cream cone on a hot Saturday night on the lake shore when you were eight or nine.
Now, when you spend 2.5 times your annual income to seek the life changing adventure that is a ten day journey on Route 66 there is a very good chance you have allowed your private little self deception to drive the tour bus. Yes, a journey like this would surely be life changing, but it would probably end in a manner similar to my dad taking his hand off the wheel and letting me take control from the back seat.
Perhaps one of the more intriguing aspects of self deception is that if it is wrapped in a pretty enough package, and has a convincing spokesman, it can be sold wholesale to a group and for a profit. Consider the diamond mines and other treasures that made Shakespeare in New Mexico a boom town, at least for a little while, or the current state of politics in America today.
If you are interested in this story, and similar tales of profit through the marketing of self deception, may I suggest Ghost Towns of the Southwest The author will be donating the profits received from the sale of this book to the elimination of poverty, namely his own.


I thought Billy was nuts but when he wanted to fight me because we wouldn’t stop for a cold beer on the way to the hospital after he nicked himself in the throat with a chainsaw, the realization that he was actually crazy dawned on me. See, there is a difference between nuts and crazy.
Over the years I have put myself in some pretty interesting situations and as a result have met some folks who were just a bit different. Even more disturbing is the realization that on more than one occasion, I was one of those “different” sort of folk.
So, I have a bit of first hand knowledge about the difference between crazy and nuts. Nuts is what happens when you spend to much time with the dog and horse riding fence lines. Nuts is that point in time when your wore down from the daily grind, come home to find the wife is late, the IRS wants to talk with you, the cat had kittens in your slippers, you decide to go on a toot, and find out the next morning that you danced on the table singing “I am a little tea pot” and the photos are now posted on Facebook.
I have sampled a walk on the “nut” side more than once. Crazy is another issue. Crazy is, well, crazy.
Billy bleeding like a stuck hog and wanting to punch my lights out because I wouldn’t stop for a beer was crazy. Al, beating his truck with a shovel when it got stuck in the sand, was walking the line between nuts and crazy. He crossed that line when he unloaded his ice chest, set fire to the truck, and laughed like a loon.
Nuts are all around us and to a large degree they are relatively harmless. Crazy folks are all around us as well, and it always makes me nervous to know they are out there with access to forks and spoons.
Nuts is an illness that comes and goes. The flair ups are temporary though the effects might last for quite some time.
Crazy is different. To the best of my knowledge there is no cure. It is often terminal, to the afflicted and to those around them.
Nuts can function rather well in society as the traits that result in that moniker only manifest on occasion. Crazy people often end up as hermits or politicians free from the constraints of society.  
As hermits crazy people are sort of like rattlesnakes. You don’t bother them and they don’t bother you.
When the crazy people choose politics as a profession no one is safe because then they have the power to inflict their craziness on others. Even worse, in this capacity they are like magnets that attract similarly crazy people.
You can reason with a nut because under what appears to a crazy veneer is a sane person who just reached a boiling point. Once the steam blows off all is fine and dandy.
You can not reason with crazy. You can use Harvard approved one hundred dollar words or good old fashioned horse sense and you will never convince a crazy hermit not to wear tin foil in their hat to ward off attempts at mind control or get them to believe jet trails are not a government conspiracy to eliminate them.
Likewise with a crazy politician, especially one that has surrounded himself with thinkers of a like mind. Then even the meaning of a simple word like “is” is up for grabs.
A nut at the wheel of the bus can be dangerous. Getting on the crazy field trip bus is, well, crazy.
A dozen or so years ago I thought perhaps this was the wrong bus but couldn’t tell if the driver was nuts or crazy. Then about eight years ago I noticed that the bus was filling up with people just like the driver. Now, here we are in the spring of 2011 and there is no longer any doubt, this is the crazy field trip bus, no one is getting off, and where it will stop is anybody’s guess but there is a pretty good chance it won’t be a very pleasant place. 


Hi, my name is Jim Hinckley and I am addicted to rust. Most kids drag home stray puppies, I used to drag home rusty things. It started with discarded bicycles and wagons but soon I was bringing home abandoned vehicles and assorted parts.
