On more than one occasion it has been noted that when we first moved to Kingman in the summer of ’66, I thought it was the place warned about so often in Sunday school. As a result I spent much of that first summer with repentance and reforming my ways as the primary focus.
We had rented a place on Lynette Drive in the far northwest end of town on a hill above U.S. 93. It wasn’t really that far to town but when walking under a blazing desert sun it seemed like miles.
On our first weekend in Kingman, dad added a bonus of twenty five cents to my allowance which provided incentive to brave the heat and walk to the State Theater on Beale Street. Now, if I had any doubts that Kingman was just a bit behind the curve, they were erased that Saturday evening as my sister and I sat through Gone With The Wind.
By the time school started we had moved over to Maple Street, about two blocks from Palo Christi School. This venerable institution that dates back more than seventy years is still used for its original purpose even though there have been more than a few mismatched additions tacked on.
For me there were two wonderful things about the move to Maple Street. First, the library, housed in the 1898 little red school house, was mere blocks away. This old building, with some mismatched additions, now is utilized by the judicial offices.
Second, Jan’s Soda Fountain in the Kingman Drug, currently the El Palacio, was just a block and half to the south on Andy Devine Avenue, Route 66. In 1981, I took my wife there on dates. Kingman moved slowly in those years.
In retrospect, Kingman during this period was sort of a dry roasted version of Mayberry with extra fluoride in the water. We didn’t have the Darling’s or Otis but we had Merle “Patty” Brooks, Lindsey Bond, and the music of the Skeptic Union Band.
We also had the Peppermint Shop across from the bus station and Finnigans hobby shop as well as a Western Auto Store with dimly lit aisles and creaking wood floors where the air smelled of age, dust, and oil. We had Central Commercial where it was possible to buy almost anything the imagination could conceive, Joe Otero’s delightful offerings at the El Mohave, and Desert Drug with the latest magazines where the smell of cigars hung thick in the air stirred by whirring ceiling fans.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Kingman was a magic kingdom in those years. The past and present were seamless, and Route 66 provided a river of traffic that enabled the fostering of the illusion this was a city instead of a desert backwater town where little had changed in a half century.
Squeezed in just a few blocks were crowded restaurants, clothing stores, grocery stores, offices, hotels, motels, garages, service stations, saloons of the western frontier variety, night clubs, car lots, and schools. We had Dunton Motors and the Kimo Cafe, McCarthy Motors and the Rodeway Cafe, we had George Hines VW and Alex Toggery, the Kingman Club and Bike City, the Kingman Rose Garden and Lockwoods Chicken in the Rough, Anita Fayes Dress Shop and Sprouse Rietz. It is was a metropolis in miniature.
I left in 1971, came back in 1976, left again in 1978, and came home for good in 1981. By then, Kingman had changed and was changing. The city had joined much of the nation in its rush toward progress made manifest in sprawling suburbs, interstate highways, strip malls, and a heart littered with ghostly, empty remnants.
Here and there vestiges of old Kingman held firm against the rising tide of progress. As late as the early 1990s you could still get a haircut from the barber that had been there on Fourth Street since 1956, a good meal at the City Cafe, or a cold beer in the saloon where folks once stood around lamenting the policies of President Wilson.
Kingman has changed, much of it for the better. But the price paid for this progress has been high. With the exception of the Sportsman’s Bar there is almost nowhere left where the ghosts of the past whisper in our ear and memories are carried on the scent of a cigar, the clang of the service station bell, or the hum of tires on Route 66 rolling east and west.
It is my sincere hope that the people of Kingman will awaken before it is to late, grasp the treasures that remain, and again transform Kingman into something unique instead of a mirror that reflects the generic world that embraces it.


For those who fear the international fascination with Route 66 may be waning, please be assured this is not the case. I base this assurance on the volume of emails and questions received that pertain to Route 66.
As many of this blogs readers may have similar questions, I felt it might be nice if answers were provided in a manner that benefits everyone. So, lets get started.
Where can I find an accurate and easy to use guide book to Route 66?
If there is a better guide available than the EZ 66 Guide penned by Jerry McClanahan, I am unaware of it. This is the guide I always carry when traveling Route 66. Copies of this book, and an excellent dining and lodging guide that I also carry, are available through the National Historic Route 66 Federation. As a bonus, buying the books through this organization will support a very worthy organization.
If I am interested in current events on Route 66, where is the best source of information?
Route 66 News. Period.
Do you have ideas or suggestions for attractions found near Route 66?
Yep. I may be a bit biased on this one but am going to suggest my book Route 66 Backroadshttp://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=ifr. Another book that will surely enhance the Route 66 adventure is this handbook from Drew Knowleshttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=159580059X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr.
If time is limited, and I want to just stay in one place while making several day trips do you have any suggestions?
Yes, two. The first is Kingman, Arizona, one of the most overlooked vacation destinations anywhere on Route 66. Hualapai Mountain Park, 180 plus miles of Route 66, the Grand Canyon, one day whitewater rafting trips on the Colorado River, and the only road that is drivable to the bottom of the Grand Canyon are just a few of the day trips available from Kingman. As a bonus, it is only 36 hours from Chicago to Kingman via Amtrak, and the airport in Las Vegas is only 120 miles away.
