As the schedule is quite tight today, and possibly through the weekend, we have an abbreviated post today. When the dust clears I have a number of things to share and as a result may be a bit long winded. For those who know me, that should not come as much of a surprise.
First, a little something from the west coast. Historian and author Scott Piotrowski has been hosting a series of very interesting, or so I have been told, walking tours of Route 66 in Los Angeles County. In reading his blog, where you will find details about the walks, and his guide book to Route 66 in the metro area my curiosity has been aroused and we hope to take on of his tours soon.
Bob “Boze” Bell of True West magazine, and a fellow Kingmanite, posted some very nice words about the new book in his blog yesterday. Here is the link.
After reading this, and his lament about the lack of cafes in little towns, I sent him a note offering to drive if he would buy the pie. I know the individuality and charm of the small town cafe has largely been swept away by Subway, McDonalds, and Jack in the Box, but all along Route 66, the last bastion of mom and pop enterprise, they are thriving.
If you doubt my words I have three suggestions – Palms Grill Cafe in Atlanta, Illinois, Ariston Cafe in Litchfield, Illinois, and the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. Of course I could add a few dozen others to this list such as Joe & Aggies in Holbrook or Emma Jeans in Victorville but you get the idea.
America is not all box stores and sterile, generic blandness. You just have to take the time to look for it. Or you can drive Route 66.
If you are in the area of Arcadia, Oklahoma this Saturday it might be a good idea to stop by Pop’s. Three legendary names associated with the resurgent interest in Route 66 – Jerry McClanahan, Jim Ross, and Shellee Graham – will be unveiling their latest book, Route 66 Sightings, a colorful tome featuring some of the best work by these artists as well as some very interesting stories. 
As a final item of the day, I have a question. Who is planning on attending the International Route 66 Festival in Victorville next year? 


On occasion I have a somewhat brilliant idea, at least one that seems brilliant from my corner of the world. This post is a manifestation of one of those ideas.
In the months since the release of Ghost Towns of Route 66, there has been a marked increase in the inquiries for Route 66 related information, as well as requests for information about ordering books as gifts, or for wholesale purchase. I derive a great deal of pleasure in personally answering questions, encouraging folks to take road trips, and helping them get the most from their adventure but the idea occurred to me that if some of these questions were answered through a posting on the blog, it might be possible to provide answers to people who have yet to ask the questions. 
So, …
Is it possible to drive Route 66 from end to end and avoid chain motels?
Maybe. The first place to begin this type of planning is with the purchase of the Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide  published by the National Route 66 Federation. I can also recommend the website, Route 66 Motels, established by Emily Priddy.
My personal experience is that it would be quite difficult to make the journey and not spend a night or two in one of the chains as historic lodging choices are limited Few towns are as fortunate as Tucumcari to have two very good, very clean vintage motels (the Blue Swallow and Motel Safari).
Now, from personal experience I can offer a couple of recommendations. These include the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri, and the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, both of which transcend being just a place to lay your head. These are destinations in themselves.
I would also strongly suggest the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California. Its counterpart in Holbrook might not be for everyone as it is more of a true time capsule – clean, but very dated.
Can you recommend a true ghost town of route 66 that we should visit?
I can strongly suggest two, Glenrio in Texas and Endee in New Mexico. The former is very easily accessed from the interstate and the later is immediately to the west on a gravel road that is maintained fairly often.
May I order a personalized copy of your new book?
Yes, in the right column I have a link for ordering Ghost Towns of Route 66. The book is discounted $5.00 from resale to keep the cost down as there is sales tax and shipping charges.
You may also order a package that includes four of my travel guides Ghost Towns of Route 66, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona, and Route 66 Backroads. This link is also in the right column. As a bonus I will include a Route 66 print suitable for framing at no additional charge.
I should note that if you are ordering for the holidays as a gift, it might be best to order soon. After December 1 it may be difficult to get books to you on time as a result of media mail delivery times and my travel schedule.
My books, some autographed, are available at numerous Route 66 locations. These include the Blue Swallow Motel, Connie’s Shoppe at the Wagon Wheel Motel, the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, the 66 to Cali shop on Santa Monica Pier, and at the Wigwam Motel in Rialto.
May I purchase books in wholesale quantities?
Yes, I sell autographed copies in cases of 18 for $20.00 each, which includes domestic shipping. For deeper discounts, and a generous return policy, you may order direct from the publisher but these are not signed copies.
Brenda Lunsman

