The delightful spring weather was briefly interrupted with a touch of winter and a dusting of snow. Of course as this is Arizona there was just a hint of summer in between. 

Route 66 in New Mexico

In my book a sure sign that people have not lived in Kingman for more than a week is the complaint that we don’t have seasons. Yes, we do, and quite often we have them all within a seven day span of time. 
One year it was warm enough for my dearest friend and I to go to the lake in January but during the Route 66 Fun Run, in the first of May, it snowed. Even better, I have witnessed an absolute street flooding down pour – on the opposite side of Route 66 from where I was broiling under desert sun. 
Still, having paid my dues in a few of those nasty “M” places (Michigan, Minnesota, etc.) it is my opinion that the quirky weather in the desert southwest is but one of the perks. I can have spring today and winter the next, or I can have spring today and drive twelve miles to play in the snow. Or, I can baste in my own juices on a scorching summer afternoon and savor cool pine scented breezes with a drive of less than twenty miles. 
Still, the real reason I choose to call the desert southwest home is the stunning landscapes, the truly awe inspiring beauty. Simply put, I am deeply and hopelessly in love with this wild and beautiful land.
For the uninitiated the desert can seem like a barren and forbidding wasteland. It can even be a bit intimidating and inspire a touch of fear. 

Those were a few of my first impressions and thoughts when arriving here for the first time. Over the years, however, I have come to find peace in the silence that is so complete it is possible to hear the beating of my own heart and an incredible cleansing of the soul as sage scented breezes embrace me high on a rocky knoll. 
Standing at the crossroads now faced without the desert to offer solace and a quiet place to meditate, to think, to contemplate is unimaginable. Even better, I am blessed with a very dear and patient friend whose passion for the desert, for the empty places, may exceed mine. 
Meanwhile, as I reflect on the past and on what just may be a new and exciting direction in life, there is business to attend to. There is the need to close my mothers estate (anyone want a very small 625 square foot, historic house at a bargain price?) and to finish the captions for the Route 66 encyclopedia.
To ensure there is no boredom, and that there isn’t a great deal of time to worry over changes on the horizon, I also have to make plans for the Wheels on 66 event in Tucucmcari, the Route 66 Fun Run, KABAM, the International Route 66 Festival in Victorville, and Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. In my spare time there is promotion of the books, completion of a E-book tour guide for Route 66 between Crookton Road and Topock, a few dozen speaking engagements, an educational program to develop, a house to paint, efforts to interest the publisher in another book, further development of the Route 66 in Mohave County exhibit for the Powerhouse Visitor Center, grand kids, special birthday weekend for my dearest friend …



Seven days, that is 168 hours. That plus one day is all it took to turn my corner of the world from left to right, and upside down. 

In that brief span of time we savored a wonderful spring like day in February with a picnic along the Mesa Trail near Cool Springs on Route 66 to celebrate completion of the Route 66 encyclopedia, learned that the celebration was premature, celebrated the arrival of the newest addition to the family, a granddaughter, and had a slumber party with a very precocious and delightful four year old, our other granddaughter. In addition I witnessed a complete reversal of moving trends that has created incredible logistical issues at the office, and initiated a couple of very exciting projects. Then in the days that followed I surprised my dearest friend with the plans to celebrate her birthday in style, had the computer utilized for all online work, and the microwave, give up the ghost, was confronted with more issues pertaining to settlement of my mother’s estate, rushed to meet the deadline for the changes made to the encyclopedia, and made arrangements to run the gauntlet of tax preparation in a couple of weeks.
Suffice to say, it has been a bit crazy in my corner of the world lately. That should explain the short posts as well as the days without any at all. 
With that lengthy preamble out of the way, I would like to share a few items that should be of interest for Route 66 enthusiasts. Lets start with the encyclopedia. 
The last minute changes made by the publisher were frustrating, maddening, and dramatic, at least in regard to the schedule changes they necessitated. However, even though I am quite excited as these changes will result in an even more three dimensional product, there is a concern about the size of the completed work and the size of the illustrations. 
I should have a better feel for this in a few weeks when the galley proof is complete. Of course, updates will be provided as the Route 66 community has been my partner in this project from its inception. 
The official debut for the book will be at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. Details for this event as well as the promotional tour will be provided as they become available.

