Well, it looks as though things are about to get quite interesting. In fact, I would dare to say that they are about to get very, very interesting.
The volunteer editor has given the State of the Route 66 Community report the green light, as soon as I fix a couple of punctuation and spelling errors. Sir, full compensation for your contributions will made Saturday evening during the Route 66 Fun Run under the refurbished glow of the Kingman Club neon sign.
So, I should be distributing this in the next week. As a disclaimer it should be duly noted that it was my decision alone to play lightening rod. Before changing my name and relocating, I will await initial response to the report.
With that said the goal of the report was twofold. Both may be overly ambitious and quite optimistic.
One, I wanted to develop an accurate if unscientific overview of the Route 66 community. So, I asked business owners, tourism directors, tour company owners and developers, community organizers, Route 66 association representatives (nationally as well as internationally), the Route 66 Alliance and the National Historic Route 66 Federation, and anyone I could think of that might have a vested interest in the Route 66 renaissance three questions; what are the primary problems facing the Route 66 community, what are the positive developments of the past year, and what plans are there for the 90th anniversary celebration of the U.S. 66 certification.
As the organizers of the Miles of Possibility event in Edwardsville, Illinois this October plan on inclusion of a conference and workshops, I am hoping the report will enable them to fine tune that aspect. Wouldn’t it be delightful if this event became the cornerstone for an annual Route 66 convention that blended the Route 66 family reunion that we in the Route 66 community have come to expect from the annual Route 66 International Festival with the business of Route 66?
From a personal perspective my views on the unique nature of the international Route 66 community were enhanced with the interviews, correspondence, and compilation of the report. Likewise with concerns about sustaining the Route 66 renaissance into the centennial and beyond.
Meanwhile, in my corner of the world things are taking some most fascinating turns. Hypothetically, would there be interest in the Route 66 community if I were to open a brick and mortar office, with shop and eclectic museum, next to Mr. D’z? Well, such an endeavor is now on the drawing board.
Next, a pod cast update. A few days ago Gary Cron of Route 66 Radioand I were discussing this. Soon the conversation took a slightly different tack and we were talking about a the feasibility of a Jim Hinckley’s America program direct from the Main Street of America.
Scenes from the Route 66 Fun Run in Kingman, 2013
If your not familiar with Route 66 Radio follow the link posted above. Did you know that there are special advertising rates for Route 66 businesses and free events listings? Did you know that through Route 66 Radio you are reaching out to an international audience?
Meanwhile, new additions are being added to the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum on a regular basis. Plans call for creation of the largest display of vehicles manufactured by Detroit Electric before the end of June and this week a golf cart customized for Willie Nelson was added to the exhibition.
There is also the self imposed deadline for the guide to the Kingman area, a self publishing endeavor. That and a few other projects will have to be tabled until after this weekends annual Route 66 Fun Run, an event that rolls back the curtain that separates the past from the present and transforms 180 scenic miles of Route 66 into a living time capsule.
As a coupe of weeks ago there were over 800 vehicles preregistered. There are also an array of events scheduled in Kingman, Peach Springs, Hackberry, Truxton, Seligman, Oatman, and Golden Shores. So, it should be one bang up of a weekend. Here is a link for the entire schedule.
Another view from a previous Route 66 Fun Run.
Trying to tie the various projects into a single bundle has consumed a great deal of time in recent weeks. In fact, I have been so busy it seems that the need to eat on a regular basis slipped by the wayside. Hence one reason for the question pertaining to the possibility of opening a shop, posing questions to determine interest in Route 66 tours, and the push to get the guide book published.
First, however, as noted there is the fun run. Friends, fun, food, and memory making adventures will be the order of the day.
On Saturday, from 8:30 to 12:30, I will be signing books at the historic Frontier Motel and Restaurant in Truxton. Then its off to Thunder Road Motorcycle on the corner of First Street and Beale Street near Locomotive Park.
Dinner with Bonnie and George Game, Sean and Karen Evans, Frank and Lynn Kocevar, Mike and Sharon Ward, Daniel Azzopardi, John Springs, and a few other friends will be the most highly anticipated event of this years Route 66 Fun Run. Rumor has it that we will then check out the newly opened House of Hops before checking out the festivities at the El Trovatore Motel.
Now, dinner, a cold beer that sounds quite good after a very long and very full day spent under the Arizona sun, and a little down time with my dearest friend.
Author Jim Hinckley at Two Guns, Arizona. Courtesy Dries Bessels
Adventure is the spice of life, or so it is said. On occasion the challenge is in finding that adventure in the mundane that is daily life. Then there are those times when adventure seems to loom at every turn and the challenge becomes which one to pursue.
