Before resuming our Route 66 tour to Amarillo through Flagstaff there are a couple of exiting updates to share. Lets start with the International Route 66 Festival scheduled for June 9th through 12th in Amarillo, Texas. This event is shaping up to be the Route 66 event of the year. Folks are literally coming from as far away as New York, Australia, Japan and Germany to attend. For more detailed information follow the link posted in the previous paragraph. Joe Loesch and the Road Crew will keep things hoping at the historic Nat Ballroom on Friday evening, a perfect way to end a day that will include an authors and artist expo featuring noted celebrities such as Michael Wallis and Joe Sonderman, exhibits by collectors, an art show and even a haunted house. The fun continues on Saturday with more from the artists and authors, a car and motorcycle show, a bowling tournament, and a banquet among other things. My participation is as one of the featured authors. However, I now have another role to play, a representative of the Kingman area tourism office. That means I will have a lot of free stuff to hand out including the Arizona U.S. 66 Passport, Arizona road maps, Kingman promotional brochures, and a variety of colorful Kingman post cards. Many of these items are also available at my office/museum of automotive advertising/unofficial visitor center located at the west end of the Martin Swanty Chrysler complex on Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) in Kingman. I should also note that this five star dealership is your one stop for repairs or service on your Route 66 adventure and, with a bit of notice, will usually host a stop for auto clubs or groups, such as the micro car tour last year, http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifras they pass through town. In addition to Kingman area and Arizona Route 66 promotional material, including maps, I also have a wide array of other material on hand from Afton Station to the Barstow Harvey House and the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California. If you have a business or museum on Route 66, and would like a bit of free promotion, send me a note and lets add your brochures to the display. Even though my new book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, was released several weeks ago the official promotional launch is at Barnes & Noble in Amarillo on Thursday evening followed by Friday and Saturday at the festival. In addition to the book, I will also have 8×10 and 8×12 color prints from our books and gallery showings available for $10.00. Now, before we resume our eastward adventure on Route 66, I have two more plugs. When planning your adventure on the double six, in my opinion there are only two options as far as guides to the various alignments of the old highway. One is the website Route 66 Atlas. The amount of research that went into this project is nothing short of astounding. While it is not quite as detailed, the EZ 66 Guidehttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0970995164&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr by Jerry McClanahan is far more portable and whole lot more practical for the average traveler. I can’t imagine a trip on Route 66 without this guide. Okay, Flagstaff. This small metropolis amongst the pines in Arizona is a near perfect time capsule of Route 66 in the glory days; a crush of traffic, garish neon, a staggering array of dining choices, and vintage motels mixed among the generic world of the modern era. Simply put, take your time and enjoy the adventure. My first suggestion is to park at the historic depot and walk north and south of the tracks. Historic hotels, unique shops, restaurants that have been in service for more than a half century, and museums are found at every turn. Alpine Pizza north of the depot rates high on our list of favorites as does the historic Galaxy Diner. Lodging covers the entire spectrum from a European style hostel in a 1929 Inn and vintage motels with refurbished neon to historic hotels that predate statehood. There is something for every taste and every budget in Flagstaff. There are two alignments of Route 66 east of Flagstaff. The “newer” post 1947 alignment is signed as historic Route 66 and ends at exit 204 on I-40. I prefer the older alignment. For this follow U.S. 89 north a few miles and then turn on the road indicating Winona. This is a beautiful drive with more than a few surprises for the photography buff. On Wednesday, we will continue our eastward trek.
Okay, we are in Kingman, Arizona and will be driving to Amarillo, Texas. In between is some of the best Route 66 has to offer, if you know where to look. Initially, Route 66 at the east end of Kingman is a four lane corridor through the generic world of the modern era – fast food joints, soulless but extremely reasonable modern motels, and truck stops. For the astute observer vestiges of old Route 66 begin to appear within a few short miles. There are historic motels, vintage service stations, and even an old cafe or two even though most of these are now masked as something else. There is even an old Stuckey’s, now a private residence. The modern four lane incarnation of Route 66 gives way to the older two lane immediately to the east of the entrance to the Kingman airport and industrial park, site of the former Kingman Army Airfield. Just as the two lane begins pull safely off of the highway and look to the north across the stark desert plains. It make take a bit to find them but a row of pillboxes from the old gunnery range stand as silent sentinels from when this was airfield was a key component in the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny.
