ROAD TRIP!

Gas prices may be soaring but this is America and summer is fast approaching. That means its almost road trip season and as I have said before, a lack of money can hinder, but can’t prevent road trip adventures.
Of course to accommodate a stretched budget spontaneity and a flexible schedule is key to the enjoyment of a road trip. However, this must be balanced with a wee bit of planning. With that said, let’s plan a road trip, or two, or three.
We will start, but not end, with Route 66 as when dreams and fantasies of road trips are given free reign, that seems to be the highway that most often comes to mind. The hands down number one travel guide for that illustrious highway has to be the EZ 66 Guide by Jerry McClanahan.
This, and other great guides such as one for lodging and dining can be ordered from the National Historic Route 66 Federation. As a bonus, by ordering books direct from them you will be supporting an organization that has a long track record of keeping Route 66, and the gems that make it special, alive.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076032817X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThere is ample opportunity for a lifetime of adventures on the ever changing Route 66, especially if you add a short detour or two to almost magical places like Supai or Hualapai Mountain Park. That concept was the catalyst for a project that became Route 66 Backroads.
If the budget for travel has been crimped a bit with the current, and escalating, gasoline prices there are a wide array of festivals scheduled along Route 66 this year. Make any of these the center piece of a vacation or weekend getaway and you will have memories that last a lifetime.
Next weekend, the 30th of April, is the annual Route 66 Fun Run in Kingman, Arizona. This 180 mile, three day block party is the ultimate tribute to Route 66 and the American love affair with the road trip.
If you happen live close to the eastern terminus of Route 66 at Chicago, the Route 66 Association of Illinois maintains an extensive calendar of events. There is a very good chance there is at least one or more events that will fit your schedule and budget.
This year the big event, the international Route 66 festival, is scheduled for Amarillo during the second week of June. Indications are that this event will be the one that sets the standard other event coordinators aspire to.
The Route 66 Association of Missouri has an excellent three day event on their calendar. “The Route 66 Association of Missouri 22nd Annual Motor Tour, “Cruisin’ the Past, Present and Future”, will take place on September 9th, 10th, and 11th, 2011. We’ll be touring from Miami, Oklahoma to Leasburg, Missouri with overnight stops at the Econo Lodge in Miami, OK, and the Sand Spring Resort, across the Niangua River from Bennett Spring State Park.
Open to everyone
Any type vehicle- antique or late model
3 fun-filled days on Historic Route 66
Dash plaque, window decal and passport for each registered vehicle
Motor tour t-shirts and other cool Route 66 stuff available for purchase”
Motorcycles seem to be a preferred mode of transport for road trip enthusiasts. If that is your cup of tea may I suggest the Laughlin River Run in Laughlin, Nevada, or one of the amazing number of similar events scheduled in Nebraska?
This summer “See Rock City”, take a break at Wall Drug, or discover the secret of The Thing. Don’t let gas prices keep you from enjoying the quintessential American experience, the road trip! Cruise the information super highway before setting out on the road and chances are you can find something going on close to home that just may become the cornerstone of a very memorable adventure.

