To say that this past five days, one work week, was a very long, very frustrating, very exhausting, very, very maddening, extremely depressing, and truly miserable period of time would be akin to saying that Amboy at noon in July is somewhat warm. Counted among the many highlights – not one but two customers assumed that I managed a rent to own business (they rented it and thought they owned it) which gave me reason to dust off skills honed when automobile repossession supplemented our income, a large section of ceiling finally collapsed at the office, for reasons unknown not one but three tourism related endeavors crashed and burned, a writing project is now officially hanging in limbo, and delving into the intricacies of self publishing has proven to be a most frustrating endeavor.
Fortunately the day job and related activities are merely what keeps beans on the table and gas in the tank, it is not what I live for. Fortunately I am all to familiar with the convoluted world of the publisher and know that frustrations are merely a part of the game. Fortunately I am blessed with the love of a beautiful woman who also happens to be my dearest friend. Fortunately that dearest friend also happens to have the most delightful ideas and suggestions for dealing with weeks such as these.
Let me give you a hint about what she prescribed for recovering from a week such as this. With our Safeway fuel rewards discount, gasoline was $1.43 per gallon. Temperatures in Kingman hovered around seventy-five degrees, and along the Colorado River about ten degrees warmer. The Jeep has two new tires on the rear. We received a gift card from Topock Resort for Christmas and it had yet to be used. Give up? ROAD TRIP!
Bright and early this morning (5:30) I hit the barbershop, then we finished up some errands, topped off the gas tank, and were headed west on Route 66 by 9:00. A light breeze, unseasonably warm temperatures, blindingly blue skies, Route 66 stretching toward the mountains on the distant horizon, and the warm glow of my dearest friends smile had renewed the spirit before we cleared the canyon west of Kingman.
For reasons unknown, woven throughout the past week were threads of reminiscing about my first encounter with Route 66 in the Black Mountains of western Arizona. So it didn’t come as a surprise to find that with little thought the first stop was the old homestead.
The old homestead.
When my dad bought the property in late 1966, the shell of the showcase home that turned out to be a land boondoggle was the only vestige of civilization in a vast sea of desert along the pre 1952 alignment of Route 66. Across the street was a long abandoned wrecking yard, and down the road toward the bottom of the valley was a monument to extreme eccentricity in the form of a massive but abandoned home built to resemble a ship in the desert.
Before the end of the decade dad had designed and fabricated an ingenious system for indoor plumbing that utilized water hauled from Fig Springs Station, and we had razed the old Episcopal church and two houses in Kingman, and transformed the lumber into a garage. Landscaping came in the form of barrel cactus planted in a semi circle for a driveway, and Yucca planted on the property line next to the garage.
That was where I called home for a number of years. This is where I learned to ride a bicycle and to drive. This is where I fell in love with the raw beauty and stark landscapes of the desert southwest.
We left for New Mexico in the early 1970’s, and when I returned about six years later, I rented the house for a short period of time. Needless to say, there are a lot of memories in that tumble down old homestead that will soon be reclaimed by the desert.
After my occasionally annual visit with ghosts from the past, we continued our journey westward on the old double six, formerly the National Old Trails Highway in the tracks of countless Model A and Model T Fords, and Louis Chevrolet. After the leisurely drive up and over the pass we rolled into Oatman that was just waking up and so we had a few minutes of relative quiet to give reign to the imagination and reflect on the ghost town I knew that became a tourist destination. The rest of the drive was made at a leisurely pace with numerous stops to savor the silence and to bask in the stunning desert scenery that revives the soul. It was near perfect date as my dearest friend and I were in our native habitat. Unplanned adventures are most always the best as they are filled with unexpected surprises. The surprise of the day for us was a car show at the Topock Resort that transformed the charming desert oasis into a sea of colorful hot rods and vintage cars set against the beauty of the Colorado River marshes framed by the rugged stone precipices of the Needles and the Black Mountains. If your unfamiliar with the resort, I suggest you include it in your travel plans. The food is good but a bit overpriced. The service is excellent. The setting is without equal. Of course the simple fact that the temperatures weren’t in excess of 120 degrees as is common during the months of summer ensured our visit was quite enjoyable. I am always amazed at the power of the elixir that is a road trip with a dear friend, or even better, a road trip with a friend on Route 66. As is often the case, the week between Monday and Friday evening wasn’t a complete disaster. Lets see, after numerous delays and a near derailment the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program and World Monuments Fund facilitated steering committee has hammered out a pretty impressive mission and goals statement that was finalized in the meeting on Friday. That will be included as part of the press release scheduled for release next week. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I also think that you will feel the pulse quicken when you read these items and mediate on what it could mean to the Route 66 community.
The limited partnership with Open Road Productions under the Jim Hinckley’s America banner is moving forward. In a nut shell this is a program for the development of customized tours along Route 66 as well as in the desert southwest. This simply means that each tour will be uniquely tailored to your groups specific interests and time constraints. I am also working on a project with Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio. This too should be ready for a public debut in the coming weeks. With my spirit renewed (thank you, my dear friend) I am almost ready to face another week. First, however, will be tomorrows tasks that include setting up the workshop for another assault on home improvement and renovation projects, and a bit of tax preparation. To wrap up today’s post dedicated to my dearest friend, I feel it only fitting to close with a little something from the late, great Chris Ledoux.
Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.