The title for this Sunday afternoon’s posting is derived from the National Park Service facilitated Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative. The ambitious project kicked off in earnest last fall with a series of meetings in Albuquerque.
For the most part this initiative has been viewed favorably in the international Route 66 community as there is a consensus about the need for an organization that can provide support in a manner similar to the original U.S. Highway 66 Association.
A few individuals have expressed reservations about the project. Surprisingly, the individuals adamantly opposed are quite small in number, another indicator of overall support.
A primary complaint was a perceived lack of representation and input from the Route 66 community. Negating those arguments are a series of town hall meetings and workshops being held in each of the eight states that constitute the Route 66 corridor.
There are two meetings remaining. One will be on Tuesday, July 28, at Ponderosa High School located at 2384 North Steves Boulevard in Flagstaff.
The last meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 29 at the San Bernardino Department of Public Works located at 825 East Third Street in San Bernardino, California. Details about the meetings as well as the program itself are available on the official National Park Service website.
For a wide array of reasons our travel has been a bit limited this year. We have even canceled plans to attend the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Missouri.
As a result, our postings in recent weeks have been a bit on the myopic side. However, there is another reason for the narrowed focus and that is the fact that developments are taking place in the Kingman area with dramatic speed.
Lets start with more news from the Ramada Kingman. The owners of the refurbished property are instituting a wide array of programs and events that ensure this hotel will the cities only Route 66 resort.
As an example, on August 21, the hotel will host a Zinful Painting evening (see above). This afternoon I learned that plans are to make this a monthly event, and that the artist tentatively scheduled to teach the first class is Len Nordmann, a Route 66 celebrity of some renown. Here is the link for his website.
The next bit of news from Kingman pertains to the August edition of Chillin’ on Beale. This monthly event takes place on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October.
In addition to the regular fun filled evening of cruising Beale Street one block north of Andy Devine Avenue, (Route 66), exploring antique shops, visiting with tourists, friends, neighbors, and automobile enthusiasts, and sampling the wares at Route 66 Ice Cream Parlor, El Palacios, Redneck’s Southern Barbecue, Black Bridge Brewery, the Wine Cellar, House of Hops, and Garlic Clove, new activities are being added.
The corner of Fourth Street and Andy Devine Avenue in KIngman, Arizona.
The Route 66 Association of Kingman is scheduled to host a “bring your chairs sit-in-movie” night on the corner of Fourth and Andy Devine Avenue. This is to commence approximately 8:00 PM.
For August, Ramada Kingman is offering a weekend package that includes a pool party on Friday evening, a cruise to Grand Canyon Caverns with a tour of the caverns on Saturday, and Chillin’ on Beale that evening. For details contact the hotel at (928)753-6262.
A similar package is being developed for Chillin’ on Beale in October. However, for this package the initial plan is to make it an exclusive for the owners of electric vehicles, and to add something special at the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum.
Kingman is ready to market itself as a full fledged Route 66 destination. Between the Ramada, the Hill Top Motel, and the El Trovatore Motel, Kingman now has more than 150 rooms available in historic Route 66 properties. This is quite an exciting development in itself.
On a personal note, the multifaceted project I refer to as Jim Hinckley’s America is continuing to take on a life of its own. First, perhaps, I should explain the overall concept.
It started off simply enough, a quest to fulfill the childhood goal of being a writer when I grow up. That quest manifested in a few hundred feature articles about the history of the American auto industry and travel on the back roads of America written for a variety of publications. In turn that resulted in the penning and publishing of a dozen books.
The God given gift for telling people where to go, as some folks explained it, opened an array of doors. It also led to the development of priceless and amazing friendships.
The writing led to interviews, including two recorded with Jay Leno in his legendary garage. Next came requests to make presentations.
Author Jim Hinckley speaking about Route 66 in Utrecht Netherlands.
This opened more doors to new and amazing adventures. Perhaps the most amazing of these was three presentations (two successful and one disastrous) at the holiday fair in Utrecht, Netherlands, and a week with friends who shared the beauty as well as charm of the Netherlands and Belgium. On the heels of this, Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio, and then my publicist, suggested development of a podcast. After an illness that derailed the project in May, I fell behind my self imposed deadline. That, however, has been rectified and the introductory ten minute program is awaiting edit. While this and several writing projects were demanding my attention, there was an opportunity to evaluate self publishing (also off course but about ready for release). Now, it is a Youtube channel and the project has an official trademarked logo, thanks to the tenacity of my dearest friend. With that long winded introduction out of the way, in a nut shell Jim Hinckley’s America is a multifaceted means of sharing my adventures and encouraging folks to experience a few of their own. With that said, let get this new adventure on the road.