THE QUEST FOR PERFECTION

THE QUEST FOR PERFECTION

If an author is honest they can never take full credit for a book. There are always a multitude of people who contribute something to the finished work.
From the very inception of my latest project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, I knew it would be impossible to write it without assistance. Even if I were crazy enough to tackle it in Lone Ranger fashion accuracy would be an impossibility.
To that end I have enlisted the assistance of a few Tonto’s who have been reading over my shoulder. Then there is a small army of people that I have turned to for direction.
So even though we are still more than six months from deadline, and the word count has only reached 90,000 of a projected 120,000 to 150,000, I really needed to pause and say thank you to everyone who has taken time from their busy schedule to work with me to ensure the first eighty five years of Route 66 history is chronicled with accuracy, and to gently point out the error of my ways.
With that said, thank you Joe Sondermanhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0738580295&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, gifted author and archivist of fascinating post cards and photographs, Ron Warnick of Route 66 News, the proprietor for your one stop website for keeping abreast of what is happening along Route 66, and Scott Piotrowski, the only man I know who can decipher Route 66 in the Los Angeles area and is brave (or crazy) enough to seek the lost treasures found along its path.  I would be remiss if a thank you wasn’t also given to Dave Clarkhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0738551384&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, another gifted author better known to the Route 66 community as the Windy City Warrior.
Then of course there are the helpful folks at the various Route 66 association such as Carolyn Hasenfratz in Missouri, at the museums, and in the state archives. As a word of warning to each and everyone of you, this project still has a long ways to go so you haven’t heard the last of me.
The Route 66 encyclopedia is not so much a definitive reference work about an historic highway and the culture it spawned as it is about a community and how it developed and evolved. With this long preamble as a foundation, I would like to provide a couple of updates and appeal to the Route 66 community for assistance in my ongoing quest for answers.
In what year was Route 66 first referenced as the Main Street of America? I have newspaper clippings from early in 1927 that use this phrase in quotes from the US 66 Association.
In 1955, surveys were completed and a proposal for realignment of Route 66 was submitted to the Missouri Highway Commission. The plan called for moving Route 66 to the north side of Springfield, and running US 66 and US 166 together west of town through Mt. Vernon. This is roughly the course of I44 today. Were there other planned realignments that were simply merged into the interstate highway plan?
Joe Sonderman supplied a post card of the State Line Bar in Glenrio, Texas for the new book, Ghost Towns of Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. If you look closely at the card it shows an adjoining post office signed Glenrio, New Mexico. Any ideas?
Now, a few unrelated items. Regular followers of this blog will notice a few dramatic changes but there are also some subtle ones. Do you feel this is an improvement?
In addition to links in the upper right column for subscribing to Route 66 Chronicles via email and the Kindle reader, there is now poll. The monthly poll will  now be a regular feature.
The opinion bar has been moved to the bottom of the post in an effort to make it easier for you to have input. The comments are now at the top.
One item still on the to do list is the removal of links to the companion site, Route 66 Info Center. In light of the exciting new on line magazine being unveiled by John Spring, the wonderful Route 66 Chamber of Commerce website designed and maintained by Ron Hart, the return, we hope, of the Route 66 Alliance, and the excellent work of Mr. Knudsen at the National Historic Route 66 Federation, your one stop shop for the best Route 66 guide books available, it seemed redundant and as a result the plug was pulled.
Last but not least, next weekend is the annual Route 66 Fun Run Weekend, a three day block party and celebration of America’s love affair with that legendary highway and the road trip. This year the event will take on an international flair as tour operator Dale Butel of Australia has coordinated his spring Route 66 tour to include the Fun Run.
For the first time ever, the scheduled dates for the Laughlin River Run, a massive celebration of the motorcycle, and the Fun Run collided. This could be quite interesting. If nothing else it should provide a pretty good glimpse of what traffic was like on Route 66 before it was by passed by the interstate.
Will you be joining in on the fun? A full update with photos will be posted here the following week. Other upcoming items of note at Route 66 Chronicles include the final chapter in the Kingman Army Airfield saga, a contest to win a signed copy of Ghost Towns of Route 66 with accompanying 8x 10 print, and reviews of some new titles.

