Perhaps it is the fact that December is the last month of the year or the memories associated with the holiday season. Maybe its a dawning realization that a new year is about to begin. In either case there is something about the festive season between Thanksgiving and Christmas that seems to unleash a torrent of reflections and meditations, and a touch of eager anticipation.
This year the later is rather easy to explain. My dearest friend and I will be stepping way beyond our traditional realm of adventures that involve a Jeep laden with a staggering array of supplies and gear, and the road less traveled.
We will be stepping into the unfamiliar, and as a result frustrating and anxiety inducing world of the airport in January. As I am an explorer that carries gear and supplies for most any conceivable contingency, the concept of traveling with merely a suitcase is akin to setting out on a cross country adventure without pants.
Okay, January may not be an ideal time for the exploration of the Netherlands. Still, in spite of these obstacles we are eager to start a new year with an opportunity to visit with friends new and old, share the wonders of Route 66 with European enthusiasts, and explore places that ring with centuries of history.
That is the kick off for what promises to be a most exciting year. The work of the World monuments Fund and National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program facilitated steering community will most likely kick into high gear in 2015, and that in itself is reason to look toward next year with eager anticipation.
Added excitement is found in the ongoing development of the electric vehicle museum in Kingman, the surge in media interest in Route 66 as evidenced by this recent article in The Press Enterprise, the event in Edwardsville, meeting with tour groups, the Adventure Caravan Route 66 adventures, and a myriad of events and developments all along the double six, and in the Route 66 community.
As is usually the case, the reflections and meditations that fill thoughts during this season are sepia tinged and just a bit faded. They are also tempered with a sense of passing time, the brevity of life, and what memories are worth making.
Here is to a memory making holiday season, and a memorable 2015.
When Cyrus Avery and his band of capitalistic visionaries came together in February 1927 and initiated marketing of Route 66 as the Main Street of America through their newly minted U.S. Highway 66 Association, an American icon was born. From the now world famous End of the Trail sign, brainchild of Dan Rice, and the Bob Waldmire display at Mannie Mendelson’s Last Stop Shop at the very end of Santa Monica Pier (several blocks from the actual terminus of the double six) to Grant Park in Chicago this storied old highway has become a living time capsule. It is America’s goodwill ambassador, and an icon where myth and reality, and the past, present, and future intermingle. Is there any symbol more popular anywhere in the world than the U.S. highway shield shaped sign adorned with the double six?
In the years between the Avery inspired marketing campaign that transformed the double six from highway to icon and the current renaissance, a passionate legion of business owners, artists, public officials, and hopeless romantics ensured that Route 66 always remained the Main Street of America. They kept it alive and vibrant through the dark days of the Great Depression, the somber years of World War II, the glory days of the 1950’s, and the roads twilight as it was replaced mile by mile by the new and modern. When it seemed as though the old road would soon be relegated to footnote like its predecessors the National Old Trails Highway and Santa Fe Trail, the Mojave Road and Spanish Trail, the ember was kept glowing as they awaited a day when the old road would once again be the Main Street of America, as well as a bridge that spanned the chasm between past and future.
Members of the Czech Route 66 Association in Kingman, Arizona.
