Several days ago I launched the annual end of the year series profiling a few of our favorite places on Route 66. Today we continue that series with a few plugs for some of the best attractions to be found along Route 66, or with the slightest of detours, in Illinois and Missouri. 
Please note, these are but a few of the places that make our Route 66 adventures so enjoyable. By no means are these selections all that these states have to offer. 
Before a lynch mob forms resultant of what may be perceived as a rude oversight, I should note that Chicago, and Joliet with the Route 66 experience and stunning Rialto Theater, are both cities with a great deal to offer. However, I will need to address the wide array of sites and attractions in these cities another time.
Filling the top ten list of my favorite attractions in Illinois would be all of the Abraham Lincoln related sites in Springfield. Counted among our many blessings are the fact that we have had  opportunities to visit other presidential related sites such as Monticello in Virginia but it is those associated with Lincoln that truly move me.  
A full day can easily be consumed with a visit to his presidential library, home, law office, and burial site. However, if your schedule allows for but one stop my suggestion would be his home and the recreated neighborhood around it. 
A full day of exploration is sure to spark a very healthy appetite. Well, it just so happens that the iconic Cozy Dog is on Route 66 at the south end of town. 
My next suggestion requires the slightest of detours from Route 66. However, I am quite sure the simplistic grandeur of the historic Sugar Creek covered bridge near Chatham (one of five remaining in the state of Illinois), the delightful park that surrounds it, and the wonderful photo opportunities available here will be ample reward for the side trip.
For the young at heart of any age it is tough to beat a stop at Rich Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton. Rich and Big Red greet every visitor with a warm, welcoming smile. 
Skipping down the road a piece there is another little detour I would like to share. This one, a discovery made on our last adventure, is less than a dozen miles south of St. James in Missouri. 
The beauty of Maramec Springs Park, especially when framed with stunning fall colors, was one of the most beautiful places visited on our October trip. To say it was absolutely stunning would be akin to saying Route 66 is a road. 
Massive remnants from the iron works that dominated the site in the mid 19th century, the clear waters that flow from the submerged cavern, and the shade dappled trails rimmed by weathered and worn Missouri limestone are but a hint of the wonder found here. My suggestion, add this to your travel plans and pack a picnic lunch.
As the lunch hour is over, we will have to continue on Friday when the topic of discussion will be the wonders of Kansas. Stay tuned –  



Before I continue with my list of favorite places on Route 66, a few updates and notes from the road need to be shared.
Just in time for the Christmas holiday, I have transformed some of our photography into calendars, colorful mugs, note cards, post cards, and other items. We will be designing and adding additional items in the next couple of weeks. To ensure reasonable shipping rates, especially for international orders, I chose Cafe Press for our Route 66 souvenir storefront.
The next item is in regards to the continuing partnership with Legends of America. The latest installment in my series on the evolution and development of the American automobile industry with its cast of eccentric and visionary characters is now available for your reading pleasure.
Now, a quick Route 66 update from Kingman. The project to convert the west wall of the Old Trails Garage into a foundational component for the beautification of the historic district is well under way.

The Cave Restaurant near
Richland, Missouri.

When we started this project there were five windows to transform. The inserts for all five are complete, one is finished and installed, and there is funding for the artwork to finish two more. It looks as though we will have about half of the project completed by the first of the year.
Okay, this posting is a bit short but in continuing our list of favorite places, I will share one of our most recent discoveries. Okay, I am stretching a point as this restaurant is about a dozen miles off of Route 66.
Still, the Cave Restaurant should most definitely be included on your travel itinerary. The food ranges from good to excellent. Prices run the gamut from moderate to spendy, if you go for the luxury of items such as alligator tails in apricot sauce.
The experience, however, is absolutely priceless. Fans of the double six often talk of the journey being more important than the destination.
An adventure to the Cave Restaurant takes that concept to extreme levels. Suffice to say it is not something you will ever forget.
If all goes as planned we will continue our discussion of favorite places on Route 66 with the Thursday posting. See you soon –



Every year I receive countless requests for assistance in planning an adventure on Route 666 and notes asking about our favorite restaurant, cafe, motel, or attraction. I strive to respond to each note or request.
Still, toward the end of the year I post a series of lists detailing a few of our favorite places along legendary Route 66. So, today we have the first in this series, our favorites in Illinois and Missouri.

Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba, Missouri.

Favorite Communities – okay, getting in trouble with this should be easy.
If, however, my schedule allowed for the visit of only two towns along Route 66 they would be Cuba in Missouri and Pontiac in Illinois.
Most every town along this storied highway has something wonderful to offer, even if it is an empty place like Endee or Glenrio. A few, such as Seligman, offer busy, bustling places filled with life, fun, excitement, and larger than life characters or even living legends.

Cuba and Pontiac are different. They have utilized the resurgent interest in the old road to add a vibrancy, an excitement to the community without giving it a Disneyland feel.
They have preserved the essence of the Route 66 experience without sacrificing or recreating the components of a thriving, non tourist based community.
Cuba has a shoe store that has been in business for decades, as well as a thriving business district. Likewise with Pontiac. Of even greater importance, there is an almost tangible sense of community in each of these charming towns.
Favorite Motels – this is another list that I am quite sure will generate a response.
As most travelers follow the old road east to west, that is how I will present this listing.
In Illinois, I would suggest the Carlinvilla Motel in Carlinville but with a caveat. This motel is clean and simple. There are no frills and without immediate attention to a few maintenance issues it is very possible that the property will not be suitable within a couple of years.
Still, it is a near perfect time capsule of mom and pop motels circa 1965. As a bonus, the price is quite reasonable.
In Missouri there are two properties that really stand out – the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon and the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba. Both motels are in excellent condition, both offer value for the money spent, and both are managed by proprietors with a love for the history of the motel as well as the road, and the people who travel historic Route 66.
There are a number of other lodging choices of note. One that comes to mind is the Rail Haven in Springfield, a motel with a very long association to Route 66 but with the modern amenities favored by many travelers.

Favorite Places to Eat – this is tough as we really enjoy sampling the offerings of mom and pop shops on our travels. There are a number of good places to eat as well as some excellent ones, like Shelly’s in Cuba. However, there are are only a couple that I would have to rate as outstanding.
Two of our favorties are in Illinois, the Palms Grill in Atlanta, and the Ariston Cafe in Litchfield. Every effort should be made to have at least one meal at these restaurants.
On Thursday, I will continue with our list of favorites in Ilinois as well as Missouri. I will also share a couple of menu suggestions from our favorite restaurants.



With the dawn of a new year fast approaching there is an increasing awareness that 2012, the year the world ends, again, is about to become history. What an incredible year it has been.
Once again the thread that seems to tie it all together was an old highway signed with two sixes. As I look back over the years, that old road seems to be the stage for the unfolding of almost my entire life story, at least since 1966.
The first quarter of the year 2012 was dominated with the demands imposed by a litany of editorial issues on The Route 66 Encyclopedia project that required resolution. First I wrote the captions, over 20,000 words, for the images selected by the editor in charge of this project. Then I received an apology and notice that the pictures that I wrote captions for were from the cull list. So, I wrote another 20,000 plus words of captions for the book.
Then the editor I was working with left the company. The new editor assigned to the project came in green and wanted to tweak the layout.

With the publication deadline looming on the horizon, there was a last minute request to write captions for twenty additional images – by the following morning. This was followed by a request to assist in finding ways to trim twenty pages.
In spite of the frustrations, missteps, and other issues the book came out nicely. So, I would be quite remiss if you were left with the impression the project was an editorial disaster. With that said I tip my hat to the editorial and layout staff for a job well done.
The final request for major adjustments to the book was mere days before the annual Route 66 Fun Run. As it turns out, in recent years the event has taken on a quite enjoyable international flavor for my dearest friend and I.
Beginning in 2011, I agreed to meet with Dale Butel’s tour group from Australia and New Zealand during the event and speak about this highways colorful history in western Arizona. This year there were two additional perks, both with an international touch.
One was an interview with Mark Fletcher, an Australian television personality, with the ruins of Cadiz Summit in California as a backdrop. The second was a surprise visit from Mark and Jo, Route 66 friends from England.
As it turned out, all of this was but a preview of a very interesting summer and fall. It was also a mere hint of just how far reaching the allure of Route 66 is, and how this old road is fast becoming a linear community that stretches from the inland sea at Chicago to the shores of the Pacific at Santa Monica. 
As you may imagine, completion of the encyclopedia project resulted in a very big sigh of relief. There was, however, little time for contemplative reflection as we had promised the Mueller’s of the Blue Swallow Motel that we would come to Tucumcari for the Wheels on 66 event. This was ten days after receipt of notification that the encyclopedia was going to print.

