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A GRAND WEEKEND ROUTE 66 STYLE

Traditionally the weekend is split between mundane chores and good times shared with friends. On Route 66 this, as well most everything else, is magnified into something dramatic and spectacular.The weekend kicked 0ff with a little overtime at the office, polishing a new feature article for 66 The Mother Road, finishing the rough draft of chapter three for the new book, and a movie (Square) shared with my dearest friend. As it turns out the excellent Australian film was ideal for setting the stage for the rest of the weekend. Saturday morning was spent at the office in a four hour marathon of conflict resolution, inventory issues, and prep work for Monday morning. This was followed by an on site visit with mural artist Sandy Rusinko who will be submitting proposals for the west wall of the historic Old Trails Garage (1915).

Author Jim Hinckley at his office that doubles as a smallmuseum.

This was followed by a quick lunch with my dearest friend and a return trip to the office. As I am on a six day work schedule, and as we close at noon on Saturday, the office that is a museum of sorts seemed the perfect venue for the surprise Dale Butel of Route 66 Tours had planned for his summer group. At about 2:00 a small herd of rented muscle cars and motorcycles arrived, and the group of excited Aussies and Kiwi’s filled my office with a sense of eager anticipation. I spoke on the history of Route 66 for about twenty minutes, answered questions, and then distributed copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66 signed as souvenirs of their summer tour. I bid the group farewell, apologized for not being able to follow them through Oatman, and promised to make myself available to answer questions that evening at the Avi Casino and Resort in Laughlin, Nevada. The next few hours were spent answering correspondence and adjusting the Monday schedule.We had three options for our trip to Laughlin but we selected our favorite, the drive along the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 through the Black Mountains. I have been traveling over this old road since 1966 and never tire of it. As a bonus it was remarkeably cool for late July on the west side of the mountains and in the Colorado River Valley (109 versus the usual 120 plus degrees).

A traffic jam in Oatman on Route 66.

After check in we met with John and Judy Springs (66 The Mother Road), Dale Butel, and a few delightful folks from Australia to discuss business, the wonders of Route 66, and what makes our respective countries special. The hours flew by and as this was a casino with no clocks or closing time, before we knew it the midnight hour came and went. After only a few hours of sleep we joined our new found friends from the land down under for breakfast and a send off as they continued their westward journey along Route 66. It was only 9:00 in the morning but the temperature was already closing in on one hundred degrees as we began our climb into the Black Mountains from the Colorado River Valley. We had planned on beating a path through Oatman before the afternoon flood of visitors constricted main street (Route 66) into an almost impassable corridor. We accomplished our goal but were still caught up in the early morning traffic jam Oatman style. On the way home we made but one stop. A some point in our travels I came up with the idea of providing a mystery photo. Can anyone tell me where this site is located, and what business was located here?

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ROUTE 66 – AMERICA’S LONGEST NEIGHBORHOOD

Route 66 is often referred to as a community, a 2,000 plus mile time capsule where every day is small town America circa 1955. Route 66 is a community, it is also a time capsule but what is preserved is not small town America circa 1955 but what we imagine that time and place was like. In that sense it is a great deal like the mythical Mayberry where Andy, Barney, Aunt Bee and a host of colorful characters are as familiar to us as our neighbors and as welcoming as a reunion of long lost friends. It is the neighborhood of our childhood complete with local barber, town drunk, apple trees to climb, tire swing, and swimming hole.

Left to right, Dale Butel, Route 66 Tours, Judy and John Springs, 66 The Mother Road.

Counted among the many things that fascinate me about this highway is how something so purely American can hold sway, and inspire memories as well as dreams in people from every corner of the globe. Several weeks ago we had dinner with a group from Holland, Germany, and Austria led by Dries Bessels of Amsterdam. Last night we met with a group from Australia and New Zealand led by Dale Butel, owner of Route 66 Tours.Route 66 bridged every barrier of language and culture. Route 66, a highway that, technically, ceased to exist decades ago made us a community, a tight knit friendly neighborhood.That, in my humble opinion, is the key to understanding the ever growing popularity of this truncated and segmented old road. On Route 66 the sense of comforting familiarity, of shared experience, and child like excitement for the journey itself is somehow distilled into a magic elixir that blinds us to the fact some of the towns through which the old highway passes are a bit worn down at the heel and that makes everyone met along the way a friend or neighbor. For those of us fortunate enough to live along this magical old highway there is an almost endless opportunity to “chew the fat” with neighbors, to meet with old friends, and to make new acquaintances. Every day is another opportunity to hang around the fishing hole, to swap stories at the barber shop, and talk sports over coffee and pie at the corner diner. To live along America’s longest neighborhood is as close as we can come to whiling away the hours in Mayberry.

