One of the most intriguing aspects of the magic that is woven into the fabric of the colorful, rich tapestry that is Route 66 is its ability to bridge chasms of cultural and language barriers. It is also one of the many reasons I am so enamored with the amazing magic carpet of asphalt and gravel that is iconic old US 66.
|Let to right, Norm Fisk, author Jim Hinckley, Dries Bessels
of the Dutch Route 66 Association and Chris Durkin.
In the past sixty days I have been privileged to share dinner with a group of Australians, have a leisurely discussion (with the exception of drunk cowboy who was spoiling for a fight) over a couple of cold beers with friends from Australia and England at the same time, and even talk with some folks from China. Last evening it was dinner and coffee with a group from Holland, Germany, and Austria. Today it was the opportunity to play tour guide and introduce a friend, Dries Bessels, from Amsterdam (as in Holland) to the overlooked wonders of Kingman.
The common thread that allows for my international adventures without leaving Kingman is Route 66. All I need to converse with a German or Austrian who speaks little English are photos of that amazing highway. In an instant we are sharing stories of pie at the Midpoint Cafe, neon lit nights with camp fire smores at the Blue Swallow Motel, or of an adventure to see the haunting ruins of the Painted Desert Trading Post.
Summer has just begun and the possibility for similar adventures is boundless. Still, it would be quite difficult to top the past twenty-four hours as the enjoyment surpassed all that was imagined in the months since this grand adventure was first discussed. Only one issue cast a shadow over the day and that was the fact Marion, Dries’s wife, was not able to make the trip and join us.
Our international celebration of Route 66 commenced with our annual tradition of dinner at Redneck’s Southern Pit BBQ. Every year when Dries brings his group to Kingman we begin here. What better way to bridge a few language barriers than BBQ, corn on the cob, baked beans, fresh pork rinds, cole slaw, and oven fresh dinner rolls.
After dinner we retired to Angela’s Beale Street Brews & Gallery next door for coffee and beer. A grand time was had by one and all. What started as a joke about a birthday, through the magic of language induced misunderstanding, became a rousing rendition of the traditional birthday song sung in Dutch. Photos and stories were shared and all to soon it was time to bid farewell.
This year a twist was added to our little gathering. Dries stayed over a day allowing us to serve as tour guides.
|Dries Bessels and author Jim Hinckley on the old wagon road
at White Cliffs near Kingman, Arizona.
It began by giving the group an early send off and then a hike along the old wagon road at White Cliffs before the temperatures hit the triple digit. Even though this little gem is not very appreciated on the local level it is always a source of fascination for our foreign visitors.
We followed this with a little excursion to the site of Fort Beale, the trail system in the Cerbat foothills, and a small hike to the old Silver Bell Mine through the towering pines of the Hualapai Mountains. Of course this served to sharpen the appetite which we quenched at the Hualapai Mountain Lodge.
We rounded out the day with a visit to the gunnery range for the old Kingman Army Airfield and a stop at the airfield. Then it was a few leisurely hours of conversation under the cooling breeze of the fan in my office.
In an instant the day was over. All that was left were making plans for next years visit, unless of course we can find our way to Amsterdam.
In our world Route 66 is more than America’s longest attraction. It is a bridge between Arizona and Holland.