BUSY TIMES ON ROUTE 66

It appears as though I have a found a new way to ensure boredom never becomes a worry. As with most everything in my life the past half century or so, the flurry of activity that will consume the next few weeks centers on America’s longest attraction, Route 66. 
Tonight, I will be the primary speaker at a meeting where details will be hammered out for a mural on the west wall of the Old Trails Garage (1915) and the first stage of the World’s Largest Route 66 Museum. I will also be addressing items pertaining to Route 66 that have the potential to make an impact on Kingman. 
These would include Ride for the Relay led by Roger Fox that will be stopping in Kingman on the evening of September 9. Another will be a breakfast for Zdnek Jurasek, the Czech Route 66 Association, and his group.
Additional speakers include Kevin of Axiom Remodeling that has accepted the task of renovating the Brunswick Hotel. Also in attendance will be John Springs, editor of 66 The Mother Road, the sponsor for the Big Palooza Contest. 
I am a bit behind schedule but my goal is to have the rough draft for the new book finished before October when hit the road for Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri to kick off the debut and promotion of the Route 66 Encyclopedia. So, later this week I will resume resume a schedule of one to two hours every night devoted to this project. 
Cuba Fest is shaping up to be a major event on Route 66. Author Joe Sonderman will be in attendance as will Riva Echols, and accomplished photographer Chris Robleski, and Katie, of Fading Nostalgia. So, as time is flying by I will also need to address travel arrangements and formulate a travel plan. 
Included in this is coordinating speaking engagements and appearances. If you have need of these services for an event, an engagement, meeting, or convention, please let me know as soon as possible. 
We are in the final stages of the permanent photo exhibit at the Powerhouse Visitor Center. Later this week Josh Noble, the tourism director, and I will go through the photos to ensure the captions for them are correct. 
Also on the list of things to address is a meeting with the owner of a tour service who has discussed a tour company that centers on the attractions in the Kingman area with me as the weekend tour guide. Would anyone be interested in seeing the secrets and surprises found along the section of Route 66 between Kingman and Seligman, or to Oatman?
To ensure every minute is spent in the pursuit of something productive, including those early morning hours when rational people are still sleeping snugly in their beds, I offered my services to Ron Hart of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce. He is on the fast track to having Joplin, Missouri selected as the host city for the 2013 edition of the International Route 66 Festival. 
All of this should keep me busy at least through October. I suppose I had best be looking for projects to keep me busy after that date


ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL WEEK ON ROUTE 66

ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL WEEK ON ROUTE 66

Dora’s in Kingman benefits from awareness fostered by the
monthly Chillin on Beale Street event that draws visitors from
neighboring communities.

Tourism is a very poor foundation upon which to build a local economy. However, tourism can be an ideal catalyst for developing a community. Simply put, if you make a community a destination for visitors through the development of museums, restaurants, unique shops, hiking trails that accentuate the natural beauty of an area, and beautification accents, you make it a place people will want to live and that translates into a healthy local economy.
That is the ideal behind the flurry of activity in Kingman sparked this summer by a series of informative organizational meetings orchestrated by Steve Wagner, a local real estate agent who sees Kingman as a truly overlooked destination for visitors as well as by those in search of a great place to live or open a business. However, as Route 66 is a community unto itself, to reach maximum potential with minimal waste of valuable resources we need to see each town along the way as neighborhoods in that community rather than as separate entities.
From this perspective the successful transformation of a community is accomplished by linking development with neighboring communities, sharing events, such as in the annual Route 66 Fun Run or Missouri Motor Tour. An excellent example of how this can be accomplished is found in the recent International Route 66 Festival in Victorville that included a cruise to Barstow and an evening at the drive in theater, or the GM sponsored tour of Route 66 for the group from Shanghai, the subject of a recent article in the Kingman Daily Miner.
An innovative project under development in Kingman, when perfected, would lend itself well to other communities and enhance the overall Route 66 experience for visitors. Additionally, it will foster a sense of awareness and a unified sense of community.
In essence, the ideal is to create the world’s largest Route 66 museum in Kingman. Of course if other communities picked up on the project then the museum would be greatly expanded in scope. Conceivably it could be developed for the entire Route 66 corridor, even in rural areas.
The museum consists of post cards and historic images of Route 66 businesses scanned and printed at an 8.5 inch by 11 inch size with a brief descriptor of the image, and a QR code that links to a site with more detailed information. These are then mounted at the closest location to where the photo was originally taken either in a free standing, wall mount, or window display manner.
The end result is a series of time capsules that together form an informative walking tour. What better way to encourage visitors to see a town, to encourage beautification, and to create a project that fosters community involvement?
With that said, if you have photographs or post cards of businesses along Route 66 in Kingman, and would like to contribute to the development of this project, please let me know. Several post card collectors have already made significant contributions to the project, and we have the vast archives at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, but there are numerous businesses still unaccounted for.
One of these is Hood’s Court and market that stood in what is now the intersection of Hualapai Mountain Road and Andy Devine Avenue. Another would be Richard’s Court on South Front Street, currently Topeka Street.
Another way for presenting Route 66 as a community would be in the development of gift baskets that allow visitors to sample the best of what that town has to offer for the upcoming Big Palooza contest sponsored by 66 The Mother Road. I would be remiss if a reminder to enter was not given to readers as the prizes constitute the best of the Route 66 community, including a weekend for two in Kingman.
In the next few months you will see exciting developments in Kingman as well as along the Route 66 corridor. As a result, next year those who travel the iconic highway will be awarded a wide array of new sights, sounds, and experiences that will enhance the adventure along the Main Street of America.

