May you live in interesting times, as I recall this often used phrase is a Chinese curse or adage depending on the source. Personally, I see it as both a blessing and curse.
Living in interesting times ensures that life is seldom boring. The flip side is that quite often the interesting times referenced are also troubled times.
Case in point, this is a presidential election year in America and it is shaping up to be quite historic. To say the very least, the campaign by both the Democratic and Republican Party is the most tragic, unnerving, maddening, frustrating, comedic, worrisome, divisive, sickening, goofy, and generally idiotic one that I have ever witnessed.
Will Rogers once quipped that we have the best politicians money can buy. One need only to look at the Democratic Parties candidate for first female president to see just how astute an observer of the human condition Mr. Rogers was.
Quite often politics has been referred to as a circus. To validate this observation I suggest listening to the slate of Republican candidates, particularly the leader of the pack.
A favorite Central Avenue stop for my dearest friend and I.
Okay, now that I have vented about the state of American politics, lets move on to more interesting topics; in particular, Route 66.
Yesterday morning I enjoyed a most delightful breakfast (steak omelette) at Ramada Kingman with Dean Kennedy, a good friend and fellow Route 66 enthusiast that has recently relocated to Albuquerque. Needless to say, a primary topic of discussion were developments pertaining to the hot button issue that is the pending transformation of the Route 66 corridor in his newly adopted hometown that would, in effect, negate the brilliant and insight plan for Central Avenue adopted in 2012.
Most of the week, however, was consumed with meetings, planning sessions, and the ongoing battle to stay on the treadmill that is the fast evolving world of “technological development.”
The latter took the form of a suggestion that I utilize Mail Chimp (?), trying to utilize an increasingly outdated Windows XP system, a valiant attempt to weave the marketing of Jim Hinckley as a brand, his books, and now, his presentations via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Blogger. There was also the long delayed addition of an embryonic podcast to my promotional toolbox (thank you, Mike Wagner of Wagner Brother’s Real Estate).
After months of delays and priority projects keeping this on the back burner, I was finally able to address its development and launch through the new KAAA/KZZZ radio program, Live From Kingman. Both projects are rather exciting as they provide opportunities for the promotion of the Route 66 community.
On last Friday’s program I was able to facilitate an interview with Bill Thomas of Atlanta, Illinois and Kaisa Barthuli of the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.
All of this leads to reflections on my blossoming career as a gum beater. I am always amazed that folks turn out and even pay to see this performance. Recently, the Route 66 festival in Holbrook was added to my list of scheduled appearances where I will speak on the National Old Trails Highway and Route 66.
Meanwhile, opportunities to be involved with the transformation of Kingman continue to present themselves, and as I am a firm believer in put up or shut up, it is difficult to say no. In addition to serving as a promotional and developmental consultant for Ramada Kingman, the Route 66 Association of Kingman, and Grand Canyon Caverns, I have accepted a position as commissioner for the cities historic preservation committee.
Of course the deeper you delve into the inner working of politics, technological developments and related marketing, writing as a career, or committees, the more opportunities you have for frustrations. Recently the frustration meter pegged out when a local business owner smooth talked his way into being listed as the contractor of record for a pivotal component in the revitalization of the Kingman historic district, and then immediately shut down a project that was two years in development and mere weeks away from completion.
To wrap this up, I would like to invite you to the Route 66 Association of Kingman’s March meet and greet that will take place at Black Bridge Brewery on Beale Street (one block north of Andy Devine Avenue, Route 66), 6:00 PM, March 10. If your in the neighborhood, have a bite to eat at one of the historic districts great restaurants, and then stop by for a cold one as well as an opportunity to meet some great folks.
Mark Fletcher, an Australian television personality interviews author Jim Hinckley.
It all started simply enough; my dearest friend gently but persistently encouraged me to pursue the childhood goal of becoming a writer. That was in 1990.
So, after a southern Arizona back roads adventure led to the discovery of a time capsule wrecking yard that had survived the scrap drives during WWII in an obscure desert town down along the Mexican border, I decided to give writing a try.
