The office routine was also typical which is a fancy way of saying chaotic; trucks dropped off overnight were blocking the drive way instead of being parked on the return lot, customers without reservations wanted immediate service even though it was ten minutes before we opened, customers with reservations patiently waited, and the phones (as in two) were ringing.
It was the final installment of Chillin’ on Beale for 2013 and I was scheduled to share the spotlight with Mike Wagner, and provide an update on the Route 66 International Festival. I was also to present a program, with slide show, about the history of Route 66 that was part of the Smithsonian Institute Journeys Stories series.
As noted in a previous post, it was an adventure that tested my patience and professionalism. My gut instinct was to run and never look back.
I survived, guests that turned out for the presentation were pleased, and I signed a few books. As a bonus I had a date with my dearest friend that included, as always, excellent food at Redneck’s Barbecue, and a surprise visit from Russ Rowen, a fellow desert explorer from my John Wayne period.
On Sunday morning, after an extended version of breakfast with my dearest friend, I focused on the atlas with the myopic intensity of Jason in his search for the golden fleece. About mid morning there was an unexpected change in direction in the form of a surprise visit from our son, with the grandson who was celebrating his third birthday.
As I result, my progress fell short of the goal set for the day. That, however, was of little consequence.
Monday morning was steady but not harried. One by one the lengthy list of items to be finished were checked off as completed and then at 1:30, I received the expected call from Dale Butel.
Meeting with tour groups are one of the most rewarding perks derived from writing. I so enjoy sharing the history of Route 66, and my neck of the woods, with people who have a real heartfelt fascination for these stories.
When I reflect on the fact that these opportunities allow me to serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Route 66 community as well as America, there is also a sense of awesome responsibility and humility that accompanies these ventures. Needless to say, it really provides me with a uniquely balanced perspective on life and the world in general.
The bonus in this is that many of the tour group leaders have become friends, and a few of their clients have become electronic pen pals. All of this leads to reflections on just how fortunate I am.
When I stop long enough to really reflect on my life, it becomes very hard to find things to complain about. Here I am staring sixty square in the eye, a small town fellow that lives in the outback, if you will. I am Jim Hinckley, the plain and simple working man who survived a wild and wooly youth of wasted years but yet I have friends to share a meal and a laugh with, friends like Dries and Marion, Karel and Hanneke, Dale and Kristi-Anne, Kevin and Nancy, Wolfgang and Anja, Zdnek and Eva, and so many more.
I have a son, and grandchildren. I have a dear friend who has endured, enjoyed, and shared thirty years of adventures. I am blessed beyond measure.
To each and everyone of you that we met with this year, thank you. It was truly our honor and pleasure to meet with you.
Here is to 2014. A year filled with new adventures, old friends, new friends, and good times.