In recent years there was an effort to link Route 66 with Detroit and other communities in the valiant hope that some of that highways stunning renaissance and magic might rub off. Well, my dad always told me that if you head east far enough you will be out west but Route 66 only runs from a park in Chicago to a point just east of a park in Santa Monica. Technically, as the highway no longer officially exists, there is less than a slim chance of it being extended at either end.
|Left to right, Swa Frantzen, Nadine, and Croc Lile
The community of Route 66, however, is truly international in scope. As evidence I present our next odyssey, a Route 66 adventure of epic proportions.
In a few short weeks my dearest friend and I will set out on a Route 66 adventure of epic proportions that begins with handing the keys to the castle to the caretaker, motoring northwest one hundred miles on U.S. 93, formerly U.S. 466, and running the gauntlet of security and the meeting of connecting flights at a few airports. The destination is Amsterdam in the Netherlands, a city located to the east of the original terminus of Route 66 in Chicago.
Dries Bessels, and his dear wife Marion, in conjunction with the Dutch Route 66 Association are hosting an open house reception at de Prael (the advertisement with information is at the top of the blog). That in itself is quite exciting.
Then, last evening I received a message that Swa Frantzen and his wife, pioneers in the Route 66 renaissance movement, will be traveling from Belgium to attend. His Historic 66 website is the oldest of its kind with origins dating to 1994.
Even though a number of requests have been received it will not be possible for me to bring books. The cost of shipping, customs, and an array of factors make it prohibitive. Still, if anyone attending the festivities brings a copy of one of my books, it would truly be my pleasure to add a signature.
The following weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we will be at Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht. As this is one of the largest holiday and tourism fairs in Europe, I am quite excited by this unprecedented opportunity to introduce a new audience to the magic, charm, and excitement of a Route 66 adventure.
I will be at the U.S. Biker and USA Holiday booth to answer questions, and to sign books for those who stop by. Times are yet to be confirmed but I will also be making three thirty minute presentations, one each day, on Route 66 to a general audience. Details will be provided as they become available.
This will truly be a Route 66 adventure of epic proportions!
To close out the morning I would like to remind you that Rich Dinkela and his wife have provided the Route 66 community with a delightful gift, the Events on Route 66 website. Now it is up to each and every one us if the website is to become the valuable resource envisioned.
|Female cab driver during World War I (Library of
The deadline for the current book project is actually February 1, 2015. However, as we will be in the Netherlands for almost half of January, the self imposed deadline is December 31. So, most of yesterday was spent in the office ensconced among shelves filled with books, towering piles of newspaper reprints, reference materials in various forms from post it notes to print outs and boxes of materials from the book I wrote about Checker some years ago.
As the overall theme for the work is the violent evolution of the American taxi industry from 1899 to present, in the boardroom as well as on the street, mayhem and malfeasance have been a near constant companion for the past few months. However, as this is the Christmas season, there has been ample opportunity to escape the darkness and brighten the mood with the occasional foray into the lighthearted madness that is going to any store in America during this time of the year.
This book is a bit of a deviation from recent projects that centered on Route 66 and adventures on the road less traveled. However, it is also a return to my roots as for a full decade more than ninety percent of my published work centered on the American auto industry between 1885 and 1940.
A primary regret during the infancy of my career as an author was the fact that I did not record the fascinating stories of the men and women whose lives intertwined with the automobile during this period. I suppose this would be one reason for the enjoyment derived from reading the stories compiled by David Dickinson in The Old Car Nut Book series (available on Amazon.com).
However, these books do more than preserve tales of cars and often misspent youth in decades past. They are also a time capsule from an era when youth and the automobile were inseparable.
If you have a car nut in your family, a crazy uncle who loves telling tales of hot rods, deuce coupes, and street racing in their ’58 Chevy, these books just might be the perfect Christmas gift.
As we are on the subject of Christmas gifts, Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio surprised me with a visit and a gift of a set of Route 66 bar glasses. Sir, thank you.
Each and every Christmas, I find myself amazed by how quickly the years has passed. It seems as though my dearest friend and I were just celebrating our first Christmas together and now our son is making traditions for his family.
Well, its time to get back to work. I hope each and everyone of you can take the time to enjoy this most unique season, use it to reflect on years gone by, and the possibilities of a year to come.
Today’s post title may seem a bit odd but I can explain, honestly. Lets begin with the latter.
Ron Warnick at Route 66 News recently published a fascinating poll to determine what the top ten icons are on Route 66. Results to date are rather interesting.
First, some of the attractions are associated with Route 66 but they are not technically on that highway (Cadillac Ranch, Big Texan, Santa Monica Pier, to name a few). Still, many of these locations apparently rate quite high on the popularity scale with the Route 66 community.
