Money is a funny thing. We prostitute ourselves for about forty hours per week to get it, trade irreplaceable time for more than enough, and worry about it on a fairly regular basis. Yet, in the grand scheme of things it is pretty damn worthless.
I remember the first time these thoughts began to dominate my thinking with absolute clarity. The heat waves dancing on the pavement presented the illusion of water but there wasn’t a drop to be found under a blistering desert sun. The dead calm air seemed hot enough to pop corn.
My lips were glued together, my throat was two steps beyond parched and my mouth was so dry I could have spit dust. The only shade to be found for miles was under my old sweat stained hat.
The silence was deafening as Route 66 had been bypassed the year before and the highway was empty. The only sound was the beating of my heart and the clop, flop of my broke down boots with one heel held in place by bailing wire as I placed one foot in front of the other on the griddle that was that two lane stretch of asphalt.
By mile one I gave in to the temptation and began sucking on the canteen and by around mile five it went dry. Thoughts of a cold beer gave way to thoughts of anything cold, which gave way to thoughts of anything wet by the seventh or eighth mile.
The old GMC had called it quits just a mile or so from the highway but that was still a dozen miles from Kingman and almost thirty miles from the ranch. Hackberry was a bit closer but not by much and that had made the decision a bit easier.
Along this stretch of road there had been dramatic changes since the new four lane between Seligman and Kingman opened. In the first couple of hours only a car or two zipped past and there was no hope that those lost tourists were going to stop for a fellow that looked as wild as I did. This was my monthly trip to town for a haircut and a bit of cutting loose.
My hair was beyond shaggy, and the stubble on my face accentuated the deep bronze color of my face. The old blue shirt was faded almost white but not quite enough to mask the sweat stains. My jeans were bleached from the sun and a few hundred washes but they still bore the marks of oil stains, blood stains, and my best imitation of a seamstress.
So, with my head throbbing from the heat I let my mind drift as the autopilot kicked in and one foot followed the other without thought. At first it was a bit difficult to think of much of anything but how damned hot it was.
Then, as they often did when I was alone in the desert, my thoughts turned to the twisted path that led from the deep forested mountains of Tennessee to this forlorn place in the wilderness. At some point in my fevered reflections I felt a smile creep across my face in spite of the cracked lips.
Here I was in the middle of absolute nowhere. My truck was down, my boots were shot, I was way beyond thirsty, but in my pockets were the old watch, a gift from a cowhand with no family that was mere minutes from standing with his maker, my pocket knife, and a wallet full of jack, a months pay and then some.
It wasn’t really a laugh, I was far to dry for that. It was more of a crackle that would have convinced most anyone I had spent way to much time alone and in the sun if there had been anyone around.
A pocket full of jack and it had even less value than my well worn boots, or ancient misshapen Stetson. Talk about your revelations!
The lesson learned that day was that money is important in the right place. However, in the end how much or how little you have really won’t matter so don’t spend to much time chasing it.


For a fellow who prefers the quiet places, and that has spent a large portion of his time on earth basking in anonymity, it is an interesting adventure when it comes time to step into the limelight, naked as a jaybird, twirl the baton, and proclaim, “Look at me!” That, however, is what must be done if one wants to sell books and share his love for the road less traveled with a larger audience.
At some point, if the books are written well and the passion for the subject can be conveyed, the task of shameless self promotion begins to take on a life of its own. In this amazing age where the cyberspace world stretches to the very horizons of the imagination this new creation sprouts wings and learns to fly rather quickly.
Consider this fan page on or this one on Facebook. Once created by the publicist they begin to grow slowly but the building of credibility with each new creation provides the good soil needed for them to mature.
When I sold my first feature to Special Interest Autos the dream of becoming a writer was reignited, but it was still just a dream. I wrote out of a desire to share my love for vintage vehicles and obscure places on the road less traveled.
Now, twenty years, several hundred feature articles, and six books later, there is a quickening in my spirit that, perhaps, the dream may become a reality. Can I share my passions with others and make a living?
I have been quietly sharing the review copy of Ghost Towns of Route 66 select friends and acquaintances. I watch their eyes, their face as the pages turn and sense this book, like Route 66 itself, transcends its original purpose. Like that legendary highway it seems to touch something deep inside.
I have waited for the dream to become a reality for many years. It is for that reason I never tarnished it by writing solely for profit.
I am not an artist. I have difficulty drawing recognizable stick people and often my three year granddaughter does better transferring the world around her onto paper than I do.
I am not a musician. I have trouble playing the radio and can make money by people paying me not to play an instrument or sing.
But I can share worlds lost in time and places of stunning beauty with the written word and photographs. The blank page is my canvas.
With that said, I would like to thank each and everyone of you for moving the dream closer to reality. Thank you for letting me share the wonders found on the road less traveled and parting the mists of time to reveal forgotten people and places.
Money is a wonderful thing but it is merely a cold, dead tool. It is the joy that others find in the work that is the real reward.