The Hackberry General Store is an internationally recognized icon that has come to symbolize the Route 66 of the modern era. However, the old store is a relatively recent addition to the roadside as it only dates to 1936. The town of Hackberry is across the tracks and provides an excellent opportunity for stretching the legs. Once large enough to be considered as the county seat, this old mining town has a few points of interest including the boarding house next to the tiny post office, the old two room school house, and an interesting cemetery. Peach Springs is a great stop for a meal or even a restful nights sleep. Photo opportunities include the now closed Osterman station dating to 1927, and the Haulapai Foresty Office, an interesting stone building that served as a trading post when built around 1921. Watch for the Hyde Park sign to the east of Grand Canyon caverns. The site for this former resort is on the north side of the road and even though little remains with the exception of foundations and an empty swimming pool the view across the Aubrey Valley is spectacular. Originally signs encouraged visitors to “Park Your Hide at Hyde Park Tonight.” Seligman is fast becoming a time capsule with the dust and dirt removed to reveal stunning treasures. The Supai Motel offers clean, basic lodging in an atmosphere that seems to have been lifted from a 1950s travel brochure and there are several great dining options. You can continue east on Route 66 as far as the Crookton Road exit, a few miles west of Ashfork. Most visitors jump on I-40 at Seligman but I prefer this vestige of Route 66 as there is something tranquil as it flows over the hills and gently twists its way down a narrow canyon. Ashfork is well worth a cruise even thought he old town has been slow to capitalize on the resurgent interest in Route 66 and a series of devastating fires destroyed large swaths of the historic district. Beautiful vestiges from more than a century of history, including an auto court or two that date to the 1930s, make for excellent photo opportunities. Route 66 from Ashfork to Williams, all alignments, is severely broken and truncated. Still, for those who enjoy long walks among the ghosts of the past there are a wide array of opportunities. One of the best places for this is accessed via exit 157, Devil Dog Road, where sections of the 1922 and 1932 portions of old roadway serves as a bicycle and hiking trail through the towering pines. Williams is a book in itself. Well preserved and renovated lodging opportunities run the gamut from hotels dating to the 1890s to classic Route 66 establishments from every decade between 1930 and 1980. Dining options are almost as diverse. As Williams is less than 150 miles from home we seldom have need to sample the lodging choices. However, on more than one occasion we have driven to Williams merely to beat the summer heat or for a break that includes good food.
Our favorite is the Pine Country Restaurant. Good food at reasonable prices, great views, and an electric atmosphere where visitors from throughout the world chatter with excitement about their adventures on Route 66 or to the Grand Canyon make it a delightful place to begin or end a day of travel. From Williams to Flagstaff the old highway is a bit challenging to find but large sections are still intact and serve locals as an access road. The best is found at exit 167 and continuing east to exit 185 even though some segments are now gravel. Towering pines, wonderful views, excellent opportunities, especially in the early morning hours, for viewing wildlife in the meadows, and the store at Parks dating to 1921, provide ample reward for the adventuresome traveler. During the months of summer the shade dappled drive is a true oasis from the desert heat. In the next post we will continue this week long series. We will begin with a lengthy list of sites to see, places to stay, and great places to eat in Flagstaff.
