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. 

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