Every day is an opportunity for adventure, especially if we can break free from the rut. It can be as simple as driving a different route to work, or as complicated as taking a weekend to drive with no particular destination other than a point on the compass in mind and no reservations.
For my dearest friend and I today’s adventure was actually the first step in what promises to be an unprecedented odyssey, at least for us. This morning we submitted passport applications. In the coming weeks additional details will be provided but suffice to say our plans are to venture beyond the end of Route 66 in the not so distant future.
Meanwhile, there is a wide array of business to attend to. There is a book to complete, further assistance with festival development, covering the annual Route 66 Fun Run for a magazine, Cuba Fest, and of course assistance to friends traveling the double six this summer. Then there is promotion for the current book which has morphed into full blown promotion for Route 66. This link is for a recent interview that appeared in the Toronto Star. Meanwhile Andrew Evans working for National Geographic Explorer is continuing his journey of exploration on Route 66. The latest posting on his Digital Nomad blog that looks at the Boots Motel and treasures of Carthage provides some interesting perspective and a great deal of hope in regard to the long term evolution of this storied highway as a living, breathing time capsule. As we are on the subject of Route 66 evolution and development, the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce is filling the role implied by the name rather nicely. Their website is now a full 96 pages of information that ranges from Route 66 real estate listings to lodging and dining recommendations and blog links. In addition to launching a membership drive, they are also looking to assist businesses along Route 66 with promotion through $66 display ads and other services. As a chamber of commerce for the Route 66 community, their assistance does not stop there. Resultant of the deadly storms that hit Quapaw and Baxter Springs, the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce launched Route 66 Cares, a Facebook page that will serve as central point of organization to assist communities along the Route 66 corridor that have suffered a natural disaster. Ron Hart, the chamber of commerce director, is a scheduled speaker for the Route 66 – Crossroads of the Past & Future Conference that is a scheduled event for the Route 66 International Festival. Speaking of the festival, there is a need to address some of the recent correspondence about that event. I can’t and won’t speak on behalf of the Route 66 Alliance, the sanctioning body for the event, or make any effort to explain why that organizations website has yet to be updated to indicate that this years festival is in Kingman.
I will say that the people behind that organization have made tremendous contributions to the Route 66 renaissance. I will also say that in recent conversations with board members it was brought to my attention that the organization is undergoing some transitions that will have dramatic ramifications for the Route 66 community in the near future.
The last word on this subject. In the future, please address questions pertaining to the Alliance, and the Alliance’s role in the festival, to the Alliance. Since we are discussing adventures, and as dreams are the root of most adventures, here is an idea that was proposed to me recently – a Route 66 Festival in Europe in 2015 or 2016. What are your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions about this?
I am writing this on Sunday afternoon as the schedule will not allow for a Monday posting. Besides, as it is still a bit windy and cold it seemed an ideal time to respond to recent inquiries about my inner sanctum, the cubicle of inspiration where ideas are turned into books, road trip dreams are transformed into realities, and memories of good times are made manifest in the wide array of souvenirs and treasures.
From my earliest memories books have always been an integral part of my life. Dominating my inner sanctum are shelves filled to the breaking point with books. Hidden behind a set of double doors are shelves filled floor to ceiling with even more books.
Reading and research materials are not limited to a diverse array of books. Magazines, booklets, and promotional materials that range from AAA guide books from the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s to original copies of Harper’s Weekly from the late 19th century fill crooks and crevices.
The reference materials for eleven books and countless magazine articles fill notepads, notebooks, and pages of printed materials. The file cabinets are also filled to the bursting problem.
To provide incentive for long days at the keyboard, and a bit of inspiration for new projects, the office is filled with post cards and thank you notes from folks who used my books in their adventures or in planning them, souvenirs from adventures with my dearest friends, geological samples from various desert ventures, and gifts from friends. There is even a miniature steam engine that is fully operational, a little something my dad made in his spare time while serving as a machinists mate.
The swirl of memories in my inner sanctum is almost palpable. There is a map poster of Arizona created by Bob Waldmire, a calendar from a roadhouse in Brookton, Western Australia, given to us by a friend who passed away shortly after his last trip stateside, and a pair of miniature wooden shoes from a friend in the Netherlands.
The large piece of obsidian on the window sill was found on an expedition into the vast Hualapai Valley in search of petroglyphs. A hood ornament is from a vintage Dodge found nose down in a sand wash, and vintage glassware from my mother’s collection brings back memories of farm auctions in Michigan. Bumper stickers inspire thoughts of pie at the Midpoint Café and visits to Fran’s store in Adrian Texas.
The inner sanctum is one part oasis, one part office, and two parts fortress of solitude. With the exception of a special place on Route 66, or a rocky knoll with million dollar view where sage scented breezes swirl the desert sands, this is my haven.
Did anyone beside me notice that the last few posts were lackluster or off course from our usual topics of discussion? Well I have an explanation and a few excuses for that, but excuses seldom equal justification.
Simply put, I am tired, frustrated, and in dire need of a quiet non business trip along Route 66 or to a special place here in the desert southwest. Fueling this is the fact that for almost the entire year I have been dwelling on that fine line between blesses and curses, that odd realm where the glass is half full and half empty.
