FIRE, HEAT, AND JAPANESE VISITORS – IT MUST BE SUMMER IN ARIZONA

Another interesting week, and weekend, is drawing to a close. It kicked off with an exciting array of developments with the various aspects of the Jim Hinckley’s America project, and a delightful dinner with friends from Holland and their tour group.
It is closing out with near record heat (still not hot enough for me to pay full price for shirts with half the sleeves missing), a potentially serious fire in the Hualapai Mountains south of town, replacing a battery cable on the ’68 Dodge (AKA Barney the Wonder Truck)at sunrise, and an interview with Masashi Taki, a Japanese travel writer working on a series of featrues about Route 66 and the America southwest. In between I filled the spare time with work on the Route 66 historic atlas, preliminary promotional work for the book due out in October, travel plans for the trip to the International Route 66 Festival in Joplin next month and development of promotional opportunities on the trip, and development work on the radio program in the hope we can take it into syndication, which would provide a wider market for promoting the people and places that make Route 66 unique.
I also managed to find time for crafting several scripts for the first segments of a program for Gary at Route 66 Radio. Then, last evening, my dearest friend and I caught up on our missed cinema classics by watching Dances with Wolves.
Overall, I found it to be an excellent film. However, I could see the seeds of political correctness that dominate our culture today germinating in it.
The week ahead looks as though it will be just as busy even though there is a holiday, one of my favorites, thrown into the mix. If we are going to Joplin, I will need to double up on the work that is going into the atlas so as not to fall behind. I will also need to finalize travel plans.
Such is life when we hitch our wagon to the world of Route 66. Just ask Laurel Kane at Afton Station.  
 
  

BRAND NAMES OF FLESH AND BLOOD

On numerous occasions my feature stories about the infancy of the American auto industry have contained snippets about the brand names of flesh and blood – Louis Chevrolet, Henry Ford, Horace Dodge, Ransom Olds, Walter Chrysler, etc. Most recently I penned an article that focused on this particular subject for Legends of America. I have long been fascinated by the dubious form of immortality attained by these men, and the stories about them that are obscured by the sheer size of the brand name. 
The Chevrolet name, and the long and colorful history associated with vehicles wearing that badge, are an excellent example. Resultant of the car, and the international recognition of the brand, Louis Chevrolet, the Swiss born mechanic who was instrumental in establishing Fiat in America, was a champion race car driver, and who was a mechanical whiz kid with a lengthy list of innovations to his name, has been overshadowed. 
By no means am I in the league of these immortals. Nor do I foresee any imminent danger that the brand will obscure the man. Still, what began as a joking comment now seems to be taking on a life of its own.
Jim Hinckley’s America started as a video project in the fertile imagination of award winning producer Norm Fisk of Diamond Valley Productions. While that project was temporarily shelved resultant of approval for a couple of major videos Norm had in development, Jim Hinckley’s America took off. 
The logo (at the top of the blog) and the name on are on the trademark trail. The automotive features being written for Legends of America morphed into a limited partnership that includes the sale of our prints, with international shipping.
Shortly before this the idea was floated that, perhaps, there would be interest in tours of the Kingman area and Route 66 in western Arizona. So, Jim Hinckley’s America, the tours kicked off to test that market for viability.   
An interview on a morning radio program in Alamogordo, New Mexico, led to the test marketing of a weekly radio program, Jim Hinckley’s America, that is available the following day on podcast (this mornings episode features Melba in Galena). Now we are discussing an attempt at syndication.
Yesterday I received a call from the producer at a cable network that included a request to discuss the possibility of test marketing a television program. As with the radio endeavor, no money has yet to change hands but what amazing opportunities for promoting the people and places along the back roads of America, and Route 66, that make road trips so delightful. 
During the same period conversations with Gary at Baby Boomer Radio turned toward his latest endeavor, Route 66 Radio. Long story short, a series of five and ten minute programs profiling the history of places and communities on Route 66 is now under development. Would you care to guess what the title is?
Meanwhile, somehow, I found myself fielding requests for lectures  on (insert drum roll) Jim Hinckley’s America and interviews. In September, in conjunction with a traveling Smithsonian Institute exhibit, I will be addressing a group in Kingman about the role the community has played in the development of Route 66. Of course this will include a few surprises such as the role Tom Devine, Andy’s father, had in the rerouting of the National Old Trails Highway in northern Arizona. 
Yesterday I prerecorded an interview that will air on KTOK in Oklahoma City on July 5. Now the publicist is looking into a live interview when I drive to Joplin.  
Then in October and November, I have been asked to speak before the Westerners, first in Flagstaff and then at a meeting in Prescott. The topics will be, in Flagstaff, the history of Mohave County in the first decades of the 20th century, and in Prescott,  the good roads movement in Arizona.    
In my spare time, when I am not working the job that pays the lions share of the bills, I write books, take pictures with my dearest friend, and visit with friends that seem like family on Route 66. 
And speaking of books, the Route 66 historic atlas is moving forward but I can feel the deadline breathing on my neck. Meanwhile a fun little work entitled Route 66 Treasures with fifteen pieces of removable facsimile collectible memorabilia is due for release in October. 
The Route 66 travel guide as a ways to go as the editorial process is only in the early stages. Likewise with the selection of material for illustrations. 
To round out what is shaping up to be one crazy summer, I have been selected to represent Kingman at the International Route 66 Festival in Joplin, Missouri. These events always quicken the spirit as they afford an opportunity visit with good friends but this year will be very special.   
I cannot provide details until after the festival. Still, if your a fan of the double six, or are curious about the roads magic and mystique, mark you calendar for the weekend of August 14, 2014 and make travel plans to be in Kingman on that weekend.
However, the day before I leave for Joplin on the 30th, I will be speaking about Route 66, and signing a few books, for Dale Butel’s next tour group from Australia. And the Sunday after I return, we will be having lunch with Wolfgang Wertz’s German Route 66 tour in Chloride.
Route 66 and the pursuit of a childhood dream to become a writer, what an incredible, crazy, fun filled, exhausting, exhilarating, hysterics inducing, time consuming, friend filled, odyssey!    
  