AN INTERESTING TURN OF EVENTS

Well, the technical difficulties with the blog post on Tuesday that manifested as white lines is rather interesting. Would anyone care to chime in and explain this?So, we begin with a quick recap for those who missed the reprinted post on Facebook. First were my thoughts on the escapades of Nancy and Kevin Mueller (owners of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari). The air conditioning quit during their crossing of the Mojave Desert which resulted in them experiencing the Route 66 of the 1950s. In spite of the major setback they still managed to enjoy the trip and that epitomizes the spirit of the adventurer on Route 66.For those who travel Route 66 on purpose mishaps such as these are often seen as an opportunity to stop at places unplanned, which in turn leads to meeting fascinating and interesting people. Of course issues on the road like that encountered by Kevin and Nancy Mueller also increase the odds of meeting an opportunist with a face like a butt doctors test dummy but that too is a part of the adventurer package.The flip side is the group who would never dream of deviating from a well laid course between point “A” and point “B” as they are myopically focused on the destination. They will plan a trip with meticulous detail to ensure joy, anticipation of what awaits over the next hill, or the excitement of discovery does not taint their journey. For these folks an incident like the demise of the air conditioner would deemed a world ending event, a vast conspiracy contrived solely for their inconvenience and discomfort. I often refer to such individuals as terrarium people. Additional notes in yesterdays blog pertained to a meeting with the new owner of the historic Brunswick Hotel, a delightful gentleman from Switzerland, and another opportunity to meet with Dale Butel who is leading another merry group from the land down under along Route 66. Last but not least, I noted a bit about our plans to attend the International Route 66 Festival In Victorville on August 10.If you happen to be attending, and have a copy of one of my books or print from the Jim Hinckley Studio (see the link at the top of this post), please stop by booth. It would be my pleasure to sign these for you. Now, lets move on to new business. On the 16th of August, around noon, a group from GM will be stopping by Kingman during their Route 66 tour. We are hoping to create a time capsule feel to the area of the Powerhouse Visitor during the visit.To that end the owners of several vintage Cadillac’s (1911, 1953 convertible, 1957, and 1969) will be displaying their cars. We have also invited local car clubs to cruise even though it is sure to be a hot day. If you would like to join in on the fun, simply stop by. 

ROUTE 66 ODDS AND ENDS WITH THE EMPHASIS ON THE ODD

Today’s post is a series of updates and notes rather than a cohesive story. Hence the title as it seemed the best descriptor for a disjointed batch of odds and ends. 
The owners of the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, Nancy and Kevin Mueller, seem to have taken their west bound vacation slash fact finding and promotional tour to the extreme, unintentionally. Somewhere between Kingman and the depths of the Mojave desert the air conditioning gave up the ghost on their Mustang which immediately transported them to the world of summer travel on Route 66 circa 1955. 
Judging by posts and photos on Facebook, in spite of this setback they seem to be enjoying the trip. That epitomizes the spirit that separates the Route 66 adventurer from the average   interstate highway traveler. 
One group endures the trials and tribulations associated with a road trip. They even see it as part of the adventure as well as an opportunity, for in situations such as these you often meet the nicest and most fascinating people in places you would probably never have stopped at. Of course you will also increase the odds of meeting an opportunist with a face like a butt doctors test dummy. 
The other group chooses to insulate themselves from the word around them, focus myopically on the destination, and will work tirelessly to ensure joy, anticipation, or excitement does not taint their journey. If confronted with anything that derails their carefully crafted time table or schedule the incident will be seen in the context of a world ending event, a vast conspiracy contrived solely to inconvenience them. 
While we are the subject of travelers, Dale Butel, and his wife Kristi Anne, are leading another merry group from down under along Route 66. If you happen to see them give a friendly wave. 
We always delight in meeting with Dale’s groups. They are always fascinating, inquisitive, and fun. The plan is to meet up with them on Saturday as they motor through Kingman, tag along through Oatman, and spend the evening with them in Laughlin. 
This past Friday evening we met with the new owner of the historic Brunswick Hotel in Kingman (a delightful gentleman from Switzerland) and the contractor assigned the task of infusing the old hotel with new life. At the very least it was quite inspirational. I was left with the distinct impression this could very well be the project that stems the tide of apathy, indifference, and divisive attitudes that has kept Kingman from fully utilizing the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for transformation. 
On the weekend of August 10th, we will head west. At some point around midnight, we will turn the homestead over to my son, and entrust the neighbors as well as the Kingman Police Department (who will be notified of our departure) to watch over it with vigilance, and motor west to Victorville, California for the annual International Route 66 Festival. 
The following Thursday, as per request, I will be hosting a group of GM executives and accompanying journalists when they stop in Kingman on their Route 66 tour. We would like a nice display of old cars (with the emphasis on Cadillac) at the Powerhouse Visitor Center. Would you care to join us? 
Schedule tentatively for the evening of the 20th is the next installment for what has become a series of meetings about the resurgent interest in Route 66, what communities are doing to utilize interest in that road as a catalyst for development, and what we can do in Kingman. 
For this meeting the focus will narrow as we work out details on the creation of the World’s Largest Route 66 Museum and the transformation of the Old Trails Garage. If you would like details about the projects or the meeting, drop me a note. 
That about covers it for today. Tomorrow, however … 
One final note, if you have a copy of any of my books, or have ordered photographs from the Jim Hinckley Studio (see the link at the top of this column), and are going to be in Victorville for the big event, please look me up as I would be pleased to sign them. The signature isn’t worth much on checks but … 

