On every front it looks as though the order has been given to run a straight course at full steam, regardless of obstacles. This course toward a new and exciting future is not limited to the Route 66 community, Kingman, or even the United States.
A sample of the signed prints now available.
In Holland, Queen Beatrix is abdicating to her son. In her thirty plus reign she has proven to be quite popular and so her son will have some very big shoes to fill. In Washington… Well, why go there as the administration and Congress also seem to be set on a course of full speed ahead in a business as usual foundation regardless of the rocky shoals on the horizon, the screaming passengers, or the fact that the point of no return is fast approaching. In fact is seems as though our leadership received their training from the captain of a certain Italian cruise ship. On the home front it looks as though Kingman is about to awaken and assume its place as a integral part of the Route 66 community. Details will be provided soon. It looks as though Tulsa has also decided that the Route 66 corridor is a valuable asset in regard to development. Thank you Laurel, great to see your posts again. I was talking with Norm Fisk this afternoon, the producer of the award winning videos Gold King Mine and Route 66 Arizona, about the first video in a new series, Jim Hinckley’s Americathat is currently under development. To say the very least, the international response received from the blurb about the project that appeared recently on Route 66 News is just a bit overwhelming.
The schedule is to pick up shooting of the first installment next weekend. Perhaps I will then be in a better position to provide a projected date for release of the video. Meanwhile, my dearest friend and I are working on some of the basics for the gallery that we plan to open in the historic Brunswick Hotel this spring. To that end we are contracting with a studio to reproduce our work as Gilcee prints, and a frame company in North Carolina so we will also be able to offer these prints as framed additions. The beauty of this for our international travelers, as well as those traveling the double six who are limited on space, is that we will be able to ship direct from the frame factory. This will speed up the process and cut shipping costs. The down side is that I will only be able to offer signed prints at the gallery, at least for this season. The first series of the Ultimate Route 66 Contest (see page tab above for details) will continue this Friday evening. I have had a number of correct answers submitted but remember, the prize goes to the first person to get all five posting correct in the first series. If we don’t have a winner, the prize rolls over into the next series.
The groundswell of fascination and interest in Route 66 shows no sign of waning. In fact, if anything, it is growing and as a result, the transformation from lost highway and dusty historic artifact to living, breathing time capsule continues at an exciting pace.
We added Shelly’s in Cuba to our list of favorite breakfast stops this past October.
Exemplifying what this means for communities big and small along Route 66 is the charming little town of Cuba nestled in the Ozarks of Missouri west of St. Louis. Colorful murals, a few highly visible landmarks such as the World’s Largest Rocking Chair, a beautifully restored vintage motel with a charming and personable proprietor, a couple of nice, old fashioned mom and pop restaurants, and small town events such as Cuba Fest have transformed the place into an unlikely international destination. Indicative of the big splash this town is making are recent news stories, such as this feature from Chicago. Oddly enough, while many communities along Route 66 see the increasing fascination in the old road made manifest in an almost endless stream of motorcycles flying flags from a wide array of nations, only a few have harnessed this interest as a catalyst for development and improvement. For every Pontiac, Cuba, Williams, Seligman, or Tucumcari there are ten more like Ash Fork, Needles, Kingman, and Barstow. In these towns the efforts, if there are any, to utilize the resurgent interest as a catalyst to breathe new life are often stillborn, splintered, of fall by the wayside resultant of issues ranging from petty personality conflicts to poor planning and lack of funding. As I am intimate with the history of Kingman’s efforts, that is the story to share today. In the past twenty-five years I have lost count of just how many well intentioned projects have fallen by the wayside. Meanwhile the historic district falters inspiring visitors to zip through town from somewhere to somewhere. Well, if this past year, and especially the past few weeks, are any indication, we may have finally turned a corner and are now following in the footsteps of Cuba. The Brunswick Hotel is under renovation with plans that include the addition of a gallery featuring the photographic work of Jim and Judy Hinckley and an opening in time for the annual Route 66 Fun Run. Chillin on Beale, held the third Saturday evening of every month from April through October, is entering its third year as a low key event where motorized vehicles of every type and a relaxing evening under the desert stars are the main attractions. Dora’s Beale Street Deli, on Beale Street one block north of Route 66, in addition to the most delightful breakfasts, now hosts a wide array of special themed evenings that are garnering critical acclaim. One block to the west, the First Friday event at Beale Street Brews and Gallery, sandwiched between Redneck’s Barbeque(a TripAdvisor award winner) and the Cellar Door is also attracting attention well beyond Kingman.