ANOTHER ROUTE 66 FAMILY REUNION

ANOTHER ROUTE 66 FAMILY REUNION

Time and again I have tried to explain the mystery, the magic of Route 66 and failed. Mere words are such inadequate descriptors for what takes place on Route 66, and how those experiences transform people, as well as bridge chasms of culture and language.
It is more like a family reunion, every day of the week. Not the family reunion filled with stress and tensions resultant of ex-wives arriving with second cousins, second cousins announcing they are coming out of the closet during the blessing led by the brother who is a deacon at the local Baptist church, and senile aunts who insist on loudly exposing fifty years of family skeletons.
No, the Route 66 family reunions, as with the road itself, are more like a corny, stilted, scripted affair where every one laughs, jokes, teases, and shares tales of the road, or all that has transpired since the last reunion, with but one caveat, they are fresh, alive, and so very real. They are the at the very heart of what makes this road special and impossible to describe.
Last evening, after the second grueling day of the week at the office, my dearest friend and I met with Dries Bessels, his most charming wife, Marion, Karel Kuperus, and Hanneke Wiersema of Holland, and their tour group at the Dambar in Kingman. It was an evening of shared memories, visiting with old friends, and making new ones. It was an invigorating and intoxicating evening that seemed as refreshing as a cold mountain morning, a stunning sunrise over distant peaks and the tantalizing aroma of coffee mingling with the smoke from a mesquite wood fire. 
If your stress meter is pegged and feel as though your about to blow a gasket I suggest a Route 66 family reunion. Its a lot cheaper than therapy and with the exception of an ear to ear grin that crosses your face when the memories come to mind, the side affects are relatively minimal. 
  

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MEANWHILE, SOMEWHERE ON ROUTE 66

MEANWHILE, SOMEWHERE ON ROUTE 66

Central Avenue in Albuquerque.

What is it about Route 66, the Main Street of America, that lures people from the four corners of the globe? How did this old road go from being a mere highway that connected point “A” with point “B” to an internationally acclaimed icon, America’s longest attraction?

I suppose its a lot like love, or the awe inspired by a sunset, or the emotion stirred by seeing the flag unfurl against the backdrop of an Arizona sunrise. It is not something that can be explained and by trying to you dull the magic.
At its heart the Route 66 experience is simply about life and life enjoyed. There is a vibrancy on Route 66 that seems to magnify the color in flowers, the sunset, the sense of history in the roadside ruins, and the warmth of the smile worn by the folks who travel the road and the folks who welcome the traveler. 
A row of books at the gift shop at Joseph’s in
Santa Rosa, New Mexico. 

