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WELL, THAT WAS INTERESTING

The ongoing search for photos to illustrate the next book consumed most of the early morning. Then there was the need to post event updates on my official Facebook page(you did know that there is an official Jim Hinckley page, didn’t you?).
This was followed by a valiant effort to confirm all arrangements for the ever changing Burbank and Los Angeles adventure on the weekend of November 15. Thank you, Mr. Piotrowski.
Meanwhile, the seal repair on the Jeep has morphed into a complete rebuild of the front differential, and replacement of an alternator. That was interesting. Oh well, that is about equal to two monthly payments on a new Jeep. 
If you would like to tell friends or family where to go this Christmas, you might consider ordering autographed copies of my books soon (see information at the top of the blog). Even though I currently only offer domestic shipping, media mail can take up to two weeks, and I have been told, three weeks during the Christmas season.
Since we are on the subject of shameless self promotion it should be noted that the calendar is full for the month of November and at least two weeks in January, 2015. So, to arrange for a presentation of my Route 66: Crossroads of the Past and Future program, please keep this in mind when making inquires about scheduling.
One more item in the self promotion category pertains to tours. In a limited partnership with Open Road Productions, customized tours of Route 66 from Amarillo to Santa Monica are now available.
This has resulted in an interesting turn of events. Who would be interested in a one of a kind, in depth tour of Route 66 with short detours to unique locations next year?
In a related note, with reservation, in 2015 I will be offering tours of Kingman customized to your needs or the time constraints of the tour group.
A wonderful new attraction on Route 66 is now housed in the historic Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman, home of an award wining Route 66 museum. The Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation/Kingman tourism museum that opened during the Route 66 International Festival is literally a one of a kid as there isn’t another collection like this anywhere in the world. New additions will be added in the moths to come. For information pertaining to hours of operation contact the Kingman Area Tourism office at (928)753-6106.
During the festival in Kingman another unique attraction was added and that was the Route 66 Walk of Fame. For more details about locations of the honorary bricks, or to nominate an individual and fund a brick for inclusion, contact Julie at (928)753-1477. 
In a somewhat unrelated note, even though Legends of America is the official on line gallery and distributor of our photographic prints, I wasn’t sure that this item should be included in the self promotion paragraphs. After all, this website is a treasure trove of information as well as historic photos, and the work of other award winning photographers such as David Fisk are also featured. 
To close out today’s post, I was wondering who will be stopping by Atuo Books – Aero Books in Burbank o the 15th of November. 
    
  
         
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ROUTE 66 AND THE ROAD AHEAD.

Author Jim Hinckley signing books for Dale Butel’s fall Route 66 tour. (Judy Hinckley)
Yesterday we met with Dale Butel’s fall Route 66 tour, our last scheduled group of the season. Meeting with tours, sharing the history of Kingman and Route 66, and answering questions is always a highlight of the tourism season for us. As a bonus, on this tour John Springs was providing comic relief as well as assistance.
To say that 2014 was an amazing year for my dearest friend and me, as well as the Route 66 community, is akin to saying the old double six is somewhat popular. As we still have two more exciting months to go, I am quite positive this year will be one for the record books, and 2015 is shaping up to be even more exciting.
For us the last months of the year will be quite busy. This morning the Jeep goes in the shop for repairs and to prepare for at least two more adventures. I am also sprinting toward an end of the year deadline for a new book. 
Then, on the 15th of November from 10:00 to 2:00, I will be signing books at Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank, California (2900 W. Magnolia Boulevard). Joining me will be Ester Brym who will be hosting a showing of her film Autumn of Route 66, and author Charles Seims with his latest book, Roar with Gilmore.
Then I will sign books at the gift shop of the Autry National Center, home of the award winning exhibit Route 66: The Road and the Romance that runs through January 2015. This will be followed with a long overdue meeting, and dinner, with Scott Piotrowski, the indisputable guru of all things Route 66 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area and its staunchest supporter.
On Sunday, Scott will provide us with a tour of the historic district surrounding 7th and Broadway in Los Angeles, the original western terminus of Route 66. If Scott has his way this will be ground zero in 2016 for an historic 90th anniversary celebration of Route 66, and a Route 66 convention. Judging by the coalition and the partnerships that he is building, I think he will get his way.
The following week is the first meeting of the World Monuments Fund steering committee that has facilitated the gathering of a few folks to take on the challenge of drafting a template for a unified approach to future Route 66 promotion and development. The initial conference calls have left me cautiously optimistic of success.
 