Even though the old road is more popular today than at anytime in its storied history, many of the problems and challenges faced by the Route 66 community now are much like those faced in 1930, 1940, and 1960. The difference between now and then is that there isn’t a U.S. Highway 66 Association to shepherd the roads promotion, provide assistance to the Route 66 community as a whole, or foster a sense of unified community purpose. In the years between the roads official demise, and its rise from the ashes like the mythical Phoenix, state and international organizations have valiantly fought preservationist battles, made tremendous strides in preserving the highways legacy as well as tangible links to its past, and promoted it throughout the world. Grass roots initiatives, the tireless work of the National Historic Route 66 Federation, the dream of Michael Wallis made manifest in the Route 66 Alliance, and the innovative endeavors in cities such as Pontiac and Cuba have fanned the ember into a blaze and as a result, the old double six is arguably the most famous highway in the world. Still, in recent years, as the road grew in popularity and the challenges became more daunting, there has been a growing outcry for creation of a modern incarnation of the U.S. Highway 66 Association. In part, this is due to an increasing awareness that there is a need for an organization that can magnify current promotional and preservationist endeavors while eliminating wasted resources of finances and time that result from duplication. An additional catalyst is the dramatic increase in media interest in the highway, the lack of a central clearing house for information, and the resultant frustrations and misinformation that result. When Open Road Productions initiated development of their corporate tours for Chinese clients, the company made over fifty phone calls to obtain information. The organizers of the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman had to create a network of contacts for authors, artists, speakers, and Route 66 personalities as a central bureau for these individuals is non existent. When a major New York based catalog company sought information and images for a forthcoming catalog, they too were left to their own devises. Resultant of a lack of a central clearing house for accurate information, a recent tour of Canadian journalists sponsored by Nissan led to the publication of some erroneous information, and stories based on opinions derived from five minute stops. These examples and countless others magnify the need for the development of an umbrella organization that lends assistance to grass roots initiatives, serves as a central point of contact for media sources, provides an array of resources for organizations and municipalities, and that raises awareness of the importance of preservation through educational programs. To that end, last November the World Monuments Fund facilitated an historic gathering, the Route 66: The Road Ahead strategic round table in Anaheim, California. Discussions during that conference, the response to the conference from the Rout 66 community, and related studies led to the creation of a steering committee, and that committees first meeting took place in Albuquerque last week. What an exciting and historic event! As a follow up to the Route 66: The Road Ahead strategic roundtable held > in Anaheim, California last year, World Monuments Fund and the National > Park Service, Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program (NPS) are > facilitating a transparent and inclusive process to develop a national > framework for collaboration along historic Route 66. To jump-start the > process, an ad-hoc steering committee was formed for the purpose of > developing initial recommendations for the broad stakeholder committee > to consider. The steering committee is comprised of representatives from > state agencies, state and national nonprofits, tourism, preservation, > small business, economic development, and transportation. To date, the > steering committee has developed a draft statement of mission and goals. > The draft statement included the concept of establishing one > professionally-led, representative body with an elected board, to > deliver on strategic goals, convene meetings, act as a central resource > and represent the road as a whole. On November 20-21, the steering > committee convened in Albuquerque, NM to incorporate the very positive > public feedback into the draft mission and goals statement, and to > develop a proposed structure for the representative body. Details of the > draft/proposed structure will be made available to the public shortly. > The next critical step is to create a face-to-face forum for broad > stakeholder discussion and input. To this end, a series of stakeholder > meetings, facilitated by the National Park Service, will be held across > the route in early 2015 to bring Route 66 stakeholders together to > review and discuss the recommendations developed thus far. More > information about these meetings will be provided in early 2015. Even though the release of an official press release is pending, initial information bodes well for the Route 66 community as this endeavor has the potential to ensure the road remains relevant and increases in popularity in coming years. It also represents an incredible opportunity for the fostering of a unified sense of community and community purpose. Rest assured, I will keep you apprised of developments as they become available. Now, to close out today’s post, I want to tell you about a few things to be expected in coming weeks. As you may have noted from the advertisement at the top of the blog, and by reading recent posts, my dearest friend and I are heading for the Netherlands in January as guests of the Dutch Route 66 Association, and U.S. Bikers. In preparation for the upcoming trip, correspondence, research, and language studies have inspired some thoughts on how we in the American Route 66 community can better serve our visitors from foreign lands who share a passion for the double six, and how we can promote the old double six in other countries. These insights, discoveries, and ideas will be shared in coming postings, and I hope they will initiate some lively discussion. As a bit of a preview of what you will see in the coming weeks here are two links that might be of interest. One, a informative series on learning basic Dutch phrases and languages, with some cultural insights. Two, an inclusive website with an array of information on planning for a European adventure.
I expected to receive a number of inquiries pertaining to the recent meeting of the ad-hoc steering committee in Albuquerque facilitated by the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and World Monuments Fund. Still, the number of these inquiries received, and the overall tenor that indicated cautious optimism was most surprising.
Author Jim Hinckley with members of the Dutch Route 66 Association and a U.S. Bikers tour. U.S. Bikers
A formal release will be published later this week and I would prefer to wait upon that before sharing my opinion or providing an in depth assessment and evaluation. However, as noted in my response to emails and phone calls, I left the meeting filled with optimism, enthusiasm, and excitement. The steering committee that represented a wide array of diverse interests associated with Route 66 gave careful consideration to historical precedent set by the creation of the U.S. Highway 66 Association, the needs of the Route 66 community as presented during the Crossroads of the Past and Future Conference at the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, the conference in Anaheim last November, and the response to that conference, and unanimously drafted a mission and goals statement for development of a professionally led, representative body with an elected board.
With that said, I ask for patience in regard to details or action. These things take time to properly develop, coordinate, and structure.