With less than two weeks to go before the next big road trip, an adventure to Amarillo for the 2011 International Route 66 Festival, the anticipation is building in direct correlation to the frustration that comes from having so much to do before we leave. There is the Jeep to service and camera equipment to prepare, the house to stock with supplies for my son and his family, and a million plus details to resolve at the office. The very essence of a Route 66 based adventure is to allow the road to dictate where the day begins and ends as well as what fills it. You can’t do that when tied to reservations and a schedule. Unfortunately most of us have schedules and as a result the best we can hope for in our travels is to have a day or two where the freedom of the road restores the soul. From that perspective, as excited as we are about the festival, and the opportunities to reacquaint ourselves with old friends and to make new ones, it is the two days at the beginning and at the end of the adventure that our spirit craves. To the best of our abilities we will use the first two days of the trip to purge ourselves of the generic so we will be in the right frame of mind for enjoying the grand celebration in Amarillo. To ensure this we will have our EZ 66 Guideby Jerry McClanahan, the best guide book to this amazing highway that I am aware of, and the latest edition of the Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide. These excellent guides, as well related books and travel kits, are available through the National Route 66 Federation. As a bonus, when you buy books direct from them there is the satisfaction of having supported a very good cause. The primary excuse (as if we needed one) for attending the festival this year is it will be the kick off for the promotional tour of the newest 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<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. The secondary one would be the need for illustrations to accompany the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas. So, if all goes according to plan, we should be heading east as the sun rises over Route 66 a couple of days before the festival. As photo opportunities will dictate the stops for the day, we will most likely make few stops until we reach the east side of Flagstaff. We really want to photograph the old bridges between Winona and Flagstaff, at Padre Canyon, and at Two Guns. Our list of places to photograph in Winslow and Holbrook is quite lengthy as is the one for Grants and Gallup. As we hope to photograph some neon in Albuquerque, that will most likely be the end of the road for the day. Now, as to where we will lay our head for the night, that is the type of mystery that is the ambrosia of an adventure on legendary Route 66. Day two will will take us to the ancient capital of Santa Fe and along the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66, arguably the most historic segment of the highway as it follows the El Camino Real and the storied Santa Fe Trail. The towns found along Route 66 between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa on this loop often appear as old as the land itself. The Santa Domingo Pueblo predates the arrival of the Spanish conquistador by at least several decades as do the ruins at Pecos. Glorietta Pass, and the remnants of the adobe barn at the old Pigeon Ranch played a prominent role in a major battle of the American Civil War. It was in the town square of Tecolate where General Kearney announced that New Mexico was now part of the United States during the Mexican/American War in 1846. We will fudge a bit in regards to the Route 66 adventure by venturing into Las Vegas, a favorite stop of mine. I always add this beautiful old town to my list of must see Route 66 detours as it less than thirty miles from the Mother Road.
The ruins of Endee, New Mexico.
If there is a downside to the resurgent interest in Route 66 it is the fact that some of the refurbished historic places are becoming quite popular and as a result, reservations may be a good idea. With that said we will journey from Las Vegas to Tucumcari on scenic highway 104, past Conchas Lake, and end the day at Motel Safari.
The world famous Mid Point Cafe in Adrian, Texas.
The remainder of the journey to Albuquerque will include stops at some of our very favorite places; Endee, Glenrio, and, of course, the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. To drive through Texas chasing the wonders of Route 66, and not stop here for pie and coffee is akin to going to Las Vegas and never eating at a buffet or pulling the handle on a one armed bandit. Indications are that the festival in Amarillo this year will be the largest celebration of legendary Route 66 in decades. In addition to an all star cast that includes Michael Wallis, fans of the legendary double six from throughout the world will be in attendance. Now, the return trip hangs as a very large question mark. All I know for certain is that we must head west, and that I need to be at work by Wednesday.
Mr. Christie with his revolutionary front wheel drive race car.