Author Jim Hinckley with an Australian tour
group at the ruins of Cadiz Summit along Route
66 in California.

For the second time in a row there were last minute issues at the office that left the vacation to Tucumcari in limbo until mere days before we were scheduled to leave even though a request had been submitted the previous October. Needless to say, this frustration coupled with possible job loss anxieties weren’t overly conducive to kicking the grand adventure off on a relaxed note. 
This, however, was a Route 66 adventure, and so the concerns and worries were quickly pushed to the dark recesses of the mind as the miles ticked by. By the time  my dearest friend and I were enjoying lunch at the La Posada in Winslow our thoughts were filled with eager anticipation of the discoveries awaiting us on the road to Tucumcari.
As it turned out the event did not quite go as planned but the opportunity to share the passion for the wonders of this old road with fellow enthusiasts such as Joe Sonderman, Jim Ross, Jerry McClanahan, Shellee Graham, Chris Robleski, and Katie Nelson over a pleasant fireside dinner, courtesy of the Mueller’s, at the Blue Swallow Motel more than made up for the anemic turn out. 

In looking back on that most wonderful evening, I now see that this event also foreshadowed the rest of the summer and fall. It also solidified the ever growing conviction that Route 66 is a community unto itself where barriers of language and custom fall by the wayside. 
Counted among the many blessings derived from the continuing pursuit of the childhood dream of becoming a writer when I grow up is the opportunities it presents for sharing the wonders of Route 66, the southwest, and my adopted hometown, Kingman. So, imagine the fun I had this summer when there was an opportunity to play tour guide for friends and visitors almost every day.
Dries Bessels, a friend from Amsterdam, was able to adjust his schedule allowing time for us to show him the old wagon road, the site of Fort Beale, the Silver Bell Mine, and the Hualapai Mountain Lodge. This was followed by another  visit with a tour led by Dale Butel.
Then we were asked to assist in the organization of a lunch for a group touring the old road from China. As a bonus their guide was Bob Lile, a friend from Amarillo. 

There was an opportunity to give the benediction for the Ride to Relay tour led by Roger Fox, a most enchanting dinner with Hanneke Wiersma, and Karel Kuperus, friends from Holland leading a tour,  a surprise visit from Geri Linda Metterle, an accomplished photographer, and her husband, Harald Jungbauer, and a very interesting breakfast at Dora’s Beale Street Deli shared with Zdnek Jurasek and his group from the Czech Republic.
The International Roue 66 Festival in Victorville fell far short of projected expectations but once again it proved to be a delightful opportunity to visit with friends, to make new ones, and to share the wonders of Route 66 with an international cast of enthusiasts including Anja and Wolfgang Werz of Germany, and Michael Wallis, the voice of Route 66. 
Overshadowing the exciting summer were last minute issues at the office that left vacation in limbo, again, mere days before we were to leave for Cuba, Missouri where we were to introduce The Route 66 Encyclopedia. Compounding these frustrations were a string of delayed release dates resultant of the editorial issues from the previous spring. 
One week before we were to leave, notification came that the book would be released in a couple of days. This meant I would take to the road with one book, and a promise that the rest would be sent directly to our motel in Cuba with a promised delivery date of the 19th of October. Cuba Fest, the venue for the books kick off was the 20th!
With but three days remaining before we were to hit the road, final approval for the vacation was granted. Again, however, we left with the shadow of possible job loss looming over our heads. 

