Well, the 2012 edition of the international Route 66 is now history and I am quite sure it will be one for the record books. In spite of record heat, issues with the host hotel, and the litany of organizational issues that accompany an event of this magnitude it was (in my humble opinion) a smashing success.
For as far as the eye could see the green was a sea of classic cars glittering under a glaring desert sun. These, however, were only a small part of the eye candy on display for the vintage car enthusiast as there with big rigs and even a building filled with historic military vehicles. An amazing array of food trucks filled the grounds. Sushi, traditional Greek foods, award winning buffalo wings, unique fruit smoothies and Korean delicacies were but a few of the taste sensations that made choosing lunch or a snack a very difficult decision. As exciting as all of this was, this event, as well as the road it commemorated, is about the people. Vendors included some of the Route 66 communities most famous authors and historians including Jim Ross, Akio Takeuch of Japan; Michael Wallis, Joe Sonderman, Shellee Graham, and Jerry McClanahan (author of the popular EZ 66 Guide).
Zdnek Jurasek, and his wife, Ava, of the Czech Route 66 Association.
The crowd that ebbed and flowed through the exhibit hall and around the fairgrounds mirrored the international popularity of America’s longest attraction – Route 66. On Saturday afternoon alone I spoke about Route 66, and provided promotional material for attractions along the highway, to people from Czechoslovakia, England, Japan, Ireland, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, and even South Africa! There was a palpable and contagious excitement in the air that was invigorating, even after two back-to-back fourteen hour days followed by a 240 mile drive that commenced at 3:30 AM. As many in attendance were old friends or that have been electronic pen pals with a shared interest, there was a sense of being in attendance at the world’s largest family reunion. The event culminated with an awards banquet at which the immeasurable contributions to the preservation of Route 66, as well as the fostering of its popularity, by John Delgadillo, Jim Ross, Kevin and Nancy Mueller, Zdnek Jurasek, Jerry McClanahan, and Shellee Graham were recognized. Full details of the awards and banquet are available at Route 66 News. Unfortunately my schedule prohibited attendance of the banquet and ceremony. However, that did not mean our Route 66 adventure was over.
As the sun sank in the west behind heavy clouds we rolled out of Victorville across the historic bridge that spans the Mojave River and immediately began wishing for our trusty Jeep rather than a fuel frugal rental car as recent rains had washed sand, gravel and stone across the road. In places standing water left us a bit nervous as we made very slow crossings. The passing storms had dropped the temperature to a more comfortable ninety degrees, and provided a rainbow for framing a treasure that has survived into the modern era. After dinner in Barstow we walked to the car in awe of what was about to become a stunning sunset. Wanting to capture the beautiful sunset as a backdrop for something special we set our sights on historic Daggett a few miles to the east. We arrived at the Desert Market and Stone Hotel just as the sun masked by purple and black clouds cast a rich golden glow on the sky. It was absolutely breathtaking. Our journey east on Route 66 came to an abrupt but temporary end a few miles east of Daggett as the road was submerged under several feet of water. So, discretion being the better part of valor, and as we had the rental car instead of the Jeep, we beat a hasty retreat to the interstate and resumed our Route 66 odyssey at Newberry Springs. By the time we made Ludlow the dark desert sky was presenting the illusion of being a vast black sea of glittering diamonds. This, however, was but a mere prelude to the show that awaited us near Cadiz Summit.
As we stopped to savor the simplistic wonder of a star studded desert night, meteors arced across the sky in a blaze of stunning glory. What a spectacular finale for a most enjoyable weekend!
Well, in a half dozen hours or so we will be on the road to California and the International Route 66 Festival. Our house guests are in place, the car is loaded and ready, and all that is left is a few hours of sleep.
Hey, as a teaser here is the gift basket from Kingman discussed yeasterday. Register today for your chance to win this and lots of other nifty prizes!
From its inception the foundational precept of 66 The Mother Roadwas to provide the special places that make Route 66 the last bastion of mom and pop enterprise with an international marketing platform. Development of the Big Palooza contest took this ideal to a new level as it blends promotion for the small businesses and attractions along the legendary highway with an opportunity for fans of the double six to experience the best these places have to offer.
Through the dedicated efforts of Carol Young and Kristi Turman the City of Kingman saw in the contest an opportunity to introduce the world to the most overlooked destination on Route 66, to share a few of the places that make it special, and to welcome visitors with hospitality and a big smile. The resultant prize package ensures the lucky winner will have an expense paid weekend in Kingman as well as souvenirs to remember their stay.
The basket includes two nights lodging at the historic El Trovatore Motel, free passes for four to all of the museums in Kingman, two $20.00 certificates from Dora’s Beale Street Deli, a $50.00 certificate from the world famous Dambar, and a $30.00 gift card from Sonic. Other prizes include two bottles of wine fro Desert D’ Oro Winery, a gift certificate from Calico’s Restaurants, a Kingman turquoise necklace, a framed print from award winning photographer J.C. Amberlyn, a pound of coffee and gift certificate from Beale Street Brews, coffee mugs, post cards, and other souvenirs.