A RAY OF SUNSHINE

Yesterday morning was consumed with the various tasks, trials, and tribulations associated with the management of a truck leasing office. Then it was the weekly trip to Walmart where we battled our way through a sea of bargain hunters and folks looking for a place to beat the heat just to restock the pantry.

Nancy and Kevin Mueller at the Hilltop Motel in Kingman.

Counted among the many rewards derived from our various writing and photographic endeavors is the people we meet, the opportunity to share the wonders of my adopted hometown, and learning that our work served as a catalyst for someones grand adventure on Route 66 and the road less traveled. Last evening, after a long and frustrating week, the reward was made manifest in a visit with Kevin and Nancy Mueller, the proprietors of the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico who were on a westward vacation/fact finding tour.We met them last fall during our whirlwind trip along Route 66, and enjoyed their hospitality at the Blue Swallow Motel during the Wheels on 66 event in June. We were quite pleased to reciprocate and honored to serve as their tour guide to the overlooked treasures in Kingman.

Right to left, Kevin Mueller, Nancy Mueller, and author Jim Hinckley at Redneck’s in Kingman, Arizona.

Counted among those often overlooked gems is Redneck’s Southern Pit BBQ, one of several excellent restaurants on Beale Street (one block north of Route 66) and in the historic district. We always enjoy sharing this place with guests from out of town but last evening we had the added bonus of watching the cars cruise by during the month installment of Chillin’ on Beale. We were fortunate to have a summer storm blow through. These storms with their fierce clouds add unbelievable depth and contrast to the awe inspiring landscapes that cradle Kingman. One of the best places for enjoying these storms is near Fort Beale where the vast network of Cerbat foothills trails begin. This is just off of US 93 at the edge of the city limits. Here there is a sense of wilderness even though the traffic flowing between Las Vegas and Kingman is hidden behind a low ridge and the historic district of Kingman is almost within spitting distance. During the months of fall, spring, and winter my dearest friend retreat to these trails often when we need some time to simply restore the mind with a bit of solitude and stunning desert landscapes. All to quickly the time came to bid adios and so a delightful evening drew to a close with the promise we would see the Muellers in October as we motor east to debut the Route 66 encyclopedia at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. Next week the reward will be made manifest in meeting with Dale Butel and his tour group from Australia. Then it is off to Victorville for the International Route 66 Festival.

Does it get much better than this?

SOMETHING IN THE AIR

It has been a bit tough to think of what to write this past day or so even though there is a certain something in the air here in Kingman that hints of wonderful change just ahead. The recent tragedy in Colorado, as well as thoughts about the families forever changed as a result, have dominated the thoughts.With that said I feel the need to deviate a bit from our regular topics of discussion, namely Route 66, adventures on the road less traveled, and related topics. Instead, I would simply like to pose a few questions and respectively request that you meditate upon them. Is it my imagination or does there seem to be a dramatic increase in random, senseless violence in this nation as made manifest in this latest shooting and the St. Louis Knock Out Club?What is fueling this sense of impotent rage, this need for attention, this disconnect that is being manifest as senseless violence?What, if anything, can we do to stem or turn this tide? Thank you for bearing with me. If you would like to share your thoughts on these questions please drop me an email, or start a discussion in the left column.