Now, in a somewhat unrelated note, I would like to share a little something about a gem often overlooked by visitors to the Kingman area. This would be the extensive and diverse system of hiking and bicycle trails in the mountains that surround the city. There are numerous reasons for this but the primary one is time constraints. 
The trails range from simple and short to long and arduous, from rocky desert to alpine meadows. So there is a little something for everyone in every season. 
Regardless of time constraints my dearest friend and I enjoy short walks when we travel. It helps clear the mind, prevents saddle sores, and gives us a deeper understanding of an area. 
Route 66 is lined with awesome opportunities for outings such as these; Amboy Crater, Memory Lane in Lexington, Illinois, Arroyo Seco, the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the Mississippi River. In the Kingman area, for summer visitors, there are the trails among the towering pines in the Hualapai Mountains just a dozen miles south of Route 66 that can be followed with a wonderful dinner at Hualapai Mountain Lodge.  
For spring, fall or winter visitors (always watch for snakes) there is the White Cliffs wagon road, a short 1/4 mile hike, the extensive trail system in the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains near Beale Springs at the north edge of the city limits, and, our current favorite, the Mesa Trail at Cool Springs. 
As a round trip the Mesa Trail is about one mile in length. With the exception of the last 100 yards that is almost vertical, the trail is relatively easy. 

However, it is not one I would recommend in the months of summer. The heat would be but one concern. The second would be snakes as this is a rocky trail which is prime habitat for them as they seek respite from the heat. 
In any season another issue to be aware of would be cacti, specifically the cholla or “jumping cactus.” At the summit overlooking Cool Springs and the Sacramento Valley these are quite thick and the cactus balls filled with thorns are everywhere. 
So, wear heavy shoes and check them often. I suggest carrying a comb as this works quite well for getting them out of shoes as well as pant legs. 
The next time you motor west, or east, on the old double six, even if the schedule is tight, take a few minutes to stretch the legs and enjoy the view. And if you have the time, perhaps a day or two exploring the richly diverse landscapes around Kingman might just inspire a view ideas as you plan the next vacation adventure. 


The schedule is again a bit tight and as a result today’s post is a bit short in length but long in content. 
Rich Dinkela is on the road and headed west. The primary focus of this trip is his commendable effort to mark obscure and older alignments of Route 66. Along the way he is posting video snippets that are quite interesting. 
On the book front I am sorry to say that with the exception of the few books left in my inventory that are sold through this blog,  Ghost Towns of Route 66 is sold out until March 15. I am pleased to announce that this will be the third printing, an indication that folks are as intrigued with ghost towns, specifically ghost towns along America’s most famous highway as I am. 
In a few short days the latest issue of 66 The Mother Road  will be available. I am particularly excited about this issue as details about Cuba Fest and a very exciting contest will be provided. 
The annual Route 66 Fun Run (on the first weekend in May) is something we look forward to every year. This year we have added reason for eager anticipation, I will be signing copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66 as well as copies of Ghost Towns of the Southwest, and having dinner with Dale Butel and his tour group from Australia on Saturday evening. 
Meeting the various groups traveling Route 66, answering and asking questions, and just sharing the camaraderie that comes from a shared passion for that highway are one of the perks. This year I will be meeting up with three of Dale’s group, with Dries Bessels tour from Holland, and with Wolfgang Wertz to name but a few. 
  Last but not least this morning, kudos to Jim Ross, Jerry McClanahan, and Shellee Graham. This is from Shellee

  • We’re very excited to announce that our book “ROUTE 66 SIGHTINGS” has been selected as a FINALIST in the 2012 Oklahoma BOOK AWARDS! YAY!
    {The Awards will be announced in April.



