With another birthday looming on the horizon to avoid discouragement on my quest to become a writer when I grow up it is necessary to reflect on the year past to measure progress. What a year it has been!

Mr. Jensen and Jim Hinckley in Amarillo.

I closed out the final weeks of 2010 with the nerve shattering collision of a high and low note that was more cacophony than concert. In less than six weeks I recorded two interviews with Jay Leno, saw sales of Ghost Towns of  the Southwest soar, lost my mother and little sister, and received word that the biopsy for skin cancer was positive. 
The year opened with surgery, an interview with Tonya Mock on AM Arizona, a book signing, and announcement that the publisher would adjust the schedule to ensure Ghost Towns of Route 66 was released in time for the International Route 66 Festival in Amarillo in early June. Spring was another debilitating illness, continuing research and work on the Route 66 encyclopedia (scheduled for release this October at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri), and the development of promotion to accompany release of the book and its debut in Amarillo.  

Fran at the Midpoint Cafe with author Jim Hinckley. 

The event in Amarillo, and the journey there, was nothing short of amazing. The enthusiasm and excitement emanating from a sea of Route 66 enthusiasts was truly inspiring. We met with fans of the double six from throughout the world, discussed Route 66 and the developing Route 66 Alliance with legendary author Michael Wallis, participated in a delightful garden party at the home of “Croc” Lile where we rubbed elbows with the Who’s Who of the Route 66 community (Jim Ross, Jerry McClanahan, Dale Butel to name but a few) and in general just had a great time.
With the exception of a few forays and short adventures, the day job, work on the encyclopedia, and the privilege of being asked to lend creative input for the development of 66 The Mother Road, as well as write feature articles for that publication, consumed the summer. Then, in early October, we embarked our grand adventure (9.5 days to drive to Chicago and back on Route 66, sign books, and gather images for the encyclopedia). 
Armed with cases of books, camera gear, luggage, a rental car small enough to fill me with sympathy for canned sardines, and copies of the Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation and the EZ 66 guide by Jerry McClanahan, we sailed forth on our journey of discovery. Along the way we had lunch with Jerry McClanahan at the Rock Cafe where we met Dawn Welch, signed books with Dave Clark (the legendary Windy City Warrior) in Berwyn, signed books with Riva Echols and Joe Sonderman at the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri, explored the ruins of the Beacon Hill Motel with Rich Dinkela, Joe Sonderman, and Dean Kennedy, finally was able to see the home of Abraham Lincoln, and met some of the most wonderful people.

As enjoyable as the odyssey was, there were several pivotal moments. We became so enamored with Cuba that we decided this would be the venue for the debut of the Route 66 encyclopedia. This was the first time I had the opportunity to introduce my dearest friend to the wonders of Route 66 between St. Louis and Chicago. 
However, the highlight of the trip was a personal one. The gathering of images for the new book as well a few gallery showings marked the first time that my dearest friend and I had fully shared a project as she is a gifted photographer. 
The year closed with completion of the text for the encyclopedia, and selection of images graciously provided by Mike Ward, Steve Rider, and Joe Sonderman. The new year commenced with the frustrating and time consuming task of trying to receive a contract for the next project, a task that has yet to bear fruit. 
This spring has been a continuation of our grand adventure. Notification was received that demand was exceeding supply and as a result, several appearances were postponed pending reprint of Ghost Towns of Route 66. I was writing regular features for 66 The Mother  Road, we were asked to be the photographers for a developing state centennial project, an offer to write catalog entries for Auctions America made by the editor I had worked with at Cars & Parts was accepted, and as a result of a fluke by the publisher, I wrote the captions for the encyclopedia for a second time
Then in April, Dale Butel of Australian based Route 66 tours asked if I would be willing to surprise his spring tour clients by meeting them at Cadiz Summit in the Mojave Desert and provide them with souvenir copies of my book. This request came on the heels of my agreement to sign copies of Ghost Towns of the Southwest and Ghost Towns of Route 66 at the annual Route 66 Fun Run (where I was privileged to make the acquaintance of author Roger Naylor) , to provide material for a gallery showing at Beale Street Brews & Gallery, and to be a featured author at the KABAM festival.  
Now, with a fresh perspective on where I have been, my attention turns toward the future. There is Wheels on 66 in Tucucmcari this June, the International Route 66 Festival in Victorville this August, the launch of the new book in Cuba in October, a visit with our friends Dries and Marion from Holland in June, and, of course, the day job and quest for the next contract and project. 
So, am I making progress on my quest? Perhaps, but like a trip on Route 66, getting there is often more fun fun than arriving.