In recent weeks there is a growing sense that I am not longer ring side but am instead in the center ring at the Route 66 circus. No complaints, just a sense of awe at what is going around me and the crowd of international enthusiasts that is watching it unfold.
Rather than overwhelm you with boring and mundane details, I will instead share a few of the highs and lows of the past 48-hours. I have a feeling that after you this, you will be as excited about 2014 as I am.
Friday morning kicked off with a lengthy discussion about the possible purchase of a Route 66 property in western Arizona, and establishment of a business. In the past three weeks I have had very similar discussions from a business owner in New Zealand, a couple from Dallas looking for a fresh start, and some charming folks from Europe enamored with Route 66 and the southwest.
The Friday morning episode of Jim Hinckley’s America on Alamo 1230 was a rerun resultant of schedule conflictions. However, next week should be a most interesting program as Sunny will has Ramona Lehman at the Munger Moss Motel scheduled for an interview.
As this is a call in program, I hope to hear from you. Please don’t forget, the program is always available via podcast the following morning.
An hour before opening the office there was a brainstorming session between me, Steve and Mike Wagner, and Josh Noble, the tourism director, pertaining to the 2014 Route 66 International Festival that will be taking place next year on the weekend of August 16. We followed this with a conference call that included Michael Wallis and Rick Freeland of the Route 66 Alliance, the sanctioning organization behind the festival.
The festival is really starting to shape up but now it is time to play catch up (as in the website and organizational meetings). If things stay on track this should be an historic event on Route 66.
The rest of the day at the office is a sort of a blur. The best I can remember is that there was a seemingly endless line of people picking up trucks, turning in trucks, making reservations for trucks or trying to get a full refund for fuel as “they were informed that fuel cost was included with the truck rental” or that “we rented the trailer with the fender bent back to a point where it was sticking straight up in the air.”
Before heading home I met with Dave Emerson who is expanding his Route 66 related endeavors into tours. With that as a lead in, here are a few updates about the services I am now offering tour companies and tour groups.
In addition to the tours currently offered, I have been asked to also offer customized tours for the Route 66 corridor between Williams and Kingman. So, by popular demand …
Next week I will be meeting with Sam Murray of New Zealand to discuss plans for a Chicago to Santa Monica tour in 2014. I am also floating a trial balloon, a Route 66/ghost town tour.
Would anyone be interested in a four day adventure that includes Route 66, a hint of Arizona wilderness back country, a few ghost towns, unique lodging, and an evening on historic Whiskey Row in Prescott?
After arriving home somewhere near 8:00, I found a few surprises that will result in a bit of an adjusted holiday weekend. An editor I have worked with for almost ten years was let go resultant of downsizing.
So, I need to bring another editor up to speed on the atlas (create a sample photo and text file). Then, next week it is the final edit for the Route 66 travel guide scheduled for a spring release. As a bonus, development of promotion for Route 66 Treasures kicks into high gear next week.
This morning I started the day with an odd computer issue. The external hard drive used for the storage of photos was no longer accessible. Even worse, there are currently programs that will only function with the devise unplugged.
After tinkering with this for awhile with no success (ideas anyone), it was often to get the fur trimmed. As the forthcoming Route 66 festival is creating a bit of a buzz the barber shop conversation was rather lively.
Now, the rest of the day is fairly well mapped. A few hours of work on the atlas, working to recover photo files, and creating the files for the editor.
Then it will be back to work on the big event in 2014, and related endeavors. We have another micro car tour taking to the double six next year, Grand Canyon West Resort is now on board and is planning on special excursions during the festival, ….
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mueller family this morning. I received word that Boomer passed away last evening after a very short illness.
Having had a dog that was more family than pet, a faithful friend that weathered all manner of storms for more than sixteen years, I can understand the depth of their loss. Still, Boomer was special. In his short association with the Route 66 community he became a celebrity that captured the very essence of the old road.
His friendly, welcoming demeanor at the Blue Swallow Motel won him a legion of international friends and fans. To be honest, even though Kevin and Nancy have transformed this venerable old motel with sweat, paint, refurbished neon, and an honest, heartfelt love for Route 66 and the people who travel it, it will be difficult to ever see the Blue Swallow the same way again.
Boomer, and Bessie, were as much a part of the team as Kevin and Nancy. With the loss of Boomer, the team is now one short.
I have a few other Route 66 related items to share this morning. However, even though they are exciting developments there is a pall over all things Route 66 this morning.
The 2014 Route 66 International Festival continues to develop into something with incredible potential for the Route 66 community, and something truly special for all who attend. Lets start with a Bob Waldmire related update.
Bob was a regular at TNT Engineering, the former Ford dealership on Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66). One of his famous murals graces a wall there and a selection of his work is located in the original showroom.
Now, arrangements are being made with Buz Waldmire for a special exhibit of Bob’s work to be displayed at TNT during the festival. This will really enhance the event and ensure that the entire historic district will be full of treasures for our visitors.
Arrangements are also being made to utilize the former Chevrolet (and Edsel) dealership next to Mr. D’z for a display of historically significant alternative energy vehicles. The first vehicle that has been committed for the exhibit is an ultra rare 1902 Studebaker electric designed by Thomas Edsison.
