THE HEARTBEAT OF ROUTE 66

THE HEARTBEAT OF ROUTE 66

Legendary Route 66 is quite an anomaly. Officially it ceased to exist several decades ago. From its inception the highway was in a near constant state of evolution but still it failed to meet the needs of the American motorist.
Today it is a fragmented string of worn and potholed asphalt. Some sections are little more than obscure paths through the brush and across the desert. Its antiquated bridges are are in dire need of replacement or repair. 
Once dubbed the Main Street of America it is now the main street in ghost towns, faded and tarnished communities where darkened neon and shuttered windows hint of better times, and metropolises where the sterile and modern swept away the unique and colorful.
And yet people come throughout the world to explore it from Grant Park in Chicago to the Bob Waldmire memorial at the end of Santa Monica Pier. Urban pioneers roll up their sleeves and tackle the renovation of long closed motels and cafes. Grassroots initiatives to preserve bridges and signs, roadway and service stations bring passionate people together from every corner of the world.
Route 66 long ago transcended its original purpose. Today the Route 66 highway shield is as internationally recognized as the Coca Cola logo. The highway is the crossroads of the past and future, a living, breathing time capsule. 
Gary Turner memorial courtesy Dean Kennedy. 
What separates Route 66 from the Lincoln Highway or the Jefferson Highway, the Dixie Highway or Highway 101, what infuses a trip on this road with a heady intoxication, what fuels the highways renaissance is the people. They are the very heartbeat of Route 66. 
Just this past weekend on a sunny but cool late winters day, more than three hundred people from as far away as Germany and California turned out in support of a grassroots initiative launched by Rich Dinkela for the restoration of the historic Gasconade River Bridge in Missouri.
The following day an equally diverse crowd turned out in Paris Springs Junction for a memorial to Gary Turner, a simple man with a dream that touched lives from throughout the world.
The magic of Route 66 transcends barriers of language. It transforms enthusiasts into an extended family and fosters a sense of community that reaches beyond the narrow confines of the corridor signed with two sixes that links Chicago with Santa Monica. 
Evidence of this is made manifest in attendance of the Gasconade River Bridge rally by Wolfgang Werz of the German Route Route 66 Association, and the hospitality of Mirjam van Ravenhorst and members of the Dutch Route 66 Association during our recent trip to the Netherlands.
It was made manifest at the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman last August, and it is made manifest in laughter filled evenings at the Blue Swallow Motel.
For the enthusiast, I am preaching to the choir. For those unfamiliar with the lure of the double six, or who are curious about the hype that seems to grow by the day, I hope to inspire a bit of exploration. 
Route 66 is no mere highway. It is the stuff of dreams, the cities of Cibola and the Fountain of Youth. It is an adventure through time. It is a place where everyone knows your name and calls you friend.               
   
ADVENTURES WITH BARNEY AND CHASING DREAMS

ADVENTURES WITH BARNEY AND CHASING DREAMS

Even though the foundation was laid long before, I didn’t start the work of transforming a childhood dream into a reality until my dearest friend provided the gentle encouragement. That was more than two decades, a dozen books, and countless feature articles ago. Still the fun filled and exhilarating pursuit of the dream continues.
Yesterday I took a break from pursuing the dream and turned attentions toward projects at the homestead which can no longer be ignored. I seldom give thought to how much time is consumed in the quest to become a writer when I grow up. That only becomes apparent when the attentions are turned to the homestead and the upkeep needed to keep the roof from falling down around our ears, efforts to keep Barney the Wonder Truck on the road for another year, restoration of the office after completion of a book, and similar tasks. Yesterday was one of the days where attentions were turned toward other projects.
It seemed an ideal time for such endeavors as the weather was nearly perfect and the City of Kingman was hosting a clean up day at the fairgrounds. In a more perfect world, hauling a load or two of the debris accumulated in a year of renovation projects several blocks rather than making a thirty mile trip to the landfill would be a time saver.