Even though I have had seven books published, provided research assistance with several others, written hundred of feature articles, and even wrote a monthly column for a major automotive publication, it seems odd to have people ask for an autograph, or ask me to sign a book, magazine, or t-shirt. I am unsure if this disconnect in perception is the result of the fact I still have a day job that supports the writing habit, the fact that I just don’t see myself as a celebrity, or a little of both. 
Perhaps the most enjoyable and most humorous aspect of this “celebrity” status are the questions people ask. I find them enjoyable because these questions provide an opportunity for me to give struggling authors a bit of encouragement and on occasion, a leg up. 
The humor is derived from questions that reflect the naivete about the world of the published author that I once had. As an example, about twenty years ago I wrote a weekly travel column for the Kingman Daily Miner, the local paper. 
I lost count how many times people would express envy for my being paid to travel to all of these wonderful places. Seldom did I have the heart to tell them my financial compensation for these articles was $20.00 per week.
My primary catalyst for writing these articles, as well as all of my other published work, was a passion to share with others. Financial compensation was and is nice, and at some point it is my dream to be a writer when I grow up. However, the greatest reward is from letters and comments reflecting enjoyment derived from what I write. 
It may seem a somewhat simplistic view but I adhere to the belief that if you have been blessed with a gift or talent, there is an obligation to use it. Financial compensation is nice but it can not be the only motivating factor. 
Aside from the pleasure derived from being able to help and entertain others, writing has provided me with wonderful opportunities for travel. Additionally, it has served as introduction to wonderful and fascinating people. 
A gift for writing and a passion for sharing with others are the first prerequisites for becoming an author. There are two more attributes that are equally as important – a very well developed sense of humor and a thick hide. 
Examples of the reason for the latter dominate my career as a published author. Case in point, several years ago an odd series of coincidences led to some work for United Airlines.  Compensation for what amounted to about two hours worth of work were three round trip airline tickets (my son, wife, and I). 
The catch was that I had but three choices for the destination; L.A., Portland, or San Francisco. Well, as I had always wanted to introduce my dearest friend to the charms of the city by the bay, this seemed like an awesome opportunity. 

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California

The long and short of the story is this, the almost free trip to San Francisco ended up costing more than $1,000 (rental car, hotel, food, etc.). A year later we drove up the coast from Santa Monica to San Francisco and the week set us back a mere $800.
Still, writing has been one of the most rewarding endeavors for me. Through it I have met some of the most delightful people and colorful characters, been provided the opportunity to travel to interesting places, and through the research associated with this writing, learned so many fascinating things. It has been and is a grand adventure. 
Still, it is not all roses without thorns or an endless supply of hangover free beer. It is fraught will all manner of frustration. 
Consider just the Route 66 related projects of the past few years. Being awarded the contract to write Ghost Towns of Route 66 provided me with the opportunity for fascinating research and a chance to add context as well as depth to the overall Route 66 experience for fans of that highway. 
For almost a year, most evenings after work, as well as a countless number of weekends, were spent deep in research or at the computer typing until my fingers were numb and the eyes burned. Meanwhile, needed vehicle repairs and maintenance, home repairs, and similar things were put on the back burner resulting in a sort of snow ball affect. 

Glenrio, Texas

Initial financial compensation for the project almost covered the expenses incurred in the travel to often overlooked segments of Route 66. But, this travel, and the book itself led to meeting fascinating people such as Laurel Kane at Afton Station, Michael Wallis, Melba at 4 Women on the Route, folks from New Zealand and Australia traveling with Dale Butel, and folks from Europe traveling with Dries Bessels. 
The success of Route 66 titles (the book is now in a third printing) provided the publisher with incentive to approve my proposal for a Route 66 encyclopedia, the current project that never seems to end. Well, this consumed another 18 months with travel, with writing, and with research, and compensated us with additional opportunities for travel, for exploration, for renewing acquaintances, and for meeting new fans of legendary Route 66. 
It also provided new and previously unimaginable levels of frustration. Where in the world was I going to find information about the motel in Jericho or Endee? How was I going to squeeze a trip to Chicago into just 9.5 days? Does anyone have information about Johnson’s Cafe in Arlington, Missouri in 1940?
These and similar frustrations were merely the prelude. After receipt of the proposed illustration list for the Route 66 encyclopedia, I spent three weeks writing 20,000 words in captions. Then, on Tuesday, the day our new granddaughter arrived in the world, I received a new list as the decision had been made to add a few illustrations and cull some others. 
So, my celebration of completion was just a bit premature. And now I will again be writing captions for the next week or so. 
So, you want to be a writer. 