I can’t really blame my parents even though it was they who first exposed me to rust. My first memories are of a rusty Chevy convertible that had been submerged after a hurricane. This was followed with a ’57 Chevy sedan on the fast track toward becoming metallic Swiss cheese as a result of Michigan road salt.
My first hands on experience with these old derelicts came with a massive World War II era deuce and a half we used as a water truck, a ’49 Studebaker that could haul what seemed to be massive amounts of hay, a ’49 Mercury dad transformed into a truck, and a ’53 Chevy truck with an advanced case of desert sunburn.
Then, after we moved back to Michigan, there was a 1953 International boom truck used in dad’s scrap business, and one of my first cars, a 1938 Chrysler. The Chrysler was so ravaged by the tin worm that the front fender fell off one night as I drove across the railroad tracks near Page Avenue.
Next came a tattered 1964 Rambler American station wagon followed by my first truck, a 1942 Chevy half ton. The Chevy had so many dents they overlapped, it was almost as though it had been used as a drum by demons armed with ball pin hammers pounding out an unholy symphony. The various coats of paint had worn away leaving only a patina of desert sunburn induced rust. 
On the occasions when I did purchase a vehicle with paint, such as the beautiful robins egg blue ’64 Cadillac, or my almost new bronze and white ’78 Chevy truck, it seemed to freak friends out. I suppose it would be akin to having a life long friend who had studied for the priesthood suddenly announcing he was becoming a gay, nudist Druid monk.
For the first few years of adult hood it was battered and rusty representatives of GM from the pre 1950 period that provided my transportation. There was a dependable 1946 GMC that proved to be the best desert wagon ever owned until we acquired the Jeep, a 1942 Chevy stake bed, a 1949 GMC stake bed, a 1949 Chevy panel truck, and a couple of 1949 and 1950 Chevy pick up trucks.
They all shared similar traits. They were well used before I got them and all of them were deeply dusted with rust after being baked in the desert sun for decades.
With the passing of the years, with a few exceptions, my rusty steeds became a bit more modern. One of the big exceptions was a truly well worn 1926 Ford my dearest friend and I double dated in.
From about 1979 to to 1990, the vehicles that graced our driveway, hauled groceries, transported my son and wife home from the hospital, and that carried us on vacations to the mountains of Colorado, the coast of California and Oregon, and through the vast landscapes of New Mexico represented the American auto industry between 1950 and the early 1970s.
There was a ’56 Ford Fairlane and a ’54 Dodge pick up, a 1969 Galaxie and ’70 Chevy pick up, a ’73 Impala and ’74 Ford F100, a ’64 Pontiac and ’69 Cadillac convertible, and a handful of Advance design series Chevy trucks built between 1947 and 1953.
My dearest friend accepted my affliction and even became used to the looks of pity given when she loaded the son and groceries into a faded and tattered 1973 Olds. But she could do this with a smile knowing that the Olds, a $350.00 purchase, had ice cold ac, was dependable, cost little to maintain, and was comfortable on long trips. And as we had no car payments, there were funds for grand adventures.
As it turned out the rusty, trusty Olds stands out as one of my better purchases. It served us faithfully for 16 years and through its windshield we saw Big Sur, Monterrey, lots of Arizona, and most of southern California. With the purchase of the Jeep, we gave it away and to this day we see its faded blue hulk cruising the streets of Kingman.
By the year 2000, we had moved forward and our primary road trip transport was a faded 1988 Ford Crown Victoria Country Squire. The old wagon served us faithfully for years even though it wasn’t much of a looker.
My son learned to drive and took his driving test behind the wheel of this land yacht. There were camping trips and family trips to Colorado, New Mexico, and California. As with the Olds, when we purchased the Jeep it to was given a new home and serves its new family just as faithfully.
In my old age the addiction has not waned but now lies just under the surface awaiting an opportunity to resurface with the acquisition of a long awaited Model A truck or pre 1920 Hudson. In the mean time we drive our shiny black Jeep and when I need a quick fix, there is always Barney our fast fading 1968 Dodge Adventurer.