Cuba Fest was truly a delight. As a bonus we were able to share it with a wide array of friends including Tom Dion, John and Judy Springs, Rich Henry, Rich Dinkella, Joe Sonderman, Buzz Waldmire, Bob Swengrosh, and a few dozen other adventurers who made the trek to Cuba for the weekend festival. 
As with our odyssey in June, the pleasures of being on the road helped cast aside the deep grey skies of job anxieties. So, we were able to focus on the adventure, and opportunities to visit with friends as well as the delightful people found along Route 66, such as Harley and Annabell in Erick, Oklahoma, and unwind as we traveled along legendary U.S. 66.
To say the very least, this year has truly been the best of times and the worst of times. Still, I would be hard pressed to change anything about it. 
Now the focus is on 2013, a year that promises an even wilder ride. I currently am contracted for two books, one with a deadline of December 31, have committed to supplying David and Kathy Alexander of Legends of America with at least one feature per month (a deal made over an excellent breakfast at Shelly’s in Cuba), have promised to assist Sam Frisher with the development of his Kingman area day tours from the El Trovatore Motel, am working on the photography that will accompany the opening of our shop in the renovated Brunswick Hotel, and am still facing a very uncertain future at the office. 
This sets the stage for the recent holiday weekend. As often happens in my world, yesterday there were fewer hours than projects to fill them. Still, I was able to finish the third chapter on one book, and an article for Legends of America.
And for the second time in two days, I had the opportunity to indulge in a number of my favorite things – a long walk in the desert under sunny skies with my dearest friend, an over sized piece of blueberry pie along the way, a short cruise down Route 66, and lots of time for writing. 
In looking back over he past few months there is really only one thing I can say. Okay, I am spoiled and will readily admit it.



Even though the calendar indicates we are in the closing weeks of fall, here in my corner of the world on Route 66 it seems to be the first weeks of spring. The temperature yesterday was just north of seventy degrees which sparked an overwhelming urge to play hooky from the lengthy list of projects that demand attention, an urge that I succumbed to.

The site of Fort Beale during a summer storm.

After a morning at the office, lunch, and an adventure at Walmart necessitated by the need to stock the pantry, we boxed up some of my dearest friends delightful pie and set out for the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains for an impromptu picnic. It would seem the abbreviated Thanksgiving weekend is proving to be an enjoyable as well as productive one.
Friday evening we had a most wonderful dinner with John and Judy Springs of 66 The Mother Road at the Hualapai Mountain Lodge, one of many gems in the Kingman area that are often overlooked by visitors passing through on their journey east or west. The dinner was long overdue as we had discussed this several years ago.
As it turned out the visit was another in a series of increasingly odd coincidences. During the course of the evening we discussed Route 66, the resurgent interest in the highway, and the projects I am involved with at this time, namely books, articles for Legends of America, and beautification efforts in the Kingman historic district.
At some point it was noted that, perhaps, I should consider creating a line of products – post cards, posters, note cards, prints, etc. – that could be used to promote the road as well as fund various endeavors. What I found most curious about this was that it mirrored a conversation with Steve Wagner, the gentlemen behind the summer meetings that culminated in the Old Trails Garage project.
So, I spent a great deal of last evening, as well as most of this morning crafting a small store on Cafe Press to promote various products derived from our adventures. The result is found in the right column – Jim Hinckley’s America Gift Shop. I also added a link in the gift shop page. As always, I would be curious to hear your thoughts.
The title may seem a bit odd. However, as the idea was to share America as seen from the lens of our camera, it seemed appropriate. 
With another six day work work week looming on the horizon there is a lengthy list of thing to accomplish today including the completion of another feature for Legends of America as well as the third chapter for the book profiling the evolution of Route 66 from highway to icon as chronicled in the development of promotional material. There is also a need to provide a polished version of the travel guides first chapter as the publisher wants to create a mock up.
That should keep me busy for most of the day. However, I am quite sure there will be plenty of time for the enjoyment of blueberry pie shared in the company of my dearest friend under desert skies.