Next, a few updates on our pending adventure to the Netherlands in January. At the top of the blog is an advertisement created by Willem Bor for the Dutch Route 66 Association.
At this juncture it is not possible to promise that I will have books to sell during this informal meet and greet. There are an array of issues pertaining to shipping, taxes, etc. to be resolved. Still, it would be my pleasure to sign books for anyone who brings their personal copies, and to answer questions, provided you don’t expect an intelligible response in Dutch, German, or French.
In the morning I will finalize arrangements with U.S. Bikers for our primary appearance which be at the Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht. The basic plan at this time is for me to be at their booth to answer questions pertaining to Route 66 and tourism in America. Details will be provided as soon as they are available.
Needless to say I am quite excited by this opportunity. We look forward to visiting with our European friends and neighbors, and instilling a bit of excitement for an adventure on historic Route 66.
Judging by correspondence received pertaining to the Route 66 conference and related activities being planned for the end of October next year in Edwardsville, Illinois, that is also a topic of interest. As I am only a consultant on this endeavor I lack detail aside from the fact that work is ongoing to ensure the event is unique as well as fun, and that it meets the needs of the Route 66 community.
I will close this out today with a few notes pertaining to the ordering of books using the Paypal link with drop down menu at the top of the blog. If in ordering a copy of Travel Route 66 you receive a notice that it is sold out, please let me know.
I have an adequate supply of the other titles in stock but this book is being reordered. As soon as they are available I will let you know, and special arrangement will be made to expedite shipping.
At this time I can only offer domestic shipping, media mail. Other options are being evaluated.
As an added bonus, the next twenty-five orders of any title will receive a special limited edition Route 66 souvenir at no additional charge.
If you would prefer to support a worthy organization or great mom and pop book store with your purchase, the National Historic Route 66 Federation is offering The Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas in their on line store, and Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank (they ship) has a limited supply of autographed copies of this book as well as other Route 66 titles by Jim Hinckley.
Even though the travel, meetings, tours, and business of the past ten days has once again derailed the schedule for completion of the current book, I am still confident of meeting the deadline of December 31, especially if assistance is received in regard to the acquisition of suitable taxi related images. Help!
Okay, last week I provided a few details about the recent trip to California that included a book signing in Burbank as well as at the Autry National Center, a Scott Piotrowski led adventure on various alignments of Route 66 between Pasadena and the original western terminus of that highway, and discussions pertaining to the 90th anniversary Route 66 celebration proposed for Los Angeles. I seem to have forgotten to provide a review of a most delightful little coffee shop that we discovered just off of Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank.
It was one of those wonderful accidental discoveries that is almost providential in nature. We arrived in Burbank early and decided to get a cup of coffee and a pastry at Portos on Magnolia Boulevard but a line that stretched have way down the block discouraged us.
As I had noticed a charming sidewalk café between Portos and Auto Books – Aero Books, we selected that as our new destination. In the process of looking for a parking place, I turned onto Lima Street, parked the car, and then noticed that we were in front of Simply Coffee. What an absolute treasure!
The next item (or items) of interest pertain to the recent trip to Albuquerque, attendance of the World Monuments Fund Steering Committee that developed resultant of the conference in Anaheim last year, and a bit of exploration on the way home.
In answer to the requests for information received in the last few days, basic details will be coming soon in the form of an official press release. Detailed information about the historic and exciting proceedings will follow in a month or so when transcripts are complete and data compiled. Please be just a bit patient.
The historic Hotel Andaluz served as base camp for the steering committee volunteers, and as a most interesting place to explore. As a bonus it was also conveniently located to an historic strip of Central Avenue, the course for post 1937 Route 66.
After decades of neglect, general abuse, and closure, this stunning old facility recently received a new lease on life with complete refurbishment. As an interesting footnote it represents an historic moment in time as this was the cornerstone for establishment of the Conrad Hilton hotel empire.
After a long day consumed by meetings and discussions, which was preceded by a long day that included time at the office and a 480 mile drive, a walk on Central Avenue seemed an appropriate way to unwind.
Evidence abounds to indicate that this district is on the upswing. In every block there are busy shops, clubs, sidewalk cafes, and restaurants, Historic but empty buildings face the street with renovated facades. Additional evidence is found in the restored Kimo Theater, road improvements, and colorful signage. Still, there are ample vestiges of a recent time when this corridor was on the fast track toward decline.
Last vestige of a motel in Grants.