This is but the latest manifestation of exciting change in a year of amazing developments on Route 66 that commenced with the World Moments Fund symposium held last November in Anaheim. Built upon this was the historic Route 66: Crossroads of the Past and Future Conference at this years Route 66 International Festival in Kingman.The festival seems to have served as a wake up call for the City of Kingman as plans are now under development to create an annual Route 66 themed event to dovetail with the cities Andy Devine Days events that includes a rodeo and parade. This will provided the second book end for the season as the annual Route 66 Fun Run takes place in the spring. As an historic footnote, Jack Rittenhouse in his classic guide book to Route 66 published in 1946 noted this annaul event in Kingman. At that time it was called Diggin’ Doggie days, a celebration of the town’s western ranching history. So, there is ample historic precedence to tie a new event to Route 66. Another manifestation of the palpable sense of excitement and enthusiasm about the future of Route 66 is the new business and renovated properties that are springing up from Santa Monica to Chicago. From Fender’s River Road Resort to the Tumbleweed Grill and Country Store in Texola, better known as Water Hole 2, folks like Rosie Ramos and Mazel Zimmerman are transforming the road with the creation of new destinations for Route 66 enthusiasts in search of a unique and authentic experience with the personal touch.As exciting as this year has has been, 2015 is shaping up to be even more spectacular for us as well as the Route 66 community. My dearest friend and I are finalizing arrangements to attend the Holiday Fair in Utrecht, Netherlands in January on behalf of U.S. Bikers and the Dutch Route 66 Association (yes the rumors are true).As evidenced by this article from Croatia, the new electric vehicle museum in Kingman is garnering international attention which will introduce Route 66 to a new audience. In June, the world famous Hemmings sponsored Great Race will be following Route 66 west from St. Louis. The old Holiday Inn in Kingman, dating to the 1960’s, is now fully renovated, including the lounge and restaurant. Large enough to accommodate tour groups, the facility promises to soon be a destination in itself. For more information contact Bob Walton at (928)753-6262.Judging by the number of new tours on Route 66 this year, the renovation couldn’t have come at at a better time. Open Road Productions is developing several Chinese tours of the road. Gilligan’s Wild West Tours of New Zealand kicked off their first successful tour this fall. Another company is developing an Amtrak/tour bus tour of Route 66 in the southwest. Just as it has for almost a century, Route 66 continues to be a road to opportunity and adventure. Moreover, as the tsunami of interest continues to build, there is the very real possibility that the old double six will enjoy a second century as the Main Street of America.   

THE LIGHTS OF ALBUQUERQUE AND THE LONG ROAD HOME

As we had visited with friends and made stops in Tucumcari on the drive east, after Amarillo the plan was to make a straight drive to Albuquerque, with a fuel stop in Santa Rosa, and have dinner with Mike and Sharon Ward. However, the diminished speeds necessitated by the axle seal leak in the front differential soon made it evident that we would most likely be enjoying breakfast with the Ward’s rather than dinner.
With acceptance of that cold hard fact in mind, we took advantage of a gathering storm to frame photos of ruins along Route 66. The best of these will be available as prints through the Jim Hinckley’s America gallery at Legends of America.
The storm pelted us with rain just west of Santa Rosa and transformed the beautiful landscapes with shadowing that changed by the moment. We were also blessed with a spectacular sunset. We loved the beauty of Missouri and the Ozark Mountains but there is something truly special in the vast desert southwest. 
West of Clines Corners, a survivor from the earliest days on Route 66, we had cell coverage and made arrangements to enjoy breakfast with the Ward’s. Now I felt a bit better about our time delays as we had alleviated concerns.
Our situation with the Jeep, though relatively minor, gave us another opportunity to marvel at the incredible people that make this storied old highway so special. At almost every stop, as I checked oil levels, we received offers of assistance from friends and strangers alike.
West of Moriarty, as we began the long descent into Albuquerque, a song by Jim Glaser began rolling through my head. Likewise with memories as I have rolled into this town from the east for more than fifty years.As we navigated the streets of the city on our way to the Monterey Motel, our favored haven for a restful evening in the city, our thoughts and discussions toward the topic of food and dinner. Our lunch at the Golden Light in Amarillo had been substantial but hundreds of miles of road had passed under the wheels since that stop.