WEDNESDAY, AGAIN?

I know that it must be an illusion of sorts, that is the only way to explain the fact it is Wednesday. What happened to the days between last Wednesday and this one? I know we were hiking among the trees under heavy clouds in the Hualapai Mountains on Sunday. I also know that Monday, my scheduled day off, evaporated like snow in Amboy in July and was transformed into a work day. The rest of the days in between seem to have blurred into one long string of projects and work days. For a fellow who would prefer the lifestyle pace of Radiator Springs before it was rediscovered, I do manage to keep myself busy. I have the first two chapters for the new book finished. With the exception of a little polish they are ready to submit as per the contract stipulated deadline of August 1. The first feature for the next issue of 66 The Mother Road is finished and the photography for the second article in the new detour series is also completed. That leaves writing the piece on Haulapai Mountain Park before the end of August. Another edit of the galley proofs for the Route 66 Encyclopedia (the third since it was decided to make adjustments) is also finished. It is my sincere hope this finalizes what has been the most trying project of my career. Counted among other projects that consumed large blocks of time in the past week include initial work for some possible beautification to the downtown area with murals on the Old Trails Garage (1910) building. That will the topic of discussion at a meeting this evening. As busy as the past week has been it pales in comparison to what looms on the horizon for the next thirty days. Still, as all of the extra curricular activities are tied with Route 66, the people who make it special, and ways to enhance the experience for others, I look toward the harried schedule with excitement and anticipation. This Saturday we will have the privilege of playing host to Kevin and Nancy Mueller, the owners of the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. As Saturday evening is also the scheduled night for the next installment of Chillin’ on Beale, I am quite confident we can ensure they have a memorable stay in Kingman. The following Saturday afternoon we will join with the summer tour group from the land down under being led by Dale Butel on their journey through the Black Mountains and Oatman. As a bonus, Dale’s delightful wife, Kristi Anne, is in accompaniment so my dearest friend and I are assured a most enjoyable afternoon and evening. The 10Th and 11Th of August will be spent in Victorville, this years host city for the International Route 66 Festival. We look forward to the event as it is often the only time all of our Route 66 friends are in one place. It is also an ideal venue for gathering ideas on how to transform Kingman, how I can use our photography and my writing to promote the road, and making new friends that share similar passions. On the 16Th, I have been tasked with providing a reception for some folks from GM who are touring Route 66. As the request was for a display of vintage cars, with an emphasis on those manufactured by Cadillac, I have located a 1910, a 1911, and a 1953 convertible model. Then we have another organizational meeting for development of the World’s Largest Route 66 Museum, a little something special for the Route 66 community that should enhance the stature of Kingman as a destination. As the project develops I will provide updates and information about how you can help make this project a success. Of course there is also the need to launch the promised Route 66 trivia contest with a grand prize being a gift certificate from the Jim Hinckley Studio (see link at the top of this column). The hitch in this has been a need to unravel the codes involved rather than the time to implement the program. I do appreciate the patience. The rest of the month will be consumed with further development of the long awaited photo exhibit at the Powerhouse Visitor Center. There has been a bit of frustration here as well but the end result will be well worth the additional time expended.  Initially this was to be a straight forward Route 66 in Mohave County exhibit. Now it has morphed into a full blown photo tour of Route 66 in the county as well as the treasures awaiting discovery with the slightest of detours that will dominate the second floor mezzanine. At this early date it looks as though September will provide an opportunity to catch my breath. The game plan is to use this time for the planning our next grand Route 66 adventure – a trip to Cuba Fest i Cuba, Missouri in October where we will launch the promotion for the Route 66 encyclopedia. As noted quite often in my daily ramblings on this blog, you have a better chance of finding an honest presidential candidate in the months before an election than finding boredom at my house. 

THE FAST LANE, THE SLOW LANE, AND THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Some folks love the fast lane. You know the type; always in a hurry, always pushing, and never satisfied or happy because there never seems to be enough time to enjoy anything. Little thought is given to the destination shared by all travelers regardless of road chosen until they find themselves approaching the end of the road and realizing that they have spent so much time with the throttle to the floor that applying the brake is an unnatural act.