More often than not, we have to live the life of adventure vicariously by following the exploits of folks like KC Keefer, Nancy Barlow, and Professor Nick Gerlich. This is the team behind the mesmerizing video about the Painted Desert Trading Post, the first in a series.
I currently happen to reside in an odd place where the daily struggle to find adventure in the mundane is tangled and intertwined with absolutely amazing exploits. It is a world where tedious mind numbing work gives way to surprises, opportunities for adventure, and meeting with the most fascinating people at a moments notice.
In the first month of the year 2015, there was the push to meet a deadline for a new book, tax preparation, a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium where friends ensured it was a dream like adventure, and a fruitless search through endless photo archives in search of a suitable cover image. In retrospect that month seems to have set the tone for the rest of the year. With the exception of provision of links and footnotes, I completed the report on the state of the Route 66 community this week and sent it off to a friend that is also a talented editor. He is also quite adept at providing an honest opinion in a diplomatic manner, always a plus. Work on this report has transformed my view of the Route 66 renaissance and the international community of enthusiasts that support it. I am hopeful that others will find it encouraging as well. I also hope that it will foster development of some fruitful cooperative partnerships. This morning, after a haircut, a bit of reading in the new biography A. Lincoln by Ronald C. White Jr. and responding to some correspondence from acclaimed photographer Kerrick James, I enjoyed a pleasant breakfast (ranchero skillet and coffee) with my son at Rutherford’s. Rutherford’s is but one recent addition to the developments along the Route 66 corridor in Kingman, or in this cities historic district. Yesterday the House of Hops opened in the old Kingman Club on Beale Street one block north of Andy Devine Avenue, Route 66.
Last weekend during Chillin’ on Beale, I took a peak inside and was quite impressed by the transformation. Even better, they have refurbished the historic neon sign. This is the second specialty beer shop on Beale Street to open. Last year, one block to the east, Black Bridge Brewery opened across the street from Redneck’s Southern Barbecue. I am not sure if this good news or bad news but work is underway at the long closed Bell Motel. There was talk of pending demolition but the hope is that it is being given a new lease on life. I will follow up on this next week to see if I can get an answer. This weekend I will look through the first chapters of a book being penned by Joe Sonderman. My role in this interesting but limited partnership is editorial assistance and provision of photo files. This is something I have been looking forward to delving into for quite sometime.
Meanwhile, the self publishing endeavor is moving forward at glacial speeds. It is now quite obvious that the guide book to Kingman, including a walking guide to the historic district, and the surrounding area will not be finished in time for the Fun Run but I am confident of completion before the first of June. However, to ensure completion by that time, with a hope of publication by the first of July, I will need to work on it over the weekend as well. That shouldn’t be a problem as it looks to be a rainy windy couple of days. As envisioned, this book will be the first in a series developed with other communities along the Route 66 corridor profiled in a similar manner.
The correspondence with Kerrick James was in regard to a project proposed by Voyageur Press. Kerrick and I have worked together on other titles in the back roads series but it looks as though we will have to decline adding a book on Texas to the resume. Simply put, the advance and royalties offered by the publisher, as well as our current schedules, the amount of travel the project would require, and our unfamiliarity with Texas are not conducive to ensuring the projects profitability or that we could do it justice. Nor would we be able to complete it in the time frame proposed. So, I am requesting that the publisher consider Gregory Hasman for the endeavor. He resides in Texas, is intimate with the states back roads, and is a talented writer. If your unfamiliar with his work I suggest perusing his blog, Ramblings from a Road-a-holic. Next weekend is the annual Route 66 Fun Run. Always an interesting and fun filled weekend that transforms 180 scenic miles of that storied highway into a living time capsule, the 2015 edition promises to be a grand adventure. On Saturday, May 2, I will be signing books and answering Route 66 questions in Truxton at the Frontier Restaurant and Motel all morning. That evening my dearest friend and I will share a delightful dinner with friends; George and Bonnie Game, Mike and Sharon Ward, John Springs, Frank and Lynn Kocevar, and Sean and Karen Evans. On Sunday morning, I will be speaking with the lively Aussies that are partaking in Dale Butel’s (Route 66 Tours) spring tour, answering questions, and signing books. This is always an interesting event that we look forward to. Monday evening we will be visiting with Atsutuki Katsuyama, the long distance runner from Japan that is retracing the route of the historic Bunion Derby. We are eagerly looking forward to his visit. Then there is the podcast. I should be submitting the first raw audio file for editing within the week. This will be followed with a public debut. I am always excited when new opportunities allow me to help folks plan or develop adventures on the old double six or the road less traveled. To that end, Jim Hinckley’s America is evolving; walking tours of the Kingman historic district, the self published guide books, the gallery at Legends of America, and a limited partnership with Open Road Productions for the development of customized tours along Route 66 and in the southwest. A friend of mine has harnessed his passion for sharing the wonders of southern Utah, taken the plunge, and launched a tour company – Seeking Treasures Adventures. Now, we are discussing the possibility of a cooperative partnership that links his expertise and tours with ours in the Kingman area. The walking tours of the Kingman historic district is something I am eager to share with visitors. To that I may be adding a special evening event, Journey through Time on Route 66, if plans of a local real estate developer comes to fruition. Adventures await us at every turn. Sometime we have to look under the dung to find them, and sometimes there are found at every turn.