The plan was rather simple in concept; load the truck, follow my son to the fairgrounds as he had used the opportunity offered by the city as an excuse for spring cleaning at his home, and then have breakfast together. 
Light was just breaking when I fired up Barney, backed to the side gate, and began loading. By the time the sun cleared the eastern horizon we were on the road to the fairgrounds with a quick stop for gasoline. From that point forward the plan fell apart rather quickly.
Once in line at the fairgrounds I felt like a steer in a loading chute as there was no turning back. A recycling company had equipment issues, scheduling issues with the county resulted in a shortage of workers to unload trucks until 9:00, and from there the problems snowballed quickly. 
As a result the time saving endeavor stretched out to a three hour ordeal. That eliminated time for breakfast. It also led to the abandonment of other projects planned for the day. 
There are but two options when faced with a complete derailing of plans and schedule; fret, fume, and stress or smile and make the best of a bad situation. I usually choose a third option which is the blending of the two. 
The long, painfully slow line at the fairgrounds did allow for ample time to visit with my son and neighbors, and to give thought to the implications associated with closure of the Gasconade River Bridge in Missouri and the powerful grassroots initiative to save it as made manifest in a rally at the bridge yesterday. 
Today it is back to pursuit of the dream. First, will be writing the updates and corrections for The Route 66 Encyclopedia that is going to be released in paperback. These will in turn be added to the corresponding page on the blog.
An equally important task is the rough outline for the development of a Mississippi River tour itinerary for a New Zealand based company. This is but one of the many interesting detours associated with pursuit of the dream.
When pursuit of the dream commenced in earnest I never imagined it would lead us to Amsterdam, or Jay Leno’s Garage. Nor did I see it as a multifaceted means of encouraging adventures on the road less traveled under the Jim Hinckley’s America umbrella.
There is a two fold lesson in this. One, dare to dream and dare to transform the dream into a reality. Two, don’t let a myopic focus on the dream keep if from becoming something bigger than envisioned. 
     

  
  

MEANWHILE, SOMEWHERE ON ROUTE 66 …

MEANWHILE, SOMEWHERE ON ROUTE 66 …

Well, judging by a recent article published in the Quay County Sun the city of Tucumcari is the latest community to decide that the time has come to get serious about harnessing the Route 66 renaissance as a catalyst for development and urban renewal. I would bet that the recent awarding of the recent Traveler’s Choice Award to the Blue Swallow Motel by Trip Advisor and the international tsunami of interest in the forthcoming Rockaabilly on The Route festival have played a role in the creation of this committee.
Historic Holbrook seems to be just a few steps behind them, if recently developed events and the passion of home town folks like David Heward are any indication. Likewise in Kingman to the west with its rapidly evolving Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum and the linking of historic events such as the cities Andy Devine Days celebration of western heritage that includes a PRCA rodeo and parade with a celebration of the communities association with Route 66.
This weekend a huge grassroots rally for the preservation of the historic Gasconade River Bridge takes place in Missouri. It will be linked with a memorial for Gary Turner at Gay Parita in Paris Springs Junction.
From Chicago to Santa Monica, from Amsterdam to Brisbane the Route 66 community is enjoying an unprecedented renaissance. That bodes well for a road and the communities nestled along it that will be celebrating a 90th anniversary as the Main Street of America. 
Meanwhile, in my sunny corner of Route 66, the adventure in self publishing continues. The second chapter in the guide book for Kingman and the surrounding area is complete with the exception of illustrations, and the input of mileage way points. 
The eagerly anticipated opportunity to assist Joe Sonderman with the development of a book is moving forward. I wonder if we can have it published in time for the big event in Edwardsville this coming October?
Discussions with my publisher is now underway for the development of an updated version of Backroads of Arizona. Copies of the current addition can be ordered utilizing the drop down menu at the top of this page and Paypal. Currently updates are provided via email inquiries. 
We are also talking about the release of a paper back version, with a few updates, of The Route 66 Encyclopedia. Hardback copies are also available using the drop down menu above. Updates are provided via a QR code on the back cover.
Kerrick James, the award winning photographer we worked with on Backroads of Arizona and Route 66 Backroads, and I are also pitching a new book, Back Roads of New Mexico. This is a project that I originally proposed several years ago but it was shelved as the publisher wanted to focus on the development of Route 66 titles.
Usually we kick off our Route 66 season in April. This year, however, we kicked it off with the amazing adventure to Amsterdam and a delightful open house hosted by the Dutch Route 66 Association at de Prael, a privileged opportunity to share the wonders of this storied old highway at the holiday fair in Utrecht courtesy of USA Holidays and U.S. Bikers, and the hospitality of friends that opened their homes and introduced us to the beauty as well as the history of the Netherlands. 
The open house with members of the
Dutch and German  associations, and Swa Frantzen,
at de Prael in Amsterdam. 
A lunch with Dale Butel of Route 66 Tours from Australia kicks off our Route 66 season on Route 66. Any visit with Dale is always enjoyed but the first one of the year is always a special treat. 
Then comes a visit with Dries and Marion Bessels, dear friends from the Netherlands, and Sean Evans of Northern Arizona University on a tour of Two Guns. On all counts this will be a most enjoyable day come rain or shine.
The annual Route 66 Fun Run on the first weekend in May is always fascinating and exciting. This year, however, will be quite special. In addition to the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum which will have many new exhibits and meeting with Dale’s annual spring tour and answering questions about Route 66 and Kingman, Steve Rider and Mike Ward, friends and collectors that have provided many of the historic illustrations for my books, will be in attendance.
An interesting new development in Route 66 tours takes place this fall when Adventure Caravans leads the first of several tours scheduled for the end of this year and in 2016 down the old double six. I am quite excited to provide assistance in the development of these tours, and to meet with the group when they stop in Kingman at the end of October just before we leave for Edwardsville. 
That takes us to the next item, tours of Route 66 and the American southwest customized to meet the interests of your group, media crew, or corporate clients. This limited partnership with Open Road Productions is the latest addition to the services offered by Jim Hinckley’s America. Another will be the release of a series of travel guides under this heading, the fruits of the self publishing endeavor.
A speculative and unplanned endeavor that could be a most interesting venture is looming on the horizon resultant of recent intriguing conversations. Not one but two communities have inquired about my availability to assist in the development of Route 66 related promotional campaigns. 
A multifaceted project of this magnitude isn’t exactly in my bailiwick. Still, the more thought I give to this the more intriguing the idea becomes. I am rather confident that valuable contributions could be made even though I lack the formal education for such a project. Still, I wonder if my contributions would be worthy of their investment? I also wonder if other communities might be interested in putting me to work?
Things are most definitely getting interesting. Meanwhile, somewhere on Route 66…   
            