Then we discovered an intriguing little café hidden in the shadows just a block or two north of Central Avenue near Old Town (321 Rio Grande Boulevard NW). As it turned out, we had found a true gem in the form of Monica’s El Portal Restaurant.The atmosphere was pleasant and almost homey, a place favored by locals. The friendly staff was professional and knowledgeable about the area, and the food was superb. Mexican food in New Mexico is in a class by itself and the food at Monica’s was top notch.As a bonus, the restaurant was only a few blocks from our motel. The Monterey Monterey is without equal. It is a vintage Route 66 property, with restored sign, very close to the Old Town district that has been meticulously renovated and that is well maintained. The amenities are basic but there is a laundry room on site. We have stayed here on numerous occasions and always found it to be very clean, comfortable and quiet, the proprietors friendly as well as accommodating, and the non smoking policy is an added bonus. In consideration of its location, the price (right at $70 with tax) is rather reasonable.After another pleasant and restful evening at the Monterey Motel, we set out for breakfast with Ward’s, and another pleasant discovery. At the suggestion of Mike, we cruised west on Central Avenue (Route 66) in search of Western View Steakhouse and Coffee Shop.

There was ample evidence, inside and out, that this restaurant has been serving customers for a very long time. Simply put, it was frayed at the edges. Still, as it was obviously quite popular with locals, I was quite eager to sample the food. We weren’t disappointed. The simple, basic fare was well prepared and reasonably priced.As always, lively conversation and a meal shared with friends made our stop more memorable. Our paths had crossed with the Ward’s several times on this adventure but now it was time to part ways.

We seemed to play tag on the drive west through a string of stoplights on Central Avenue, then they turned onto I-40 and we continued to Enchanted Trails Trading Post and RV Park as we had a morning meeting with Vickie Ashcraft, a friend as well as member of the New Mexico Route 66 Association, and books to sign.Our drive west was punctuated with an array of stops for photos and a bit of exploration. I suppose there was a bit of procrastination  as we did want the adventure to end. One of our strangest stops was at the remains of Fort Courage near Houck, Arizona. We had mostly stopped to stretch the legs but could not resist taking a photo or two.

As I focused the camera, a surprising site brought me up short. The place was abandoned. It was on the fast track to becoming another roadside ruin. And yet the lights were still on at the entrance!Aside from a stop for fuel, our closeout lunch was another opportunity to sample a roadside classic. This one, Romo’s, in Holbrook was across the street from Joe and Aggies. As it was a true spur of the moment stop (the plan had been to have lunch in Williams), there wasn’t an opportunity to call David Heward, our lunch companion on our first lunch on the road.

Romo’s is another restaurant favored by the locals. In operation for more than forty years, the place is really showing its age. Still, the food was good. However, it was the friendly staff that carried the day and that made this a memorable stop.Our adventure on Route 66 and the road less traveled was nothing short of amazing. It was an opportunity to make memories with my dearest friend, to sample new foods and see new places, and to visit old haunts. But what really made the trip special and memorable were the people met along the way. Friends and strangers alike made this an unforgettable adventure.Thank you Frank and Mike, Bob and Robin, Sharon and Mike, Connie, Bob, and Ramona, Lori and Joe, David and Rich. To each and everyone that made this such a delightful odyssey, thank you.  

                  