In my humble opinion this is indicative of the modern incarnation of Route 66. On this old highway myth and reality are intertwined to create a perception, a romanticized vision of a magical place where adventure beckons and dreams come true. It is a state of mind loosely based on history and fact, a place where the Norman Rockwell style American experience lives on.
The second item of interest is found in the attractions that top the list at this time, and those that rank near the bottom. Again, only my opinion, but the results as of this morning verify what I have long suspected – the segments of Route 66 in the Los Angeles metropolitan area could very well be the least explored by enthusiasts.
I also see another long held concept verified in the poll. Those places that weave historical accuracy and atmosphere with sincere hospitality, and that provide special service beyond what is expected by the customer, are the very cornerstone for the growing fascination with Route 66.
Another items I see in the poll is that enthusiasts also enjoy a bit of whimsy on their journey through history and the heartland. Take the popularity of the park in Winslow or the Blue Whale as an indicator.
Now, the purist may be disturbed by what they see in the poll. However, what must be kept in mind is that historic context is crucial to the overall Route 66 experience but I don’t think many enthusiasts would really relish the idea of experiencing the road as described in The Grapes of Wrath or repairing the third flat tire of the day under a blazing desert sun.
It will be interesting to see what icons top the list when the poll closes. Meanwhile, as in Chicago, vote early and vote often.
Now, lets talk crystal ball. In 1946, Ford Motor Company launched an incredibly successful advertising campaign that centered on a crystal ball and the slogan, “There is a Ford in your future.”
I find the advertisements rather fitting for a discussion on Route 66. For the foreseeable future, there is a Route 66 in our future. The roads popularity is far from cresting. In fact, it seems as though the highways popularity is exponentially increasing with each passing year.
If for no reason other than this, Rich Dinkela’s work made manifest in the new Events on Route 66 website, and the initiative facilitated by the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and World Monuments Fund, assume a magnified sense of importance. Now, more than at any time in the highways history, there is a need for a central representative organization that connects the dots, if you will, to foster the development of a sense of unity and unified purpose within the international Route 66 community.
Assuming the role of soothsayer, I predict that this organization will begin to take shape next year. First there will be the release of information and details about the recent steering committee meeting in Albuquerque, and then there will be a series of public meetings for the presentation of the draft statement and structure proposal developed by that committee.
I will also predict that the creation of this organization will foster a new golden era along the Route 66 corridor from Chicago to Santa Monica. It will also ensure that the road remains relevant, vibrant, and of importance well into its second century.
Now, as to the last reference, in recent weeks I increasingly find myself relating to Alice as in Alice and Wonderland. At every turn something new and miraculous appears. As the adventure progresses, I also feel a growing awareness of just how far behind the times we are. Then, as each new and wondrous discovery leads me further down unfamiliar paths, there is a sense of anxiety tinged with eager anticipation.
This may be encapsulated in the pending adventure to the Netherlands but this is not the only example. In fact, most every aspect of my life seems to fit within this category.
The publicist is suggesting development of podcasts and a Youtube channel to a man who only recently acquired the most basic of cell phones, is making a valiant effort to decipher e-tickets, and made the first trip using GPS this fall.
I am enamored with the wizardry of tablets and similar devices even though adventures with a laptop has just commenced. As I work my way through maps and atlases with a compass, pencil, and paper, fellow lost highway enthusiasts pass about what seems to be almost magical screen shots from Google earth and other sources.
Yes, my friends, the title for today’s post is rather apt indeed.
First, a delightful Christmas present for the Route 66 community from Rick Dinkela and his obviously supportive wife. The Events on Route 66 website is live!Free postings for events and Route 66 related meetings, $5.00 per month business card advertisement, and an interactive map ensure that this will become a very valued resource for the entire community, provided the Route 66 community helps build it and promote it. The site is pretty self explanatory but for general information contact Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org. In regards to a somewhat related Route 66 endeavor it is now less than thirty days until we turn over the homestead to our able caretaker, motor northwest to sin city, and set off on our first international adventure. Only a few minor details are yet to be resolved (carry on only or checked bags plus carry on, the schedule for when we are to be at the U.S. Biker booth during the travel fair in Utrecht, etc.).
Due in large part to the number of friends and acquaintances on the other side of the pond eagerly offering assistance, and the Dutch Route 66 association sponsored event at de Prael, there is less apprehension about exploring the Netherlands than there is about seeking the wonders of Chicago.
My dearest friend has an ear for languages and is picking up enough of the language to ensure we can at least order food and find the bathroom. I, on the other hand, have fallen short.
The schedule has not been conducive to dedicating time for study. Still, I have picked up a few phrases and words.
Even though English is a pretty common language in the Netherlands, in my mind it is a show of respect to be able to understand and speak at least a bit of the native language. To this I would add that for those of us whose lives are intertwined with Route 66, it might be a good idea to pick up some basic phrases in various languages. I know most business owners already do this.