  
     
AND THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS

AND THE EXCITEMENT BUILDS

I often refer to Route 66 as a living, breathing time capsule, a place where the past and future flow together seamlessly. With the passing of each day, as the excitement continues to build, that becomes a more apt descriptor.
Few things exemplify this more than the Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Conference scheduled for the last weekend in October. As evidenced by the general schedule released yesterday, the name for this event is a bit deceptive. 
This is more than a mere weekend filled with conferences and workshops. It represents an eagerly anticipated rebirth of the annual conventions once hosted by the U.S. Highway 66 Association. It is the intersection of the highways renaissance and its origins as an American icon in a meeting that branded U.S. 66 as the Main Street of America. 
This, however, is but one aspect of the excitement that will be building between now and the event in Edwardsville. Exciting events will be taking place in Holbrook and Springfield (Illinois as well as Missouri), Kingman and Tucumcari, Amarillo and Victorville. In between will be the legions of international fans of the double six that infuse the Route 66 corridor with infectious enthusiasm. All of this ensures that 2015, one year before the highways 90th anniversary, could very well be one of the most exciting in the roads history. 
And now, the Edwardsville schedule – 

Tentative Schedule for Miles of Possibility: The Edwardsville Conference

Here it is – our tentative conference schedule!


MILES OF POSSIBILITY: THE EDWARDSVILLE ROUTE 66 CONFERENCE
Thursday-Saturday, October 29-31, 2015
Wildey Theatre, Edwardsville, IL
Sponsored by the Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition
Hosted by the City of Edwardsville


TENTATIVE SCHEDULE
Thursday, October 29
12:00 noon – 6:00 pm Registration, packets/goody bags/info available – Wildey lobby
Afternoon –  Edwardsville Historic Districts tours – by City of Edwardsville Historic Preservation Commission
Wildey Theatre tours – by Joan Evers, Wildey Theatre historian
Evening –  Route 66 Pub Crawl – Stagger Inn, Springer’s Creek Winery, Hi-Way Tavern, a couple newer Main Street establishments
Friday, October 30
8:00 – 10:00 am Registration, pick up packets/goody bags/info – Wildey lobby
9:00 – 9:15 am Welcome – Wildey auditorium – Mayor Hal Patton
9:00 am Author Book Store/Artist & Collector Expo opens – second floor
9:30 – 10:30 am Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
10:45 – 11:45 am Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
11:45 am – 1:15 pm Lunchtime stroll – downtown restaurants and shops
1:15 – 2:15 pm Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
2:30 – 3:30 pm Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
3:45 – 4:45 pm Conference session – auditorium only while buffet sets up on third floor
4:45 pm – 6:00 pm Shop/visit Author Store/Artist & Collector Expo or Evening Main Street Stroll
6:00 pm Author Store/Artist & Collector Expo closes for the day
6:00 pm Buffet Dinner – third floor
7:30 pm Band concert – auditorium
Saturday, October 31
8:00 am Tentative – E-group Breakfast (hosted by Mike & Sharon Ward, Mesa AZ) – Location TBA
9:00 am Author Book Store/Artist & Collector Expo opens – second floor
9:30 – 10:30 am Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
10:45 – 11:45 am Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
11:45 am – 1:15 pm Lunchtime stroll – downtown restaurants and shops
1:15 – 2:15 pm Concurrent conference sessions – auditorium and third floor
2:30 – 4:00 pm Special Surprise, announcements of future events – auditorium only
5:00 pm Author Book Store/Artist & Collector Expo closes
5:00 pm End of conference events at the Wildey
4:00 – 6:00 pm Free time – nap, eat, shop, drink, get a spot for the parade
6:00 pm Halloween Parade steps off at Lincoln Middle School but does not arrive downtown until about 6:30 pm. Parade theme “Miners Mobsters and the Mother Road.”
After parade –  Roadie Party (hosted by Dr. Nick Gerlich, Amarillo TX, and Roamin’ Rich Dinkela, St. Louis MO) – Tentatively at host hotel Holiday Inn Express Conference Rooms. Joe Sonderman (Route 66 author/collector and long-time St. Louis radio personality) will DJ.
Sunday, November 1
Blue Carpet Corridor tour for attendees staying through Sunday   