GO WEST, YOUNG MAN

Our trusty Jeep at the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City, Oklahoma.
Even though we were looking at another long day on the road with frequent stops to check the differential oil level, we left Weatherford with full stomachs, eager anticipation of the days adventure, and a Route 66 grin. 
The first stop of the day was at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton. In addition to signing books and our annual meeting with Pat Smith, I wanted to personally thank Casey Garrett, the archivist who has provided assistance in my endeavor to develop an understanding of the structure of the original U.S. Highway 66 Association. 
As a member of a steering committee facilitated by the World Monuments Fund to develop a template for creation of an entity that can centralize promotional efforts for the entire Route 66 corridor, I felt that an understanding of the original organization was crucial. It has also confirmed suspicions that this pioneering organization, and the Route 66 community, in the 1920’s faced many of the problems confronting us today.
The next stop on our homeward journey was the National Route 66 Museum in Elk City. After a brief book signing, and discussions about the 2014 tourism season, we took to the road again.
We cruised Erick in the hopes of catching Harley but the once vibrant Sand Hills Curiosity Shop was closed. The place had a forlorn atmosphere as the vibrancy exuded by the duo of Harley and Annabelle was noticeably absent.
In the ghost town of Texola we stopped for pie, coffee, and conversation at Tumbleweeds Grill an Country Store better known as Water Hole number 2. This delightful stop provides ample evidence that there is truth in the old adage about looks being deceiving.
The main building is a former café that dates to the 1930s. After decades of abandonment it was recently given a new lease on life. The addition is a recent attachment.
On the inside you will find a charming café that hearkens to an earlier time, a few souvenirs, spotless restrooms with charming touches, good food, and an amicable host. This café needs to be added to the itinerary of all Route 66 travelers.
It was now late morning but we were still on schedule to meet with Larry Clounts of the Texas Route Association in Shamrock and discuss the steering committee and other issues related to building a unified coalition along the entire Route 66 corridor. Unfortunately a family emergency had resulted in Larry having to leave town and so we continued west toward Amarillo.
Our plans called for meeting with Croc Lile and Dora Meroney of the Texas Route 66 Association over lunch at the historic Golden Light Café. However, another schedule confliction prevented us from meeting with Croc as he was on the road visiting with Dale Butel’s fall tour in Tucumcari.
Our meeting with Dora, owner of Texas Ivy Antiques, centered on how best to develop the 6th Avenue corridor in Amarillo into a destination for Route 66 enthusiasts. Of course any meeting seems enjoyable and productive if it takes place in an historic café that serves good food (another excellent buffalo burger) but this one was also enhanced by the camaraderie with Dora who had attended the festival in Kingman.
Our original plan had been to drive through Glenrio, Endee, and San Jon to Tucumcari but the reduced speeds had cut into our available time and so we focused on the interstate and made a stop at Russell’s. As we had stopped for visits and coffee at Circa Espresso Bar (another suggested stop) in Tucumcari on the east bound leg of the trip, we pressed on to Santa Rosa.  
Even though it was getting late, and it was obvious that we were going to miss a planned dinner with Mike and Sharon Ward in Albuquerque, we couldn’t resist stopping for photos as a dramatic storm moved in from the south. Unfortunately we were unable to inform the Ward’s as we lacked cell service.
By the time we hit Albuquerque, it was quite late. Still, we made a delightful discovery in our search for dinner. That, however, is a story for another day.   
   
  

THE JOURNEY HOME BEGINS

The old Meramec River Bridge at Route 66 State Park. (Judy Hinckley)
One week ago today we bid adios to Connie Echols and Cuba, Missouri after a delightful weekend and set out on a leisurely drive to Route 66 State Park. Straddling the Meramec River this beautiful and historic park is rather symbolic of the multifaceted challenges faced by the Route 66 community.
On the west side of the Meramec River, the park is a stunningly beautiful nature preserve on the former site of Times Beach, a small resort community along Route 66. Contaminated by dioxins, in the 1980’s the town became an international poster child for the dangers of environmental degradation and land reclamation.
The east side of the park consists of a section of Route 66 and the visitor center housed in what was once Steiny’s, a roadhouse and hotel. Linking them is the superstructure minus decking of an historic Route 66 bridge.
An exhibit at Route 66 State Park.
As a result, to visit both sides of the park requires a loop drive of miles. It also drastically limits the number of visitors. Partial demolition of the bridge also drove a spike in the areas development of a Route 66 based bicycle trail system. All of this has resulted in an ongoing battle between the State of Missouri, an array of special interest groups, and preservationists.
After making my presentation at the parks open house, answering questions, and signing books, everyone was treated to a complimentary cup of Ted Drewes frozen custard, a St. Louis specialty since 1929. It was late in the afternoon when we said goodbye to friends and set out on the long journey home. 
The issues with the Jeep and the late hour led us to follow the interstate highway to Lebanon. The bland and sterile adventure across Missouri came to a very abrupt end when we arrived at the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon. 
As always, Bob and Ramona, proprietors of the motel since 1974, gave us a warm reception. And as often happens on a Route 66 adventure, the couple met at the Wagon Wheel Motel gift shop early that morning, Jan and Martin Miller, were also checking in. Now we had dinner companions. 
An argument could easily be made that the Munger Moss is the most authentic vintage motel on Route 66. With origins in the 1950s, the motel has been maintained rather than restored. As a result it shows its age here and there but it is spotlessly clean and the atmosphere is without equal.
As Mike and Sharon Ward were also staying at the motel, our dinner party continued to expand in number. We selected Dowd’s upon the recommendation of the Ward’s and no one was disappointed.
Delightful conversation, friends new and old, and excellent food made for a perfect end to the day. Without reservation, I can highly recommend Dowd’s in Lebanon as the food, service, and atmosphere were very good.
The following morning, after checking the oil level in the front differential, my dearest friend and I resumed the homeward journey. Before leaving town we decided to give The Elm Street Eatery a try for breakfast. 
This restaurant also receives a hearty recommendation. It was dated but clean, the staff was very professional and friendly, and the food was quite good. Even better, a breakfast for two was less than ten dollars.
The oil leak became rather series with higher speeds. As a result, we were forced to cut the pace which added hours and necessitated adjustments to the schedule as well as travel plans. 
We followed the interstate to Joplin, and Route 66 into Galena. We missed Melba but were able to meet with Renee Charles, her sister, of the Kansas Route 66 Association. 
In Miami, I succumbed to my craving for another buffalo burger. Waylan’s Ku Ku Burger is more than a local institution, it is an absolute treasure, a true time capsule that hearkens to an era before generic burger stands dominated the roadsides of America.
The adjustments to the travel plans included skipping Afton Station and a stop at Jerry McClanahan’s. We did, however, have an opportunity to explore some of the astounding J.M. Davis collection in Claremore even though we could allow for only a one hour visit.
The facility houses the largest private firearms collection in the world (more than 13,000 pieces, some dating to 1350). That in itself makes it a worthwhile and interesting stop that could easily consume hours.
However, this amazing museum houses far more than just rare, unique (a jackknife pistol, a hand cannon, a ski gun?), and historically significant firearms. It also houses a staggering collection of World War I recruitment posters, Native American artifacts, musical instruments, presidential campaign materials, beer steins, ornate and intricate music boxes, an interesting gift shop, and model railroad display.
This is another stop that I can highly recommend. Even if your not a fancier of guns, I am rather confident you will be fascinated.
The destination for the day was Weatherford. As it was almost 4:30 when we left Claremore, there was little doubt that we would once again be making a late arrival. 
Fortunately Lucille’s Roadhouse was still open for dinner when we arrived. We have stopped here on numerous occasions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have yet to have a bad meal. 
After a pleasant nights rest at the Best Western Mark Motor Hotel, an older property that has obviously been recently refurbished we were ready for another day. An interesting twist to what seems to be the standard breakfast in the lobby at most motels was the issuance of a breakfast voucher upon check in. 
The voucher was good for one of three items from the restaurant next door. Having breakfast with the locals is always a great way to start a day. 
As the days destination was Albuquerque, and the schedule called for meeting with Larry Clounts of the Texas Route 66 Association in Shamrock, and Dora Meroney in Amarillo we set out on the road rather early. Still, we found time for a few discoveries and a bit of exploration but that part of the story will need to be told in the next posting.      
       
