The people and their passion are what made Route 66 special and unique. However, from its inception Route 66 has been an artery of commerce. On both counts nothing has changed.
This mornings focus was two fold; the business of Route 66 and the people that make it special. First, I sent Dave Alexander some new additions for the Jim Hinckley’s America Gallery at Legends of America, your one stop shop for prints that are sure to inspire a road trip or two.
Today’s additions to the gallery that included scenes from Hackberry and Valentine were souvenirs from the Sunday afternoon adventure. Werner Fleischmann, an associate from Switzerland that is renovating several historic properties in the Kingman area had requested that I meet with him at the model home for his Green Wood Village development south of Hackberry for some uninterrupted informal discussions.
This was followed by the completion of a detailed report pertaining to the utilization of Route 66 as a catalyst for development and revitalization of the historic district in Kingman. Since the 2014 Route 66 International Festival rather dramatic things have been taking place in the city.
This morning I received notice that large new sign is being erected at the Powerhouse Visitor Center. This will provide the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum with a promotional boost.
I also spent some time working on a presentation that will be made at the Miles of Possibilities Conference in Edwardsville, Illinois on the last weekend in October. Needless to say, as the conference schedule includes presentations by personalities and experts in their field such as Jim Ross, Jerry McClanahan, Kaisa Barthuli, Larry Clonts, Swa Frantzen, Anne Slanina, and Bill Thomas, I was quite honored by the request to participate.
The event is shaping up to be a near perfect blending of the fun filled Route 66 family reunion that is so much a part of these events, and the business of Route 66. Here is a link for a website with details about the activities planned, and the speakers at the conference.
There was also a bit of time spent working on the travel outline for the trip to Edwardsville. This will be another working holiday (of the best kind) as we will need to develop a new photo portfolio for the next book.
That takes us the people aspect of the morning. On Saturday, I had a lengthy and interesting discussion with Candacy Taylor about some of her developing projects, and the transitional state of the publishing industry that includes the increasing trend of productive, talented, and seasoned authors living one step above the poverty level resultant of the current standards pertaining to advances, royalties, marketing, and reading trends.
This is not an issue limited to writers in this county, it is an international problem. Lately, the issue has been generating main stream media interest. This link is for a story published in London, and this one is for a related feature.
Candacy has completed an array of interesting projects. The current endeavor will shine light on some of the most obscure and interesting aspects of Route 66 history, some of which has been in the shadows for far to long. If you are unfamiliar with her work, I suggest that you take a few minutes to check out her website.
This morning I began gathering some of the contact information she will be needing for the latest project. I am quite eager to watch this develop.
Then I turned attentions to my newest endeavor that only has to clear budget approval and negotiations to receive the green light. The next Route 66 title will be a bit unique.
The initial request from the publisher was to craft an outline for a book that would provide the armchair traveler with an opportunity to experience a Route 66 odyssey, and yet, it would also need to be a book that would encourage and assist the first time Route 66 traveler. As it if that wasn’t enough of a daunting challenge, it would also need to be a book that would benefit the seasoned Route 66 traveler and enthusiast.
Developing a concept that met the publishers criteria required a number of very long walks, and some discussions with my dearest friend who also happens to be a very insightful adviser.
The cornerstone for the endeavor will be the people; the characters, the business owners, the international legion of enthusiasts, and the visionaries. So, this morning I composed a list of people to interview for the book, and began composing a list of key questions.
As always, I am eager to begin a new and challenging project. There is a bit of that old familiar apprehension. So goes, the fun, and the business, of Route 66.
Adjusting to a decidedly different work schedule, and adjusting my concept of what constitutes a steady paycheck has ensured that August 2015 will be a most memorable month. As a bonus, it has been a month of adventure, in the office that serves as central control for Jim Hinckley’s America, and on the road.
Courtesy Historic Vehicle Association
Counted among the highlights of the past few weeks has to be the opportunity that my dearest friend and I had to share in the adventure with the folks from the Historic Vehicle Association that were recreating Edsel Ford’s epic 1915 odyssey. The centennial of Ford’s trip provided an excellent opportunity for the association to highlight a century of great American road trips, the nations rich automotive heritage, and the wide array of contributions these have made to American society. The only thing that would have made it better is if we could have tagged along as passengers in a century old Ford as it traversed the National Old Trails Highway and Route 66 through the Black Mountains. In one of those odd twists that seem to be part of adventures in time travel, the curtain between past and present parted briefly during the associations stop in Kingman. Even though it was a memorable event, it wasn’t a pleasant one.
