ORPHANS, OLD TIMES, AND GOOD FRIENDS

It was the best Chillin on Belae Street yet, or so I have been told. There were vehicles for every taste on display from antiques, low riders, rat rods, cruisers, and imports. Meanwhile, I was engaged in a weekend of project juggling.
First there was a half day at the office followed by a half day working on the encyclopedia. Then an old friend from Utah called to say he would be down on Sunday to pick up the truck purchased almost five years ago. So, a large chunk of time was spent in getting the red neck lawn ornament ready to roll on to a trailer, not an easy task when the vehicle has been sitting for almost twenty years, five of those in my yard.
The truck, a 1960 Jeep, was purchased new in Phoenix by my wife’s grandfather. Between that point in time and the day it was parked, this truck was used, abused, repaired, abused some more, and then used hard.
The original owner viewed vehicles as a tool. You modified them to get a job done, used them to complete a task, and used them to get from point “A” to point “B” even if there were a hundred miles of desert, rocks, mountains, and streams in between.
Surprisingly, the body, with the exception of the grill that had been cut out to allow the addition of a winch, jack storage bracket, and extended bumper with small tool box, was in pretty good condition. Everything else was a monument to bailing wire engineering and “make do” repairs.
When the original Hurricane six bought the farm, a 283 c.i.d. Chevrolet V8 from a wrecked truck replaced it. Of course this meant shortening the drive shaft, cutting the floor boards and shoving the transmission back a few inches. It also meant a larger radiator and home made fan shroud.
When the frame broke, pieces of rail from an old mines ore cart track were welded to the break. A small open box was tack welded to the dash for easier access to shells during hunting season. Of course you can’t be a serious outdoorsman without a way to carry two steel GI cans, one with water and one with gasoline, and two spare tires.
My wife’s grandfather was truly the last of a dying breed. He loved to camp, to hunt, to fish, or just enjoy the solitude of the desert and mountains. He was also tougher than a bag of nails and about as ornery as a love deprived mule.
So, in the 1980s, and until the truck was parked, he carried a four wheel drive, all terrain vehicle in the back. The Jeep was driven to a point it would no longer be possible to continue, and then he rode the modified buggy even deeper into the wilderness.
On one of his last excurisons with the Jeep, he blew the clutch near Fort Rock, about forty miles from Kingman. So, he drove his little buggy, in the summer, cross country to the truck stops on I-40 near Kingman and called for assistance.
We towed the Jeep in and the next day he installed a clutch – on his back, in his yard, in the dirt. At the time he was in his early 80s!
Well, my buddy in Utah had one of these trucks as a kid and wanted another. So, the old truck has gone to a good home and my friend has a project that should keep him busy for a little while.
To prepare the truck for the journey I got three of the flat tires to hold air, pulled one of the spares, got it to hold air, removed a rotted tire, and in the process, evicted a small community of black widow spiders as well as stirred up an ant den. Then, on Sunday afternoon when he arrived, all we had to do was push it out into the street, back up the trailer, use a winch to load it, cinch it down, and then spend the evening talking about old times, a misspent youth, and exploits that have become local legend in some circles.
And a good time was had by one and all.

WE HAVE A WINNER!

We have a winner! Alan Denton of southern California has correctly identified the twenty locations along Route 66.
Here are the answers –
1) The fast fading Painted Desert Trading Post in eastern Arizona on a knoll above the Dead River –
2) This view is of the Hualapai Mountains as seen from the eastern slope of the Black Mountains on the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 west of Kingman –
3) Every Christmas the city of Kingman decorates its historic locomotive for the holidays –
4) Daggett, California is one of those dusty, forgotten places where even the resurgent interest in U.S. 66 has been unable to shake the dust from a town with a very long, rich, and colorful history –
5) McLean, Texas is a bit big to be considered a ghost town but street scenes such as this seem to make that term an apt descriptor –
6) This old bridge spanning the Pecos River dates to 1921 and is found at the east end of San Jose on the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 in New Mexico –
7) This photo is of the treasures awaiting discovery in Santa Rosa –
8), 9) These photos were taken at Endee, New Mexico along a forgotten alignment of the old highway between San Jon and Glenrio in Texas –
10) This scene was captured in the kitchen of the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas this past June when I presented Fran with a copy of the latest book as a way of saying thank you for the great food, the smiles, and years of memories –
11) 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kansas is the modern face of legendary Route 66 –
12) This is the famous “Sidewalk Highway” segment of old 66 between Narcissa and Afton in Oklahoma –
13) Jericho in Texas, at the east end of the infamous Jericho Gap, is a true ghost town where only the wind whistling through the broken windows carries the laughter and sounds of better times –
14) Kumar Patel and his family are the stewards of the time capsule that is the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California – 
15) Daggett in California has a wide array of fascinating little treasures that cast shadows over the dusty streets – 
16) The Mojave River bridge east of Victorville, California is a very rare gem – 
17) Even though Santa Monica Pier and Palisades Park in Santa Monica, California are not officially a part of Route 66 their association with that highway has made them inseparable –
18) The empty shell of the Avon, Motel in Afton, Oklahoma has a forlorn feel to it even under sunny skies –
19) This is another vestige of better times in Santa Rosa, New Mexico –
20) Spencer, Missouri is the kind of place I think most every fan of Route 66 dreams of owning some day –

I would like to thank everyone who participated and hope it provided a bit of an escape.