       
   

FROM NEVADA TO CUBA AND BACK AGAIN, THE FALL 2014 ADVENTURE

Water’s Edge Motel in Gravois Mills, Missouri.

After bidding adios to our friends at the Water’s Edge Motel in Gravois Mills, we rolled south, first on state highway 5 and then highway 7. The we picked up Route 66 near the Devil’s Elbow and commenced to mosey.

By the time my dearest friend and I made St. Robert after making a number of stops for photos and to explore the beautiful Missouri roadside, the appetite was adequately stimulated. The Route 66 Diner, a passable imitation of a classic 1950’s diner, caught our attention. The food and price was adequate as well as average but it did the trick. 
The long closed store and cabins near Stony Dell east of Arlington.

The next stop has become a favorite of ours, the 4 M Vineyards store just to the east of Fanning, home of the world’s largest rocking chair. This is a real throwback that sparks an array of memories from childhood road trips with every stop. 

We sampled a wide array of interesting breads and goods including corn cob jam. Then we stocked up on fresh pumpkin bread and added a large jar of sorghum. 
The Wagon wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri.

As we drove into Cuba, and past the colorful murals, Shelly’s, and the charming old homes along the shade dappled road that once carried an endless stream of traffic on Route 66, the now familiar sense of warmth that comes with visiting an old friend chased away an entire year of frustrations, job related issues, worry, and anxieties. Then when we arrived at the time capsule that is the Wagon Wheel Motel and found it to be teeming with members of the Route 66 family that feeling was magnified ten fold. 

Only a cursory inspection of the Jeep that revealed a troubling oil leak at the front axle put the slightest of dampers on the warm glow. This, however, was a Route 66 family reunion wrapped in a Norman Rockwell print made manifest in a festival. 

Cuba Fest 2014, Cuba, Missouri. (Judy Hinckley) 

Mike Wallace, a friend from Ohio and a mechanic confirmed my initial thought that with care and an eye on oil levels, we could drive the Jeep back to Arizona. Then Frank Kocevar, the former owner of Seligman Sundries, offered to tow us home if need be. So, with all concerns alleviated, I made a few phone calls in the hope of finding a shop that would be open on Saturday.

When the first garage I called told me they would be closed on Saturday as the owner had promised to take his nephew fishing, I had to smile. Once again I had followed Route 66 down a rabbit hole that took me back to America circa 1958. What a delightful treat!
Excellent food and the camaraderie of friends at Missouri Hick Barbecue proved to be the perfect elixir and soon the Jeep, the oil leak, the long drive home, a pressing deadline, the need to make arrangements for our trip to Los Angeles in November, the Netherlands in January, and a litany of issues that had flitted through my thoughts as we drove east were pushed aside and swept into the corner.