First, I scrounged up an Underwood typewriter that was probably as old as the newest car in the wrecking yard, and had the photos from the trip developed. Next, I contacted the managing editor at one of the most prestigious automotive publications (no homework, no query letter or introduction)and sold my first feature about Myloe’s Marvelous Mechanical Menagerie.
From those humble beginnings grounded in ignorance and fueled with a passion to share stories of obscure history and grand adventures, my career as writer commenced. That was fourteen books, several hundred feature articles, and countless adventures ago.
Hard lessons were learned along the way, sometimes more than once. One of these was that an author spends very little time writing. In fact, if the author intends to eat on a regular basis, very little time is spent in the office.
Additional lessons learned included the need to develop the skills of a hostage negotiator, to memorize the phone number for suicide prevention, to learn the nuances of marketing worthy of a presidential candidate, to find time to devote to the studies of a never ending technological learning curve, to never loose the ability to find wonder everywhere, and to develop a very thick hide. Learning to thrive on rejection also helped.
Recently I added presentations to my resume. Of course this meant that I had to learn how to create and deliver the presentations, and how to market the presentations that were needed for the marketing of books written as well as to increase the exposure needed to obtain contracts for the writing of books.
As a package, all of this has led to some rather extraordinary adventures, and internationally embarrassing incidents. In short, it has been an odyssey worthy of Jason in his quest for the golden fleece.
This year I kicked off a series of presentations entitled An Armchair Tour of Route 66. At this time the schedule calls for making this presentation at the Route 66 festival in Holbrook on June 10, and at the European Route 66 Festival in July.
However, not surprisingly, it is two other presentations with rather catchy titles that will most likely keep me quite busy this year; Ghost Towns of Route 66, and the one garnering the most attention, Murder, Mayhem, Disasters, and Celebrities on Route 66.
Both of these are based on books written, Ghost Towns of Route 66, and The Illustrated Route 66 Historic Atlas. Needless to say, these titles will be available for sale at the presentations.
This year Route 66 celebrates 90 years as the Main Street of America. This year marks 26 years since the quest to become a writer when I grow up commenced.
I was sipping coffee and talking with my dearest friend at Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner in Kingman while waiting for John McEnulty, owner of Grand Canyon Caverns, when a beam of light fell across her face in a perfect string of dots. A quick photo was snapped and we got a few laughs but throughout the rest of the day, and on Sunday as I worked on the caption file for the new book, and again early on Monday morning, I found myself drawn to that picture of a charming women with sparkling blue eyes.
My dearest friend, my wife for more than thirty years, my partner who has weathered decades of storms with me is a truly beautiful woman, and I am a very fortunate man. These thoughts soon led to meditations on my world in general, an interesting if somewhat odd place that has become a brand of sorts, Jim Hinckley’s America.
Over the years our little adventures have evolved from quaint dates in my trusty but battered ’46 GMC to the drug store soda fountain to epic grand odysseys of an international nature. Woven into the adventures now shared through blog posts, books, presentations, customized tours, and lectures are good friends, memories, and lots of stories.
Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba, Missouri
Tying it all together is a simple old road signed with two sixes dubbed the Main Street of America in 1927, a dusty desert town named Kingman that is struggling with coming of age, and a childhood quest to become a writer.
Route 66, the Mother Road, that fabled old highway brought my dearest friend and I together when dating and has since carried us to the Netherlands where we received an invitation to a French nudist camp for seniors at a winery, and enjoyed a most memorable evening surrounded by friends at de Prael in Amsterdam. This year it will take us to Germany, to Holbrook, to Cuba, Missouri, to Los Angeles, and on adventures yet planned. What a grand adventure is a life shared with a good friend!
To those who have yet to discover the magic of adventures on Route 66, this is your year. The 90th anniversary of that storied old highway will be celebrated from Chicago to Santa Monica, and in Germany as well.
Season that trip with ample time to meet the people that provide the magic. With that said, if your in the neighborhood (Kingman) on the evening of March 10, grab some dinner on Beale Street (one block north of Route 66) and stop in Black Bridge Brewery. The Route 66 Association of Kingman will be hosting their March “meet and greet” and a good time will be had by one and all.