IT REALLY DID SEEM LIKE A GOOD IDEA

At the time $50.00 seemed like a very fair price for the 1963 Cadillac. Sure, it had been hit on the side so hard the drivers door didn’t open and it rubbed your knuckles when turning the wheel. Okay, the upholstery was a bit rough having weathered more than 15 years without a window and there was a bit of a smell as cats had called it home for most of that time.
But it ran, once I bought a battery, and water pump, and fuel pump, and rebuilt the carburetor, and bought some tires, and a master cylinder, and four wheel cylinders, and a couple of wheel bearings. In fact, it ran so well that it seemed like a good idea to take a little weekend trip to Las Vegas.
The ticket really wasn’t that much money but it was enough to defund the weekend that then became a one day trip. The tow bill was what drained the wallet.
As it turned out the problems were quite minor. In no time at all I had it on the road again once I bought a transmission kit, and a distributor, and an oil pain gasket, and fixed the radiator leak. 
I only lamented not having a drivers door window on cold winter mornings. As the weeks passed and daylight began pushing nighttime into a corner, the weather became warmer and not having a window wasn’t really that bad. 
Getting in from the passenger side and sliding across the seat was an inconvenience but only when the seat springs snagged my pants or poked me in the backside was it really a pain. By early summer I had fixed that problem and made the car more enjoyable for long cruises on warm summer evenings with another idea that seemed good at the time. 
It started with a porch swing, a couple of cold beers, and good friends whiling away the late evening hours with discussions about girls and wistful thoughts of how nice it would be to have a convertible. It ended with a small upholstery fire and a cruise in the old Coupe DeVille under a desert sky littered with stars, and no top to impede the view.
My new convertible provided hours of fun that summer and I might have kept it for years if another good idea hadn’t come to mind. So, before moving to Flagstaff just in time for the first snow, I traded the Cadillac, and $100.00, for a 1963 International pick up truck.
The old truck was arrow straight and as rusty as a Brillo pad left in the sink for a week or two. But it had both doors, all its windows, a heater, and only burned about four quarts of oil in the 150 mile drive to Flagstaff.
About a month after moving to Flagstaff, which would be about two weeks before I lost my job, somebody had a good idea and stole my truck from in front of Alpine Pizza. How desperate can someone be to take a truck like that?
Well, with no job and no truck it seemed like a good idea to head back to Kingman where the snow wasn’t piled up about as high as my back side. And it seemed like a good idea to leave most of my worldly possessions with my roommate, a personable fellow I had met a month or so before, and hitchhike down the mountain.
As it turned out, heading for Kingman was the only real good idea but first I had to get there. 
I would bet a buck or two that the fellow who picked me up at the Monte Carlo Truck Stop thought it was a good idea to rob me but the joke was on him.
What are you going to get from a homeless man without a job? The answer, a military surplus sleeping bag, a tattered back pack stuffed with some long underwear, socks, and a couple pair of jeans.
I had no money. That was already invested in my future. It had been sent to a friend in Kingman who needed help with the rent and who needed a roommate. As it turned out he also was about $100.00 short on paying off the fine for a D.U.I. I wonder where he moved after leaving town?
One of the blessings that come with age is the ability to look back on the years, reflect on the things things that seemed like a good idea at the time, and marvel that we survived. From that perspective my goals are relatively simple, make new mistakes every day as there is no fun or potential for profit in making the same ones twice. 

