BEATING THE HEAT ON ROUTE 66

First an update on the Dean Peak fire in the Hualapai Mountains south of Kingman. The winds are whipping dust into a frenzy here in Kingman and driving the flames into the rugged canyons in the mountains. Last night on the drive home ash was falling like a light snow, the glow of the fire on the ridge line was evident even before sunset, and as of this afternoon the BLM reports zero containment. 
Hualapai Mountain Park, and Hualapai Mountain Resort are closed. Our pine covered island in a sea of desert, a veritable oasis that is a mere twelve miles from Route 66, will most likely not recover in my lifetime.
Okay, on a less somber note, in less than a month we will be on the road to the big event in Joplin. If you are unfamiliar with the charm and magic of Route 66, or are just curious about the hype and mystique, the annual international festival is a real treat.
The best way I can describe it is that it blends the best of the family reunion, an old fashioned ice cream social, and a bit of time travel to circa 1959. Simply put, you have to experience it for yourself as words are very poor descriptors. 
After the festival, or during if the laptop functions, I will be making a very big announcement for fans of the double six. If possible I will also be posting notes from the road with pictures. 
Meanwhile, let me tell you about a crazy scheme unfolding in Kingman. I know it is much cooler in Kingman during the months of summer than Phoenix, Laughlin, Bullhead City, Needles, or Lake Havasu City, and I know it is a dry heat. I also know that summer evenings in the high desert are about as perfect as one can find. Still, a summer event in Kingman?
Route 66, of course, will be featured as it the Main Street of the historic district in Kingman even though signs proclaim it as Andy Devine Avenue.  Beale Street, often overlooked by visitors, one block to the north will be serving as center stage.
The real meat and potatoes of this innovative weekend is an array of events that will provide opportunities for beating the summer heat on Route 66 in western Arizona.  
Kingman’s new event center (the historic J.C. Penny Building) on the corner of Fourth Street and Andy Devine Avenue will be the venue for an exhibition of southwestern and Native American art, as well as work by Route 66 focused authors, photographers, collectors, and artists. Angela (who is also the contact for interested artists during the festival, 928-753-4004) at Beale Street Brews and Gallery will be hosting a special exhibit as well, and there is active discussion about transforming vacant store fronts into shadow galleries.
There are plans afoot to utilize the new event center as the cornerstone for real transformation of the historic district into a destination. Overseeing its development will be Dora of Dora’s Beale Street Deli (a favorite breakfast stop for the annual tour by members of the Czech Route 66 Association). If some of her fascinating soirees at the deli are an indicator, there is little doubt interesting things will be taking place in the months to come. 
The artists exhibition will be tied to Chillin on Beale Street, a really neat low key, no charge automotive event that is held on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October. Cruising, showing off cars, visiting with friends, setting up lawn chairs to watch the cars go by, music, good food at one of the delightful restaurants in the historic district, and in general just having fun, are the focal points of Chillin on Beale. 
For the special edition of this event, the theme is Kingman as the crossroads of the past and future. So, the organizers are hoping to have people bring a wide array of alternative energy and experimental cars produced in the last century or so, as well as the old standbys – hot rods, ’57 Chevy’s, Model A Fords, and anything else with wheels. If you would like more details contact Ralph Bowman.
If you happen to be passing through Kingman on the third Saturday of the month, my suggestion is to stay over and enjoy a delightful evening under a desert sky. You won’t be the first visitor to join in on the fun with a rental car.  
If we still have a Hualapai Mountain Resort next summer, the annual arts and crafts fair will be held on the same weekend. Over the years this has evolved into one of the largest events of its kind in western Arizona. As a bonus, it is only 12 miles south of Route 66 but at about 7,000 feet in elevation, it is at least one or two seasons removed from summer, at least in Arizona.
Also in the works for the beat the heat weekend, an old fashioned bowling tournament, and if your not familiar with Andy Devine (the namesake for the Route 66 corridor in Kingman), a film fest. The organizer for the film festival, and the manager of the theater is looking at including films starring the gravely voiced actor, that were filmed in Kingman or on Route 66, or that are classic road trip movies.
If nothing else it should be a great weekend for showcasing the wide array of attractions in the Kingman area. However, one doesn’t have to wait until next summer to discover the excellent mountain bike trail system, or the interesting museums, or the fascinating walking tour of the historic district, or the day trips to ghost towns filled with surprises, or the wonders of cruising 180 scenic miles of Route 66, or one day raft trips in the lower Grand Canyon on the Colorado River, or visiting the skywalk, or a little night life on Beale Street. Simply stop by the Powerhouse Visitor Center on your next visit or take a look at the Kingman Area Tourism  website.     
     
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