Michael Wallis, a critically acclaimed author and a pioneering contributor to the launching of the Route 66 renaissance has often quipped that Route 66 is a linear community. Most anyone that has traveled the old double six, or that owns a business on Route 66, or that has been involved with preservation work would agree.
Business owners are friendly and fiercely supportive, but yet bicker behind the scenes. There are small town politics and unabashed pride of association with iconic Route 66. There is generosity and camaraderie. There are small town heroes and gossip. Route 66 is a living Norman Rockwell print, a time capsule with a Disneyland veneer where only the best was preserved.
Dale Butel and Kingman Mayor Richard Anderson (Judy Hinckley)
Route 66 may be America’s most famous highway but its citizens hail from every corner of the world. On any given day you will hear German, Dutch, French, Italian, Japanese, and countless other languages in coffee shops and cafes from Chicago to Santa Monica.
In Kingman, Arizona that was made manifest during the conferences that were a part of the 2014 Route 66 International Festival and again on Tuesday at a ceremony in which Dale and Kristi-Anne Butel of Australian based Route 66 Tours was inducted into the Route 66 Walk of Fame, and made an honorary member of the Route 66 Association of Kingman.
Mike Wagner, a local real estate agent and former employee at Disneyland conceived the idea during initial planning for the Route 66 International Festival. With his resignation from the planning committee the concept morphed into its current configuration; a tangible honorarium to the individuals that have played a role in the creation of Route 66 as well as its transformation from highway to icon.
As envisioned, the walk of fame will stretch along Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) in the cities historic district east from the intersection with First Street. Each year new inductees will be honored during a special ceremony at the Best of the West on 66 Festival that takes place on the last weekend in September.
Left to right, Col Grieves, Dale Butel, and Daniel Azzopardi. Photo Judy Hinckley
As Dale and Kristi-Anne will be unable to attend the festival in September, a special ceremony took place when the companies summer tour stopped in Kingman for lunch at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner. Similar ceremonies will take place for some of the other inductees. Another manifestation of the international nature of Route 66 is the forthcoming European Route 66 Festival scheduled for July 2016. Support for the event is being given by Route 66 associations in the United States as well as in Germany, Japan the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Italy, and Norway. The intertwining of the romanticized image of an “authentic American experience” with such a diverse international influence ensures that Route 66 is one on the most unique attractions in the world. This fascinating blend of Americana and international influences has transformed the Main Street of America into a colorful and dynamic tapestry that extends beyond festivals and travelers.
You will find manifestations of this international passion and affection for the double six all along the course of the old highway. In Kingman you will find it in conversation with Sam and Monica, owners of the El Trovatore Motel. In Holbrook, the vintage Globetrotter Lodge is a wonderfully refreshing oasis where the quintessential motel experience circa 1960 is embellished and enhanced with charming European and folk art touches. In Truxton, Lynette and Allen Greer, the proprietors of the historic Frontier motel and restaurant labor away to bring the property to life. The owner, however, is Sam Murray of New Zealand who also operates Gilligan’s Wild West Tours. To those who ask, can you still drive Route 66, the answer is a resounding YES. Yes, you can still drive this storied highway. Yes, it is still the Main Street of America. Yes, it is still the road of adventure made famous by Buz and Todd. Yes, it is America’s most famous highway. Yes, it is magic road that bridges chasms of language and culture. Yes, it is still the road where dreams do come true. Just ask Atsuyuki Katsuyama.
Left to right, my dearest friend, Anne Slanina, and author Jim Hinckley.
As the lightening illuminated towering monsoon season storm clouds on the western horizon and rain scented winds whipped dust along Route 66, my dearest friend and I talked late into the evening on Friday with Anne M. Slanina after enjoying a most delightful dinner (I heartily recommend the Greek salad) at Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner. Anne is the creator of the charming Annie Mouse series. I was quite pleased to learn that at the Miles of Possibilities conference and festival in Edwardsville, Illinois, Anne will be making a presentation about marketing and developing Route 66 as a destination for families with children.
The conferences scheduled for the weekend of October 31 with a diverse array of speakers coupled with an array of festivities including the Yahoo Route 66 E-group members breakfast, a party hosted by Rich Dinkela and Dr. Nick Gerlich, and an historic Halloween parade ensures this will be a most fascinating weekend.
As I am scheduled to speak on developments along Route 66 in western Arizona, the ongoing developments at Ramada Kingman will add some zest to my presentation.
Hackberry General Store.
The new owners of the historic property have been renovating the complex with a goal being the development of the cities only Route 66 resort. To that end they are adding tour packages for the Route 66 corridor as well as the Kingman historic district.