Then there are the folks who prefer the slow lane. They just don’t seem to get excited about much of anything and never worry about passing. They are the ones who stop to smell the roses and forget to go to work, and don’t seem to really care. They have one speed for everything and when they come to the end of the road it may be awhile before friends and family even notice. Meanwhile, there are those eccentric, independent sort of folks who prefer the road less traveled for their journey through life. They really don’t worry about keeping up with the neighbors. Instead they enjoy the trip with all its detours and endless opportunities for explorations on side roads and the people they meet along the way but never loose sight of the final destination. More often than not, I present the impression of being a fast lane kind of fellow. I suppose there is a bit of that in my nature but for me the fast lane is little more than one of those necessary evils we have to use to get to the exit for the road less traveled. The slow lane is hard to enjoy because it is bordered by the fast lane. Still, if given but one choice, I prefer this lane over the fast one. However, my preference is the dusty road less traveled. I find the people met along the way to be far more interesting and colorful. There are a wide array of side roads and trails that hint of endless possibility for adventure. Best of all, there are long stretches of road where it is possible to simply think, to enjoy the wonder all around us. As you may have noticed, recent posts have been somewhat short. With the exception of yesterday morning when my dearest friend and I played hooky, and took to the trail less traveled high in the Hualapai Mountains, I have been stuck in the fast lane.

It looks as though I will be able to take to the slow lane soon. Even better, I see a dusty track winding across the desert just ahead.

TO SOON, ARIZONA MONSOON, AND LOONEY TUNES

I was really hitting a stride in regard to balancing the day job and extracurricular activities when notice was received that for the foreseeable future six day work weeks will again be the norm. That announcement sent the train off the rails.  

Less than twenty miles from sun baked Route 66 in western Arizona, the Hualapai Mountains stand as aforested oasis in a sea of desert.

So, last night I again examined the galley proofs of the Route 66 Encyclopedia for errors. At the last minute it was decided that costs for the project needed to be trimmed and so a few photos were deleted, a couple were down sized, and in the process a few captions were mixed up. To say the very least this project has led the hit parade in regard to frustration. First, an editor (no longer with the company) sent the cull list of images instead of the selections. As a result more than 20,000 words of captions were written twice. Then these last minute changes were made. As there are grand plans for the books debut at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri in October, these last minute adjustments have me as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Today I will consolidate plans for today and Monday into a 14 hour marathon. Provide photos of the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66 to an Australian film company, check. Prepare for a photo safari into the Hualapai Mountains, check. We have had a touch of the Arizona monsoon (over 2 inches of rain in an hour in some places) and so expect a few difficulties but the show must go on. I am committed to providing Roger Naylor some photos of the trail system on the mountain for an article he is writing. In addition, I need some photos to enhance the forthcoming Powerhouse Visitor Center exhibit, and for the next installment of my detour feature for 66 The Mother Road. The photography will serve as the excuse for a long hike in the mountains with my dearest friend, something I love to do but would most likely postpone in light of the new work schedule. In light of the recent rains, it should be a most delightful outing. In looking through my check list I see that there is also a need to provide some Kingman updates, as well as introduce the new trivia contest with a grand prize being a print from the Jim Hinckley Studio. Have you picked out your favorite photo yet (see the slide show at the top of this column or visit the website)?Well, at least this schedule will make it difficulat to be caught up in the looney tune season that has come all to soon. I believe they refer to it as election season.

THE LETTER OF THE LAW

Friendship is a funny thing. It often has strange origins, develops through crisis, and then lasts a lifetime even with separation that translates into long distant support during the trials and tribulations of life. I will refrain from the use of names to prevent embarrassment. For similar reasons I will skip a long winded story abut how we met. Suffice to say we have been friends for thirty years. Well, I arrived home this evening after a grueling day at the office to discover that my friend in Wisconsin had mailed a most pleasant and unusual surprise, a massive 1,184 page tome entitled, Berry Automobiles, Second Edition. Published in 1916, it is a legal reference book for all things automotive. During dinner I thumbed through the book and found myself so intrigued with it that a reminder was needed that the borscht and potatoes were getting cold. It was as though I had received a magic window that allowed me to peer into a lost world. The first thoughts that came to mind as I leafed through the book was a reflection on how quickly automotive law had grown. After all, in 1896 the automobile (a Duryea motor wagon) was such a novelty that it garnered top billing over the albino and fat lady at the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Now, two decades later, we have a book like this!Delightful tidbits abound on every page. “Persons using vehicles in streets in which street cars are operated must exercise reasonable care to avoid collision with the cars. However, it is not negligence as a matter of law to drive a vehicle along a street car track, even in the direction from which the cars will approach.” “An automobilist has the right to operate his car on the public highways, and is not an insurer against the fright of horses using the same highway at the same time, and if damage is done by a horse taking fright at an automobile properly operated no liability arises…This is going to be fun!

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