Route 66 is merely a highway, albeit a fascinating and historical one. Add colorful people with a caring passion for the road, its history, and the people who travel it and the old highway becomes something truly magical. When people who are as equally impassioned about automotive history join in, legendary US 66 becomes an asphalt time capsule where the lines between past, present, and future blur to such a degree it becomes difficult to discern the era.
|1946 Mack on Route 66.|
In the past few years I have witnessed convoys of vintage micro cars, a motorcycle rally for pre-1916 motorcycles, and modern electric cars motor along this amazing old road as well as a small herd of Hudson built automobiles traveling east to Oklahoma for an international gathering of fans and owners. On our trips east and west we have often shared the road with colorful street rods, vintage convertibles, old pick up trucks, motorcycles, and examples of just about every chrome bedecked American road sled manufactured during the era of I Like Ike buttons.
This past week the living time capsule that is Route 66 took on a new dimension as big rig enthusiasts took to the road. In our minds eye the twin icons of ’57 Chevys and the double six are forever entwined but we seem to have forgotten that when this was the Main Street of America the road was shared with trucks built by REO and White, Federal and Mack.
To see these ancient work horses in their native habitat was a very rare treat indeed. When was the last time you saw a 1938 Kenworth or a White of similar vintage with sleeper cab?
As the week progressed the theme of vintage trucks continued. Yesterday morning Kevin and Nancy Mueller of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari stopped by on their way home from California with their latest acquisition, a 1929 Ford Model A pick up.
As were sharing coffee and discussing the wonders of a life lived on Route 66, and ancient trucks, at the Hot Rod Cafe a 1941 GMC drove past. As we examined the Model A and Barney, our 1968 Adventurer, a 1954 Chevy truck rolled through the parking lot and again the past and present seemed seamless.
Our conversation about the wonder of living a life where Route 66 is at the center of the compass seemed so appropriate in light of all that is currently unfolding in our world (the Mueller’s as well as with my best friend and I).
Dean “Crazy Legs” Walker, “Lulu”, and Brenda, friends of the road, arrived in Kingman yesterday for a visit as planned. However, what we had not initially planned was that I would have issues at the office or that their visit would coincide with the free maiden voyage of Route 66 Adventure Tours, the latest endeavor from Sam Frisher, owner of the historic El Trovatore Motel.
As it turned out it was a day of mixed blessings, grand adventure, and sharing the simple pleasures of Route 66 with friends new and old. It was also my official debut as an itinerant tour guide (something that will require a bit of practice), a service offered as my way of setting an example in the arena of doing more than just talking about promoting Kingman as a destination.
The first blessing was that I was able to reschedule customers to a Saturday evening pick up. Of course this resulted in having to cut our visit short. It also meant that we skipped the monthly spectacle of Chillin on Beale. And this led to my ongoing reflection of how blessed I am to have a job to complain about.
As with any shake down cruise there were issues and problems but that is why Sam generously offered the adventure, including lunch, at no charge. Suffice to say everyone seemed to have had a good time even though there was a hint of frustration resultant of us being about two hours late on the return schedule. From that perspective I was reminded of an Amtrack adventure of several years ago.
A few of the issues that resulted in the derailed schedule were resultant of unforeseen events such as a broken water line that left the community of Seligman without water which in turn left us without a place to eat lunch there. This was compounded by a lengthy wait for lunch in Peach Springs as the lodge was doing a bang up business.
Still, there was time for a visit with Angel in Seligman, a stop at the Desert Diamond Distillery, and the Hackberry General Store. We even took the time to explore the Grand Canyon Caverns.
Of course for me the highlight of the adventure was an oportunity to visit with some old friends such as Lulu. The last time we had the opportunity for a face to face talk about one of our favortie topics, Route 66, was the book signing at the museum in Berwyn, Illinois in October of 2011.
In recent months my dearest friend and I have lived a life that mirrored the twists and turns of the pre-1952 alignment of Route 66 in the Black Mountains. The adventure tour is but one manifestation.
Several weeks ago we met with the new owner of the historic Brunswick Motel and were surprised by his request that we supply the photography that would portray a journey along Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica for the lobby. This, however, was but part one of the surprise as we were also offered the use of the lobby for meeting with tour groups passing through Kingman, and a front window for crafting a display of our books and photographic work.
And of course, looming on the horizon is our October adventure with the debut of The Route 66 Encyclopedia at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. This will be followed with what has become a custom with each book published, a trip to Prescott and interview on AM Arizona.
The wheels continue to turn, and the miles continue to pass on our grand adventure on legendary Route 66.