How rare is this car, you may ask. Well estimates from the Studebaker museum and automotive historians place the number of vehicles produced in 1902 as twenty. This is car number three.
In the morning, Josh Noble, the tourism director, Steve and Mike Wagner, and I will have a conference call with Michael Wallis and Rick Freeland of the Route 66 Alliance, the sanctioning body for the festival. That will kick development into high gear.
Next, on the list a special addition. With the theme of Kingman as the crossroads of the past and future, in addition to asking for participation from owners of alternative energy vehicles of the past and present, there will be an exhibition of work by western and Native American artists. To ensure this exhibit is world class, the organizers are enlisting the assistance of Bob Bell, a native son, editor at True West magazine, and highly acclaimed artist.
One more note, if your interested in promoting your business through advertisement or sponsorship of the festival, please drop me a note. A package is currently under development.
People have a tendency to form mental pictures of people or places based on perceptions derived from snippets obtained in conversations or movies. So, when people motor west on Route 66 for the first time and discover that the road winds through towering stands of pine trees near Flagstaff there is always a sense of surprise as this is Arizona, land of sun, sand, cacti, and sun scorched rocks.
When I discuss the forthcoming 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, in August, some folks respond with an almost panic stricken look. I can tell that they are envisioning a weekend spent enduring temperatures that are but a few degrees cooler than the surface of the sun.
Then I have to explain to them that Kingman is not Needles. Then I have to explain to them that the Kingman area, in general, has rather moderate temperatures all year. Then I have to also explain that the weather here is not something that can easily be predicted based on previous patterns.
I have witnessed a dusting of snow on the Route 66 Fun weekend at the beginning of May. My dearest friend and I were wading in the Colorado River in January one year, and once we were enjoying ice cream on the front porch, in our shirt sleeves, on Christmas day.
Even though temperatures above 105 degrees are rare and extreme here, I have endured days when the mercury in the thermometer indicated that we were nearing a point where burns obtained by touching your car steering wheel was a very real possibility.
Even the ongoing drought of the past decade that left cactus gasping for water and me wondering if we would be hunting jerky instead of deer is subject to change. Case in point is the past few days that were dominated by a foggy, steady drizzle that is transforming the desert into a temporary swamp and holding high temperatures in the low to mid 70s.
So, if I were to foolishly predict the weather for the festival next year, my advice would be to bring sun screen and an umbrella, as well as a light jacket or sweater. I would also suggest you make sure the air conditioner and heater are in working order and that the windshield wipers do not need to be replaced.
Still, even though it was to wet to go out to play, I found things to do. A few were productive, a few were educational, one was frustrating, and a few left little doubt as to what activities would fill my Labor Day weekend.
I started the day in the wee hours of the morning with a hearty breakfast and finalizing plans for an anniversary surprise for my dearest friend. Even though I feel sainthood is warranted after enduring thirty years of my schemes and adventures, that is beyond my control.
Next on the list was a few hours of work on the Route 66 historic atlas. If I am to kick the book off at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri next year, it will need to be in the publishers hand by December 1 instead of December 31.
Then I tackled a new project – dryer repair. The attempt was unsuccessful but highly educational as dismantling, and putting it back together again so that it worked, was a new endeavor.
At least I know now that some repairs such as replacement of the drive belt are not difficult. Bearing replacement, however, is another matter but since it wouldn’t be economically feasible we will endure the screeching until the dryer no longer functions.
Then there was another discussion with Sam Murray, the champion rally car driver from New Zealand. Life in a Route 66 centered world is never boring.
After supper my dearest friend and I settled in to watch Classic Restos: Route 66 Spring Tour 2012. The DVD set was a gift from Mark Fletcher, the star and producer of this award winning Australian program.
Even though I work with a number of international fans of the double six, I found it interesting to get an in depth perspective of how they view the road as well as America. I will chalk up the time spent watching the program as educational fun.
Resultant of the recent rains, our yard is being transformed into a literal jungle. My dearest friend does an admirable job of keeping it all under control but in the past week the rate of grass and weed growth is nothing short of astounding. So, as we sat on the porch and watched it rain, and the weeds grow, I knew what would top the list of plans for the Labor Day weekend.
That list also includes work on the atlas, development of the Route 66 International festival, resolution of a few delinquent projects for Dave and Kathy Alexander at Legends of America, and a much anticipated buffalo burger barbecue using some Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce picked u at Fran’s Sunshine Station gift shop in Adrian, Texas on the last trip.
As regular readers of Route 66 Chronicles may have already noticed, my world is a bit chaotic (in a good way), about a half bubble off center, and always subject to change at less than a moments notice. Friday exemplified all of this in spades.
Late Thursday evening I received a frantic email from the producer of my weekly radio program, Jim Hinckley’s America (podcasts of programs are available via this link)on Alamo 1230 in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Apparently, a series of issues at the station had culminated with the very real possibility that the Friday morning program would consist of Sunny and I filling in one hour of air time without a guest.
