A BRIDGE BETWEEN ARIZONA AND HOLLAND

A BRIDGE BETWEEN ARIZONA AND HOLLAND

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.

AND NOW, A DEEP BREATH

And now, a deep breath. It took about thirty hours to work my way through the galley proofs for the massive Route 66 Encyclopedia, make notes pertaining to needed corrections, and rectify a few misplaced captions. Now, I can count the days with eager anticipation until the book makes its debut at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri in October.
At the risk of sounding just a bit vain, I am rather proud of this book. From its inception I felt quite honored to be entrusted with such an almost sacred task. That was the reason I obsessed over detail and accuracy, and why I am eager to share it with the legion of Route 66 enthusiasts.
A more personal reason for my pride in this book is that it represents a milestone. My dearest friend has always been my partner in each project.
Even though her name never appeared outside of the introduction or acknowledgements, not one of them would would have been possible without her patience, encouragement, prayers, or support. With this book we moved our partnership to a new level as it is the first in which, with the exception of historic images, we provided all of the photographs.
Since the return from Tucumcari on Monday, it has been a very busy and very productive week. As you may have noticed, I have extensively updated the Route 66 Memories Gallery at Jim Hinckley Studio (including a slide show and link at the top of this column) and am closing in the stage one goal of having almost 100 images available. To celebrate this auspicious occasion I am providing a 10% discount on all orders through next Saturday. The promo code is, as you may have guessed, US66.
Now, before commencing the work on the next endeavor, there are a small herd of details, loose ends, and problems to resolve. Not all are unpleasant and in fact, many are being eagerly anticipated.
I am almost a full month behind in book keeping and still need to finalize issues with the attorney as well as the tax accountant to resolve mothers estate. I also need to finish some research before next Monday as my initial discussion about Route 66 and ways resurgent interest in that highway is transforming communities was apparently well enough received to warrant the request for a second appearance with the presentation of more detail (details about this venture are posted below).
Tuesday evening we will be dining with Dries Bessels and his group from Holland at Redneck’s in downtown Kingman. This annual tradition has become a highlight of our summer and this year there is the added bonus of having a full day to introduce Dries to the wonders of the Kingman area.
Also on the horizon we have another highlight, meeting with Dale Butel and his merry band from the land down under and the international Route 66 festival in Victorville. Then, this morning, I received notice that the Mueller’s (Kevin and Nancy), proprietors of the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, will be making a westward trip in July which means an opportunity for a leisurely visit over dinner and, perhaps, another opportunity to play tour guide.
It would seem this summer will be quite full of adventure, work, and opportunity. What a fitting prelude to this grand adventure, a trip to Cuba and another opportunity to meet with old and new found friends – Connie Echols, Jerry McClanahan, Joe Sonderman, Jane Reed, John and Judy Springs, Joe Loesch, and a few dozen others.
Well, it is time to get back to the grind stone. Before I forget, here are the details about my presentation next Monday evening.

You Are Cordially Invited To Attend

Kingman, Land of Opportunity

Part 2 in a Series that Highlights How Communities are Utilizing the

Resurgent Interest in Historic Route 66 as a Catalyst for Development and

How we can Apply their Success to Kingman

Presented by Local Route 66 Historian, Author, and Photographer Jim Hinckley

Followed by a Question& Answer Session

This All Takes Place at the Newly Opened

Buccilli’s Pizza

1921 Club Avenue

(formerly Cappello’s Restaurant)

Monday Evening, June 25that 6pm

If you’re planning on having Dinner

Arrive between 5pm & 5:30pm

Consider this a terrific opportunity to learn more

About how Historic Route 66 can positively

Impact our Local Economy and your Business.

