If the recent spate of international news stories about Route 66 is any indication, the old road is growing in popularity as never before. In fact, I would say that it just might be more popular today than at any time in its history.
Let’s see, the LA Times recently ran a story about Kumar Patel and his family, the proprietors of the Wigwam Motel in Rialto, and Route 66 in California. The feature was picked up by a wide array of papers throughout the country.
The Toronto Star recently ran a feature on Santa Monica with a small plug for the double six. A few weeks ago they ran an interview with yours truly.
The forthcoming exhibit at the Autry National Center of the American West is garnering a great deal of media attention. Here is a feature in the Liberty Voice.
The 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s classic The Grapes of Wrath is fodder for a wide array of news stories such as this one published by the Daily Bulletin. In this work Route 66 was forever immortalized as the Mother Road.
An interesting story in the Pittsburg (Kansas) Morning Sun provides some interesting food for thought. Imagine an entire curriculum that blends math, history, and social studies in one package that centers on Route 66.
On May 7, a nice human interest feature about the double six appeared in The Courier published in Glasglow, Montana. In the Sunday Express published in London, England, Route 66 made a list of twenty-five things to do before you die.
Meanwhile, as development for the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman continues to unfold, plans for a full fledged Route 66 convention in an Illinois community for 2015 are being discussed. A conference with a lengthy slate of speakers representing the entire Route 66 community, work shops, informational exposition, and round table symposium could be a major step toward ensuring that legendary Route 66 remains relevant and popular for decades to come.
Meanwhile, in our homestead I am closing out a delightful week that included a wonderful lunch and discussion with Professor Nick Gerlich who has been exploring early alignments of Route 66 and the National Old Trails Highway in Arizona, a flurry of festival development issues, research for the next book, promotion for the recent release, and the scheduling of speaking engagements for the next few months.
As hinted at in the title for this mornings post, here is a view from my corner of the world. This is an Arizona sunrise as we saw it from my front door this morning.
This is a hint at how I spent the first day of a three day weekend. Not shown in this mornings postings are the remains of the front bathroom or a wonderful buffalo burger barbecue that my dearest friend and I closed out the day with.
Folks, have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. However, don’t forget to take time to reflect on what the holiday represents.
First, lets dispel a few myths and rumors. From inception there has been a great deal of local support for the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman. There were also a number of detractors and a few have (or had) a high profile in town.
In spite of this, event development moved forward with several business and community leaders (including the mayor and city manager) refusing to take no for an answer, striving to create cooperative partnerships, and working to ensure the festival was a memorable one for visitors, an historic one for the Route 66 community, and that it portrayed Kingman as more than a stop on the road to somewhere.
The city is repairing sidewalks and roadways, and sprucing up parks in the historic district and along the Route 66 corridor. Business owners and civic groups are spearheading clean up projects, and old buildings are being repurposed. Dora Manley, the new festival director, is working on a number of incredible initiatives that will enhance the event and ensure it is most memorable for Route 66 enthusiasts (does a peak inside the Beale Hotel sound interesting?), and the traditional summit meeting turned conference may spawn an actual Route 66 convention in 2015. From an Annie Mouse on Route 66 party developed by author Anne Slanina for the children to historic district walking tours and receptions there will be something for everyone young and old.
So mark your calendars, make reservations, and put your party hat on. If you can’t get enough of Route 66, this will be THE place to be in 2014. If all of the hype and talk about Route 66 has left you curious, you need to mark your calendar and make reservations for an enlightening weekend in Kingman. If you are associated with Route tourism, or are a Route 66 artist, author, photographer, or collector and want a display space in the exhibition hall, are a vendor and want to present your wares to an international audience, want to show off your vintage car or hot rod, want to help create the first electric vehicle traffic jam on Route 66, want to learn about a wide array of Route 66 topics from experts, or simply want more information about this incredible event, contact Dora at (928)279-4560.
The new ice cream parlor on Andy Devine Avenue next to the historic Brunswick Hotel.
Now, a couple of quick festival updates. John McEnulty of the Grand Canyon Caverns and Grand Canyon Resort will be hosting special tours at discounted rates. Available seating for the Yahoo Route 66 E-Group breakfast is almost filled.
Even though the majority of activities center in the historic district, to facilitate ease of access to events in various parts of Kingman such as the film festival, as well as to avoid parking issues, the city will be developing special dedicated bus routes for the festival.