As Rich Dinkela motors west on his own dime to mark obscure alignments of Route 66 with a shield painted on the broken asphalt, I am again reminded of something Joe Sonderman said last fall as we sat on the deck at the Wagon Wheel Motel. “On Route 66, the myth has become the reality.”
For the uninitiated, the fascination bordering on obsession that is the hallmark of the Route 66 enthusiast appears to be additional evidence to support the thesis pertaining to the mind altering properties of chemicals in our drinking water. They may rightly ask, why Route 66? Why not U.S. or 50, the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway?

Rich Dinkela’s truck with its “signature” hood.

For those who have experienced the mystique, the sense of exploration, the international camaraderie, and the sense of timelessness that is found only on America’s most famous highway, the answer to all of these questions is quite simple. 
All of those other roads are interesting, fun, and even charming. They are historic and scenic, they are also fascinating, but they are not magic. 
They lack the ability to bridge chasms of culture or language. They are almost wholly incapable of unleashing the power of dreams or the imagination. 
Can you imagine any other highway that would inspire someone in Belgium to buy a sixty year old motel in Williams, Arizona? Imagine something as insignificant as a photo of the haunting ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post inspiring someone from Holland to explore Route 66, time and again, and then you begin to see the magic in this iconic highway made manifest. 
Route 66 is a monument to America’s restless spirit and its historic quest to see what lies beyond the next hill. It is a tangible link to the ’57 Chevy, the Edsel, the tail fin and the era of the great American road trip. 
It is the entrepreneurial spirit of America unleashed and a time capsule chronicling more than a century of societal evolution. It is a wonderland, an asphalt bridge that links the past with the present and the present with the future. 

Motel Safari, Tucumcari, New Mexico. 

With the exception of the northeast, Florida, and the interior of Washington state, I have traveled this country so many times it is often as though there is an atlas in my head. But only on Route 66 has the best of the past and the best of the modern era been woven seamlessly into a delightful tapestry. 
All along the two lane highways of America you will find vintage auto courts and service stations, once stylish automobile dealerships and diners. But only along Route 66 are the empty places revered and treasured, only along Route 66 are the tarnished gems that survive lovingly given a new lease on life. 
There was a time many years ago that I often cursed this old road, just as did many who had to drive it in the pre-interstate world. However, even in an era when two in seven fatal auto accidents in Arizona occurred on this highway, there was something special about it, something sensed more than understood. 
As the speed of the modern world increased, and Route 66 fell by the wayside, a victim of our myopic focus on the destination rather than the journey, a few philosophers and free thinkers such as Michael Wallis and Bob Waldmire, took up the mantle of Ezra Meeker to remind us that in our past is found the balm for a weary soul. And as a chameleon, Route 66 again became what a generation needed. 

Left to right, Dean Kennedy, Rich Dinkela, Jim
Hinckley, and Joe Sonderman at Zeno’s shortly
before its closure. 

In my recent travels along this amazing old road, and a few ventures on other roads less traveled, I have had ample time to reflect, to listen, and to give free reign to thoughts such as these. I have made valiant efforts to come to an understanding about why this road is so special to so many people. 
But, as with magic, knowing the secrets and analyzing the mechanics of the trick only serve to lessen the sense of wonder, of awe. And, as with magic or love, some things about Route 66 can not be explained as logic and reason fall short when the heart is unleashed.