Also, it’s a chance to visit our newest Restaurant

And Taste a Variety of Foods from their extensive Menu

Complimentary Hors D’oeuvres

Seating is Limited

Répondez S’il Vous Plaît

swrealtyaz@gmail.com or 928-377-2239

Reserve Your Seat No Later than Saturday June 23rd

MEANWHILE, UNDER THE BIG TOP …

Even though my son and his family have moved into their new home this week the circus continues but, to be honest, am not sure I would have it any other way. In the first week home from our adventure to Tucumcari, I have finalized details for the next book contract (details in a moment), received the galley proofs for the Route 66 encyclopedia (now available for pre-order) with a deadline for completion of final review and edit of Monday morning, written a feature article profiling the history of Albuquerque for 66 The Mother Road, finalized arrangements for attendance to the International Route 66 festival in Victorville, and initiated the organization of photos from the recent trip as well as begun posting a few carefully selected images at Jim Hinckley Studio for sale. Boredom will never rear its ugly head in my home. 
Before delving deeper into a few of these projects let me share a little bit about another discovery made on the last adventure. Among the celebrities associated with Route 66 that attended the Wheels on 66 event in Tucumcari were Chris and Katie of Fading Nostalgia, rising stars in the promotion of Route 66 and its endearing charm through the written word as well as photographic artistry. 
Their enthusiasm and excitement was infectious but it was their unique slant on capturing images of tarnished and weather worn Route 66 that set them apart from the hundreds of photographers currently documenting fast fading vestiges of the highways glory days. Even though they are masters of modern photographic equipment as evidenced by their hallmark night shots, much of their work involves the use of a Polaroid camera. 
Now, lets start with the good news about the Route 66 encyclopedia. Then I will share the bad news. 
The galley proofs are nothing short of stunning. I do not say this because my name is on the cover as the author. Nor is it because Steve Rider, Mike Ward, or Joe Sonderman were so generous with the use of their expansive collections resulting in a wide array of never before published images from the highways earliest years. 
At this stage of the game every effort is made to see the book as a customer picking it up for the first time. From that perspective I am quite convinced it will prove to be a valuable and treasured addition to the libraries of Route 66 enthusiasts everywhere as the editorial and layout department have created a masterpiece. 
The bad news is that the publisher has deemed the finished work to be a bit larger than planned for. As a result, I have been given the dubious task of preserving the works integrity and quality while trying to find ways to trim a few pages. To say the very least, it should be a very interesting weekend but there will be two wonderful opportunities for an escape from the office. 
Saturday afternoon I will serve as an impromptu tour guide for Jim Turner, historian and author of Arizona: A Celebration of the Grand Canyon State. Then, on Saturday evening, we will be partaking in the June installment of Chillin on Beale Street in the historic district of down town Kingman. 
How you would like me to serve as your guide to America’s most famous highway? Well, that takes us to the next book project, a travel guide to Route 66. 
I can not compete with the best guide book to this highway available, EZ 66 by Jerry McClanahan. Nor do I intend to emulate Drew Knowles excellent Route 66 Adventure Handbook
My vision for this work is to craft a book that will present the illusion, for the actual traveler as well as the armchair ones, that we are traveling together with me as your guide. I want to share my special places, historic sites often overlooked, and even a bit of Route 66 only available to the bicyclist or 4×4 enthusiast. I also want to share a couple of little gems that can only be found with the shortest of detours such as Hualapai Mountain Park and Lodge less than 15 miles south of the highway or the historic Johnson Canyon railroad tunnel a couple of miles to the north of the pre 1931 alignment near Williams. 
To ensure relevancy, as well as to make a few new discoveries that we can share, the plan is to make our trip to Cuba, Missouri for Cuba Fest in October where we will debut the encyclopedia, the first leg of a an exploratory trip. As plans for the adventure come together updates will be provided and perhaps we can meet along the way. 



HOME AWAY FROM HOME

HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Few things will suck the life from a grand adventure faster than an over priced, uncomfortable, dingy place to lay your head at the end of a long day on the road. Even worse is finding no room at the inn at the end of the day. This has been a travelers dilemma since at least the time when the very pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph found themselves sharing accommodations with livestock in Bethlehem.   
Kemmons Wilson addressed this game of chance with the establishment of a chain of cookie cutter motels with standards of quality under signs that read “Holiday Inn.” Travelers embraced the concept but there was a price to be paid.
Soon the generic blandness of mashed potatoes on a white paper plate spread from the sterile roadside of the interstate highway and transformed pastoral landscapes into a vast sea of colorless suburban sprawl that thrived by sucking life from the heart of cities and small towns all across America. The front porch and the adventure of the road trip were replaced with impersonal Internet chat rooms and hurried vacations paid for by long hours spent in mindless tedium.
But scattered all along a highway signed with two sixes a few embers still held the glow and warmth of that vanished era. Then came a stirring wind in the form of travelers in search of adventure, of something less cold than the generic world they knew and the embers were fanned into a cheerful blaze. 
I am quite happy to report that all along legendary Route 66 a new generation of traveler is seeking adventure where the neon glows bright, the winds stir the dust on empty streets, and a colorful cocoon where the past and present blend together seamlessly is home away from home at the end of the day. I am also pleased to announce that there is a new generation of inn keeper that is embracing the role of caretaker for rare roadside gems and that is discovering the immeasurable joy of making friends out of customers. 

The Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari.

On our recent excursion to New Mexico we were privileged to discover, and rediscover, four delightful places to rest our head at the end of the day. One was a blending of the generic chain and the family run motel of the past. Another was a true classic that is the capable hands of new owners that have gladly accepted the responsibility that comes from being entrusted with a true treasure. 
Another is not technically on Route 66 and it has origins that predate that highways certification by almost a half century. Last but not least is a roadside relic that has risen from the ashes of abandonment through the tireless efforts of an Austrian immigrant family. 
As the schedule was a bit constricted we set our sites on Santa Rosa in New Mexico as our destination for the first day. Several years ago we discovered the Santa Rosa Inn, a Best Western property, and again selected this as our home away from home for day one.
Again the Patel family proved to be amicable hosts that offered a clean, quiet haven for the night. This is an older property but it is well maintained. The rates are a bit on the steep side ($74.00 with AAA) until you deduct the cost of a hearty breakfast for two that is included in the price.
As our reason for taking to the road was the Wheels on 66 event in Tucumcari our home away from away from home for the next two evenings was the now iconic Blue Swallow Motel. What a delightful gem!
The owners, Kevin and Nancy Mueller, purchased the property in 2011 and have immersed themselves in the restoration and preservation of the motel as well as the culture that spawned its creation, survival, and rebirth. Only the most thin veneer of modern amenities seperate the present from the era of its construction in the 1940s.