My second choice would be Amarillo. Route 66 in both directions, one of that highways most famous ghost towns, Glenrio, Palo Duro Canyon, and first class accommodations would be just a couple of reasons for my selection. Another is its proximity to the food at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas.
Are there any tour companies that offer guided trips along Route 66?
For those who reside in Australia there is an excellent company with a very knowledgeable guide, Dale Butel. I am unsure how others could partake of this adventure or Dale’s expertise but you might give them a call or send an email for ideas or suggestions.
Can you recommend decent vintage motels?
I would suggest starting with the lodging and dining guide mentioned previously. My personal choices are the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Motel Safari or Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, the Munger Moss in Lebanon, Missouri, and the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri. I would be remiss if I did not note the fact I will be signing books at the Wagon Wheel Motel gift shop on October 7.
I have kids, age 7, 10, and 13. Do you think driving Route 66 would hold their attention and be a fun vacation?
Yes, with a bit of planning and a little flexibility. Start with the movie Cars, then get them excited by creating a game where you search for real life locations pictured in the film. I would also suggest the website, Kids on 66, designed by a gifted teacher.
I would also suggest making it a point to include places like the various Abraham Lincoln related sites in Springfield, Illinois, Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, the Wigwam Motels, and a couple of Route 66 museums. Include picnics at places like the Marsh Creek Bridge in Kansas, and be sure to seek the interesting personalities onthe road like “Crazy Legs.”
I have one final bit of advise for todays’ post, Route 66 is in a constant state of flux. It is also like the Grand Canyon or Monticello, words and pictures will always fall short as it must be experienced. So, drive it all or in segments as the budget and time constraints allow but experience it for yourself.


The people and places I have been could easily be a book in itself. There was the John Wayne period where I rode tall in the saddle through the land of big skies along the Mexican border doing my best cowboy impersonation, which was followed by a stint as a miner. From that point in time to this, I have imitated, with varying degrees of success, a mechanic, a finance manager, a repossession agent, a carpenter, a truck driver, a used car salesman, and even a homeless fellow.
Then, shortly after the shocking adventure of trying my hand as an electrician, I hit on the bright idea of developing my gifts and talents rather than trying to be something that I wasn’t. The end result, after twenty years, has been seven books, hundreds of features articles, a few thousand photographs, a few dozen sermons, and a whole bunch of adventure seasoned with fascinating people that were quite different from the fascinating people met in my previous lives.
Linking the two different worlds, and most of the people in them, is Route 66. For the foreseeable future with continued promotion of Ghost Towns of Route 66, and the release of the Route 66 encyclopedia next fall, that consistent theme will continue.
Perhaps the most exciting chapter in the Jim Hinckley story is the one being written now. The cast of characters has gone international in nature with acquaintances and friends from the four corners of the earth but it is still Route 66 that provides continuity for the unfolding story.
With age it seems the adventures have narrowed in scope but they have broadened my horizons and added new shades and hues. They are also providing me with the paints and canvas for the next series of books, of articles, and sermons.
In a somewhat unrelated note, for the trip in October, a new twist has been added. I will not names, in an effort to protect the guilty or those that are about to be guilty, but it seems a merry band consisting of a publisher in the making that is often referred to as Ralph, a tour operator from Australia that has become a fixture on the road, the owner of an iconic motel in California, an itinerant artist from Amarillo, all friends made along the road, and assorted other characters will be on Route 66 during the same period.
I am quite sure that if we can coordinate a stop along the way, a new chapter in the history of Route 66 will be written. Stay tuned for details.


Summer mornings in Kingman are such a delight that to squander them seems almost criminal. To savor them, to embrace them, and to have time for uncluttered thought free from the entanglements of the electronic age that intrude at every turn, I often walk to work and this morning was no exception.
On wonderful mornings such as this I often reflect on John Adams who, while attending meetings of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, lamented the noise and hustle that made it almost impossible to develop thoughts or bring them to fruition. I wonder what he would have to say about the modern era?
Road trips past and future, books to finish, and books to write dance through my head on these morning voyages into solitude. But, more often than not, my thoughts on these morning walks turn toward family, my dearest friend, and just how blessed I am to have them in my life. Intertwined with these is often a touch of awe that a man such as I could be so richly blessed.
This mornings meditations on road trips were dominated by the myriad of details yet to be resolved for the October trip, and the growing sense of anticipation as well as excitement.  Fueling this are things like the confirmation of the book signing at the Wagon Wheel Motel & Gift Shop in Cuba, Missouri on October 7, an ideal opportunity to introduce my dearest friend to the beauty and wonders of the Ozarks. I wonder if we will be fortunate enough for fall color?
One of the great challenges associated with any road trip is not loosing focus on the here and now while awaiting the date of departure. Confirmation of an opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Wagon Wheel Motel with my dearest friend, and to share the spotlight with accomplished author Joe Sonderman, makes this a very difficult task.
