At every turn it seems there is a sign, a reference to, or a photo from Route 66. In Australia, a tour company specializing in Route 66 tours is inundated with phone calls. Hundreds of miles from that storied highway a photo of the Blue Swallow Motel hangs on a restaurant wall. In China they watch Cadillac commercials filmed on the old double six.
This amazing old highway seems to be woven into the very fabric of the American experience. As a result, like the Statue of Liberty or the White House, there is an almost universal international recognition of Route 66 and the freedom it represents.
I only have to look at my schedule for the next six weeks or so to see the international fascination with this highway turned icon made manifest. On May 4 and May 11, I will speak with Australian tour groups. On the evening of May 8, it is dinner and interview for a German magazine.
On May 13, I meet with members of the Czech Route 66 Association. Plans are being made for a meeting with representative from the Polish Route 66 Association on June 5, and a meeting with Route 66 enthusiasts from Holland is set for June 25.
A recent video interview on Jay Leno’s Garage shines the light on Sal Santoro and Bob Waltons wonderful Route 66 book. It also gives Harley and Annabelle, the Munger Moss Motel, and the Wigwam Motel in Rialto a brief moment in the spotlight.
Route 66 even sneaks into seemingly unrelated news stories. Yesterday a motel renovation and conversion project in Albuquerque garnered national attention as a news story linked it to the formation of Microsoft, and Route 66.
A local story about an obscure, closed business on Route 66 where a misplaced Easter Island type head casts long shadows was picked up by a staggering array of news services. Do a quick Google search for Giganticus Headicus and see what turns up.
The producer of an award winning Route 66 video recently asked if I would consider developing a series entitled Jim Hinckley’s America. As a teaser I posted the rough segment that will serve as the intro on my Facebook authors page and was inundated with excited notes about memories invoked by the section of the highway seen in the video from all corners of the world.
In August the world will gather in Joplin, Missouri for the Route 66 International Festival. This celebration of the old road and all it stands for, and a family reunion for enthusiasts, will literally attract visitors from throughout the world.
As Kingman is a leading contender to serve as host city in 2014, plans are underway to transform Chillin on Beale, a wonderful little event held on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October, into something spectacular next year. Rest assured, the event, regardless of title or affiliation will place Kingman in an international spotlight as Route 66 is still the cities “Main Street.”
What an amazing old road. Somehow it brings people together even though there are differences in culture and language. Somehow this highway that officially ceased to exist almost thirty years ago still has the power to excite emotions and send forth the call to adventure.
If your not familiar with the legend of Route 66, there is no time like the present for a voyage of discovery. If you are familiar with its charms this is the year to rediscover, to reawaken, and to renew with an adventure on the legendary double six.