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HERE AND THERE

I figure if the day job that supports the writing habit doesn’t pan out it might be possible to get a job at the circus, or perhaps performing at kids parties. After all I have extensive experience as a juggler and pinata, and might even be able to wear the back half of the horse costume as I have experience in that area as well.
If nothing else, the life lived as a writer by night and truck leasing agent by day is an interesting one that gets more interesting with every passing day. In the past two weeks the mass exodus from California and Las Vegas has kept me hoping as a shortage of trucks in those markets has folks driving to Kingman to obtain one. Meanwhile, the assistant who covers for me on my days off and during vacations has become quite ill which leaves me less than six weeks to possibly find a replacement, and train them, as I have to be in Amarillo for the International Route 66 Festival on June 9th for the debut of my new book, Ghost Towns of Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr.
On the writing front, the publicist I have been working with at the publisher for the past several years is having to take an early retirement effective at the end of this month. It feels as though I am loosing a dear friend as she has always been there to listen, to answer some pretty odd questions, to lend support, as well as serve as my right hand in regards to the promotion of books written and me as a writer.
So, the writing hobby that I had hoped would become a full time job has become a full time job. My prayers have been answered. Perhaps I should have added a request that the full time job as a writer would be a paying one.
I enjoy adventures and this endeavor to chase the elusive life of the full time writer while maintaining a job that supports the hunt is truly a grand adventure. A mere 24 hours that are represented on the calendar as a square labeled Monday exemplify just what an adventure my life has become.
Monday morning, a scheduled day off, began with a 7:00 AM blood tests to evaluate the status of a condition discovered about six weeks ago. This was followed by a visit to the dentist to have another mold made to cap a broken tooth as the first mold did not work.
So, there I am in the dentist chair, waiting for my gum to numb, when my cell rings. It would seem there was a small crisis at the office pertaining to a truck return which I valiantly attempt to resolve by phone while sounding more and more like Marlon Brando in the Godfather.
This is followed by a small sewer repair at my mothers old house and the mailing of a couple of packages. Then its home for several hours of digging through newspaper archives as I gather material for the Route 66 encyclopedia. Did you know the term “Main Street of America” to describe Route 66 dates to an initial meeting of the US 66 Highway Association in February of 1927?
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=ifrWith a goal of adding 2,500 words to the existing word count of 85,000, I staple my backside to the desk chair, slip in a CD containing the greatest hits of Marty Robbins, take a small break late in the afternoon to visit with Chris Durkin and discuss the new season of Chillin on Beale Street, and then its back to documenting the fascinating and colorful history of Route 66. At about 6:30 my dearest friend slides a wonderful plate of food under my nose, a subtle hint that perhaps its time for a break.
Expecting a call from my dad around 7:30, I set up camp at the kitchen computer next to the phone after dinner. Deeply engrossed with stories about the troubles rocking Texola (1908) I answer the phone on the first ring like an automated device.  
The auto pilot mode vaporizes when I hear Jay Leno’s voice. Things like this never cease to amaze me.
In my minds eye I am just some obscure hack eking out a living in the http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760319650&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrwilds of Arizona and then Jay Leno calls, or someone from Germany stops in the office to have me sign a t-shirt, or someone in Prescott recognizes me. To be honest it almost makes me feel like I am living two separate lives and that is a damned odd sensation, especially when the two worlds collide somewhere between here and there.
Well, it looks like I am blessed with another opportunity to visit the magical mechanical lair of Jay Leno but this time it will be to share, or introduce, the wonders and charms of Route 66. Now, I have another adventure within an adventure to work into the schedule.
The videos for the previous interviews recorded for Jay Leno’s website, Jay Leno’s Garage, one for my book on the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company and one for The Big Book of a Car Culture, a joint project with Jon Robinson, are found in the right hand column of this blog.
The day drew to close with an excellent movie shared with my dearest http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000056HEH&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrfriend, Lillies of the Field with Sidney Poiter, and as I was in need of some inspiration, a chapter in the recent book by Dan Rice, End of the Trailhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0982141912&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr.
I am truly a blessed man. Boredom is never found at my door, I have a dear friend to share the adventure of life with, and on more than one occasion each week, from dawn to dusk, I am doing the things I enjoy most.

THE COUNT DOWN BEGINS

THE COUNT DOWN BEGINS

The official introduction for my latest book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, will be at the festival in Amarillo but next week review copies will be made available to the press. So, I felt this would be a good time to provide the egroup with a preview of what to expect.

Endee, New Mexico

My goal in writing this book was to add a bit of depth to the Route 66 experience by providing some historical context. I also felt that the important role towns like Lawndale, Endee, and Goffs played in the evolution of Route 66 was being overlooked and was in danger of being lost.
There are only a handfull of true ghost towns found along Route 66. These would be places like Endee.
However, there are a multitude of towns that are now less than a shadow of what they once were and this played a key role in why I chose them for inclusion. The purist as well as the fine folks who reside in some of these communities may take offense for my use of artistic license but many of these communities have a most fascinating history and felt their story needed to be told.
McLean in Texas is not a ghost town in the traditional sense of the word. After all, they still have a sizable population, two fine museums, and an excellent time capsule motel.

McLean, Texas

However, when standing in front of the Avalon Theater it is difficult not to think ghost town. Likewise with viewing Afton from Afton Station or Galena from 4 Women ont he Route.
As with any book, the final product is always an unfinished work as research turns up new details. When writing this book my information on Wildorado in Texas was a little thin.
However, the reasearch for my next book, a Route 66 encyclopedia,has led to the discovery of a newspaper archive. It was here that I learned this dustly little town had a repuation during the 1920s that propelled it into national headlines. Did you know the bank there was robbed eight times in three years?
Some of the towns I chose to include had a very brief association with Route 66. However, their history was so rich and colorful I felt it had to be shared.
Romeroville in New Mexico, where presidents Grant and Hayes, as well other celebrities of the era visisted with Don Trinidad Romero, would be an example.
So, I hope you find the book will be a welcome addition to your Route 66 library. I also hope it enhances your next Route 66 adventure.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and memories about the ghost towns found along Route 66, and hope you will be in Amarillo to share them.