TO OUR FRIENDS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC, AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND, HOLLAND, GERMANY …

This morning my dearest friend and I were discussing a bit of personal Route 66 history, and reflecting on the role that old road has played in our lives, as well as the role it continues to play. She grew up with a front row seat to the ebb and flow of history on that old road as her family owned a small market and auto court in Kingman. Beginning in 1959, I traveled it time and time again, learned to ride a bicycle on it, learned to drive on it, and courted my dear friend on it.
Then as now, it was the people that gave the road a vibrancy, a sense of excitement and eager anticipation that was never easy to describe. With the exception of the fact that you are just as likely to meet someone speaking Dutch, or German, or French as you are to meet someone with a Texas drawl in Shamrock, nothing has changed.
The old double six is still about the people and the friendships that develop from a shared experience of adventure, of exploration, and laughter. That simple element transcends barriers of languages and culture, and as a result, the renaissance of the highway and its international appeal has made this the most exciting period in its almost one hundred year history.
For my dearest friend and I, this translates into a wealth that we could never have imagined a decade or so ago – friends and acquaintances in dozens of states and just about as many countries. 
Now, with that said, rather than name names, I wish to say thank you and merry Christmas to each and every one of our friends. It is with eager anticipation that we look toward 2014,and your next visit.        
  
   

THE POISON OF APATHY

When a town decides to face the harsh realities associated with transforming a blighted area into a prosperous one, or infusing a a stagnant community with vitality, money is most often cited as the primary obstacle. I would wholly disagree.
Yes, money or the lack there of is a very serious issue that hinders development but community apathy and frustration is an even larger determent. As an example consider my adopted hometown and two recent articles in the Kingman Daily Miner. 
The first article is about the potential economic impact of Route 66 on communities along that highway corridor. The second article is about an indie film shot in Kingman.
Now, read the comments at the end of each article. Do you see a pattern? Would it be safe to assume that this community has self esteem issues?
You have three choices when living in such a community. The first is to accept it and, on occasion, whine. This, however, carries the inherent risk of a growing awareness that you are part of the problem.
The second choice is to move. Simply cut your losses, curb the frustration, and move.
The third option is to admit that you may have been part of the problem. Next roll up your sleeves and join the fight.      
Keep in mind that the poison of community apathy will always trump the best laid plans. It will also ensure that opportunity in copious amounts will be ignored, overlooked, or squandered.
How can you develop a matching funds facade grant program like the one in Sapulpa if your city government is wholly convinced such endeavors are a waste of time as well as money? How do you convince city government that revitalizing a blighted historic district will pay bigger dividends for the community than providing incentives for a Walmart to move into town?    
So, what is the antidote for community apathy? How do you roll back years and decades of hyped dreams that never became manifest? How do address an embedded legacy of inept self serving leadership that never delivers on promises made? 
Fortunately, if you live in a community along Route 66, you have a tremendous advantage. There is ample hard evidence available that will magnify your endeavors.
Regardless, if I were to hazard a guess as to where to begin, the first step would be the formation of serious, thick skinned, nothing to loose neighborhood partnerships at the most basic level. I am talking you help me paint my fence and I will help you paint yours.
Community education would share the top spot for priorities. Apathy, like weeds, needs to be taken out by the roots. 
Step one, educate yourself. Step two, educate your friends. Find knowledgeable speakers to address your local civic organizations, read, use the internet, reach out to community leaders in towns that have overcome apathy with visionary and inspirational leadership.
Be prepared to address every manifestation of apathy, be it in letters to the editor or at city council meetings with simple, direct, practical, and proven plans of action. Counter passionate presentations about why the city can’t do something with passionate but respectful reasons why they can. 
Even though it will most likely result in the casting of aspersions, in public and in private, and, perhaps outright name calling, don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements from outside the community. If your seriously looking to see your community transformed, the concept of a popularity contest cannot enter into the equation.
Even if they are not residents, if they are knowledgeable on issues ask friends to write letters to the editor, or even to city officials. Use your neighborhood partnerships to create larger neighborhood partnerships, and then apply the pressure of public opinion to elected officials.
After this the work begins. 
Okay, where am I in this you may ask? Well, I am still in the fight even though there have been countless opportunities where thoughts turned toward pulling stakes. 
Do we still think about cutting losses, finding a place where the corner has been turned, and then jumping in to help build a community? Well, ask me again after the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in August, or take a chance and give me a call if your hiring. 
            