As evidenced by the growing number of requests for interviews, the latest best sellers ranking from Amazon.com (#12 in general travel books), and the uptick in the scheduling of speaking engagements, it looks as though I am on the right track. The childhood dream of becoming a writer when I grow up is looming on the horizon.
Meanwhile, the current book (a chronicle of violence on the street and in the boardroom during the evolution of the taxi industry) is proving to be an exhausting endeavor in regard to research. However, the real frustration is in the fact that I still have a day job that supports the writing habit.
The greatest reward in writing isn’t the financial compensation, it is in the friends made and the people met as a result of what I write. In this regard we just may be some of the wealthiest people around.
I am quite grateful to have a job to complain about. It pays well, is relatively enjoyable, and judging by end of the year reports (number two in the state of Arizona for two years running), it is something I must be good at.
Still, there is zero future in it and I am looking sixty square in the eye. Even worse, respect for what I do, and the compensation in the form of vacation time or benefits is even less than zero.
Few things exemplify the frustration of living in the world of half empty and half full more than providing assistance for the ongoing development and promotion of the Route 66 International Festival scheduled for August 14th through 17th. My contributions have provided an incredible number of opportunities for thinking outside of the box to ensure the event benefits the Route 66 community, appeals to a wider audience than just fans of the double six, and showcases the city of Kingman in a positive light. Still, it often feels as though I am trying to push a wheelbarrow overloaded with Siamese twin elephants and a flat tire up a mountain trail filled with rocks.
First, the original organizers quit at the first of the year and as a result, everyone involved with the festivals development was, to put it mildly, left holding the proverbial bag. To compound the resultant problems the sanctioning body for the annual event has yet to update their website or even publish press releases. On Monday evening, I will be speaking with the interim chamber of commerce director about the festival as the current chamber of commerce director that is overseeing the project now faces a situation that necessitates resignation.
Amazingly, in spite of it all, indications are that this will be a stellar event. It is my sincere hope that I live to see it.
Looking toward the near future, it appears as though the pattern of dwelling in that murky place where the glass is half full and half empty will continue for some time. So, we will set our sights on the festival, Cuba Fest, and an unprecedented adventure that will require submission of our passport applications on Tuesday.
The title for this afternoons post is best explained by listening to the video clip at the bottom of the post, or you could visit Kingman this afternoon. This is the only place that I know of where winds in excess of twenty miles per hour are deemed as breezy.
A local legend is that Kingman was founded by people who stopped to wait for the wind to stop blowing. Everyone else just broke down here.
This isn’t exactly true. After all, there are often days where the wind doesn’t even start to blow until late afternoon. And my family did move here on purpose even if the location was determined by the throw of a dart. People often complain that Kingman doesn’t have seasons. This isn’t really true either, we just have all four in a two day period. Lets see, Thursday the temperatures were quite pleasant with an afternoon high near eighty degrees. Yesterday windy and low 70s. Today, winds blowing better than 20 miles per hour, sleet, rain, and snow, temperatures in the mid 40s. Forecast for Monday, 85 degrees.
I tease a bit about this old town but we do live here because we want to. Besides, there are worse places to live. Trust me on that, after all I have lived in some very interesting places.
One town that I lived in was so small First Street was the edge of town. They couldn’t operate the milk shake machine and stop light at the same time without overloading circuits. There wasn’t a town drunk so we had to take turns.
The one room schoolhouse handled grades one through twelve but could only accommodate one student at a time because it was so small. Fortunately there was only one student.
Seriously, my dearest friend and I love small town life, even though Kingman is fast outgrowing that descriptor. I am a relative newcomer as my family didn’t arrive here until 1966. At that time Kingman was still very much a western town complete with real cowboys, rough and tumble miners, cat skinners, and assorted dry roasted nuts that lived in the deserts shunning people, the modern world, and more often than not, rational thought. Of course there was also an endless stream of tourists, truckers, and travelers flowing through town on Route 66 to add a touch of color. Granted, my first impressions of Kingman, and the deserts that embraced it, weren’t very favorable. It wasn’t exactly the small town life that bothered me. After all, barefoot friends and I had enjoyed dust covered ice cream cones on the front porch of the general store in Dunton, Alabama, sorghum on a stick at the mill in Pisgah, Alabama, and ice cold soda pop from the corner gas station in Napoleon, Michigan. Small town life wasn’t really new, but the desert with its raw vast Technicolor landscapes, open spaces, and sun baked rocks that looked like the bones of the earth itself were. Now, I find it hard to imagine life lived anywhere but in the desert southwest. We love to travel and to see new places. I would love to see Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and a long list of other places but my heart belongs to the wilderness of Arizona and New Mexico. Still, what I miss most isn’t the Kingman of old; the Desert Drug with a heavy smell of tobacco, Jan’s Soda Fountain, buying Matchbox cars at the Western Auto Store with its creaky wooden floors. What I really miss is the western drawl, the weathered faces of the folks taking time to visit with neighbors at the auto parts store, the dusty old pick up trucks with rifle racks in the back windows, and the almost tangible atmosphere of can-do spirit that was a manifestation of treasured independence and the camaraderie of the deer hunting season. I suppose that this is what is really meant when people say you can’t go home again. Times change. Only memories remain, and they aren’t always honest.