Quayside Publishing Group
Voyageur/MBI/Quarry/CPI/Fairwinds/Cool Springs Press
400 First Ave N Suite 300
Minneapolis, MN 55401
P-612 344 8179 – direct
F- 612 344 8692 
Are you available if we wish to hire a guide?
To be honest, I never really considered this, until recently when I began receiving a fair number of inquiries. So, the answer is maybe.
It would be at least January before the feasibility of this can be evaluated. We are looking into making this service available at least in western Arizona. To perform this service along the entire route is possible but unlikely, at least at this time.
Another idea we have considered is offering assistance in regard to trip planning, sort of like the service offered by AAA.
If any of these are of interest please feel free to contact me. I am most definitely interested in being of assistance in this capacity.
When is the best time for a trip on Route 66?
Most of the major attractions are open at least from May through October. May and October are also a great time for beating the summer heat of the Mojave Desert even though there are rare occasions when the temperatures can still exceed 100 degrees.
I prefer early to mid October. The weather is usually relatively mild and there is the bonus of fall colors in Illinois, the Ozarks, and the mountains of New Mexico and Arizona.
Planning your travel to coincide with one of the big festivals, such as the Route 66 Fun Run in Kingman held on the first weekend in May, will greatly enhance the overall adventure. The majority of these events take place in the summer, and information is usually available months in advance through the respective Route 66 association in each state.
Okay, have I answered your questions? If not, please let me know and I will try to provide some answers.
See you on the road.



The Route 66 encyclopedia is on the fast track toward completion. As is always the case, in the last weeks before deadline I begin to obsess over accuracy, rewrite sections to ensure relevance, and find new things to add even though the text is now in excess of 150,000 words.
There is also a certain degree of excitement as at this stage of the books development I know when the book will be released (next October). It also means that I will soon be free to develop a new project.
Enhancing the excitement with this book is the almost certain knowledge it will be of benefit to the Route 66 community. In addition, there is a certainty that it will add depth and context to the overall Route 66 experience, and as a result, spark a great deal of conversation that I hope will manifest into road trips of discovery.
The extensive research that went into this project is but a small portion of what will make this book a valuable asset for fans of the double six. The real treasure will be in the historic images made possible through the generous contributions made by collectors Steve Rider, Mike Ward, and Joe Sonderman.

Chain of Rocks Bridge

On a more personal level, this book represents a milestone. In the past I have always made note that my dearest friend is the partner, on the road and at home, who makes the books and feature articles a reality.
Without her support, encouragement, patience, and ability to fix toilets as well as sandwiches that are slipped under my nose and gourmet meals, the work of transforming ideas into something tangible would never be possible. For this project we took the partnership a step further.
With the exception of the historic images, more than 98% of the illustrations for this book will be a joint effort. See, counted among my dearest friends many talents is an artist eye behind a camera.
As a bit of a teaser, here is he introduction form the forthcoming Route 66 Encyclopedia & Atlas –
“To describe this book as an encyclopedia is like referring to Route 66 as a road. Single word descriptors cannot measure the depth, the scope, or the importance of either one.

As with the highway itself, this work does not fit within the traditional confines of generalities or terminology. Yes, this is an encyclopedia, a reference book for all things Route 66. However, it is also a time capsule, a travel guide, a history book, a memorial, a testimonial, and a chronicle of almost a century of societal evolution.

The shortcomings of an encyclopedia have always been its relevance. The Route 66 Encyclopedia & Atlas is no different.

The primary subject matter within these pages is the history of this road, the communities along its course, and the people who played a role in its transformation from highway to icon between the periods of 1926 to 2011. However, this highway is as a chameleon. Its significance and meaning have been different for each generation and all indications are that this will continue for years to come.

