For folks whose lives are as deeply intertwined with Route 66 as ours is, the winter months are the season for playing catch up on projects, for tying up loose ends, and for preparing for another busy spring, summer, and fall. Even though there are still a great number of things to finish, it was with eager anticipation that I read notes about forthcoming visits from the German Route 66 contingent, and tour groups led by Dale Butel, Zdnek Jurasek, and Roger Allison.
In some places its the cherry blossoms or ice break up that herald the dawn of spring. In our world its the drone of motorcycles, phone calls with familiar foreign accents, and emails from every corner of the globe.
This past weekend, however, was relatively quiet aside from the flurry of phone calls and correspondence, some with a touch of panic, pertaining to the last minute details pertaining to the Route 66 International Festival. The date for this potentially historic gala is rapidly approaching and the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce that is organizing the event is scrambling to finalize details such as the unprecedented exposition of historically significant electric vehicles being arranged by the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation.
The rest of the weekend was spent in the pleasurable completion of mundane tasks and time shared with friends. In short, it was about as good as it gets.
After helping to resolve an office issue, Saturday kicked off with some correspondence pertaining to the new book (anyone out there have information about taxi regulation in New York, Chicago, and Detroit in the 1920s and 1930s?), speaking engagements, book promotion, and festival arrangements. Then there was the need for a dreaded trip to Walmart made enjoyable because it was shared with my dearest friend, and closing out the day with a quiet dinner and movie.
An always pleasurable conversation with Kevin and Nancy (owners and stewards of the iconic Blue Swallow Motel) started the day on a most enjoyable footing. There are big changes on the horizon in Tucumcari: the big Rockabilly festival, an old motel being renovated, new leadership at the convention center, to name but a few.
Barney the Wonder Truck
We followed this with a most delightful walk into the canyons behind our house where the old wagon road marked by a pair of ruts worn in the stone climbed into the Hualapai Valley (one of our favorite places to share with visitors) and listening to the interview with Frommer’s radio program recorded last week. A link for the podcast will be posted as soon as its available.
Next I turned my attention to Barney the Wonder Truck. Like me, this old timer is beginning to show its age.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that to keep the old workhorse on the road will soon require some extensive renovation. The wiring harness is becoming rather brittle, the desert sun has devastated the weather stripping, paint, seat upholstery and windshield seal, the valve cover gaskets are starting to do more than seep, a power steering line is in need of replacement, and hints that the front end is in need or repair are becoming rather obvious.
This Sunday, however, was spent performing a detailed analysis of the trucks condition (checking compression, timing, etc.) and replacing the spark plugs to cure a rough idle. So, perhaps during next years slow season, I can spend some time with Barney to ensure the old Dodge remains on the road for another decade or two.
Meanwhile, another season of Route 66 adventures is upon us. And so it begins, again.