Here I sit in Kingman, just about forty miles from the middle of nowhere. Between the summer of 1966 and today, this has been home for a sum total of thirty-seven years.
I am firmly rooted in the rural Arizona of 1966, which was only slightly removed from the Arizona of 1920 or even 1900. As a result, dust covered wide brimmed hats, faded jeans, scuffed boots, and sun bleached, long sleeved denim shirts are still suitable attire for most any occasion, summer or winter.
Weathered old trucks with a gun rack for hanging tack or ropes and mud spattered Jeeps trump shiny SUV’s or econo boxes for daily transportation. Air conditioning is still considered a luxury rather than a necessity.
Resultant of this modern Amish persona and the penning of a few books on Route 66 as well as the desert southwest, I have become an attraction of sorts. Any day now I expect a local promoter to post Burma Shave type signs along the highway, “STOP! SEE LIVE REDNECK” or “ARIZONA REDNECK IN HIS NATIVE HABITAT – ONE MILE.”
On a fairly regular basis I find myself staring in amazement at the souvenirs and gifts that fill our home. At some point in time this old Arizona redneck embarked upon an international odyssey without really trying.The latest bout of reflection was sparked by a box of delicious confections given as a gift by a friend from Turkey. Swiss and German chocolates, hagelslag, Dutch candies, and Japanese treats most definitely add a bit of international flavor to our lives. They are also reminders of how fortunate we are to have friends from throughout the world.All of these treats and the friendships also serve as reminder that U.S. 66, once just a mere highway, is now a destination for legions of enthusiasts searching for authentic American experiences.
The international nature of Route 66 will be made manifest at this years Best of The West on 66 festival in Kingman. I can’t give to many details at this time but of the four inductees for inclusion in the Route 66 Walk of Fame this year, only one lives in the United States. The walk of fame was conceived as a means to honor the individuals that have played a role in the transformation of Route 66 from highway into icon. Unveiled during the Route 66 International Festival in 2014, four new inductees will be added each year during the Best of the West on 66 Festival. The following year those inductees will be honored as King of the Road during the festival. In addition to serving as grand marshals in the parade, they will be treated as kings for the weekend.I will keep you apprised of developments. A press release should be forthcoming. Meanwhile, my personal international odyssey continues. Plans are being made to attend the European Route 66 Festival next year in Germany. We are eagerly looking forward to meeting with groups and friends from Australia and Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand in the coming weeks. Interesting times indeed.