The restored sign at the Kingman Club that will reopen as a microbrewery in a few weeks.
Every once and awhile an event will develop that over the years seems to take on a life of its own. Such an event takes place in Kingman, Arizona on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October.
It commenced when the now defunct Kingman Route 66 Association launched Chillin’ on Beale several years ago in the hopes of supporting the businesses sprouting in the historic district and drawing attention to that languishing part of town. There was also the hope that in the process there would develop a sense of community.
That was several years ago. Since that time the event developed with leadership, without leadership, and with feuds over who exactly was in charge. Still, in spite of this it has morphed into the most delightful of events; a block party where folks cruise, stop to visit with friends and neighbors, cruise some more, and enjoy dinner or beer at the microbreweries with friends, and a bit of music.
They arrive as tourists in rental cars and local in rat rods. They show up in colorful hot rods and battered classics, restored trucks and well worn work horses. Mixed in among them are jaw dropping customs and absolute rarities. When was the last time you saw a 1930 four-cylinder Indian motorcycle in any condition?
1930 Indian at the April edition of Chillin’ on Beale.
Last evening was the kick off for the 2015 season of Chillin’ on Beale and without a doubt it was the most amazing event yet, and that wasn’t just because it included an opportunity to enjoy dinner with friends at Redneck’s Southern Barbecue or the fact that temperatures were as perfect as they could get even if ordered from a catalog.
In all honesty I can not remember attending any event that featured a more diverse array of vehicles. A faded old 1960 Volvo stood in stark contrast to a pair of 1957 Ford’s, including a stunning convertible. An original 1917 Ford stood in stark contrast to a blindingly orange 1940 Willys coupe, and a GTO Judge framed by a bizarre contraption that began life as a 1942 Chevy Suburban made for a study in contrast.
After dinner and strolling the streets, we set up our “foldie” chairs, savored some excellent peanut butter pie brought by our dinner companions, whiled away the hours with delightful conversation, and visited with friends and acquaintances (good to see you Lynette, Allen, and Kim) that had come downtown to enjoy the festive atmosphere. As the sun sank into the west, we eagerly awaited the lighting of the refurbished Kingman Club sign.
If you happen to find yourself in Kingman on the third Saturday of the month, you might want to include Chillin’ on Bealedinner at Redneck’s, and a cold one at the Kingman Club in the schedule.
Once upon a time people simply traveled Route 66 to get from point “A” to point “B”. I am not sure exactly when that was as history teaches us that the old double six was always an experience.
In the era of the Route 66 renaissance, the individual does not travel this storied old highway. They live an adventure with the passing of each mile.
It is an overwhelming and addictive sensory experience, a near complete immersion in a colorful and warm world that stands in stark contrast to the modern era. It is a 2,400 mile visit with friends and friends yet made. It is good food served by smiling folk, and hotel owners that remember your name. It is a surreal world where the past and present blend together seamlessly.
For my dearest friend and I this iconic old highway is a portal to previously unimaginable adventures. It is almost magical place where we share an evening of dinner, laughter, and conversation with dear friends from the Netherlands on Thursday, make arrangements for a breakfast with friends from the Czech Republic the next day, and the day after that, assist with plans to welcome a Japanese celebrity who will be traveling Route 66 in the weeks to come.
This past week, seven short days, sum up the amazing adventure that is life lived intertwined with legendary Route 66.
Work on the forthcoming guide to the Kingman area, including a walking tour of that fair city, is moving closer to fruition. Likewise with a pending report on the state of the Route 66 community in 2015.