As a result, to walk the corridor at night is to be immersed in an interesting atmosphere tinged with occasional apprehension that invigorates. There is a definite sense of vitality, and of enthusiasm but there is also a tangible feel of the despair that permeates an area that has seen better times.
The ebb and flow of crowds taking in the sites, attending the theater, heading to dinner or roaming from club to club, as well as extensive indication of recent construction at every turn, the road improvements, and the glow of colorful signage, including a bit of neon, and a pleasant dinner at Lindy’s, ensured a restorative walk. In fact, I so enjoyed the outing my steps were retraced on the second evening, but on that occasion other Greek menu items were sampled.
After completion of business, and a pleasant lunch shared with Kevin Mueller, one quarter of the Blue Swallow Motel team, I turned my attentions toward the long drive home. Even though it was late afternoon, and I was a bit weary as well as anxious to get home to see my dearest friend, the cloud speckled skies, and the soft glow of a late afternoon autumn sun compelled me to follow the broken asphalt of the old double six westward, and to cruise the streets of Grants and Gallup in search of suitable subjects for my camera.
The sun sank in the west before I made the Arizona line and so with reluctance, and a growing awareness of how tired I was, the wheels were applied to the interstate highway with steely determination. My one deviation was a quick stop at Safeway in Holbrook for anything suitable for a dinner behind the wheel, and a few quick shots of some neon under a starlit sky.
Now, attentions turn toward the future. Next week my dearest friend and I will finalize arrangements for the trip to the Netherlands in January. That should kick the year off on a most interesting note!
Once everything is confirmed, details and a schedule of appearances will be posted.
Today I met with Barry and Terry Klein of Adventure Caravans to discuss plans for two Route 66 tours that they are developing for 2015. Piloting class A coaches along the old double six will present a few obstacles not encountered in my developmental work with other tour groups.
In closing, I would like to provide a few additional updates. On December 11, another planning session for the development of the new and improved Andy Devine Days celebration that will include a Route 66 element is scheduled. Details on this will be provided as well.
On the way to Albuquerque, I met with David Heward in Holbrook. It looks as though their second annual Route 66 celebration being scheduled for June of 2015 will be something to make plans for.
That takes us to Thanksgiving. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, as we rush to activities and dinners, I hope that there will be an opportunity to take a deep breath, and give thought to the ideal behind this holiday.
Our recent explorations of Los Angeles piqued our curiosity about locations, buildings, and the course of Route 66 itself. So, even though I seem to have an aversion to places with more than three stoplights you can rest assured that a return visit is envisioned.
Meanwhile, if you would like to plan for, or make your own voyage of discovery, the Route 66 Los Angeles website has a page that provides step by step directions of the various alignments of Route 66.
In 2014, issues at the office, development of the Route 66 International Festival, and other assorted issues limited travel time and hindered our traditions of weekend adventures this year. Still, we managed to squeeze in a few odysseys that should provide adequate fodder for our annual restaurant and motel reviews posting. That is being planned for the Thanksgiving weekend.
Meanwhile, at least through January, it looks as though there will be ample fodder for interesting adventures and opportunity of the domestic as well as international variety. It begins this morning with a trip to Albuquerque and attendance of the World Monuments Fund steering committee.
As indicated last evening in my regular letter to the state Route 66 associations, I am hoping to have a good report. In either case updates will be provided.
Then, on my return, plans will be finalized for a trip to the Netherlands and attendance of the travel fair (Vakantiebeurs) where I will speak on Route 66, and answer questions, at the behest of U.S. Bikers. Dries Bessels of the Dutch Route 66 Association is also finalizing plans that may be of interest to our European friends as well as Route 66 enthusiasts.
“Om nu alvast in je agenda te noteren:
op zondagmiddag 11 januari zal de beroemde amerikaanse auteur Jim Hinckly in Amsterdam zijn om met mensen kennis te maken, handen te schudden en boeken te signeren! We verzamelen vanaf een uur of 1400 …in het proeflokaal van bierbrouwerij De Prael, nog geen 5 minuten lopen van het centraal station. Hopelijk komen jullie allemaal die kant op!
To note in your diary now: on Sunday afternoon January 11th will be the famous American author Jim Hinckly in Amsterdam are acquainted with people, to shake hands and sign books! We are collecting from 1400 in the tasting room of beer brewery De Prael, less than a 5-minute walk from the main train station. Hopefully all of you that way!
In between the two adventures, there is a book to finish, and more meetings pertaining to the development of a Route 66 link to the traditional Andy Devine Days celebration. Add in traditional Christmas activities and the next few weeks should be most interesting.