Michael Wallis, the acclaimed author and speaker, will be opening the two day Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future conference. Additional speakers include Sean Evans, archivist at Northern Arizona University, Ron Hart, Route 66 Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and Dries Bessels of the Dutch Route 66 Association who will present an enlightening look at Route 66 from a Dutch perspective.
A special exhibit courtesy of the Cline collection from Northern Arizona University and a Route 66 exhibit by Bob Boze Bell is underdevelopment. Development of the historic electric vehicle exhibition is in full swing. The National Historic Route 66 Federation published an overview of the festival in their most recent newsletter. The festival has been the subject of discussion in Toronto newspapers, on WGN radio, and Coast Radio in Auckland. This will be the Route 66 event of the year. However, it could also very well be the dawn of a new era, especially if the embryonic conference spawns an actual convention in 2015. As we look beyond the festival, I would like to remind you about the walk of fame. This is an ideal opportunity to memorialize the people who have contributed to the transformation of Route 66 into an icon. With that said, I propose that enthusiasts consider sponsoring a brick to honor the Knudson’s, John and Lenore Weiss, Michael Wallis, Angel Delgadillo, Bob Waldmire, Shellee Graham, and …(?). This might be a bit of stretch akin to making an argument that Route 66 and Atlanta or Cleveland are linked, but the walk of fame in Kingman is rather fitting. After all, Kingman played a pivotal role in establishing the course of the National Old Trails Highway, predecessor to Route 66. Originally the National Old Trails Highway went south from Santa Fe, through Albuquerque and Springerville, Arizona to Yuma. A group of Kingman businessmen formed a partnership with like minded people in Needles, attended the National Old Trails Highway convention of 1913, and presented a powerful argument that led to rerouting across Arizona and through California.
To say I am quite excited about what took place at last evenings organizational meeting for the Route 66 International Festival, or the phone calls received yesterday, or the recent TripAdvisor awards being given to a number of Route 66 motels would be akin to saying Route 66 seems to be rather popular.
Lets start with news about the Road Crew. Though the fund raising goal hasn’t quite been reached, the band will begin making travel arrangements. to attend the festival in Kingman. That is a testimony to faith in the Route 66 community and Rick Zimmer’s ability to stir folks to contribute to a very worthy cause.
Further exemplifying the essence of what makes Route 66 unique is the launching of Route 66 Cares by Ron Hart, Executive Director of the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce. Established to provide assistance to Route 66 communities suffering from natural disasters, the initiatives first endeavor was raising funds for Baxter Springs, Kansas and Quapaw, Oklahoma that were recently hit by a tornado.
Now lets talk about the festival, and exciting plans for 2015. A key aspect of the festival in Kingman is a Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future conference.
With a list of speakers that range from Dries Bessels of the Dutch Route 66 Association to representatives from state Route 66 associations, Kaisa Barthuli of the National Park Service, Michael Wallis, Ed Klein, Ron Hart, and key people associated with the electric vehicle community the conference represents an incredible opportunity for the Route 66 community. In addition, many of these individuals and organizations will have displays in the exhibition hall.
In short, this is the embryonic foundation for a Route 66 convention. Your participation and involvement is crucial if we are to successfully take this to the next level.
The next level is where I really get excited. As the conference has been a point of extreme interest in the Route 66 community (436 emails in ten days) discussions were initiated about 2015 and the possibility of a real convention with speakers, presentations, workshops, an exhibition of authors and artists, and similar components.
Well, as things are extremely vague at this point all I can say is that a city in Illinois has expressed tremendous interest in hosting and assisting with the development of a convention of this sort, and numerous people in the Route 66 community are eager to commence development. Where we go from here, in regard to Kingman as well as a convention in 2015, is largely up to you.
First, as noted, your support and participation in the conference in Kingman needed. This is an opportunity to build partnerships and cooperatives, to avoid wasting resources of time and money by learning about what other communities have down to harness the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for development, and to learn about resources available including electric vehicle infrastructure development.
Second, keep the open communication going. Lets hear about what you would like to see in regard to workshops and a conference.
For more information about the conference in Kingman the primary point of contact is Dora Manley who is assuming the point position for festival development. The email is route66kingman@gmail or (928)279-4560.
