The Route 66 state of mind is more than slowing the pace, savoring a piece of pie at the Pine Country Restaurant, and discussing the days adventures with fellow travelers at the Blue Swallow Motel as the sun sinks into the west. These are the foundational elements but to truly develop that unique state of mind where the past and present blend together seamlessly it is imperative that we develop the ability to see through the abandonment to what once was, and to see what lies behind a facade tinged with neon.
Joe Sonderman is one of many talented and generous authors that provide the special glasses that make this form of x-ray vision possible. By sharing his extensive post card collection in books such as Route 66 In Arizona, we can stand among the ruins of Two Guns in Arizona and see a roadside oasis brimming with life, or in the solitude that now embraces the forlorn shell of the Painted Desert Trading Post and hear the traffic as it flows east and west in a steady stream.
With this vision, with the knowledge of what once, the Route 66 experience moves beyond the senses of touch, taste, hear, and feel. The dimension of context is added and then the journey becomes one that allows us to slip from the present into the past and back again.
It was this foundational premise that led me to write Ghost Towns of Route 66. It is also what led to the development of the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia.
It is also what leads people like Connie Echols to lovingly refurbish the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri, or the Mueller’s to move west and assume the role of stewards of the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. It is also the source of endless frustration as this enhanced vision allows one to see the potential in an eyesore or the wide array of possibilities with the resurrection or transformation of a property that hovers on the brink of being swept away by the tide of progress or time.
In my adopted hometown of Kingman, I am daily faced with the impotent frustration of seeing incredible properties languish as time for their demolition draws near. Consider the El Travatore Motel built in 1939.
In recent years it became a by the week or by the month rental complex and now it sits abandoned. Amazingly, most of its unique attributes, from towering sign to rounded glass block corners, have survived the years. 

El Travatore Motel, Kingman, Arizona

Just imagine, with its stunning and unique bluff top perch, what a delight this would be as a mall featuring galleries, restaurants, offices, coffee shops, and a book store. Now add a picnic area on the rocky knoll under the tower as part of an observation area for watching trains crawl through the canyon below, and the glow of the neon trimmed letters at night casting their glow.
The past and present, and the magic of Route 66, would blend as a concert of sight, of sound, and memories. But the frustration, the possibilities are not limited to the El Trovatore or to Kingman.
However, they are limited to Route 66. Only along this magic carpet of asphalt is it possible transform a community with the restoration of a motel, or make it an international destination by turning on the neon, and offering fresh pie at a ten stool diner.
The next time you drive Route 66, savor each moment, slow the pace, and unleash the imagination. Maybe, just maybe, the best days of the iconic highway are yet to come.
If you enjoy Jim Hinckley\'s America, take a second to support jimhinckleysamerica on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!