The first stage in an extensive proposed mural program is well underway. The second mural window in the west wall of the historic Old Trails Garage has been installed, the art work by acclaimed artist Sandy Rusinko for a third window is underway, and the inserts are completed for all of the windows. Real estate agent Steve Wagner who hosted a series of community forums in 2012 about what other communities were doing, and who specializes in the sale of properties in the historic district has enlisted my assisting in the developing a project entitled Kingman – Crossroads of the Past & Future. The primary objectives are to bring a unified and cohesive structure to the ongoing renovation of the Route 66 corridor, and to strive toward having Kingman approved as the host city for the 2014 International Route 66 Festival. Meanwhile, our innovative tourism director, Josh Noble, continues to think outside of the box in regard to tourism, such as with his geocache program along Route 66, and to lend support and encouragement to the organizers of various projects while developing things that will make Kingman a destination. One of these is the development of a new video series, Jim Hinckley’s America (a teaser from the promo). The first installment in the series by award winning producer Norm Fisk will focus on the myriad of attractions awaiting discovery in the Kingman area. The primary aspect will be obscure sites and the interesting history of Route 66 in the area but it will also introduce viewers to the desert oasis that is the Hualapai Mountains, are ghost towns, and a few surprises such as the hiking trails in the Cerbat foothills. To say I am excited would be an understatement. Kingman, one of the great undiscovered destinations on Route 66 is about to step into the spotlight. Perhaps, someday, we will be as famous and as big an attraction as Cuba.
As I watched excerpts from the presidential inaugural speech this morning (I will refrain from comment), and read a wide array of bleak reports about the ongoing economic morass, the drought and what it could mean to the price and availability of food staples this spring, and the concerns pertaining to Mississippi River traffic, it came to mind that all of this upheaval and uncertainty is another reason Route 66 is so popular. In the linear community that is Route 66 there is a sense of normalcy, of stability, and warmth. Barriers of culture, language, and even political affiliation fade from importance on the double six. It is almost as though the old road is a magic elixir, a restorative tonic for the soul. Route 66 may justifiably hog the spot light but scattered throughout the country are similar places where up is up, down is down, and the pie fresh from the oven is served with a smile. Scattered like pearls from a broken string these little gems are havens from an upside down, sterile world. Over the years it has been my pleasure to discover many of these treasures and to share them with folks who appreciate the simple joys only found on the road less traveled. Well, if all goes as planned, this year I will have an additional venue for sharing these special places, a video series entitled Jim Hinckley’s America.The link is for a rough promo of the intro. The producer is Norm Fisk. His two most recent DVD’s, Route 66 Arizona and Gold King Mine, have received critical acclaim as well as several awards. Needless to say, I am rather excited about this project. Last Saturday we shot footage along the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 in the Black Mountains and in Oatman. Next on the list is Kingman and Hackberry with the focus on obscure alignments and often overlooked historic sites. I have one more exciting development to report. Laurel Kane of Afton Station is back in the saddle and that means her most interesting postings are again available.
