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.
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.
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.
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 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.