THE HOLIDAY SEASON AND THOUGHTS OF A NEW YEAR

This may come as a bit of surprise to regular followers of this blog but I am a bit of a traditionalist. I am quite aware that most of our Christmas traditions are rooted in modern commercialism, and that even fewer have anything to do with the Christianity that is supposed to be the holidays foundation. I really don’t care.
A nation, a society needs tradition. Rather than digress into a tirade about the modern era of political correctness run amuck, and the seemingly incessant urge to denigrate each and every tradition that currently plagues the country, I will instead request you give some thought to comedian Billy Connolly’s tirade on beige people (found on Youtube but be warned, the language would make a sailor blush, unless they visit a mall on a regular basis).
So, with that said my dearest friend and are I preparing for the holidays and all that this entails from fruitcake to friends, Christmas carols to a Christmas tree. We are also looking toward a new year filled with exciting possibilities.
The latest book, the Route 66 Historic Atlas, has spawned an idea for a new series of presentations. One will be about the dark side of Route 66 as evidenced by stories of crime, mayhem, passion, and disaster.
The second will be a bit more lighthearted. The topic of discussion will be the film and celebrity related sites on Route 66.
As numerous requests have been received for a photo exhibition, at the risk of sounding pompous I began thinking that, perhaps, a display of our work could lend support to a communities efforts to attract visitors as they travel the Route 66 corridor. May I ask your opinion?
In recent weeks there has been some interesting discussions about the development of a Route 66 Festival in Europe. An interesting aspect of these discussions was the possibility that it could be held in conjunction with the Route 66 Alliance sanctioned Route 66 International Festival, and then via the miracles of modern science, be linked. Would you care to share a few ideas or thoughts about such an endeavor?
The next item also provides a bit of food for thought, and another opportunity to present an impression that I am getting a big for my britches. There were several occasions this past year when I was asked to lead or develop a special Jim Hinckley edition Route 66 tour that focuses on the quirky and obscure places, as well as the detours, discussed on the blog. Again, may I ask for your thoughts and ideas?
The last item of the day is about you. I am a rather curious individual and was wondering what your favorite Route 66 memory in 2013 was, and what your plans are for making new memories in 2014.
  
   
 
   
  
    

YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER…

I find the old adage that begins with the line listed in the title for this post to be rather adequate this morning. My impression that Kingman is that horse is alive and well today.
Time and again the city is presented with an opportunity that has tremendous potential for its transformation, redevelopment, and revitalization. Still, if we judge by letters to the editor in the Kingman Daily Miner it would be quite easy to develop the opinion that the citizenry would prefer business as usual over business with an eye on the future.
As a case in point consider this recent article. Now read the response from 2 Thoughts.
Okay, I have issues with the article, one being the projected number of visitors. This always bothers me as it is a recipe for disaster at both ends. 
If the organizers claim 5,000 will attend, and only 4,800 come to town for the festivities, naysayers can point and say, “See, it didn’t meet expectations.” On the other hand if a restaurant buys 10,000 hot dogs but only 2,500 people come to the party I am confident there will be problems. 
There are a multitude of issues to discuss and resolve in regard to the festival and using it as a catalyst for development. The weather isn’t one of these nor is it something that is in our control. 
Okay, now that I have vented, lets get down to the important business at hand. First, a couple of 2014 Route 66 International Festival updates. 
In conversation with a tour company owner in New Zealand, I learned that his summer Route 66 tour is going to include the festival. He is also planning to include the Route 66 Fun Run in the 2015 spring tour.
Even though organizers plan on showcasing the multi faceted attributes of the Kingman area by including activities at Hualapai Mountain Park and Resort, Grand Canyon West, and Stetson Winery, the key aspects of the festival will center in the historic district. Anchoring the west end is the Powerhouse Visitor Center and Route 66 Museum, activities in Metcalf and Locomotive Park, and the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.
On Friday, I met with Bob “Boze” Bell to discuss his latest project. I am quite pleased to announce that he and a display of his artistry will ensure the museum is not overlooked during the festival.
Indications are that after the Christmas holiday, I should be able to provide full details for authors, artists, and collectors who plan to attend, as well as updates about activities being planned to coincide with the festival along the Route 66 corridor between Needles and Seligman.
Oh, before I forget, there will be an adventure raffle during the festival with prizes provided by business on Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. Connie Echols of the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba is one of the contributors.
Apparently the organizers are currently hashing out website adjustments and updates with the webmaster. One of these updates is the inclusion of a page that will list the contributors to the raffle.
Now, if you would like to contribute to, and promote your business through the adventure raffle, please let me know and I will provide information about participating. In addition, please let me know if you are planning on participating in the festival as an author, artist, or collector.
There is also a need for people to make presentations on topics as diverse as the development of infrastructure for electric vehicles and living the RV life on Route 66. If you have ideas, or can contribute, please let me know.
In the mean time, how about sending a few positive letters to editor at the Kingman Daily Miner?   
 