Of course, you may also contact me with ideas, thoughts, suggestions, or questions. If I don’t have answers, I will find out who does.
Now, a final note. Lets get the walk of fame in Kingman moving. It is an excellent opportunity to honor the individuals who have transformed Route 66 from a highway into an icon. It is also an opportunity to build a sense of community and community purpose for the entire Route 66 corridor.
Social media sites are a great deal like television. You can use either one as a black hole for wasting precious time, for preserving the immaturity of high school, or for enhancing life.
Years ago we kicked regular television programing to the curb and now limit our viewing to a weekly movie or an hour with Walter White. In general our use of social media sites is for the promotion of Route 66 or our work, or to stay in touch with friends.
This week Facebook is being used for a bit of voyeurism, adventure porn if you will. Rich Dinkela (the Route 66 communities version of Indiana Jones), Professor Nick Gerlich, David Heward, and Jeroen and Maggie Boersma have been sharing (and teasing with) photos from their expedition of exploration along the National Old Trails Highway in Eastern Arizona.
Judging by comments posted, I am not the only one who has an incurable fascination for the thrill of adventure and exploration, especially when it comes to Route 66.
We always look forward to visits with friends. However, next weeks dinner shared with Jeroen and Maggie will be a special treat as we will have an opportunity for first hand accounts of the exploration and discoveries.
The National Old Trails Highway east of Grand Canyon Caverns.
In following their exploits it reminds me that my dearest friend and I are overdue for an adventure. We have had two of note this year, one along the National Old Trails with John McEnulty and the other being the grand adventure to Crown King, but to properly curb the appetite I have found that an outing of exploration is needed at least every six weeks.
Unfortunately that just isn’t in the cards at this time so I will have to be content with vicarious explorations. The schedule for promotion of Route 66 and the current book, festival development, and a couple of other pressing issues will prevent a serious adventure for at least a few more weeks.
This morning its a breakfast shared with Bill Daughtrey, an old compadre, and a day at the office. To close things out there is a developmental meeting for the Route 66 International Festival.
I hope to be able to provide some exciting updates and details in the next day or two. Perhaps I can also break news pertaining to something special for 2015.
Meanwhile, its time for our morning visit with Marleen.
An unplanned emergency prevented our friends from joining us for dinner and the Chillin’ on Beale festivities. So, my dearest friend and I made it into a date night.
First, there was, as always, an excellent dinner at Redneck’s Southern Pit Barbecue. If your looking for a dinner recommendation in Kingman, and you enjoy good food at reasonable prices as well as a relaxing, simple ambiance, this place tops my list.
In looking over the diverse array of cars, trucks, and motorcycles on display, we met Dora Manley, the new director for development of the Route 66 International Festival, her husband Kurt, and learned that there had been a cancellation for Dora’s Wine Pairing Dinner. It was with regret that we turned down the invitation but a one block walk wasn’t sufficient for stirring an appetite after a hearty meal at Redneck’s.
A bottle of Barking Squirrel beer, and a movie closed out the day. Life is good.
Now, attentions turn toward the week ahead. First, I evaluated my Friday evening performance on WGN radio in Chicago, and gave myself a “C.” It had been a very long day (almost 15 hours between the beginning of the day and the interview).
The to do list today includes evaluating a Route 66 International Festival funding request developed by Kristi Turman, and a business outline from an associate in Phoenix who is engaged in developing a potentially unique Route 66 service. I also need to complete a feature article for Mid Century Style magazine.
Monday looks to be rather straightforward. Breakfast with Marleen as our Dutch language lessons continue, a day at the office (Monday is always interesting), and confirmation of speakers for the Route 66 Crossroads of the Past and Future conference that will be a part of the festival.
Tuesday gets a bit more complicated with what could easily be another fourteen hour day. Specifically, after a day of the office preceded by work related to the new book, there is an evening meeting pertaining to Route 66 International Festival development. Details and updates will be provided as soon as possible.
However, if you have specific questions pertaining to the festival, drop me a note. I will have, or will find, answers.
Also on the list for next week is the development of a few press releases, providing materials to ensure that the official festival website is being updated, writing a follow up to last weeks guest editorial for the Kingman Daily Miner based on the Tuesday meeting, and checking on developments of the Route 66 themed weekend event in Holbrook.
So, it looks as though I will once again be able to stave off boredom, at least for another week.