The evening was still young and the best was yet to come. After dinner a small car show developed at the wagon Wheel Motel, a birthday party for Joe Loesch of the Road Crew unfolded, and a Route 66 family reunion commenced in earnest. 

Just like a kid at Christmas, or a pair of Hinckley’s long denied an opportunity for a road trip, we awoke with eager anticipation of the day to come. It commenced with a wonderful breakfast at Shelly’s shared with Mike and Sharon Ward, and Jane Reed.

Then it was off to the commons to set up my table and to kick off the official debut of The Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas. The early morning fall chill, the ebb and flow of crowds, the smell of wood smoke under a kettle of slow cooked apple butter, unhurried conversations with friends, the raising of the stars and stripes with troops from Fort Leonard Wood in attendance, laughing children, excellent music, and good food transformed the day into something almost magical. As a bonus, I sold a number of books!

All to soon, it was time to load up the Jeep and close out another delightful Cuba Fest celebration. This, however, was not the end. There was still an evening to be shared with my dearest friend at the wonderful Belmont Winery, a bottle of dogwood wine, an excellent wood fired pizza, the music of the Road Crew, good friends, and lots of laughter.
Authors Cheryl Eichar Jett and Joe Sonderman at the 2014Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. (Judy Hinckley)

The schedule for Sunday called for a leisurely drive to Route 66 State Park for their open house where I was to make a presentation and sign books, meet with Rich Dinkela to discuss development of his Route 66 events website, and then commencement of the long return trip with the days end scheduled for the Munger Moss in Lebanon. First, however, was a wonderful early morning visit with Connie Echols, owner of the Wagon Wheel Motel, that included pleasant conversation, fresh coffee, and pumpkin bread from the 4-M Vineyards store. 

We were soon joined by Mary Frances of Mid Century Style magazine, and gift shop customers traveling Route 66. What a wonderful way to start a day! 
In the next post, tales of the 2014 fall adventure will continue. Stay tuned as I have a few things to share such as the discovery of a few delightful restaurants, motel reveiws, and an introduction to a stunning museum.  
     

ROAD TRIP, THE FALL 2014 EDITION

The trusty Jeep in Elk City during the fall 2014 road trip.
Being somewhat technologically impaired (a fancy way of saying that I just don’t seem to get it) hindered regular postings during our road trip, the fall 2014 edition. These problems were compounded by very long days on the road that resulted in some pretty late arrivals at motels, some early starts that found us enjoying the sunrise as it unfolded over the highway, and the simple fact that some of our evenings were consumed with the need to restock supplies, lively conversations, incredible dinners with friends, good music, and in general, good times.
As there was a need for speed on day one, we followed I-40 to Holbrook for lunch at Joe & Aggies with David Heward, a local with very long roots in the community that is becoming a leader in the rebirth of the historic city. Then it was back on the road with an eye on Santa Rosa and a dinner at Joseph’s with Dean Kennedy, a friend with a shared passion for Route 66 and the people that make it special.
An oasis in Guymon, Oklahoma
The following day was another long one with the final destination being El Dorado, Kansas a few miles to the east of Wichita. Magnifying the long hours was the vast emptiness of the Panhandle of Texas and Oklahoma, and western Kansas.
The saving grace during the first half of the day was the discovery of a wonderful little restaurant in Guymon, Oklahoma. Our second stop later that afternoon merely fueled a very long running joke that is now well into its third decade.
From our very first road trip as husband and wife, when an attraction failed to meet expectations, or was deemed a bit hokey, I would quip that it was the World’s Largest Hand Dug Well. Well, on this trip my plans was to introduce my dearest friend to this one of a kind road side attraction that is the claim to fame in Greensburg, Kansas. 
On my last visit the well was surround by a beautiful park and covered by a gazebo type roof. Now, the park is still there but the well is encased in a shrine, a shrine that I might add, closed ten minutes before our arrival. The joke continues.
The third day marked the start of a more relaxed pace for our adventure. After a wonderful and hearty breakfast, we explored a beautiful park that embraces an intriguing county and oil field museum. 
The next stop was Fort Scott, the historic community as well as the fort itself. This will most definitely be added to our very long list of must see places. 
The historic district is truly an architectural treasure. It is also amply peppered with wonderful shops (including a book store!) and restaurants. 
The fort itself is scenic as well as historic. Walking the grounds, and exploring the buildings with exhibits that captures the essence of military life on the frontier, there is an almost palpable sense of history. 
The morning view from our room at the Water’s EdgeMotel in Gravois Mills, Missouri.
In El Dorado Springs, Missouri, we discovered an unexpected time capsule in the form of a small café where everyone smoked. The waitress, the cook, the cashier and most everyone except for the kid coloring his menu and enjoying his grilled cheese sandwich seemed to have a cigarette hanging from their mouth. 
To be honest I had almost forgotten what it was like when restaurants were often as smoky as a skid row pool room. I seem to have also forgotten that there was a time when I contributed to the foul atmosphere. 
As it has been a tough year for us, and as this was our first major road trip in 2014, I had a surprise for my wife in the guise of a beautiful lake cradled by mountains bedecked in fall colors. The bonus was to be our haven for the evening, the Water’s Edge Motel, a wonderful gem that hearkens to a time before the Lake of the Ozarks was almost entirely ringed by condos and resorts. 
As this motel is accessed by a relatively short but extraordinarily scenic drive from Route 66, I wholeheartedly suggest travelers consider adding it to the travel itinerary.
Water’s Edge Motel, Gravois Mills, Missouri.
Enhancing our visit was an excellent dinner and wonderful conversation shared with Bob Swengrosh, and Robin, friends as well as the proprietors of this wonderful motel and ardent Route 66 enthusiasts. Our only regret was that the pressing schedule prevented staying for a second, or third, or fourth day.
It was a late start day. The stunning sunrise, a hearty breakfast, as well as coffee and conversation shared with our hosts, kept us from hitting the road until almost 10:00.
We meandered south and picked up Route 66 just east of Lebanon, and then motored through the Devil’s Elbow on our way to Cuba. And that is where will pick up the story with our next posting.         
 
