|Author Jim Hinckley with a Chinese tour group|
As an author I often compare life to a book. From beginning to end it is a series of chapters – some keep you on the edge of the seat with anticipation, some are dull enough to lull you to sleep, and others are tragic and sad.
Last summer a new chapter began. As it is still unfolding, I am unsure if it is the most exciting chapter to date. I am, however, sure that is one of the most satisfying, the most challenging, the most frustrating, and the most enjoyable.
This evening its a presentation at Grand Canyon Caverns and next week, at the Route 66 Festival in Holbrook. The following week I will speak on harnessing the resurgent interest in Route 66 as a catalyst for development as well as revitalization in Needles. In a few weeks, its off to Germany for the first European Route 66 festival, and another presentation.
Who could have guessed that a presentation about murder, mayhem, disasters, celebrities, colorful characters, good pie, and friendly folk would be this popular?
Plans are already underway for attendance of Cuba Fest this fall, and a presentation at the Wagon Wheel Motel. It is shaping up to be a spectacular weekend, especially as I have learned that the Road Crew will be performing at Belmont Winery.
The latest chapter in my story began last summer with a bit of eye trouble (I couldn’t see any reason to continue working for an employer who had absolutely no respect for me and they couldn’t see any reason to employ someone who had the audacity to express frustration with a complete lack of communication or respect).
The encouragement that followed actually became a part of the story in a previous chapter. Suffice to say, last summer when the chapter that had drug on for to long came to an abrupt end, my dearest friend nudged me to cut loose and make a valiant effort to pay bills, and eat on a regular basis, by doing what I enjoy most; writing, helping people plan adventures, inspiring people to take the adventure that they plan, sharing adventures, and in general, tell people where to go.
In retrospect, my dearest friend has been gently nudging me forward for more than three decades. For that, I am truly grateful.
As the summer of 2015 was the first time in our more than thirty year relationship that I wasn’t bringing home a steady paycheck or two, and as I have worked for the brand for more than forty years, the very idea of living life without that steady pay check was a foreign concept. concept. However, I further encouragement to step out of the old comfort zone came with the discovery that at my age many employers would prefer that you quietly await the arrival of a social security check, or become a greeter at Walmart, and that those who will hire you seem to be graduates of the modern school of economics (hire only part time employees and pay them top wages, for 1979).
To date, in this latest chapter, I have been privileged to play a role in the transformation of a decrepit mid 1960’s Holiday Inn into a Route 66 resort (thank you Joel Zubaid), and to assist John McEnulty, and his son Sean, in adding some shine to the formerly tarnished gem that is Grand Canyon Caverns. I was able to pen my first self published book (a guide to the Kingman area) with some invaluable assistance from a volunteer in Pennsylvania, and write a book on the Route 66 renaissance and the people behind it.
Even better, there has been time for friends, and time to help people live their dreams. This chapter isn’t without its worries, frustrations, and high anxiety, but these are overshadowed by the invigorating sense of adventure.