SITUATION NORMAL, AT LEAST FOR ME
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.