Ghost towns, and the related lure of lost treasures and lost civilizations, is a very popular topic. That fact coupled with a fascination for these empty places that dates back more than forty years, and my passion for sharing their stories, served as the catalyst for the writing of Ghost Towns of the Southwest.
Then the publisher asked if I would be interested in shining the spotlight on the forgotten and empty places along Route 66. As I felt this subject had been overlooked for far to long, and I had a curiosity about what the response would be to combining the topics of ghost towns and Route 66, there was an almost instantaneous acceptance of the contract. The end result was Ghost Towns of Route 66, one of my most enjoyable projects.

On our last trip I presented Fran at the Midpoint
Cafe with a copy of the latest book, my way of saying
thank you for years of hospitality and
wonderful meals.

As I write books and feature articles to share discoveries made, to encourage exploration, or to provide depth and context to those explorations, it is my insatiable curiosity that underlies most projects. The multitude of questions that resulted from the research behind Ghost Towns of Route 66 was a foundational element for acceptance of the current assignment, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas.
With the writing of each book I meet the most fascinating people, such as Joe Sonderman, Jeff Jensen, John and Judy Springs, and Kumar Patel and with the promotion of each book there is boundless opportunity to travel, to meet people, and to see my labors made manifest in a book through the eyes of readers. It is this aspect of writing that is most rewarding.
This fall, tentatively during the first week of October, I will have the opportunity to weave all of this into a very memorable trip. We will be promoting Ghost Towns of Route 66 and gathering material to serve as illustrations for the encyclopedia. We will also be gathering material for what we envision as the next project, the ultimate Route 66 travel guide.
I can not hope to, nor would I want to, eclipse the best available guide for navigating Route 66 on the market, EZ 66 Guide for Travelers, 2nd edition, by Jerry McClanahan. What I envision is a vacation guide, a book that will meet the needs of the armchair traveler as well as those who spend their vacations on the most famous highway in America.
In addition to providing information about every accessible alignment of the old highway including those that are now pedestrian or bicycle corridors such as the Chain of Rocks Bridge or memory lane in Illinois, or that require a four wheel drive, there will be dining and lodging recommendations as well. One of the unique aspects for the book will be sidebars providing information about short detours, less than 25 miles, that will greatly enhance any journey along Route 66.
As an example, beating the summer heat in Arizona, and enjoying an evening of fine dining, is found in an oasis that is the pine forested Hualapai Mountain Park just twelve miles south of Kingman. Other detours in mind would be Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, and Walnut Canyon near Flagstaff.
In an unrelated note the Route 66 Association of California met yesterday in Needles to discuss a wide array of topics including the 2012 International Route 66 Festival scheduled to take place in Rancho Cucamonga next summer. Even though the exact date had not been set as of yet, we made open reservations for that weekend with Kumar at the Wigwam Motel in Rialto. Apparently a number of folks had a similar idea.
Now, a quick plug for an excellent new book by acclaimed author Michael Wallis. On our trip to Amarillo, my dearest friend purchased a copy of David Crockett, The Lion Of The West the author and she has shared a chapter a day since our return.
This is how history books need to be written. The author masterfully transports us to the period, peels away layers of misconceptions and more than a century of legend to reveal the true character of the larger than life David Crockett, and fills the mind with multidimensional word portraits that make it possible to feel the depth of heartbreak, smell the smoke, and shiver with the cold.
This is truly a must read book.

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