FROM SHANGHAI TO KINGMAN VIA ROUTE 66

FROM SHANGHAI TO KINGMAN VIA ROUTE 66

Several weeks ago I received a call from Dan Rice (the unofficial tourism director on Santa Monica Pier and proprietor of 66-to-Cali) who was assisting with the development of a Route 66 tour for representatives from GM China, the Cadillac division. A conference call or two later and I found myself committed to crafting a reception for the group when they arrived in Kingman.
So, I turned to Josh Noble, our local tourism director, and local car clubs to set the wheels in motion. As Josh is an innovative and organizational talent, and as the car club set in Kingman looks for any excuse to show off their cars, my primary task became swapping days off at the office, and directing from the sidelines while my dearest friend researched proper etiquette.

Today, the big day, marked an entire week of international relations on Route 66. This one, however, will be tough to beat.
First representatives from the local car clubs began arriving at the Powerhouse Visitor Center, along with tourists from London, Italy, Germany, and Norway.
It wasn’t on my planned schedule but soon I was signing copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66 at the gift shop, answering questions, helping folks with maps, and in general, having a most delightful time.
As the primary focus of the Chinese tour was Cadillac, I was most delighted to see Bob Campbell’s 1911 Cadillac, which recently completed a 500 mile tour of Colorado, roll into the parking lot as well as a stunning, unrestored 1957 Coupe De Ville. Another show stopper was Josh Noble’s wonderful 1948 Oldsmobile with period trailer.

Bob Cambell’s 1911 Cadillac.

At about 11:30 the Chinese contingent arrived with journalist in tow. As an added bonus their primary guide was none other than the one and only Bob “Croc” Lile, a friend from Amarillo as well as a talented artist with gallery in that city on 6th Street, the original alignment of Route 66.
In less than the blink of the eye the parking lot became a veritable sea of motorcycles (a group from Germany), vintage cars, new Cadillacs emblazoned with the Route 66 emblem and Chinese script, and crowds that ebbed and flowed around the old cars and into the museum. It was delightful chaos!

Josh Noble’s 1948 Oldsmobile.

In the midst of it all I gave one of the most interesting interviews of my life. The journalist asked a question in Chinese, and interpreter relayed the message, I responded, and the interpreter relayed my response.
Then it was off to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, an interesting adventure as only a few of the people spoke English. The folks at the restaurant earned every tip and were still grossly under paid!
All to quickly the international celebration came to end as the group had a schedule to keep. That included a cruise through Oatman and days end in Needles.
What an amazing day! I even learned how to say “hello” in Mandarin.
Every day on Route 66 leaves one awaiting the next day with eager anticipation. I wonder what adventures will unfold tomorrow?

Kingman Mayor John Salem addresses a group
of journalist during the Chinese tour groups
stop in Kingman.
WHAT AN AMAZING ADVENTURE

WHAT AN AMAZING ADVENTURE

If I wasn’t so used to eating everyday, and obsessed with making sure my dearest friend had electricity, running water, and gas for the Jeep, chances are I would quit the day job, and spend my days writing, taking pictures, and meeting the people from all over the world that are drawn to Route 66. What an amazing adventure that would be!

Emma Jean’s in Victorville.