With the exception of finalizing a few details, the tours are ready for you to enjoy. For small groups, individuals, or couples, the tours will provide visitors an opportunity to experience a bit of time travel with cruises to the Grand Canyon Caverns, Seligman, and Oatman in a vintage automobile
For larger groups the hotel van will be pressed into service. In either case I will serve as the primary guide. Likewise with the driving and walking tours of the historic district.
For something a bit more expansive, I am still involved in a limited partnership with Open Road Productions. Setting this companies tours apart from others is the customization of Route 66 and southwest adventures to a groups special interests and needs.
The Route 66 Walk of Fame unveiled at last years Route 66 International Festival will get an appropriate international touch this year as three of the four inductees are members of the international Route 66 community. The actual ceremony will take place during the Best of the West on 66 festival in September. However, as the inductees will be unable to attend, a special ceremony will take place when they stop in Kingman.
Author Jim Hinckley signs books for visitors traveling Route 66 with Dale Butel.
This coming Tuesday the first of these ceremonies will take place when Dale Butel of Route 66 Tours stops for lunch at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner for lunch. That will ensure the week kicks off on an adventuresome note. The day will actually start with a morning meeting that has piqued my interest. Steve LeSueur of My Designs, a new company in Kingman is spearheading development of an area marketing campaign and I may be providing service as a consultant. At this juncture a bit of self promotion might be in order. To date I have provided service as a Route 66 tourism development consultant to Ramada Kingman, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, the organizers of several events, and a few tour companies such as Adventure Caravans. If your organization or community can use my input and experience, please drop me a note. To close this out today, I would like to respond to some recent inquiries. For information about the Route 66 Association of Kingman (pending events, murals, membership, etc.) call (928)753-1314 or stop by the office at Dunton Motors next to Mr. D’z. For vendor information during the Best of the West festival, contact Dora Manley at (928)279-4560. For our friends in the land down under contemplating an adventure on Route 66, contact the fine folks at Route 66 Tours. For our friends in the low countries who want the best in a Route 66 adventure, contact U.S. Bikers (tell them Jim sent you). For information about developments at the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, contact the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation. For the most reliable information pertaining to Route 66 road closures and similar updates, purchase a copy of EZ 66 by Jerry McClanahan and check out his website. As always, if you have Route 66 related questions, drop me a note. If I don’t have an answer my bet is that we can find someone who does.
Chadwick Drive in Kingman carried traffic on the National Old Trails Highway as well as Route 66.
The official distance of the longest uninterrupted section of Route 66 is 154 miles. That, however, doesn’t include little segments between Crookton Road and Topock, such as Chadwick Drive in Kingman.
So, I settled on 160-Miles of Smiles as the basis for an innovative marketing campaign. The central premise is that Kingman is more than a mere stop on the way to somewhere, it is a community located at the very center of a vacation paradise.
As an example, in addition to the 160-mile Route 66 corridor peppered with an array of attractions that range from Angel’s barbershop in Seligman and Grand Canyon Caverns Resort to the Hackberry General Store and Oatman, consider the other attractions in the Kingman area.
Hualapai Mountain Park
The forested Hualapai Mountain Park with its lodge, motel, and miles of shade dappled trails is a mere twelve miles south of Kingman. Grand Canyon West with its internationally acclaimed skywalk is sixty miles to the north.
In the foothills of the Cerbat Mountains, embracing the city at the northwest edge along U.S. 93, are miles of scenic hiking and mountain bike trails. They course through towering monoliths of stone and past historic sites such as Fort Beale.
Accessed via Route 66 are the only road to the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and Supai with its thundering waterfalls. The latter is also the last community where the mail is delivered by mule train resultant of its remote location. Kingman is also home to several award winning museums including one that is the first of its kind dedicated solely to the history of the electric vehicle.
To fully develop this marketing and promotional campaign born of efforts and initiatives to reorganize the Route 66 Association of Kingman, and the success of the Illinois Blue Carpet Corridor tour, I first need to market and promote the concept. Both of these components figure into my presentation during the Miles of Possibilities conference that takes place the last weekend in October as part of the Route 66 festivities and convention in Edwardsville, Illinois. Arguably, Route 66 should be quite easy to market as that highway has an almost unimaginable international recognition. What hinders the marketing of the road which is crucial for preservation as well as development could simplistically be placed in two categories. One, there is an almost complete lack of unity within the Route 66 community. During the roads heyday the U.S. Highway 66 Association linked businesses and communities in high profile promotions. In addition, this association served as an advocate for the entire corridor. To date, during the highways renaissance that centralized type of support structure has been lacking. The long term goal of the National Park Service facilitated Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative is to rectify that problem. Even though the project has been under development for almost two years, most of the work has been behind the scenes. With the forthcoming workshops and town hall meetings that will change in a rather dramatic manner. This is the link for the initiatives official website that contains a mission and goals statement as well as information pertaining to the public meetings.