Still, wouldn’t it be a nice gesture if the service people along the road could say good morning in German, Dutch, or French? After all, our visitors have run a gauntlet of airport terminals and customs officials, endured hours upon hours entombed in a high flying beer can, and spent a great sum of money to get here. Besides, in the Route 66 community these folks are also our neighbors.
I find Google translate to be a very valuable tool. The guest and I can type in a message and see, or hear, it in our native language. I know, or have heard, there are even better phone apps available but we aren’t that modern as of yet.
Youtube is an invaluable source for basic language studies. As an example:
As luck would have it, my trusted, long traveled carry on bag gave up the ghost during the recent trip to Albuquerque. So, we are now adding shopping for luggage to the schedule.
At this juncture we are leaning toward traveling with only carry on bags. As winter clothes will be a bit bulky this will be quite a challenge but I think it is doable.
When time allows, we have been doing a bit of research about the concept of one bag traveling and the best bags, at a reasonable price for pulling this off. Rick Steves website makes for a solid argument in favor of one bag travel, has a travel forum with an array of topics and real world input, and, of course, he sells his own line of travel experience developed luggage.
In either case, we will provide information about the experiment, and a luggage review on our return. That is but one challenge awaiting resolution.
We have crossed travel insurance off the list. In so doing we discovered another valuable reason to have a AAA membership.
Insurance shopping in itself is always an adventure in a bewildering wilderness. The assistant with AAA simplified the process, did not try to sell unneeded coverage, and in fact, sold us what was needed instead of wanted.Perhaps the most daunting challenge, the one that seems to induce fitful sleep, is the airports (as in four – Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Schiphol, and Detroit). I know tens of thousands of people flow through airports on a daily basis. This, however, is our first international flight. It is also our first flight in almost six years. So tips, pointers, suggestions, prayers, etc. would be most appreciated.
To wrap things up this morning, I should have a schedule for the travel fair in Utrecht soon. I will share that as soon as it is available. Meanwhile, drop me a note if you plan on stopping by Vakantiebeurs in Utrecht or the festivities at de Prael.
Travel and travel related adventures have been an integral part of my life since birth. At age one we motored west from Virginia in a 1951 Chevy convertible that dad got on the cheap because it had been under water after a hurricane.
Between then and the year that I got my drivers license there were innumerable “vacations” from Virginia to Michigan, Virginia to Alabama, Arizona to Alabama, Tennessee, and Michigan, and a few up the west coast. In between were epic moves from North Carolina to Virginia, from Virginia to Michigan, Michigan to Arizona, Arizona to New Mexico, New Mexico to Michigan, and from Michigan to Arizona. As an adult my moves entered on Arizona and New Mexico but there were more than a few.
My dearest friend and I dated in a 1946 GMC, and double dated in a 1926 Ford. In thirty plus years of vacations together we have traveled from Colonial Williamsburg to Vancouver, from San Diego to Copper Harbor, Michigan. On occasion we flew. Once and awhile we rented a car and once we took the train. More often than not, however, we drove, and in the finest of family traditions, usually in well used vehicles such as the twenty-year old, $350 Oldsmobile and a trip to San Francisco, or the twenty-five year old Impala and the adventure up the west coast of California and Oregon.
Little if any of this experience has prepared me for the pending adventure to the Netherlands in January. The veritable maze of details that range from contents of carry on bags to rain gear, deciphering the intricacies of modern travel (e-tickets?), currency exchange, and the need to almost completely abandon a lifetime of experience gained in more than five decades of epic cross country adventures leaves my head spinning.
However, stepping beyond the normal, moving beyond a well padded comfort zone, that is key if an adventure is going to sharpen the mind, stimulate the senses, and fill one with eager anticipation tinged with apprehension. It is adventures such as these that broaden the horizons and expand the scope of thinking.
At this juncture it should be noted that even though we relish adventures such as this one, we draw the line at bungee jumping and sky diving. There can be a fine line between adventure and, well, you fill in the blank.
Fortunately we have a number of friends at the other end of the trip that will shepherd us and ease the transition, and to answer questions. That is a blessing on a number of levels.
Now, I know that for a number of our friends international travel is one step removed from taking the bus across town. For us, however, it is a grand adventure that is almost, but not quite, on par with planning a trip to Mars.
If your planning an epic transcontinental adventure in the near future, and need questions answered, here are a few links for sites that I have found to be helpful. I also suggest asking friends, don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions.
There is a distinct difference between ignorance and stupid. Ignorance is a manifestation of not having knowledge. That can be corrected with education, casting aside pride and asking stupid questions, and experience.
Stupid is incurable and possibly fatal. A primary symptom is taking pride in ignorance and feebly attempting to mask it with faked knowledge.