Courtesy Historic Vehicle Association
From the Edsel Ford journal, “Kingman, Arizona, Friday July 16, 1915 – Stayed around town all day until 4:30 on account of heat. Met party in Stutz from St. Louis – Mr. and Mrs. Scott and 3 children, also Mr. Hillerby. Arrived at Needles 8:30 P.M. after being informed that highway men were along the road. Heat very oppressive. Slept on porch of hotel. Stutz crew half hour after ourselves. Day’s run 72 miles.” During their stay in Kingman in the summer of 2015, the association was visited by highwaymen. The support trailer was broken into and thousands of dollars in equipment were stolen. Edsel’s trip, and the associations, as well as their purpose for undertaking the adventure, were stories that needed to be shared. So, I called a few old contacts and have penned features for Old Cars Weekly and Hemming’s Classic Car. Kingman is not the only Route 66 link in Edsel’s journey that took place eleven years before that famous highway was certified. “St. Louis, Missouri, Sunday June 20, 1915 – Breakfast at ten: drove to Curlees at Kirkwood. After dinner went for ride. Got Berkeley Sloan off train from Valley Park. Heavy thunderstorm prevent our leaving at a reasonable hour. Finally stopped and were able to leave at 1:00 A.M. Found Art Hickman in our room asleep, on our return. Day’s run 30 miles.” “Williams, Arizona, Thursday July 15, 1915 – Found Cadillac and Stutz crews at Harvey Hotel at Williams waiting for us. All got supplies at garage. Talked to Ford agent. Got going about eleven. Had lunch at Ash Forks. Loafed along; found it very hot. Bought some gas and oranges at Seligman. Stutz broke another spring about 15 miles out and returned to Seligman. Cadillac and Ford went on to Kingman, arriving at midnight, Brunswick Hotel. Very rough and dusty roads. Wired Los Angeles Branch for axle parts. Day’s run 146 miles.”
I have also completed the revised edition of Backroads of Arizona, and coordinated photography with Kerrick James. This was long overdue but the timing for the project wasn’t ideal as there were an array of pressing issues that required immediate attention, or sooner. The self publishing endeavor has proven to be an adventure in itself. First there was learning to navigate the template, and the writing of the text. Then there was the discovery that the template utilized was not the ideal one for the project, and it could not be resolved with cut and paste. Still, step one, part two is complete. Next is editorial assistance and some honest critical evaluation (once again, thank you Mike Ward). Then comes the addition of photos, and publication. The deadline of June 1 has obviously been adjusted. Now, I am shooting for a release by the end or summer, or early fall. If you know an incurable road trip addict, and are looking for a unique gift… The first podcast, starring Toshi Goto of the Japanese Route 66 Association (thank you, Toshi!) is in a similar state of limbo. It is also moving forward, with editing and the addition of introductions, taking place now. This morning I received word that a proposal submitted a few weeks ago has received approval. Next, the budget process. Once those issues are resolved, work will begin on another Route 66 related title. This one will be unlike anything I have previously attempted as it will be more intimate portrait of the road and the people that give it such a sense of addictive vibrancy. On occasion, in recent weeks, this unfolding chapter in life leaves me quite tense with a feeling that I am juggling chain saws with one hand tied behind my back while straddling the third rail. There are, however, occasions when I find myself grinning like the Cheshire cat. Historic journeys, epic odysseys, and grand adventures pale in comparison to the grandest adventure of all, the adventure of life itself.
On occasion in recent weeks I felt as though my compass needle was spinning wildly or the Garmin never stops telling me to spin in circles to calibrate. I am not exactly starting a new chapter in life but at this late date the recent transitions are fraught with a swirling mix of anxieties, episodic moments of dark humor, misdirection, occasional confusion, numerous opportunities for a laugh, frustrations, excitement, enthusiasm, and eager anticipation. In my world every day is either an adventure or an adventure waiting to happen but the recent turn of events has been, to say the very least, quite interesting.
As it has been almost a week since I last posted updates from my corner of the world on the road less traveled, let me bring you up to speed.
The first step was to move from a set schedule to a schedule of my own creation. Being raised in a home where most every day started by preparing me for boot camp (“It is zero five hundred, lets go, everybody up.”) that wasn’t overly difficult. Still, a week was consumed with developing a schedule that fit my early morning habits and yet allowed for me to dovetail this with the real world where the day seldom begins before 8:00.
So, as an example, this morning commenced at 4:30, or zero four-thirty. After answering a few emails, there was a shower, shave and breakfast.
I usually have a number of phone calls to make first thing in the morning. So, I start with those on the east coast.
Courtesy Historic Vehicle Association.
At 6:30, I finalized details with the Historic Vehicle Association pertaining to the acquisition of materials to complete a couple of feature articles, one for Old Cars Weekly and the other for Hemmings Classic Car. These are about the associations recent cross country trip in a 1915 Ford to foster discussion about the nations rich automotive history and to celebrate a century of road trips.