This is the 90th anniversary of Route 66, arguably the most famous highway in the world, and it is shaping up to be the most exciting year in its storied history.
From Chicago to Santa Monica special events and celebrations are being planned. There will even be a European Route 66 Festival in Germany this July.
The most obscure or remote location imaginable is now a destination for legions of travelers from just about every country on earth – if it is on Route 66. A few short years ago the epitaph was being written for vintage auto courts and motels. Now, if they are on Route 66, they are revered treasures, and a few such as the iconic Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, again rated one of the top 25 budget motels in the nation by TripAdvisor, require reservations weeks in advance.
The resurgent interest in the old highway, a renaissance in every sense of the world, is fueling an unprecedented grassroots preservationist movement, and communities large and small, and even empty, are being transformed. To say the very least, it is all quite exciting.
Grand Canyon Caverns
Early this morning my dearest friend and I enjoyed a delightful breakfast at Rutherford’s Route 66 Family Diner (Texas steak skillet and coffee) with John McEnulty, owner of Grand Canyon Caverns. The once tarnished resort has been given a new lease on life and McEnulty’s infectious enthusiasm is manifest everywhere on the property from tours of recently discovered levels that commence in March to the recently renovated RV park that is receiving accolades. The motel has been outfitted with new beds, there are horseback trail rides and covered wagon trips into the back country, and this fall the caverns grounds will serve as the venue for an expansive music festival.
Organizers of the Route 66 festival in Holbrook have asked that I attend and make a presentation on Route 66 in support of their arts center activities. This embryonic festival includes tours through Petrified Forest National Park on an alignment of Route 66 not open to the general park, except during this festival, in more than sixty years. The Chillin’ on Beale events in Kingman, held on the third Saturday evening of each month, April through October, will be a part of the Route 66 Association of Kingman’s 66 Celebrates 90 initiative. In addition to pub crawls, car shows, and Cinema Under the Stars, plans are being developed for a series of special presentations to be added to the schedule. Another development in Kingman is the weekly Live from Kingman program every Friday morning. The three hour program, including a one hour segment on Route 66, can be listened to live via the internet through the KAAA/KZZZ website. Positive comments and reviews are being received from throughout the United States and Europe and it is only the third episode. If your having an event, or would like to promote your Route 66 business or museum, please, let me know. I will facilitate an interview. Next week, there will be another installment of Your Story, tales of the road told by readers. Share yours and enter to win a copy of Travel Route 66. Also on the schedule for next weeks postings will be updates on the Route 66: The Road Ahead Initiative, the Rockabilly event in Tucumcari, the Route 66 photo contest at Ramada Kingman, and tours heading down the road in the coming weeks. To wrap this up, here is the latest press release from the Route 66 Association of Kingman, which is also an invitation. I should note that in the next week or so, they will be accepting membership applications through their website, as well as donations for the neon sign initiative.
Route 66 Association of Kingman Builds Partnerships
Kingman, AZ, February 19, 2016– From its inception a primary goal of the Route 66 Association of Kingman was to foster development of a sense of community and community purpose. The cornerstone of that initiative was a monthly “meet and greet” at a member business with everyone invited from association members to the community, and even travelers.
In addition to fostering development of a sense of community, the monthly gatherings serve as excellent networking opportunities. They also provide an opportunity for business owners to showcase their products, and to build recognition within the community.
The March association “meet and greet” is schedule for March 10, at 6:00 P.M. It will take place at Black Bridge Brewery located at 421 W. Beale Street in Kingman, Arizona, one block north of Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66).
The brewery is recognized as one of the “50 Amazing Nanobreweries” in the United States. For more information about the brewery their website is www.blackbridgebrewery.com. They are also a member of Kingman Circle (www.kingmancircle.com), an innovative pooled resource marketing initiative for Kingman area businesses developed by Ignite Marketing.
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If you would like more information please contact Jamie Taylor or Scott Duntonat (928)530-2056 or (928)897-7766 or email at Route66kingmanaz@yahoo.com.