Well, another holiday season is upon us, which means another year is about to become history. As I again have a very tight schedule, rather than overlooking something or forgetting someone who deserves a hearty thank you, it seemed best to provide a simple overview of the year.
So, with that introduction here are the highs and lows of 2012 –
- My dearest friend and I kicked off the new year with a New Years Day desert excursion to Amboy where we climbed the namesake crater. What a grand adventure! This is not something I would recommend in the middle of summer, but a hike into the crater and along the rim is something that should be added to every Route 66 enthusiasts list –
- I closed out January, and started February, with editorial issues that threatened the scheduled release date for The Route 66 Encyclopedia. As plans were well underway for the debut to take place at Cuba Fest in October, this was a series issue. The short version of a long story is that an editor sent the illustration cull list, I wrote captions for these images, learned that it was the wrong list, received the correct list, wrote the captions again, and was assigned a new editor unfamiliar with the project –
- As this resulted in some very, very long days, to celebrate completion of the project my dearest friend and I escaped to Prescott for a weekend at the historic Hassayampa Inn. In recent years rates at the hotel have climbed to such a degree that it is very difficult to justify. Still, Prescott, and the old hotel, are highly recommended stops. For fans of the double six Prescott is a short detour of about forty miles (it is south of Ash Fork on highway 89A) –
- Lon Haldeman asked that I address his bicycle tour group when they stopped in Kingman. Even though I greatly enjoy meeting with groups and speaking on the colorful history of Route 66 and Kingman, it is rather humbling to think folks would seek me out for this honor. As I was on the back side of a nasty flu it wasn’t my best or most passionate presentation but the group was understanding and enthusiastic –
- We were on hand for the first lighting of the El Trovatore Motel in more than a half century. Sam Frisher, and his wife, Monica, are on the fast track to bringing this Route 66 classic back to life. Later in the year I served as a tour guide for his fledgling day tour company. The days bonus included Dean “Crazy Legs” Walker and LuLu as guests on the ride along to Seligman where we had an opportunity to visit with Angel Delgadillo –
- In the research stage of the book Ghost Towns of the Southwest I learned about the Johnson Canyon Railroad Tunnel. In April we picked a warm spring day and set out on an adventure of discovery. The tunnel was truly amazing and is another Route 66 detour that must be recommended for Route 66 enthusiasts. It is located a few miles from the early alignment that runs from Williams to Ash Fork and is accessed via the Welch Road exit on I- 40 –
- The Route 66 Fun Run, an event that captures the very essence of the Route 66 experience, is held on the first weekend of May every year. We have always found the event interesting but in recent years a new dimension has been added that leaves us looking forward to it with eager anticipation. Dale Butel, Route 66 Tours of Australia, has asked that we meet with his group during the event weekend to talk with them about Route 66, and the history of the desert through which it runs. This year I met with his group during the event and at the ruins of Cadiz summit, talked and answered questions, signed books, and gave an interview to Mark Fletcher, a television personality from Australia –
- Lots of folks stopped by the office this year to say hello or have a book signed including Geri Metterle + and her husband from Germany. These visits are always highlights filled with surprises. I even received a vintage atlas from a fan from France!