There was also a delightful adventure in Two Guns with Sean and Karen Evans, Olivia Charest, Dries and Marion Bessels, Marianne van Marle, and her husband Henk. The wind howled, the sand stung our faces, and our picnic included flying bread and more than the daily recommended dosage of minerals. Still, there was laughter, smiles, and memories made. As a bonus, there was a surprise visit from Cameron and Kevin Mueller of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari. They were on their way to California to pick up a motorcycle. They stopped by to visit in Kingman yesterday on their return trip. What a gorgeous motorcycle!
In a meeting with Dwayne Patterson of the Kingman Remax Prestige Properties office, a request was made for assistance in the development of a Kingman promotional site. This morning I compiled and submitted a photo file. Stay tuned for details on this one.
I was quite honored by a similar request made by Frank Kocevar, the former owner of Seligman Sundries. He has launched a large interactive, detailed, and informative Route 66 website (Route 66 Experience)that will surely be of benefit to the entire Route 66 community. This morning I compiled and submitted a large photo file for his project.
An example of the treasures awaiting your discovery at the Jim Hinckley’s America Gallery hosted by Legends of America.
While I was at it, I created another photo file for submission to expand the gallery offerings at Legends of America. David and Kathy, the proprietors of this most interesting website, host Jim Hinckley’s America Gallery, the official site for purchase of our photo prints.
The gallery currently features seasonal scenes from the entire length of Route 66 as well as from our other adventures on the road less traveled. I am quite confident that you find at least one photo print that will brighten the home or office, and inspire a road trip or two.
Some images are also now available as iphone cases, t-shirts, canvas wraps, and for commercial or editorial download.
The highlight of the week to date came on Thursday evening when we joined Dries and Marion, Marianne and Henk for a wonderful dinner at the Dambar in Kingman that was accompanied by laughter, conversation, and the sharing of memories.
Also this week, I was quite honored by receipt of an email from Atsuyuki Katasuyama, the Japanese long distance runner that is going to retrace the course of the historic Bunion Derby in coming weeks. He has a copy of one of my Route 66 books, and requested that we meet to visit as he passes through Kingman. Details of his adventure can be found via this link. So, I am working to set up a suitable reception.
I received word this morning from Roderick Wilde of the Historic Electric vehicle Foundation that a big reception for participants in this years Great Race will take place in the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in the Powerhouse Visitor Center. He also noted that there will be numerous new additions to the museum by that time and plans are to have the largest exhibition of vehicles manufactured by Detroit Electric ever assembled. So, if your in the neighborhood on Friday, June 26, stop by the Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman. It should be an unprecedented automotive extravaganza. I also received a note from Zdnek Jurasek, a friend from the Czech Republic who is also a critically acclaimed film producer and president of that countries Route 66 association. His tour will be stopping in Kingman on May 13, and so I am making arrangements for their visit. I am currently awaiting a phone call from David Heward of Holbrook. He will be passing through town today and we are to meet, discuss the Route 66 event in Holbrook scheduled for June 13, (yes, we will be in attendance), and to get a sneak peak at the new Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum tee shirts. I should note that the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation is looking for gift shop owners who would like to sell the new shirts this summer. Then, this evening, there is the first installment of Chilin’ on Beale in historic downtown Kingman. This low key event that is a blending of music, cruising, food, and simple fun takes place on the third Saturday night of each month, April through October.For my dearest friend and I the evening will be enhanced with dinner at Redneck’s Southern Barbecue shared with friends who have recently relocated to California. This is the way to close out a week! Yep, life intertwined with Route 66 is truly a grand adventure!
One day in earl March, 1926, two shots accompanied by the growls of the wildcats at Fort Two Guns Zoo echo through Diablo Canyon. Earl Cundriff lies dead on the floor of Harry Edgar “Indian” Miller’s home, his legs protruding through the doorway.
The story of Two Guns did not begin or end with this murder. Nor was this the final chapter in the fascinating saga of “Indian” Miller’s long association with Route 66, its predecessor the National Old Trails Highway, and the tourist traps that once lined the highway like the midway at a county fair.
Sean Evans, a friend who works as an archivist at Northern Arizona University, has extensively studied the colorful history of Two Guns from the murder of a band of raiding Apaches at the “death caves” in the 1870’s to the construction of the Luten span arch bridge at the canyon in 1914 that gave rise to colorful roadside business and equally colorful characters. Earl and Louise Cundriff established the Canyon Lodge here in 1922, and Chief Joe Sekakuku transformed the death caves into an attraction in 1925, the same year Harry Miler builds the Two Guns Zoo and “Rimmy” Jim Giddings establishes a Texaco station, cafe, and small trading post.