From left to right, Shellee Graham, Jim Ross, and
Jerry McClanahan at Wheels on 66 in
Tucumcari, New Mexico.

To round out our stay the Mueller’s hosted a most delightful fireside dinner complete with smores for the guests who had also come to Tucumcari for the innaugral event including Jim Ross, Shellee Graham, Jerry McClanahan, Joe Sonderman, Christopher Robleski, and his charming girlfriend, Katie. The motel, the glow of neon on vintage cars, a gathering of enthusiasts, and the simple fellowship of a shared meal under a desert sky along Route 66 was the very essence of that highways spirit made manifest.
On Saturday we followed empty state highway 104 through stunning landscapes to one of the most amazing and overlooked little cities in New Mexico, Las Vegas. The destination was the historic masterpiece that is the Plaza Hotel built in 1882.
I had introduced this little gem to my dearest friend last year when we stopped there for lunch and an afternoon of exploring a vast historic district of architectural treasures. For this trip my goals were a bit lofty – to say thank you to my dearest friend for the love, support, and encouragement with an evening of dining and wine immersed in an historic time capsule.
Las Vegas is not on Route 66. But the detour from that storied highway is less than 20 miles and the reward is more than ample for justifying this short drive.

The historic Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

I selected the wine and dine package that included an historically furnished room with a view, a $20 credit for dinner, free breakfast, and a gift certificate for New Mexico wines. The cost of $99.00 made this one of the best bargains discovered recently.
A reluctance to rush home led us to dawdle on Sunday with the destination being somewhere between Gallup and Kingman. Late that afternoon we found ourselves in Holbrook and decided to try our luck with the Wigwam Motel.
Fortunately there was no room at the inn as that led us to try the Globetrotter Lodge across the street. What an absolutely delightful discovery!
This roadside treasure for a new generation was an abandoned eyesore for a decade before Mona and Peter Hoeller of Austria acquired the property and initiated refurbishment that included a wide array of personal and custom touches that transformed it into a wonderful haven for the weary traveler. Our room was spotless, comfortable and quiet.

Distinctive and original touches make the Globetrotter
Lodge in Holbrook a unique home away from home.

But it was the breakfast that really set this establishment apart from others along the highway. With attention to detail the Hoeller’s transformed a small breakfast nook into a quaint European cafe that included room numbers in centerpieces on fresh table cloths, a decorative bread box, a basket with a variety of bagels and muffins, fresh coffee at each table, and an atmosphere that invited friendly conversation with the owners as well as guests.

Our trip was a grand adventure that left me with new enthusiasm for legendary Route 66 and a renewed hope that, perhaps, travelers who follow its storied course will take some of the magic home and restore color, vibrancy, and individuality to the colorless generic world of the modern era.    

AND ANOTHER GRAND ADVENTURE COMES TO END

AND ANOTHER GRAND ADVENTURE COMES TO END

Our adventure to Tucumcari is over. Now it is time to sift through the email, mail, messages, and pressing details that have accumulated over the past few days.
As the hour is late and it has been a very long but exhilarating day I will keep this post short. The highlights of the last day include a new (for us) Route 66 Motel that I can unequivocally recommend, a little exploration at Two Guns, and a delightful lunch under the pines at the old store in Parks, Arizona.   
In the days to come I will provide details, photos, links, and other information about discoveries made on this trip. A summary will have to suffice this evening.

Neon nights at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari,
New Mexico.

First, for those familiar with the Route 66 corridor in Tucucmcari, I am pleased to announce that this town has spirit and more than a few visionaries in spite of appearances.
In fact, I would go so far as to say this is a town with a plan that other communities along the Route 66 corridor should study. Imagine a one legged man in a behind kicking contest with enough gumption to be taking bets on his success and you have a fair idea of the odds they face and the inspiration they can offer. Even better, they have some folks whose zest for life and generosity, their spirit and can do attitude, is truly invigorating. Stay tuned for details and photos.
If you think this is interesting or exciting, wait until I tell you about the Globetrotter Lodge in Holbrook, the Plaza Hotel in the other Las Vegas (the one in New Mexico), my next book project that was approved the day before we left, a few of the folks met on our latest adventure, and updates on the encyclopedia.