Do you need another reason to register for the Big Palooza? Is there a community that would like to take the Kingman challenge and offer visitors a free weekend?
After years of languishing as little more than a stop on the path to somewhere else there is a definite sense that Kingman may be the rising star on Route 66. I may be a bit premature in regard to these thoughts but the embers are glowing bright and are ready to be fanned into a blaze.
First there was the El Trovatore Motel that was pulled back from the brink. For the first time in decades its neon again glows bright. With the restoration of each room it is almost as though the hands of time are being turned back. Now colorful murals are making it a showplace. And soon, it will have a new claim to fame as the home of the world’s longest Route 66 map. For years the trading post at Meteor City held that record. Even though their claim to fame is about to be eclipsed, no one can infringe on what makes their map irreplaceable – it was designed and originally painted by iconic artist Bob Waldmire. As a result of the resurgence of this historic motel, Route 66 enthusiasts have the rare opportunity to capture images of a near perfect view of Route 66 circa 1959. From the parking lot of the Hilltop Motel, the neon of both historic motels can be seen against a backdrop of quintessential landscapes. Now, the foundation has been laid for creation of the world’s largest Route 66 museum, and the transformation of the west wall of the circa 1915 Old Trails Garage which will complete the little pocket park on the corner of Third Street and Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66). Meanwhile the transformation of the mezzanine at the Powerhouse Visitor Center is about to begin.
The dining room facing Route 66 in the historic Hotel Brunswick.
These are exciting times in Kingman! The historic Brunswick Hotel has been sold and renovation is commencing. Dora’s Beale Street Deli (one block north of Route 66) is expanding their menu and adding a number of special evenings. Redneck’s, also on Beale Street, is on the fast track to becoming a favorite for European visitors. The reviews on Tripadvisor continue to be favorable encouraging other travelers to make the slight detour as they motor west. In a few weeks the refurbished depot will open as a railroad museum. A grant will soon transform the pedestrian crossing between the Powerhouse Visitor Center and the legendary locomotive across the street. Haulapai Mountain Park, a forested oasis with cabins, hiking trails, and lodge in a sea of desert that is a mere dozen miles from Route 66 is the subject of a forthcoming article in the Arizona Republic and the next issue of66 The Mother Road. Sirens Cafe, also on Beale Street, is the recipient of a very favorable review published in a recent edition of Arizona Highways. It would seem that the secret is about to spring from the bag, Kingman is one of the most overlooked destinations on Route 66. I wonder how long it will be before visitors discover that this is also a great place to live with lots of opportunity for capitalizing on the resurgent interest in Route 66. The last note of the day pertains to the magazine, 66 The Mother Road. The owners are about to shift into high gear so if you have a business to promote, or sell, on Route 66 you will be hard pressed to find a better value for your advertising dollar. And don’t forget the Big Palooza contest, an advertising opportunity with the added bonus of contributing something special to the Route 66 community or an opportunity to win inspiration for your next adventure on the double six.
It is now less than two weeks to the 2012 edition of the International Route 66 Festival in Victorville, California. The theme this year is California Dreaming and that is exactly what we will be doing for the next few days as a whirlwind of loose ends are addressed before hitting the road.
The historic Mojave River bridge on Route 66 east of Victorville.
Between then and now, there are several days at the office, notifying the police department and neighbors for added property surveillance, getting the caretaker of the homestead settled in, service on the Jeep in the form of a headlight replacement resultant of an errant rock on a recent excursion, and packaging of all the display items. Other tasks include my self imposed schedule of spending a minimum of one hour per day on the new book, and finalizing details for the pending GM executives visit in Kingman as they motor west on Route 66. These festivals blend the very best attributes of the class reunion, family reunion, family vacation, and great American road trip. The common theme is a highway that officially doesn’t exist, and and yet it has an international fan club to rival that of Elvis. This year, instead of using the event as a venue to sell books and promote my corner of Route 66, I will focus solely on promotion, catching up with old friends, making new ones, and encouraging those unfamiliar with the roads charms to take a road trip. This years promotional endeavors will be international in the most literal sense of the word. Zdnek Jurasek of the Czechoslovakian Route 66 Association, a featured speaker at the event, and his organization have been commissioned to transform the largest mall in Prague with a Route 66 theme. As I have agreed to supply a wide array of images from our vast collection that can be printed as posters for display at the exhibit, we will be meeting with Zdnek to finalize details. I am also hoping to spark excitement and eager anticipation for several projects being developed in Kingman. One, the World’s Largest Route 66 Museum now has a solid foundation that we can build on beginning with the organizational meeting scheduled for August 20. Another innovative project is the transformation of the west wall of the Old Trails Garage, 1915, into a telescope that allows people to peek into the past. Details for this project will also be finalized at the meeting. There have been a few postponements but it looks as though initial work on the long anticipated Mohave County and Route 66 permanent photo exhibit on the mezzanine at the Powerhouse Visitor Center is about to get underway. I am quite confident it will be a well received attraction. The final note pertaining to exciting updates from Kingman has a hint of self promotion. I am now offering my services to groups stopping in the Kingman area. These will include speaking engagements as well as limited guide services such as to unique photo opportunities. See you in Victorville?