TOPLESS FUN ON ROUTE 66, FINE DINING CAVEMAN STYLE, AND OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

TOPLESS FUN ON ROUTE 66, FINE DINING CAVEMAN STYLE, AND OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST

It has been difficult to find time to spit, pee, or pay attention this last week. So, it seemed like a perfect time for the long promised photo contest (see the following post), a little something to add fun and zest to the blog for you, and something to give me just a bit more time for other pressing projects.
The contest ends tomorrow and we do no have a winner. I did find it interesting that an overwhelming majority of the respondents got nineteen of the twenty correct. Based upon this, I would be willing to make the assumption that those who follow this blog are intimate with Route 66.
Among the many things that has consumed large qualities of my free time is the “new” camera, a Canon EOS 50Dhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B001EQ4BVI&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. It was purchased several months ago but there has been little time to master its intricacies.
Now the pressure is on. In less than six weeks we again take to the road and there are two primary objectives, promote Ghost Towns of Route 66 and gather images for the Route 66 encyclopedia.
Additional incentive for learning how this thing works came from an unexpected direction, Bob Bell of True West magazine and the feature article about Ghost Towns of Route 66 published in the August issue. “…written by Jim Hinckley with photography by Kerrick James. Both are recipients of True West’s 2011 “Best Photographers of the Year” honor.”
The camera was a primary focus (please pardon the pun) this past week or so but there were others. These included finishing the first draft of the encyclopedia and sending it to acclaimed author Dave Clark, the Windy City Warrior, historian Jim Ross, Los Angeles historian Scott Piotrowski, and author Joe Sonderman so they can apply their expertise and ensure the accuracy of the overall work.
Then there are the travel plans and promotional venues for the October trip which also consumed large chunks of “spare time.” It was during this endeavor that I stumbled upon the Cave Restaurant in Richland, Missouri, just north of Route 66 and I-40.
I just had to add this to the list of stops. If anyone is familiar with this establishment I would appreciate some input.
It is just not in my nature to be consumed by work. So, I broke up the crushing schedule of the day job and the pursuit of a career as a writer and photographer by visiting with friends.
On Tuesday evening, August 9, my dearest friend, my son and his family, Dries Bessels and his wife Marion, and the tour group from Holland they were leading, had a delightful dinner at Redneck’s in Kingman. I was quite moved by the presentation of a pair of wooden shoes Dries had made.
Sunday evening, the 14th, I met with Dale Butel and the group from Australia that he was leading along Route 66 at the Dambar. It is always a delight to visit with Dale as well as his tour groups.

Tomorrow evening it will be another installment of Chillin on Beale Street. This fun filled evening blends is one part cruise night, one part auto show, one part small town get together, and three parts fun and surprises.
One of the really enjoyable aspects of the event is the creative theme that accompanies each months edition. Counted among my favorites, in regard to originality, was Topless Fun on Route 66, a salute to the convertible, last summer.
If you are in Kingman on Saturday evening, come on down and have some fun. If we don’t see you there perhaps our paths will cross on the old double six this fall.
Don’t forget about the photo contest. There is still a full day to enter.
On a final note, I still have an opening or two in the schedule for the October trip. If I may be of service in regards to a fund raiser for your group or organization, or if you would like to schedule a book signing, please let me know.

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ROUTE 66?

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW ROUTE 66?

UPDATE – 8-18-11 Still no winner! Dozens and dozens of entries with more than 98% getting 19 correct. Now that is amazing but we still have a couple of days to go.  
An update of even more importance pertains to the Boots Motel in Carthage. It would seem this venerable old establishment is about to get a new lease on life. Here is the link for updates.
Scheduling for the October tour is almost complete. As soon as possible updates will be provided under the Jim Hinckley schedule tab.

Don’t forget Chillin on Beale Street this Saturday evening in Kingman. It will surely be an evening of fun and surprises.
Several months ago I promised a Route 66 themed contest with the grand prize being a signed copy of Ghost Towns of Route 66. Well, here we go. Lets see how well you know Route 66.
There are twenty photographs taken along Route 66 in this posting. Each is numbered. The first person to correctly identify the location of each will be deemed the winner.
This contest ends on August 20, 2011. You may supply your answers through the comment section at the end of the post or via email.

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A RENEWED PERSPECTIVE ON ROUTE 66

I suppose it is just human nature to get so used to seeing something, even something as majestic as the desert southwest or as entrancing as the sites along Route 66, so often that you  no longer see it with clarity, with a sense of wonder. It is often in sharing them, in introducing them and then seeing the awe of child, or of a visitor, that the vision is restored and the focus sharpened.
I am blessed on both counts and as a result am awarded the privilege of seeing these wonders with renewed vision on a fairly regular basis. Last evening I had a double dose, my grandchildren as well as Dries and Marion Bessels of Holland, with a tour group of sixteen from that nation sharing dinner at Redneck’s in Kingman.
There was a true sense of renewal in listening to our foreign visitors recant the wonders of their odyssey across the heartland of America on Route 66, watching the puzzled smiles on their faces as they tried new and exotic foods like fried okra, and listening to them as they shared stories of life in Amsterdam. As a bonus, there was the wide eyed wonder of my granddaughter as she took great pride in ordering her dinner, and being the center of attention in a crowd of people that spoke a language she had never heard. It was an evening that proved the old adage of a smile being a universal message understood by all.
On Sunday, unless something happens between now and then, I will get my next dose of medicine to restore the eyesight and renew the mind. First, an afternoon shared with my son and his family, and then an evening with Dale Butel and his band of merry makers from Australia.
Then, come early October, I can introduce the wonders of Route 66 through the Ozarks, and Illinois, to my dearest friend. Our trips to visit family in Michigan over the years have always been by rail or air so this will be another opportunity for me to rediscover the treasures along this portion of America’s most famous highway by seeing it for the first time through her eyes.
And soon, very soon, I can renew my vision, my sense of wonder as I introduce the grandchildren to the magic of Route 66 and adventure on the road less traveled. Before that, however, I will be sharing these things and more with the next book, a Route 66 encyclopedia.