I knew of the history and had explored the site but that is not the same as having a knowledgeable guide that can bring the history to life. So, last year shortly after the Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, Sean and I began discussing a Two Guns adventure.
Well, a maddening array of issues ranging from a foot injury to pressing deadlines and schedule confliction resulted in the postponement of the proposed exploration of historic Two Guns in 2014. Such is often the case in the planning of adventures but the persistent explored never gives up.
Left to right, Marion and Dries Bessels, and Sean Evans in the former cabin of Harry Miller.
Fast forward to January of this year when my dearest friend and I followed iconic Route 66 to the Netherlands. While visiting with friends in Amsterdam, I was discussing Route 66, fascinating places such as Two Guns, and a pending trip being planned by Dries Bessels.
Upon our return home I contacted Sean, a date was set, and now the long anticipated adventure to Two Guns would be an international affair shared with friends.
As we counted down the days to the adventure, the weather remained unseasonably warm and the spring winds that plague northern Arizona every year in April were oddly absent. Then the eagerly anticipated day arrived, accompanied by a high wind warning. So, as is our long standing custom when beginning an adventure, especially one that requires a 200 mile drive, we loaded the stalwart old Jeep at first light, and were well on our way as the sun cleared the eastern horizon. We made a pit stop in Williams that included signing books for the visitor center gift shop, another tradition when we motor east, and arrived in Flagstasff for our 9:30 appointment only two minutes late. While waiting for Olivia Charest, a graduate student at Northern Arizona University working on an interpretive anthropological study entitled Travel Experience on Route 66, we enjoyed coffee and fascinating conversation with Sean and his wife Karen. Then it was time to head for Two Guns via an old alignment of Route 66 from Flagstaff to Winona, and meet with our friends from the Netherlands; Dries and Marion Bessels, Dries’s sister Marianne van Marle, and her husband Henk. By the time we joined I-40 at Winona, the wind was beginning to howl. This didn’t bode well for the picnic and barbecue plans.
Author Jim Hinckley at the remains of Rimmy Jim’s old trading post.
In spite of the winds that rocked Dries’s rented RV, we took shelter on the leeward side and enjoyed a dusty lunch of salad, sandwiches, and ice tea, as well as laughter, and conversation, all of which was seasoned with the excitement that accompanies a shared adventure. Then we set out into the winds that whipped clouds of stinging sand for a guided tour along the National Old Trails Highway that served as an early alignment of Route 66 as well as through time. Thank you Sean Evans for bringing the ruins framed by stunning Arizona landscapes and snow covered peaks to life. It was a delightful adventure! The worst day on a Route 66 expedition with friends is better than the best day most anywhere else. We visited the Apache Death Caves, and the ruins of the old trading posts, the zoos, the cafe, the service station, and the site where Earl Cundriff dies so long ago. As Sean’s fascinating narrative unfolded the wind that whistled and moaned through the ruins seemed oddly appropriate. This, however, was at its heart a Route 66 adventure and these are always filled with surprises. Upon return to our parked vehicles we found a familiar site; the gaily painted Blue Swallow Motel trailer. As it turned out Kevin Mueller and his son Cameron had business in California. What a delightful surprise! After a round of ice tea, conversation, and laughter, it was time to part ways. Even with the winds, it was such a wonderful outing we hated for it to end.
The remains of Rimmy Jim’s famous four hole outhouse.
So, my dearest friend and I headed west toward the snow covered San Francisco Peaks, and the sun that was nearing the western horizon. As it turned out, there was one more surprise awaiting us before the trip came to an end. We had set our sights on Williams rather than Flagstaff for dinner as the desert adventure had stimulated the appetite. At least two or three times a year we stop in Williams, usually at the Pine Country Restaurant for a meal or pie and coffee. This time we decided to cruise town and see what was new before deciding where to placate the growing hunger. That was when we discovered Old Smoky’s, a new incarnation of a Route 66 classic in that city. As it turned out, this restaurant opened a mere two weeks ago. Old Smoky’s on the east bound alignment of Route 66 across from the historic Turquoise Teepee sign is a small place with seating for about a dozen people. Still, the atmosphere was pleasant, the staff friendly but professional, and the food very good. As a bonus the price was quite reasonable (barbecue chicken sliders, coleslaw, beans, and excellent coffee – $22.00 including tax). A very good dinner shared with my dearest friend, a new discovery, and an Arizona sunset – what a perfect way to close out a day of friends sharing memory making adventures on the most famous highway in America.