The article written for Hemmings Classic Car profiling the pioneers of front wheel drive automobile development garnered a positive review that summed up most of my published work, “Jim Hinckley shines a light into dusty corners and exposes a myriad of treasures.” That review has become the cornerstone for every project as it is my goal to illuminate forgotten corners of history, to provide depth and context to the American experience, and to enhance adventures on the road less traveled. In retrospect, I now see that it was my desire to preserve history, and to give forgotten people and places a moment in the spotlight that is the catalyst for most every piece written and published. My first published feature profiled a junk yard lost in time located near Tombstone, Arizona. It was a near perfect time capsule of a wrecking yard circa 1955 where the stripped carcasses of Model T Fords crowned nondescript piles of rusty fenders, doors, frames and other components from the years between the world wars. My second published piece told the fascinating tale of the pioneers of the American automobile industry who gained a dubious form of immortality with their last name recognized throughout the world but their accomplishments, and often even their first name, were shrouded by the mists of time. It was a story of the Stanley brothers made famous by their steam car that was financed with the sale of patents that served as the cornerstone for the founding of Eastman Kodak and David Buick, the man responsible for the cast iron bathtub. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=158388100X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrIt was the story of Henry Ford, the indirect founder of Cadillac, and Charles Nash, the orphaned child that transformed General Motors. It was also the story of the Dodge brothers, the men who made the success of Ford possible, saved Oldsmobile from ruin, and that enabled Buick to become the cornerstone for General Motors. In the years that followed, I created a niche market by merely writing about what I found fascinating and what I felt was not being told about in the history books or travel guides. So, it really wasn’t a very big surprise to learn that I received the offer to write the first book to profile the Checker Cab Manufacturing Companybecause more seasoned writers felt the subject was to limited in scope, to obscure, and the available research material to thin. The next book, The Big Book of Car Culture, written in conjunction with Jon Robinson, was a project tailor made for my proclivity to transform the odd and obscure into fascinating. In this volume I was able to chronicle the evolution of pavement striping and crash test dummies, of Route 66 and the Lincoln Highway, of legendary tourist traps and even the lowly gas pump. The next projects, Backroads of Arizona and Route 66 Backroadshttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076032817X&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, allowed to me share my passion for the road less traveled and the wide array of wonders found along the way. Then came the book I had dreamed of writing for most of the past thirty years, Ghost Towns of the Southwesthttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. The hunger for knowing the story of forgotten places such as Cerbat and Pearce, Kingston and Vulture City, and for sharing their story, began the moment I sat among the ruins of Goldroad, Arizona, and gave free reign to my imagination in the summer of 1966. This book served as a milestone in my career as an author for it was the manifestation of a childhood dream to become a writer that transformed the dusty and dead into the vibrant and living. The latest publication is an extension of Ghost Towns of the Southwest. In Ghost Towns of Route 66, I was able to give towns where the resurgent interest in Route 66 came to late a brief moment in the limelight and, I hope, add depth and color to the experience of an adventure on legendary U.S. 66. I derive tremendous satisfaction in seeing my work accomplish the goal encapsulated in that review from so many years ago. In my current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, I have been entrusted with the almost sacred task of chronicling the 85 year history of America’s most famous and most popular highway. This represents the ultimate opportunity for shining a light into dark, dusty corners. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrAs final bit of shameless self promotion, I leave you with this review of Ghost Towns of Route 66 posted by Ron Warnick of Route 66 News.
The unfolding tragedy in Joplin, Missouri has tempered the excitement surrounding the release of my latest 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<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr, the pending journey to the International Route 66 Festival in Amarillo in June that will serve as the kick off for the promotional tour, and the excitement that always precedes the start of a grand adventure on Route 66. The prayers of my family are for those who have lost so much in this tragedy. I can not imagine how devastating it would be to loose family, friends, treasured mementos, and even the very neighborhoods called home. It is my sincere hope that through this tragedy the city of Joplin, and the nation, will find common ground, cast aside differences, and rebuild something wonderful from the ruins. From the perspective of Route 66, I have yet to hear what treasures and landmarks, if any, were destroyed or damaged. For updates on the tragedy and its affect on the Route 66 community, I suggest Route 66 News as a primary source of information. Tornadoes are terrifying and fascinating things. I remember as a kid the warnings and the dash to the cellar that made you as jumpy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs every time a thunderstorm rolled by. However, the memory that embedded a fascination and respect for these storms in my mind came with a visit to friends of the family whose home had been erased by a tornado. We were there to help. My dad helped clear debris and search for things that were salvageable. My mom pitched in with sandwiches and such, and I chased petrified livestock. The slab for the once stately two story home was swept absolutely clean and the resultant debris was spread like a fan across the fields as far as the eye could see. The exception was most of one standing wall, the one with the fireplace that was faced with a series of shelves for Mary’s figurines and music boxes. Incredibly, many of the fragile figurines were still in place. I have experienced moderate earthquakes, another unnerving but fascinating phenomena, blinding sandstorms in the desert and howling blizzards on the northern plains as well as hurricanes. As with tornadoes, all of these disasters are best read about rather than experienced.