As a result, there are countless chapters, yet unwritten, to be chronicled. Judging by the rising popularity of this iconic highway, these will be as colorful, as exciting, and as inspirational as the ones documented in the Route 66 Encyclopedia & Atlas.”
copyright 2011


I suppose most folks would consider it a rather chaotic weekend. In my corner of the world it was just situation normal.
We kicked it off Friday evening with what my dearest friend and I had hoped would be a light hearted comedy, Horrible Bosses. The first word of the title would have sufficed, unless of course you find humor in the crudest language plastered over a “been there, done that” plot.
Saturday morning it was off to chaos central, aka the day job that supports the writing habit. It lived up to its reputation in spades.
That afternoon, I prepared the “swamp” cooler for winter storage and prepared the furnace for winter service. I did all of this with a severely wrenched back even though it was a delightful eighty degree day.
In previous years when we had weeks of wonderful warm weather, and just a hint of fall in the mornings, that carried into early November, the change to winter was almost immediate. I was taking no chances.
For the rest of the day, and most of the evening, I worked at fine tuning the text for the Route 66 encyclopedia as the clock counting down the time to deadline grew louder with every passing minute. The recent trip to Chicago left me with pages of notes that needed to be included and there were more than a few updates to make as well.
After the Sunday morning devotional, I returned to the encyclopedia while my dearest friend busied herself in the kitchen recreating, and improving, a stew she had at Big Vern’s Steakhouse in Shamrock, Texas on the last Route 66 adventure. In our home returning from a trip is never the end of an adventure as my dearest friend, a very gifted cook who should open a cafe, recreates dishes discovered on the road. On more than one occasion her version is better than what we had in the restaurant even if it was superb.
This was to be the heart of our Sunday dinner. For desert we had elephant pie (blueberry pie with cookie cutter elephants for a crust) as per the request of my granddaughter.
That evening it was back to the encyclopedia as I had decided to rewrite the entire entry on Carthage, Missouri resultant of our recent excursion. The history of this community is quite fascinating but an aspect of particular interest is in regards to the preservation of vestiges of that colorful past.
Most of the entire business district is a well preserved time capsule of stunning architectural gems surround by equally impressive 19th century homes. But surprisingly, most tangible links with Route 66 are gone, with the exception of the Boots Motel that may be on the road to recovery.
Monday morning, a scheduled day off that is always in question, kicked off with computer issues that presented problems in dealing with correspondence, and a kitchen sink that refused to drain. The computer issues are usually left to my dearest friend as she has an uncanny ability to sense problems with these magic boxes. The sink was my bailiwick.
Several months prior we had made arrangements to dine with Dale Butel of Route 66 Tours, an Australian company, when he passed through Kingman on the 24th. We always enjoy a visit with Dale and as a bonus, in recent months many in his group purchase books that I will  happily sign for them, which in turn opens the doors for some very lively and fascinating conversation.
His first phone call was not the one expected as he was looking for a clinic as one of the people in his group was under the weather. After assisting with that, I returned to the encyclopedia and awaited his next call.
That came a bit after 2:00 when he asked it would be possible to meet his group at Cool Springs. As we had been planning to meet with him later that afternoon, this really presented few issues and I let him know that Chris Durkin of the Kingman Route 66 Association was hoping to catch up with him on this trip.
With the type of surgical precision intersection of two groups that would be impossible without split second timing we arrived at the intersection of Andy Devine Avenue, Route 66, just in time to see a small herd of rented muscle cars, and one classic Mach I convertible, all flying Australian flags as they sailed by. We joined the pack and followed them to Cool Springs.
As we were hitting the road the business cell phone rang, never a good thing to hear on a day off. As it turned out, it was good news – grandchild number three due in February will be a girl.
At Cool Springs we discovered that in reality Dale was hosting two groups, one with muscle cars and another on motorcycles. One contingent was already on the way to Oatman and so we followed the gang up the grade and over the other side as one exuberant filmed the ride from a sun roof observatory.
Meeting the wide array of people who are discovering, or rediscovering, the fun and adventure of the Route 66 experience is one of the most enjoyable bonuses that have come about as a result of my various writing endeavors. Playing tour guide, and seeing old haunts anew through the eyes of first time visitors, is another.
In Oatman, my wife and I met with John and Gail Bayly of Dianella, Western Australia and introduced them to the history history behind the rusty, faux frontier facades. As the group ebbed and flowed through the shops, and between the burros, I answered questions and even caught a glimpse of Dale.
The with great merriment the parade of American built machines driven by a merry band of Aussies rolled west toward a stunning sunset in the Colorado River Valley and their destination for the evening, the Avi Casino. Now, casinos, especially the modern generic ones where only the movie set facade, and equally garish and fake appointments on the inside, keep them from all looking the same are seldom found as destinations on our travel list. That might help explain why we visit Las Vegas about every decade or so even though it is a mere one hundred miles down the road.
This trip, however, was different. We joined the merry group to become tourists in our own backyard as we skipped past the slot machines and card tables, to focus on food, beer, and stimulating conversation. On occasion, we caught site of Dale.
Playing celebrity is not a role I am comfortable with or that I see myself in. Still, when folks bring books from half way around the world for you to sign, or you sign books, napkins, and shirts, until late evening, that descriptor has to filter into things at some point. How decidedly odd.
This role always chaffs like a collar that is to tight. Last night, however, I was among friends and the time flew by as we discussed all manner of things from Route 66 to gun laws in Australia, from the best hamburgers to lost luggage. It was truly a delightful evening and then, around 9:00, we caught up with Dale as he traded the tour guide hat for the Dale Butel, tired traveler hat.
The conversation continued but on a more personal level as we discussed delightful stays at the beautiful Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, wives, kids, and travel plans. All to soon we noticed the hour and decided that as the following day was a work day, it might be best to stay at the casino and head for home in the early hours of morning.
After a very restful evening, we crossed the Colorado River in the early morning darkness, and headed for home cresting the Black Mountains just as the sun cleared the eastern horizon. In our world it was just another situation normal weekend.  