 


MORE NOTES FROM THE ROAD

Shortly after arriving in Cuba, in the process of checking oil, tires, and the overall condition of the Jeep after a run of almost 1,800 miles in three days I discovered a slight oil leak at the left front axle. After a fruitless effort to find a repair facility I decided that the options were limited to two; drive it carefully while keeping an eye on the differential oil level or towing it home.
To make an informed decision it seemed a good idea to contact Penske Truck Leasing and find out what the cost for a truck and trailer would be. With that one phone call the options narrowed to one, drive.
Incredibly, a visitor to Cuba Fest from Arizona offered to tow the Jeep back for us. The generosity of the Route 66 community never ceases to amaze me.
However, as we did not want to ask the good Samaritan to adjust their schedule by a day, and as I thought that we could avoid problems by taking it easy, we bid adios to our benefactor and set out for Route 66 State Park on Sunday morning.
After the presentation and the signing of a dozen or so books, my dearest friend and I head west with plans to end the day at Lebanon and the Munger Moss Motel. Keeping the speed down prevented a serious loss of oil but it added a few hours to the trip.
After a wonderful visit with Bob and Ramona, the proprietors of the time capsule that is the Munger Moss, we met Mike and Sharon Ward, and a couple met in the motel lobby, for dinner at Dowds, an excellent restaurant.
The planned schedule was adjusted to compensate for the slower speeds, and we set out the following morning for Galena, Kansas. After meeting with Renee Charles of the Kansas Route 66 Association, we had lunch (an excellent buffalo burger) at Waylan’s KuKu Burger in Miami, Oklahoma.
Then with our eyes on Weatherford, and with diminished speeds in mind, we alternated between Route 66 and the turnpike. We missed Laurel Kane at Afton Station, spent an hour at the astounding JM Davis museum, missed Jerry McClanahan, and after a nice dinner at Lucille’s Roadhouse, hit the motel near 10:00.
As we were to meet with Pat Smith at the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, we didn’t hit the road until just after 8:00. After talking with Pat, and signing books, we moved on to the National Route 66 Museum and signed books there.
Pie and coffee at Watering Hole #2 in Texola was followed with a stop at the U Drop Inn in Shamrock for a meeting with Larry Clounts of the Texas Route 66 Association. Unfortunately a family situation resulted in him having to leave town and the postponement of our meeting.
The next stop was a meeting with “Texas Ivey” and lunch at the historic Golden Light restaurant in Amarillo. By now it was near three, and we were dealing with another issue in the guise of a chirping AC compressor and a hint of metal shavings at the compressor head.
There was little we could do but drive west, at a reduced speed. As a result, we missed the planned dinner with Mike and Sharon Ward in Albuquerque.
Still, there was a silver lining in the form of stunning storm that enhanced our photo shoot in Montoya. Wait until you see this!Now, it is time to unwind at the Monterrey Non Smokers Motel in Albuquerque with a cold bottle of beer. In the morning we will say a prayer, top off the differential, have breakfast with Mike and Sharon, and prepare for a long day on the road.    
    