- I was asked to speak at a series of meetings that the sponsor hoped would be a catalyst for development and beautification in the historic district of Kingman. The first fruits are the murals being installed at the historic Old Trail Garage –
- In June we were honored to be able to lend our support to the fine folks in Tucumcari as they kicked off the premier of Wheels on 66. Highlights of this grand adventure included poking among the empty places with author and historian Joe Sonderman, a wonderful evening at the Blue Swallow Motel where we basked in the cordial hospitality of the hosts, Kevin and Nancy Mueller, and shared a fireside dinner with Jerry McClanahan, Jim Ross, Shellee Graham, Joe Sonderman, and two new acquaintances that happen to be quite gifted in their own right, Chris Robleski and Katie Nelson –
- On the return leg we stopped for an evening at the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, New Mexico. As this is less than a dozen miles from Route 66, and as the rates are quite reasonable and the setting truly unbelievable, I highly recommend this as a stop for Route 66 enthusiasts –
- Shortly after our return we met with Dries Bessels of Amsterdam and the tour group he was leading down Route 66. We were honored by the opportunity to serve as a tour guide for Dries and showcased the many highlights of the Kingman area; the site of Fort Beale, the old wagon road at White Cliffs, the Silver Bell mine, and lunch at the Hualapai Mountain Lodge. It was a most delightful day and only the fact that his wonderful wife, Marion, had been unable to attend put a damper on the adventure –
- This summer we also had the opportunity to serve as a guide for Kevin and Nancy Mueller of the Blue Swallow Motel and Dean Kennedy –
- Another highlight of the summer was an opportunity to organize, in conjunction with Josh Noble of the tourism office, a lunch for a contingent of Route 66 travelers from China. As a bonus their guide was Bob “Croc” Lile, a friend from Amarillo –
- The International Route 66 Festival is always a thrill. It provides a wonderful opportunity to meet with friends old and new who share a similar passion for America’s most famous Highway. Counted among this years new acquaintances were Zdnek Jurasek and his charming wife of the Czech Route 66 Association. We met with Jurasek and his tour later in the summer for a shared breakfast at Dora’s Beale Street Deli in Kingman, another great detour as it is only one block off of Route 66 –
- We rounded out the summer with another opportunity to visit with a Dale Butel tour, and an interesting tour group from Holland led by Karel Kuperus and Hanneke Wiersma –
- A highlight of the year was the opportunity to help the fine folks in Cuba get a little press and attention for the most wonderful Cuba Fest event by debuting The Route 66 Encyclopedia there. As often happens with these events on Route 66, it turned out to be a family reunion of sorts as there was a dinner at Missouri Hicks, a party around a fire at the Wagon Wheel Motel, a dinner at the Belmont Winery with music provided by Joe Loesch and the Road Crew. All of this was shared with Tom Dion, Chris Robleski and Katie Nelson, Richard Talley, Rick Zimmerman, Bob Swengrosh, Buzz Waldmire, Joe Sonderman, Rich Dinkela, John and Judy Springs, Rich Henry, and a host of other friends from the road –
- The event was the catalyst for a grand adventure on Route 66 that included side trips to the National House Inn in Marshal,Michigan (a must stop), Maramec Springs Park near St. James (another must stop), and the Cave Restaurant near Richland (another must stop) –
- Along the way we had the opportunity to visit with Bob Lile, Rich Henry, Bob and Ramona Lehman, Gary Turner, Ken Turmel and a few other friends –
- Another highlight of the adventure was breakfast shared with David and Kathy Alexander of Legends of America at Shelly’s in Cuba (another must stop). As I have long been a fan of their vast website, a stunning repository of history, this was quite an honor. Even better, they asked me to become a contributor, an offer I quickly accepted –
- Shortly after our return we again met with a Dale Butel tour –
- We closed a deal with the new owner of the historic Brunswick Hotel in Kingman and as a result, next spring we will have a gallery, small store, and place to meet with tour groups. This should be the first step in the creation of a long envisioned Route 66 information center –
- December has been marked with a high and low point. I have learned that The Route 66 Encyclopedia is going into a second printing. At this juncture I should note that I still have 24 copies available. The low point was to hear the Big Red at Rich Henry’s Rabbit Ranch passed away. We offer condolences to Rich, his family, and the Route 66 family as Big Red was more than a celebrity n this road –
- I think that about covers it. Thanks for the support and encouragement in 2012. Here is to an exciting and adventuresome 2013 –
Quite a year indeed Jim, and Kathy and I are blessed to have finally caught up with you in Cuba. Here's to a wonderful 2013 ahead full of new and even better memories. Thank you friend.
Wow, quite a year full of achievements in the historical preservation and documentation of the Mother Road! Thanks for all your impressive work. Now you can rest over the holidays, right?
May you both have a prosperous and enriching New Year.