To say the very least, my Route 66 odyssey has been a long and strange journey. It began with a trip to California from Virginia in 1959, in an old Chevy convertible that dad got cheap as it had been underwater during a hurricane.
In the summer of 1966, we moved west from Michigan to Arizona following Route 66 from a point just south of Chicago. There, on the pre-1952 alignment of the old road, in the shadow of the Black Mountains, I learned to ride a bicycle and to drive.
In my wildest dreams I never imagined following Route 66 from Oatman and the deserts of the Sacramento Valley to de Prael in Amsterdam, a holiday fair in Utrecht Netherlands, or to Ofterdingen in Germany. Nor could I imagine having friends from throughout the world because of my association with Route 66 and their fascination with it.
In retrospect, it all seems a bit surreal. In 1968, I was riding my bicycle to Ed’s Camp to water Ed Edgerton’s tomato plants. Today, I provide consultation services for companies and communities looking to capitalize on the Route 66 renaissance, and have sponsors such as Grand Canyon Caverns and Ramada Kingman that subsidize my efforts to promote Route 66 as America’s longest attraction.
Even stranger are the incredible coincidences that have come to seem normal. Several years ago I provided a bit of assistance to Melanie Stengele, a German educator working through the University of Texas on a project that included a need to visit the long forgotten Arizona ghost town of Signal.
Several weeks ago she contacted me to ask if I had plans to attend the European Route 66 Festival, and if so, would the schedule allow making a presentation at a secondary school in Bensheim where she teaches. As it turns out, the school is located only a few miles from the city that we fly into, and only a few miles from the village where Sylvia and Bernhard live, friends that we will attend the festival with.
For the trip to Germany, the City of Kingman has agreed to pay a per Diem for five days, and to reimbursement for the cost of my airline ticket. Grand Canyon West and the Route 66 Association of Kingman are also contributing.
Last Friday, T-Mobile of Kingman signed on as a contributing sponsor for the German adventure. I almost feel like an entry in NASCAR!
Before we can place the full focus on the German adventure, there is a journey to Needles this coming Thursday. I have been asked to make a presentation about my association with Route 66, and how the Route 66 renaissance can be utilized as a catalyst for revitalization and development.
Then, on return from Germany, I can begin work on creating a series of presentations for the fall tour. The tentative schedule is to make a presentation during Cuba Fest (third weekend in October) in Cuba, Missouri, and two presentations, one on Route 66 in general and another on Route 66 in the southwest, at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park just to the east of St. Louis.
What a strange and wondrous journey! From Oatman to Ofterdingen.