In the last two weeks I have been privileged to serve as a tour guide for Dean Kennedy, a friend we made during last years fall tour, visit with Denny Gibson (an occasional travel journalist from Ohio), and be a part of the worlds largest family reunion (aka the International Route 66 Festival) in Victorville, California. Of course no trip on Route 66 to Victorville can be considered complete without breakfast at Emma Jean’s, a true gem in business since 1947 and managed by the same family for the better part of a half century.

Yesterday the charming and innovative Carolyn Hasenfratz of John’s Modern Cabin News and Sell 66 Stuff stopped by on her way back home to Missouri. Today I was surprised by Geri Linda Metterle, a gifted photographer from Bavaria, and her husband, Harald Jungbauer, vice mayor of Waldkraiburg. I was taken aback and honored to learn they had purchased a copy of my book, Ghost Towns of Route 66, in Germany and had been carrying it with them on their travels as a guide and to have it autographed.
On Thursday, at lunch time, I have been asked to address a group from Shanghai, China that is touring Route 66. It is almost as though I am traveling around the world without leaving home!
As I become more involved in the Route 66 community, and as my adopted hometown is rolling out the red carpet to visitors, I am quite confident this ability to travel internationally without the need of an airline ticket will continue. As an example, the community gift basket created for the The Big Palooza Contest (thank you Carol Young, Kristi Turman, Josh Noble and the City of Kingman) sponsored by 66 The Mother Road garnered coverage by the Kingman Daily Miner. In turn, the article was picked up by a wide array of news sources.

When I was riding my old bicycle along the faded lines on an empty section of Route 66 in the shadow of the Black Mountains in the summer of 1967, such a grand adventure could never have been imagined any more than finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It most definitely gives me a sense of eager anticipation for the next forty years.

NO END IN SIGHT

NO END IN SIGHT

For most of the past half dozen years I have patiently awaited the wane or decline of international popularity in Route 66 as travelers discovered the next big thing. It would seem that my concerns are unwarranted as the groundswell of interest in the iconic double six continues to grow.

As Kevin and Nancy Mueller, the new owners of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, have discovered, the village of Route 66 truly is America’s most famous attraction. A few days ago they hosted a Cadillac tour, from China, traveling the highway. Earlier this summer they provided lodging, as well as their trademark hospitality, to a group from Holland, as well as visitors from Australia, Germany, Norway, and other countries.
This week the group from China will be stopping in Kingman for lunch and a tour of the Powerhouse Visitor Center. It will be my privilege to serve as their unofficial guide during their visit, a service I have been providing more frequently.
For my dearest friend and I, serving as an impromptu tour guide is one of the greatest rewards derived from writing and photography – the doors that open for sharing the wonders of Route 66 to an international audience. At times it is seems as it we are international travelers in our home town!
In our travels up and down this amazing old road there is often a sense that Route 66 is more than a former highway that connects the inland sea of Lake Michigan at Chicago with the ocean at Santa Monica. It is almost as though the old road links every nation on the planet.

Author Akio Takeuch at the 2012 International Route 66
Festival in Victorville, California.

At the event in Victorville we again met with Akio Takeuch of Japan, author of The Tropic of Route 66, and other titles including a Japanese tour guide for the road. We first met Akio at the 2011 International Route 66 festival in Amarillo, Texas.
While dining in Barstow on Saturday evening we overheard conversations in French, German, and Italian. In deathly quiet Amboy, at 10:30 in the evening under a brilliant starry sky, there were people from France taking pictures even though the neon has been dark for almost a half century and the temperature hovered just below 110 degrees.
Zdnek Jurasek of the Czech Route 66 Association will again be transforming the largest mall in Prague with a Route 66 themed exhibit. In conversation this weekend I also learned he is spearheading the creation of the first Route 66 museum in Europe.
The magic of Route 66 transcends barriers of culture, language, and even distance. No one seems to be immune, even captains of capitalism whose steely eyed focus and determination are legendary.
Albert Okura, founder of the Juan Pollo restaurant chain, has been led to purchase the site of the first McDonald’s restaurant and create a free museum dedicated to that pioneering company. He has also purchased the remains of Amboy and is embarking on a lengthy restoration project that will make this a living Route 66 time capsule deep in the forbidding Mojave Desert.
Route 66, is more than an ancient road that links the past with the present, a living time capsule that chronicles a century of societal evolution. It is truly the stuff of dreams and there is no end in sight for its popularity.