EDWARDSVILLE, OCTOBER 2015, WILL WE SEE YOU THERE?

To say planning for the conference, workshop, and Route 66 related activities planned for Edwardsville, Illinois this coming October has been a bit rocky and confusing would be an understatement. Fortunately Cheryl Eichar Jett was able to navigate the rocky shoals and hold fast to the charted course. 
As a result, the Route 66 community will have an opportunity to enjoy a fun filled weekend and attend to the business of keeping Route 66 alive into the centennial and beyond. Judging by the first official press release, it looks as though we just might have a modern incarnation of the annual conventions that were a cornerstone of the original U.S. 66 Highway 66 Association.
This, to say the very least, is quite exciting. Will we be seeing you there? 

“Miles of Possibility:  The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference”
 “Miles of Possibility:  The Edwardsville Route 66 Conference” will be held in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Thursday-Saturday, October 29-31. Sponsored by the Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition and hosted by the City of Edwardsville, the primary venue for the conference is the beautifully-restored historic Wildey Theatre on N. Main Street, just two blocks off Edwardsville’s Route 66. www.wildeytheatre.com
Conference sessions will include presentations, panel discussions, and workshops by nationally- and internationally-known experts on Route 66, history, preservation, and marketing. The complete conference schedule, as well as online registration, will be offered, beginning on or about April 1, on the conference webpage, www.bluecarpetcorridor.org/rt66conference.
Conference attendees arriving early on Thursday, October 29, will find plenty of activities. Conference registration begins at noon at the Wildey Theatre where attendees can also enjoy an afternoon tour of the 1909 Wildey Theatre. Also running during the afternoon will be one-hour tours of Edwardsville’s national historic districts. Thursday evening’s pub crawl will include historic Route 66 taverns as well as N. Main Street breweries and wine bars.
On Friday evening, the Wildey Theatre will host a catered dinner for conference attendees followed by a concert in the Wildey auditorium. The concert, featuring the legendary Bob Kuban Band, will fill the theatre with music from the Route 66 era, and at the Wildey there’s always room for dancing in the aisles!
On Saturday, the conference sessions will end in time for attendees to prepare for Edwardsville’s annual Halloween parade, an institution in the city since 1924. The two-hour parade draws crowds in the tens of thousands to downtown Edwardsville to see the floats, marching bands, cars, and creative costumes. The parade this year is borrowing the Blue Carpet Corridor’s official theme:  “Mobsters, Miners and the Mother Road.” Feel free to attend in costume!
After the Saturday evening parade, a party for conference attendees will be hosted by Dr. Nick Gerlich of Amarillo, Texas, and Roamin’ Rich Dinkela, of St. Louis, Missouri, at a TBA venue. Route 66 author and collector Joe Sonderman will DJ. Costumes optional!
On Sunday, there will be a Blue Carpet Corridor tour with attractions along the route open special hours for conference attendees. The Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition was formed in November 2013 to promote the section of Illinois Route 66 from Chatham to Collinsville. Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition President Cheryl Eichar Jett is serving as Conference Director.
Conference information and updates can also be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Route66Edwardsville and on Twitter at Rt66Edwardsville@Rt66Edw. Email rt66conference@gmail.com.