I have a tendency to spread myself a bit thin, to find ways to set up thirty hours of work for a twenty-four hour day. As a result, I often end the day a bit on the exhausted side, and then wake up tired. Behind it all are two simple driving forces. One, there is an all consuming passion to write coupled with a desire to share the history of special places and the quest to be a writer when I grow up. The second reason for the near constant push to write, to build and fix things, to craft things like photo exhibits is rather simplistic. I am striving to avoid celebrating my seventieth birthday as a greeter at Walmart. As a result, I accepted a contract to produce a book profiling the evolution of Route 66 as seen through related promotional material within sixty days (done) at the same time that I was working on a Route 66 travel guide with a Jim Hinckley twist. The rough draft for the latter is complete (deadline March 1) and thanks to the promise of assistance from generous collectors Mike Ward, Joe Sonderman, and Steve Rider, and our adventures along Route 66, the photography is complete with the exception of the need for images from the Los Angeles area. That leaves me with but two options. One, put out an appeal for images. Two, a weekend excursion to Los Angeles. The latter has the advantage of providing me with an updated feel for the road in that area and photographs for future projects including the forthcoming gallery in the Brunswick Hotel. As I have a very active imagination, and friends who encourage me to pursue the various paths that it takes me on, the recent posting by Amazon.com in the United Kingdom listing my books with the notation that Jim Hinckley is Mr. Route 66 unleashed a flurry of ideas. While this line of thought was swirling through my mind another opportunity presented itself. This time it was the request for the creation of a promo to test the potential viability of a video series entitled Jim Hinckley’s America, a sort of travel guide to Route 66 and the off the beaten path places that my dearest friend and I so enjoy. So, yesterday I set out with Norm Fisk, producer of the award winning DVD, Route 66 Arizonato set this ball to rolling. As I am quite familiar with the segment of Route 66 between Kingman and Oatman this seemed a logical place to begin. After all, I grew up on this stretch of road and have traveled it for more than forty years and as a result wouldn’t have the additional pressure of having to focus on content. Still, stiff is the only word I have for the efforts. Norm may disagree but in my opinion it is the best word to describe the initial work at Cool Springs, Oatman, and places in between. This is going to be a challenge but as it encapsulates many of my passions, including the sharing of special places and their history, I am quite sure that with Norm’s patient tutelage we will get over this hump. Meanwhile, the Ultimate Route 66 Contest (see tab at the top of the page) seems to have really piqued some interest. I have had a wide array of answers submitted as comments but will refrain from posting these until the end of the first five week series. Suffice to say, several folks have the first two correct. I really enjoy crafting these contests. From the response garnered it would seem readers of the blog and fans of the double six enjoy it as well. Well, it is time to get myself up and going. There is a great deal to do today and not enough time to get it done. But, whats new about that?
The first order of business this evening is a hearty congratulations to our friends in Tucumcari. Richard Talley of the Motel Safari, and his wife, and the Mueller’s (Kevin and Nancy) of the Blue Swallow Motel have received recognition for their hard work and dedication to preserving the essence of the Route 66 experience with issuance of a major award by TripAdvisor. Plans are not set in stone but as the deadline for the next book is March 1, and as there is a need for some current photos of the Route 66 corridor in the metropolis of the Los Angeles basin for this project, we are looking at a whirlwind weekend trip in early February. This could be an interesting way to start a new year as we may also have a book signing in Burbank in April. For more than twenty years I never ventured beyond Hysteria (Hesperia) near Victorville. An interview with Jay Leno (videos at the bottom of this blog) provided the incentive to take a deep breath and plunge down the far side of the Cajon Pass into the belly of the beast. Since then we have joined the high speed demolition derby that is the freeway system in southern California on numerous occasions. Each time was most enjoyable, once we made it to our destination. Still, given my choice I would rather spend a weekend in Ludlow, in August, than spend an hour in the LA area. What do you expect from a fellow who started feeling as though Kingman was getting to crowded after they installed the third stoplight? The first proofs for the prints we will sell and display at the gallery in the Brunswick Hotel this spring arrived yesterday. If I do say so, they are impressive. I will sign them and send them back in the morning, and order the frames and matting. This new chapter in our grand adventure is quite exciting as it will also give us a place to meet with tour groups regardless of weather. This afternoon I spoke with Sam of the El Trovatore Motel. This fellow knows how to dream big and he has plans for this historic motel that are sure to make it a destination for Route 66 enthusiasts. All of this has me chomping at the bit for spring and summer. This is going to be an amazing year for anyone fortunate enough to be traveling the legendary double six. One final note. Don’t forget, Friday evening the second trivia question or photograph of a mystery location in the first series of five will be posted on the Ultimate Route 66 Contest page (see tab above). Let the fun begin!