Next, completion of an outline for Route 66 centered marketing for Ramada Kingman, an historic property that the owners are in the process of transforming into a Route 66 resort.
This was followed by coffee at Mr. D’z and a meeting with Gary Cron of Baby Boomer Radio, and Sam Frisher, owner of the El Trovatore Motel. The primary topics of discussion were two fold; the ongoing need for development of coordinated tourism related promotion in Kingman, and the pending podcast (Gary is providing editing and technical assistance).
Afterwards I stopped by the Ramada, and picked up the mail. The rest of the day will be consumed with completion of the two feature articles, and ongoing work on the self published guide to Kingman. A meeting with Robert Bravo of Grand Canyon Western Ranch is pending for later this afternoon.
Yesterday was rather interesting. After filing the sales tax report for the month, and breakfast with our son, I simply cleaned up the email and created a photo album highlighting adventures on the road less traveled, and the people that makes those adventures memorable.
That afternoon I had a meeting scheduled out near Hackberry. However, that meeting was rescheduled, but not before I was half way there.
So, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity for a road trip and a little photography. However, the monsoon clouds that add dramatic effect to photographs of the desert had transformed the area around Hackberry in a rather dramatic manner; a power pole was lying across the west bound lane of Route 66, the road into the town of Hackberry was a small river, the dirt roads, including the National Old Trails Highway that is also an early alignment of Route 66 was part quagmire, part rutted goat trail strewn with rocks of varying sizes and cow pies.
Rather than deal with the backed up traffic on Route 66, I decided to take the scenic route by following the old road through Hackberry. After fording a stream or two, picking my way through rocks washed into the road, carefully charting my way across stream crossings where the road had been carved into sheer drops, and covering the Jeep with mud as well as cow dung, I came to an abrupt halt at an impromptu road closure just east of the historic school; a lariat strung across a cattle guard.
Local ranchers had cleared a mountain of sand and mud from the road but fences were down, hence the home made gate. After passing this point there were two options; crossing under the tracks and back to Route 66 or following the National Old Trails Highway several miles west where it connected with the double six near Antares Point. I chose the latter.
With the exception of a half mile of thick deep mud, and a couple of small washouts, the road was in good shape. The century old culverts still perform as intended.
Tuesday last week, through Saturday, were simply consumed with writing. In addition to the feature articles, I finished the work for a revised edition of Backroads of Arizona, and focused on re working the self published guide to Kingman.
I have long held the belief that every day is another opportunity for adventure. That is now more true than ever.
Wolfgang Werz, German Route 66 Association, and author Jim Hinckley. Werz, and his wife Anja, are honorary members of the Route 66 Association of Kingman.
This morning I kick things off with a hearty congratulations to everyone who worked to make this years Birthplace of Route 66 Festival a success. Based upon the recent feature published at Route 66 News, (link above) I would be willing to bet that the City of Springfield is quite pleased with the turn out.
The number of attendees at an event, however, are but a small part of the overall story. The best indicator of an events success or failure is found in the social media postings from those who attended. Based upon that criteria, this event was an unequivocal hit.
Historic Los Angeles
The cornerstone of the Route 66 renaissance is the people, their passion, their generosity, their enthusiasm, and the camaraderie of a shared experience that transforms an event into a family reunion. If the organizers of an event can tap into this, if they have an understanding of what makes the Route 66 community unique and special, a Route event will be successful even if it is just a kazoo band on the corner and a park suitable for a large picnic.
The community that can tap into this renaissance, and harness it, has an unprecedented opportunity for the development of long term, sustainable growth. In addition, it provides a very unique opportunity for building a sense of community and community purpose. Pontiac, Illinois, Cuba, Missouri, and Galena, Kansas are superb examples. Surprisingly, the successful utilization of the Route 66 renaissance as a catalyst for development has largely been limited to metropolitan pockets and small rural communities. That, however, may change in the near future as Scott Piotrowski and his team tackle the multitude of problems associated with creating a Route 66 festival (an international 90th anniversary celebration at the highways original western terminus)in the heart of historic Los Angeles. Many of the templates used to transform communities such as Pontiac could be applied to towns along the Lincoln Highway, U.S. 50, or any historic or scenic road in America. However, what can not be duplicated is the passion, the zeal, and the camaraderie of the international Route 66 enthusiast. A European Lincoln Highway Festival with support from Lincoln Highway Associations in several countries is inconceivable. The Lincoln Highway is historic and scenic. There is international interest in the road and the preservation of its unique attributes. Still, it is not Route 66, the Main Street of America. From its inception, the double six has had the best press and publicity. From the Main Street of America campaign launched in 1927 to The Grapes of Wrath, a television show, Michael Wallis’s book that spawned the roads rebirth, and Cadillac commercials filmed on the highway for the Chinese market this road has served as center stage for almost a century of American societal evolution. If people aren’t traveling Route 66, they are planning a trip on Route 66, sometimes for years. And they form associations of like minded people, and they develop tour companies to cater to those people, and they create events and festivals to celebrate the roads culture and history – in the Czech Republic, Tokyo, and Germany. At the Miles of Possibilities conference in Edwardsville, Illinois in October, I will distill this a bit in my presentation about the 160 mile corridor in western Arizona. We will also be visiting with friends along the way, and joining in on the family reunion type festivities.