Hualapai Mountain Park trails.
The second issue is that the current promotion of Route 66 is akin to preaching to the choir. There is a need to reach out to a new demographic and infuse them with a passion for this highway, as well as its unique culture and its infectious camaraderie that makes every stop and festival seem like a family reunion. That is why I am so excited about Scott Piotrowski’s ongoing work to host a huge multifaceted 90th anniversary celebration of Route 66 at the highways original western terminus in Los Angeles next year. I can’t imagine a better place for introducing the allure of Route 66 to a new audience than in the middle of the nations largest metropolitan area. There is another exciting endeavor currently under development and that is the work of Candacy Taylor. If you are unfamiliar with her projects I suggest beginning with this website. In my neighborhood there are 160-Miles of Smiles awaiting discovery. That, however, is only part of the 2,000 plus miles of smiles that is an adventure on Route 66 from Grant Park in Chicago to the Last Stop Shop on Santa Monica Pier.
Last week it was lunch and an interview with William Shatner. This week it was a visit with the crew of Jim Conkle’s latest endeavor to preserve a bit of Route 66; Jess McEntire, Len Nordmann, Ester Hollister, Kim Hill and Lucas Wilger. Joining us during their stop in Kingman were musician Chris Commisso, the owners of Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner, and Pat McBrayer.
To say the very least, the last week or two has been a bit hectic as well as rather interesting. Meetings, chasing deadlines, developing new projects, meeting with tour groups, interviews, and working on a few writing assignments such as a revision for Backroads of Arizona were but a few of the highlights.
Barney the Wonder Truck and Jess McEntire’s rolling billboard for a Man on a Mission at the Ramada Kingman.
Counted among the fascinating visits this week was coffee and conversation with Wally Bellows, a collector and enthusiast who has a very broad fascination with early tractor manufacturers, and a collection that reflects his interests. As it so happens I am in the final stages of developing a feature (more than ten months in the making) for Brad Bowling at Antique Power magazine about a restored Galloway tractor here in Kingman.
I recently wrote a feature about William Galloway, the forgotten tycoon of Waterloo, Iowa and his manufacturing company for Legends of America. Meeting with Mr. Bellows, however, was akin to opening King Tut’s tomb.
The complex and intertwined business dealings of Mr. Galloway were but the tip of the iceberg. As Bellows pulled original catalogs, promotional materials, and newspaper articles from what began to look like a magic bag of tricks, I discovered a fascinating lost world. Imagine, there was once a time when Iowa gave Michigan a serious run for their money as the machinery manufacturing capital of America.
I can almost assure you that more than a few articles will be spawned from this meeting with Wally Bellows. I can also assure that this will not be our last visit.
Meanwhile, the remodel and upgrades at the historic Dunton Motors building (future home of my office as well as those of the Route 66 Association of Kingman) continues. As their interesting inventory of vintage vehicles grows, so does my excitement about the view we will enjoy when meeting with Route 66 enthusiasts.
At the other end of town, another development is also fueling my growing excitement about the transformation of Kingman. The upgrades and additions at Ramada Kingman, originally a 1960’s era Holiday Inn continue with the goal being establishment of the cities only full service Route 66 resort.
One of the vehicles under consideration for use as a time machine by the owners of the Ramada Kingman. Courtesy Ramada Kingman
I mentioned this in a previous posting but a rather unique Route 66 attraction is moving one step closer to becoming a reality. How do you feel about a bit of time travel to enhance the Route 66 experience?
That is exactly the concept behind tours currently being developed by the owners of the Ramada. Knowledgeable guides, vintage cars to serve as time machines, and 100 miles of scenic Route 66 peppered with authentic roadside attractions will transport you to the era of I Like Ike buttons and Edsels. My dearest friend and I closed out the week on a most pleasant note; dinner with friends and a most relaxing evening under a desert sky tinged with the glow of neon at the Hill Top Motel. The unofficial festivities kicked off at Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner. Mike and Sharon Ward, Dean Kennedy, Rosie Ramos of Fender’s River Road Resort, Mike May, the Greers from Truxton, Greg Arnold and Alie Reynolds from Giganticus Headicus and a few others made for a lively and boisterous dinner. After an excellent meal and a visit with the owner to discuss his plans for the expansive remodel that will commence on Monday, the festivities moved pool side at the Hill Top Motel. Thank you for the hospitality Dennis and Herberta. A little beer, some wine from Route 66 wineries, laughter, friends and the next thing I knew, it was almost 10:00. And so ended another interesting week on Route 66.