 
  

A FEW UPDATES FROM THE ROAD

Okay, postings have been a bit sporadic but rest assured that in the coming days a detailed report with photos will be provided as there are an array of exciting developments on the road. I also want to share a few information about interesting restaurants and attractions discovered on our fall 2014 adventure.
At this time the schedule and technical difficulties only allow for a brief summary.
Lets see, after leaving Lake of the Ozarks we rolled south to pick up Route 66 just to the west of Devils Elbow. We were looking for some fall color to dress up a few photos, and were also evaluating a GPS based Route 66 tour program.
It was a leisurely drive through stunning landscapes. Indicative of just how leisurely the drive was is the fact that we made the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba just after three in the afternoon; about 130 miles in five hours that included a pleasant lunch at the Route 66 Diner.
Shortly after arrival the Route 66 family reunion that included Dean Kennedy, Frank Kocevar, Mike and Sharon Ward, my dearest friend, Joe Sonderman, and a few others moved to Missouri Hick Barbecue. Laughter, stories, and good food set the mood for the rest of the evening.
The Wagon Wheel Motel was ground zero for a birthday party for Joe Loesch of the Road Crew, vintage cars, a bonfire, and warm cider to keep the fall chill at bay. It was the type of event that exemplifies the essence of a gathering of Route 66 enthusiasts.
On Saturday morning, after breakfast at Shelly’s (excellent!) with Mike and Sharon War, Jane Reed, and my dearest friend, we moved to the main event. Simply put, if Norman Rockwell organized events, Cuba Fest would be his baby.
What a wonderful day! To top off a spectacular day there was dinner, the music of the Road Crew, wine, and friends at the Belmont Winery east of town.
Sunday started with coffee, fresh pumpkin bread, and inspirational conversation shared with Connie Echols, the proprietor at the Wagon Wheel Motel. Then it was off to Route 66 State Park for my presentation at their annual open house, and a meeting with Tommy Pike of the Missouri Route 66 Association, Rich Dinkela, Joe Sonderman, and Mike Ward.
We are closing out the day, and the weekend, at the Munger Moss in Lebanon, after another tremendous dinner, and wonderful conversation shared with Bob and Ramona Lehman. ,


FROM THE ROAD, AGAIN – PART TWO

Last evenings post was a bit truncated but it had been very long day and I was behind on correspondence.
The drive from Tucumcari northeast on U.S. 54 will never make a top ten list for scenic wonders. Still, there is a stark beauty to the featureless hills that roll toward the distant horizon like swells on the sea.
Dalhart is a bustling community but it has a feel of a rough and tumble, worn at the heal sort of place. Guymon was just the opposite and we enjoyed a pleasant lunch with the locals at Marla’s.
We crossed into Kansas at Liberal, and rolled across the high plains on our eastward journey. For years my dearest friend and I have had a running joke about the world’s largest hand dug well at Greensburg. That joke continues.
On my last visit the well was in a little park covered by a wood shingled gazebo. Now it is housed in a stunning shrine, that closed ten minutes before we arrived.
Greensburg itself is no joke. The community was almost erased by a tornado several years ago but they had the grit to pull together and rebuild.
By the time we made Pratt, the landscape had transformed into a beautiful green tapestry dotted with interesting old towns peppered with an array of architectural gems. Wait until you see the photos of the theater at Iola!
The late day ended at El Dorado just east of Wichita. Dinner was a simple affair of microwave food from Walmart, and a couple of beers.
The following morning kicked off with a hearty breakfast at the El Dorado Chop House and a stop at the oil museum that dominates a beautiful park. The next stop was to explore historic Fort Scott, the city as well as the military outpost. This should be added to every adventurers list.
From Fort Scott we rolled through the Ozarks with a stop for lunch at El Dorado Springs, and stops to take in the fall covers. The days destination was the Waters Edge Motel at Gravois Mills on the Lake of the Ozarks, a special treat for my dearest friend and an opportunity to visit with our friends Bob and Robin.
This is a short but scenic drive north of Route 66 and if time allows it should be added to a list of detours. Stunning scenery, an excellent dinner, and wonderful conversation rounded a perfect day of adventure on one of America’s wonderful two lane highways through the heartland.
Today, we head south, pick up Route 66 near the Devil’s Elbow, and head for the festivities at Cuba. 

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