I was deep into editing a photo file and correlating images graciously contributed by collectors Mike Ward and Joe Sonderman this morning when two stunning revelations brought me up short. One, I started on the Route 66 encyclopedia 18 months ago and the deadline is now less than six weeks away. Two, this means 2011 is about to become an historic footnote and I survived to tell the tale, something I that seemed doubtful this past winter.
In November, I met with Jay Leno to record two interviews. In December my mother and little sister passed away. January was spent with the cloud of cancer hanging over my head. February was a month of messy legal distractions.
March was hospitalization and crushing medical bills. April and May were consumed with the initial promotional work for Ghost Towns of Route 66, a book that is now in its second printing, and research for the Route 66 encyclopedia.
In June it was a trip to Amarillo for the international Route 66 festival, the official venue for the launch of Ghost Towns of Route 66. It was truly a grand adventure.
I met Greg Hasman, an up and coming writer and enthusiastic historian, legendary author Michael Wallis, and a wide array of folks who are somewhat legendary in the Route 66 community. We reveled in the hospitality of our host, Bob Lile, and were renewed by the passion and excitement as fans from throughout the world gathered to celebrate this amazing highway. As a bonus I had the opportunity to introduce my dearest friend to the charms of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Summer and early fall have continued the year long theme of dramatic depths of despair and excitement. We learned grandchild number three will be here in February, the granddaughter is back in our lives for regular family dinners on Sunday, and the grandson turned one. Then there was our epic road trip to Chicago, a zany, invigorating, fun filled, exhausting, enjoyable, pleasant, refreshing trip across the heartland of America on its most famous highway.
So, as the encyclopedia project winds down I am lifting my head and looking toward the new year with a great deal of anticipation and just a touch of apprehension. But in all honesty I suppose the arrival of each new year is viewed from this perspective.
It is still quite early but initial indications are that the year 2012 will be quite busy. I have made tentative commitment to attend the big four day event in Tucumcari next June, and the international Route 66 festival in Victorville scheduled for August.
In mid June my dearest friend and I will have the opportunity to introduce Dries Bessels of Holland, and his dear wife, to a few of Kingman’s hidden gems. Perhaps, if time allows, we can also share Prescott, Jerome and the delightful Williamson Valley Road. 
Then there is the Route 66 Fun Run, opportunity for a few visits with Dale Butel and his merry band of Australians, and assorted road trips on the planning board. The encyclopedia has a scheduled release date of October 2012. I am quite eager to present this time capsule to the Route 66 community and hope to do so with another fall trip along the Mother Road from end to end. 
It looks as though 2012 will be another year of grand adventure. I am just hoping that the lows of 2011 can be avoided in the new year.