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.   
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