A gathering of Route 66 enthusiasts and friends at de Prael in Amsterdam.
Plans are tentative, but at this time we are thinking of making the return journey along sections of the Lincoln Highway for a comparative study, and to visit with friends such as recent Wyoming transplant Greg Hasman. This may be subject to change as early November isn’t the ideal time for a trip across the northern plains. Of course January isn’t the optimum time for touring the Netherlands and Belgium but we did it and had a grand time because of the people, the friends made through shared Route 66 adventures.
Circumstances can change plans rather quickly. A lesson learned long ago is that it is better to play the hand dealt with a smile than to dwell on what might have been if a different dealer was sitting at the table.
If things had gone as planned we would be in Springfield, Missouri this weekend meeting with friends and enjoying the music of the Road Crew at the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival. Instead we made the best of a bad situation and had a bit of adventure in our very backyard. As a bonus, this weekend we will visit with Anja and Wolfgang, friends from Germany and their tour group, have dinner with Kerrick James, an internationally acclaimed photographer, and take in Chillin’ on Beale that will include a showing of Edge of Eternity sponsored by the Route 66 Association of Kingman.
Stockton Hill Road
Several weeks ago we received an invitation from Robert Bravo to come and enjoy an afternoon at Grand Canyon Ranch Resort, which is actually located on the historic Diamond Bar Ranch. As the past ten days or so have been a rough tough ride, and as there is a great deal of solace in a road trip, my dearest friend and I took him up on the offer yesterday.
Stockton Hill Road north from Kingman, one leg of an alternate scenic route to Las Vegas, has always been a favorite drive of ours. Several decades ago, when my dearest friend and I were courting, this was where I called home.
Now, however, the old road is paved from end to end and a bit of suburbia has changed things a bit, at least in the first few miles. Still, it is a pleasant drive through vast and stunning landscapes.
Shortly before Stockton Hill Road terminates at the junction with the Dolan Springs and Meadview highway, a thick forest of towering Joshua Trees presses in on the road and stretches toward the towering Grand Wash Cliffs on the horizon. As you drive further toward Meadview, and then onto Diamond Bar Road, the forest of Dr. Seuss type trees adds a rather unique feel to the trip.
Diamond Bar Road was a bit of a shock. Today it is an excellent, modern paved road with wide shoulders and sweeping turns. It wasn’t to many years ago that this road was rougher than a cob.
As an example, on one trip some years ago the road was so rough the front hub assembly on my Ford F150 4×4 shook loose. Still, we have a long association with this country; we camped where the Skywalk is located today, made excursions along the Buck and Doe Road into Peach Springs and before meeting my dearest friend, I occasionally worked as a hand at the Diamond Bar Ranch.
Today this old ranch steeped in history that predates the arrival of American pioneers by centuries is a delightful resort, a blending of modern and rustic with the attributes of a working ranch intertwined with the romanticism of the American west framed by awe inspiring landscapes.
We started our Grand Canyon Ranch Resort visit by catching up with Robert over an excellent lunch of barbecue beef sandwiches, and discussions about ranch history with “Cowboy Dave”, the ranch historian and one of the strolling minstrels. Pounding rains put a damper on plans to saddle up and ride to the ridge line where the visitors are awarded stunning views, and sunset champagne. So, instead we made the trip via Robert’s truck.
American bison are not native to the area but this is a place for people to experience the west, as it was and as envisioned. So a small herd grazes along the ridges above the ranch. Up there are million dollar plus views of the deep canyons, the towering mountains, and as a bonus on our trip, thunderheads that add ever changing cloud shadows to the dramatic landscapes.
In between downpours, we visited with the ranch hands, checked out the cabins, talked with guests, and explored the old ruins as this is one of the oldest ranches in northern Arizona. To say the very least, we had a most delightful adventure.
The ranch is but one more reason why I often refer to Kingman as the most overlooked vacation destination on Route 66. This wonderful little oasis is a mere sixty miles from Kingman on good paved roads.
The next time you motor through Kingman on the way to Las Vegas, may I suggest a scenic detour? And if your in need of some down time to simply relax, perhaps a restful nights sleep in a quaint cabin after a wonderful dinner and comp fire songs and music might be in order.