I have been fortunate enough to have had a front row seat to almost a half century of Route 66 evolution. I have traveled this old road by bus, by vintage truck, by Jeep, on foot, and by rental car, and even hitchhiked it a time or two. 
I have shared the spotlight at center stage and been blessed with endless opportunity for playing host to foreign visitors seeking its charms and hidden wonders. Still, its magic and allure is as fresh and as invigorating as it was that hot summer afternoon when Ed Edgerton from Ed’s Camp dropped me at the summit of Sitgreaves Pass, and I soared down the eastern face on my old bicycle. 
Today those thrills are a bit more multifaceted but they still fill me with an excitement that quickens the heartbeat and stirs the soul. This morning I met with Scott Sheehan, and his charming girl friend,Karla Mauch, of Bay City, Michigan, signed a couple of books she had purchased him for Christmas and assisted in their plans to explore Route 66 in California. 
Tonight it will be an eagerly anticipated dinner with Driess Bessels, his delightful wife Marion, Karel Kuperus, Hanneke Wiersma, and their group from Holland. This annual visit with our friends from Holland is one of the highlights of our summer.

The ruins of Querino Canyon Trading Post. 

There is an indescribable thrill in seeing books I have written lining a shelf in a book store or gift shop. There is an even bigger thrill in seeing the book purchased, or learning that the book inspired an adventure, or that it brought a smile if it was purchased as a gift.
There is a sense of renewal in the exploration of ruins and the overgrown and forgotten alignments of Route 66 that hearkens back to childhood days filled with dreams of discovering lost treasure. As in those halcyon days of long ago, it is in the sharing of the adventure with friends that the magic is unleashed, and on Route 66 those friends are without number.
I have heard Route 66 referred to as the gateway drug (from a friend on and fellow explorer on Santa Monica Pier), the road that unleashes that child like sense of wonder, of discovery, and of dreams of adventure, the road that ignites an unquenchable desire for travel on the rod less traveled. I suppose that would explain Route 66 bumper stickers on cars cruising U.S. 6 and the Lincoln Highway, the Dixie Highway and U.S. 50. 
My friend, as the song says, here is a timely tip. Get your kicks on Route 66. It was true in 1946. It was true in 1956. It is true today. 
Route 66, the portal to a magic land where the factory in South Bend still manufactures Studebaker’s, the tail fin is the latest in automotive styling, and neon still lights the night.       

The plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico. 


AND SO BEGINS ANOTHER WEEK

My initial plan for kicking off a new week was an ambitious one that called for driving out to the summit of Sitgreaves Pass on the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 just before sunrise. I wanted to get a few shots of the “super moon” as well as the sunrise.
Needless to say that didn’t happen. Even though I was able to make some progress on the Route 66 historic atlas, catch up on correspondence, and work on the developing partnership with Legends of America, as well as watch Treasure of the Sierra Madre with my dearest friend, I felt played out all weekend.
So, as it is going to be a very long week, I chose instead to sleep in this morning. In my version of sleeping in the feet didn’t hit the floor until almost 5:00 AM (about thirty minutes past my regular time for rise and shine).
There is a gnawing sense that if I keep this pace for another forty or fifty years it might kill me. On a more serious note, I can’t really remember a time when my eyes didn’t pop open before 6:00 AM. I suppose you could say that I am a morning person.
I could blame it on my dad and farm life. Dad seemed to be forever locked in a boot camp frame of mind, especially during my teen years, and so most every day started with a 5:00 wake up call.
Farm and ranch life seems to have set the habit in stone. More often than not breakfast came at 8:00 or so but by then I had milked and fed goats or cows, gathered eggs, watered the livestock and garden, and shaved.
However, the fact is that I greatly enjoy the still morning hours. It is really the best part of the day for some quiet meditation without distraction, for long walks in the cool morning air, or for just putting together a game plan.
Still, I think the real reason I wake up at such an early hour is eager anticipation to start a new day. This is in spite of the fact that on at least every third day depression inducing tribulations and trials threaten to drown me.
Okay, enough of the maudlin personal insight. Lets talk Route 66 and grand adventures.
Plans are afoot for me to represent Kingman at the International Route 66 Festival in Joplin, Missouri on August 2nd. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t be adverse to another road trip but this would be a business first adventure. I can’t provide a whole lot of details at this time but can say if your a fan of the double six, you might begin making plans to come to Kingman on August 16, 2014.
Everything is in place for a most interesting installment of Jim Hinckley’s America this Friday. The topic will be Galena, Kansas and Sunny Aris, the host, has an interview with Melba Rigg on tap. The program will be available via podcast the next day.
I am also in the process of developing some ten minute history segments for Gary at Route 66 Radio. The initial plan is to shine the spotlight on the ghost towns of Route 66. 
Next is resuming work on the Jim Hinckley’s America video series. A delay resultant of conflicting schedules and finances has put this project months behind schedule.
Now, however, its time to get ready for another day at the salt mine (aka the office).