So, I resorted to the wonder of Facebook and blogging. As a result, I think it went fairly well as the day was saved by a call in from Kumar Patel of the iconic Wigwam Motel in Rialto, California.
With five minutes to spare I opened the office and was hit instantly with a wide array of goofy issues – brake pressure warning light on a truck resultant of a venting issue with the reservoir filler cap, a truck with a hole in the roof, a trailer with a broke wire internally, and customers with drastically altered reservation problems.
At 9:30 Rick Thomas called to inform me that the Chinese tour was on schedule. So, I called and finalized all of the lunch plans for the group that included a stop at the Powerhouse Visitor Center, lunch at Mr. D’z, and a display featuring select Cadillac manufactured automobiles from 1911 to 1973.
At 11:30, I took my lunch hour, picked up my dearest friend, and drove downtown to meet with Rick, speak with the tour, and visit with Nick Gerlich who was serving as the tours historian. At 12:30 and at 1:00 I was still waiting.
A few unscheduled delays had derailed the entire program. So, the tour was forced to skip the Powerhouse and the owners of the vintage automobiles, with the exception of two, had given up and left before the tour arrived at Mother Road Harley Davidson shortly after 2:00.
Resultant of issue at the office, I was unable to stay much after 1:00. In turn that resulted in me having to make another rushed trip to Mother Road Harley Davidson to sign books before the tour left for Oatman.
Meanwhile, back at the office, the trend of truck related problems and modified reservations continued. To add to the fun, both literally and sarcastically, two delightful gentlemen from Moscow Russia stopped by shortly before closing.
They had several copies of Ghost Towns of Route 66 and had tracked me down for an autograph and to ask questions. As it turned out the fascination with ghost towns is a universal one.
I was reminded of Rich Dinkela, a Route 66 explorer of near legendary status, as the young men told tales of expeditions to the ghost towns of the former Soviet Union. To say the very least, it was a wonderful way to end the day. However, little did I know that it was far from over.
On the way to the grocery store all of the gauges in the Jeep ceased to function. As with the recent trip to New Mexico it proved to be but a temporary, but disconcerting, issue.
Then during our late dinner, I received a call from Sam Murray, the award winning New Zealand rally car driver. He was in the process of organizing a special Route 66 adventure for the publisher of New Zealand Today magazine, and a few of his clients, and was hoping to enlist my services as a guide next spring.
So, now I have the rest of the weekend to work on the Route 66 atlas with a truncated deadline, to evaluate the proposed schedule and proposal from Mr. Murray, to pen two feature articles, to work on the promotional schedule for the forthcoming Route 66 Treasures, to watch a movie with my dearest friend, and to work on the 2014 Route 66 International Festival.
Now, as promised, a few updates on the festival. Arrangements are being finalized with Buz Waldmire for a display of work by Bob Waldmire that is not Route 66 related.
Bob Bell of True West magazine will be assisting in the events development as well as promotion. He will also have a prominent role in the event itself.
Jay Leno has been notified of the alternative energy vehicle display being developed for the festival. An ultra rare 1902 Studebaker electric has been promised by a collector in Jerome, Arizona for this display.
A series of seminars are being developed. These include discussions on the history of alternative energy vehicles as well as Route 66 related developments and how communities are using the resurgent interest as a catalyst for development.
The film festival has grown to include a number of award winning Route 66 documentaries. There will also be guided walking tours in the historic district with yours truly leading the way.
I am rather confident that this event will be a most memorable one for all who attend. With that said, do you plan on attending the festival?
I am not sure exactly when it happened but apparently time has been rolled back and Route 66 is a very busy highway with traffic flowing east and west, at least in my world. I am not complaining. I am simply amazed.
For all intents and purposes Route 66 no longer exists. After all, the last official U.S. 66 sign came down almost two decades ago.
Now, however, a wide array of variations are sprouting all along its former course but they all reassure the Route 66 enthusiast that they are following the most famous highway in America. They, are, however, but one of many manifestations in the amazing renaissance of this storied old road.
As has been the case since the closing era of its glory days, I seem to have been privileged with a front row seat. Perhaps a more appropriate analogy would be that I am still sitting tall in the saddle on a never ending eight second ride.
Tomorrow morning on a special edition of Jim Hinckley’s America, Sunny and I will be talking Route 66. If you would like to talk about your favorite place or person on legendary Route 66, call in at 575-437-1230 between 8:00 and 9:00 AM New Mexico time. And don’t forget, the shows are always available via podcast the following morning.
I will be spending my lunch hour tomorrow introducing a tour group from China to three American legends – Harley Davidson, Route 66, and Cadillac. I am quite sure this will be interesting as there is a need to work with an interpreter.
This evening while pouring petrol into the Jeep, I received a phone call from New Zealand. A tour company is hoping to retain my services in 2014 for a few adventures.
Meanwhile, the developments pertaining to the 2014 Route 66 International Festival are taking place with dizzying speed. Mike and Steve Wagner, two of the primary dynamos behind this endeavor shared exciting news this morning.
However, as it is close to my bed time, that will be the subject of the Friday posting.