Add to this an opportunity to seek out authentic Greek food in Chicago, to discuss the prehistory of Route 66 with historian Dave Clark, to see the latest treasures at Afton Station, and to again visit with Laurel Kane, the “Tattoo Man”, Melba, and the proud new owners of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, and with each passing day the challenge to focus becomes even more difficult.
To tide us over we do have the September trip to Prescott, and a long, dusty, beautiful drive along the Williamson Valley Road topped off by a stop to see Angel Delgadillo in Seligman before driving home on Route 66. As a bonus, this interview will provide the excuse for celebrating anniversary number 28 in one of our favorite cities, the place where we spent our tightly budgeted honeymoon.
With dreams of road trips and the grand adventure of life dancing in my head, I will savor each delightful morning as I walk the quiet streets. And with each passing week I will revisit those long vanished days when the days before Christmas seemed to drag with never ending eternity.


The adventure that will culminate with our whirlwind tour of Route 66 in October (the rough itinerary is at the bottom of this post) commenced way back in April. The original game plan called for making the debut of Ghost Towns of Route 66 at the 2011 International Route 66 Festival in Amarillo, and then driving to Chicago along the double six as a promotional tour for the book with stops along the way to gather images for the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia.
First, my schedule changed. Then the publicist I have worked with in the promotion of three books had to take an early retirement.
So, we made Amarillo one trip and the drive to Chicago a second trip. These sort of things seldom go smoothly in the world of publishing, writing, or the related promotion and this venture is following that course.
The fill in publicist took maternity leave on August 1. My work schedule now allows for just 9.5 days to make this trip. My dad, who lives 200 miles from Chicago in southern Michigan, is elderly and having a few issues so we really have to add a visit to the schedule.
So, on top of handling an inordinate share of the interview schedule and book signing dates, I have the regular job, where we are again short handed, work on the encyclopedia as well as a trip to Prescott for an interview on AM Arizona on the 12th of September, and general trip planning for October. To say the very least, I have no reason to complain of boredom anytime in the next month or two.
A big hurdle was cleared this week on the encyclopedia project and that is a very big relief. With that said a very big thank you is due Mike Ward, Steve Rider, Joe Sonderman, and Michael Witzel.
Now the focus can shift more intensely on the October trip. I evaluated flying to Chicago and driving back as well as taking the train. The cost factor and need to photograph sides has made it clear we have but one option – ROAD TRIP!
This leads to the next question, do we take the Jeep or rent a car? The Jeep is a dependable old war horse and as we have a tendency to find the road less traveled it is always our first choice.
Still, it is getting a bit old and I really don’t like to push it beyond 65 or 70 miles per hour. An added factor to consider is gas mileage, around 22 miles per gallon.
With such a limited schedule we will have to skip back and forth between Route 66 and the interstate highway. Please note, I said this while suppressing the gag reflex.
A rental car would add expense that is somewhat offset by a savings in fuel cost. Additionally, we can make better time.
While these and a few thousand other items are yet to be resolved the basic schedule is now set. Here is what we have at this time.
I close the office at noon on Saturday and as we can photograph Arizona anytime, and as we will be stopping to see Angel Delgadillo on the return trip from Prescott, we should be able to make Grants or Albuquerque that evening and still make cruise Route 66 in New Mexico.
Day two we will shoot for someplace between Shamrock in Texas and Clinton in Oklahoma. This will allow for a book signing at Basrnes & Noble in Amarillo, a little Route 66 cruising, photo stops, and, of course, a meal at the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas.
Our primary focus for photos will be in Missouri and Illinois resultant of previous trips to Oklahoma. So, the end of day three should find us at the Munger Moss in Lebanon, Missouri. Along the way, or on the return trip, we must stop at Afton Station to see Laurel Kane and the latest additions, as well as Jerry McClanahan and Melba at 4 Women on the Route. At least one meal will be eaten at the Rock Cafe in Stroud. What kind of trip would this be without a stop there? 
Day four we will shoot for either Joliet or Springfield in Illinois. On the list is a visit to the home of Abraham Lincoln, something on my list for almost forty years, a stop at the Cozy Dog, a book signing at Barnes & Noble, and a visit with Buzz Waldmire.
Day five will be a visit with Dave Clark, and hopefully, Cort Stevens, in Chicago before driving on to Jackson. A very long day to say the very least.
On day six we will visit with my dad in the morning, dine in the the Greektown section of Chicago, and shoot for someplace between Joliet and Springfield to end the day. This will be another very busy day with many hours spent behind the wheel and jumping from the car like rabbits to take pictures.
Speaking of rabbits, on day seven I plan on a visit with Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch.  We are shooting for Cuba to end the day where we will meet with Joe Sonderman and, possibly, sign books at the Wagon Wheel Motel.
That leaves us roughly 2.5 days to make it back to Kingman before the return to work where I can rest up from the vacation. In that space of time we must see the Muelers at the Blue Swallow in Tucumcari, Vicki at the Enchanted Trails Trading Post in Albuquerque, and a few other fine folks we have yet to meet.
To compensate for the rushed schedule I have promised myself a slower paced venture in the very near future. I am thinking Route 66 driven from end to end in a bone stock 1931 Ford truck should fit that bill. That might just be the trip that earns my wife sainthood.