   
    


SETTING THE STAGE FOR A MOST EXCITING 2014

From the perspective that I have extreme trouble with the dawning of projects that unleash the imagination, yesterday may have been the worst day of the year. Still, I know from experience that before you can begin the wild ride, there is that interminable time in the chute where anticipation and anxiety build to nearly unbearable levels. 
First was a lengthy, and occasionally frustrating, conversation with Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio. The topic of discussion was the forthcoming Route 66 International Festival, his developing plan for a vintage car caravan from the Los Angeles area to Kingman for the festival with special event stops at the museum in Barstow and in Needles, and a band composed of classic rock musicians that he is hoping the organizers of the festival will hire for a Saturday night performance during the festival.
The frustration was in knowing that there won’t be a great deal of progress until after the Christmas holiday, that the coalition formed between Kingman Now LLC (the organizers of the festival), the chamber of commerce, and tourism office can’t begin work until after the first of the year, and that there is so much to do before August of 2014. Before continuing this tale I should explain my role in the development of the festival.
The short version is that my job is to round up the cats and herd them to Kingman for the event. A more detailed descriptor is that I am the primary coordinator (aka piñata) between those outside of Kingman and those who are running the show. A secondary role is ensuring that the essence of Route 66 isn’t buried in the plan to showcase Kingman as a destination. 
Next on the agenda was a preliminary meeting with one of Kingman’s favorite sons, Bob “Boze” Bell. He and a few childhood cohorts from Kingman are working on a book about growing up on Route 66. In typical Bob “Boze” Bell fashion, here is the first official press release. 
” Local boy, Bob Boze Bell, who proudly iced jugs for free at Al Bell’s Flying A on Route 66 will be coming home. Bell is the executive editor of True West magazine and has written and illustrated a book on his experiences—”The 66 Kid”—which he will roll out at the festival.”
To say I am quite honored to have received a request to provide assistance would be an understatement. In our first meeting we discussed the changing face of Kingman, what the festival means to the community, what it was like to grow up there when Route 66 was truly the main street of town, and then we got down to brass tacks. 
We talked of key people whose interviews would enhance the book, about the international appeal of the highway, and cover ideas. We talked about the magic of the road made manifest in the fact that people from throughout the world flock to an elderly barber in Seligman, Arizona for a haircut and shave or to ruins on an abandoned segment of the highway in the wilderness of the Painted Desert. 
Restraining my enthusiasm and excitement about Route 66 and its potential for serving as a catalyst for community revitalization is never easy and when I have an audience such as Bob Bell and his crew it becomes even more difficult. 
I also spoke at length with Sam Murray from New Zealand, the proud new owner of the Frontier Motel and Café in Truxton, Arizona. Our topic of discussion was plans for Truxton, and the development of his Route 66 tours, an expansion of his Gilligan’s Wild West Tours enterprise.
I have been lending assistance in the development of his tours to ensure clients receive an honest, unforgettable Route 66 experience. At the heart of yesterdays conversation was planning the tours for 2014, and 2015, to coincide with at least one festival along the way. 
In 2014 the summer tour will coincide with two days of the Route 66 International Festival. The following year his initial plans are to include the Route 66 Fun Run in the spring tour, a Fourth of July celebration in the summer tour.
The last discussion of the day was with Linda Fitzpatrick, the Needles dynamo that is tirelessly working to breathe life into that faded Route 66 community on the Colorado River. She has some fantastic ideas for using the golf course and country club on the river to host special events during the Route 66 International Festival next year.
This will provide added incentive for festival attendees to do some Route 66 cruising even if it is August. It will also enhance the drive for those coming to Kingman from California. 
We also discussed the possibilities of tying this to fund raising efforts for restoration of the communities historic theater. Needless to say, this discussion is giving rise to some most interesting ideas. 
To close this out I would like to provide a few updates about the festival, provide some contact information, and ask that you give thought to ways of developing means for building a cooperative endeavor in your community. After all, the festival is an ideal opportunity to promote every community on Route 66, and to find creative ways of enhancing the travelers experience as they motor west or east toward Kingman.
The fees for street vendors and space allotments for collectors and authors in the event center haven’t been confirmed as of yet. Still, the primary contact for information is Angela at Beale Street Brews and Gallery. If you have any problems in regard to making contact, please let me know and I will follow up with her. 
Next, the primary contact for general information, getting involved with the development of the Route 66 walk of fame, the car show, or the wide array of events being developed, the primary contact is Mike Wagner. His number is (714)262-8733. 
Again, I will run interference, make sure your questions are answered, and in general, try to assist in any manner possible. Meanwhile, don’t forget the organizers are looking for independent film producers for the film festival, owners of alternative energy vehicles from the past, present, or future, and people who want to round out the proposed workshops by making short presentations about transforming Route 66 into an electric highway, or topics related to Route 66 business development.