Recently a publisher, on recommendation of Jim Ross, approached me
with an intriguing proposal – write a book about Route 66 that is in essence a bucket list. The challenge fascinated me. How do you whittle down America’s longest attraction, a 2,000 mile corridor of fascinating museums, quirky folk art parks, historic sites, renovated motels, ghost towns, dynamic cities, time capsule restaurants and diners, and breathtaking natural attractions into a list of one hundred must see locations? I accepted the challenge and the result is a fun new book scheduled for release on September 1 that is aptly titled, 100 Things to Do on Route 66 Before You Die.
(This “Buy Now” button is to purchase an autographed copy of Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town. Stay tuned for information about availability of other publications)
The book represents a departure from most of my published work. Even with Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town released on April 1, my focus is usually on adding depth and context to the subject. As an example, even though this book has a bit of whimsy and fun, and features a bit of my God given gift for telling folks where to go, the overall content centers on the renaissance, and the people that make this road a wonder of the world.
In retrospect tackling challenges would be a fitting title for a book about my adventures as a writer that commenced in 1990, and the related odysseys that resulted from a need to find work as well as promote the finished product. That, however, is what keeps this endeavor from being boring.
The current writing project represents another deviation. As the name implies in Bloody 66 for Rio Nuevo Publishing, the focus is on the dark side of this iconic old highway. I am delving into the stories of serial killers, unsolved murders, prejudice incited violence, and other sordid affairs. I touched on some of this with publication of The Illustrated Route 66 Historical Atlas but this time we are going deep into the shadows.
As most writers have discovered, a body of published work seldom equates with financial gain. However, for my dearest friend and I the reward has been immeasurable. We meet some of the most amazing and inspirational people. We have made friends throughout the world. We have had unimaginable international adventures. We have been provided with a seemingly endless number of opportunities to help folks have a fun and memorable adventure, and to provide a community service or two.
In regards to the latter, most recently I have been privileged to lend my services to the Route 66 Association of Kingman and the Promote Kingman initiative. It is quite refreshing to see two organizations work together with a focus on the fostering of a sense of community. The network of partners that now includes the generous folks at Route 66 Cruizers and Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce continues to grow and the results are rather dramatic.
The sign restoration and public art projects facilitated by the Route 66 Association of Kingman is manifesting with rather colorful results. Last evening the circa 1936 “Entering El Trovatore” neon sign cast a glow over Route 66 for the first time since at least the late 1940’s. The sign was donated to the association by the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, and restored by Legacy Signs. The sign display at the west end of the Legacy Sign building (south side of Andy Devine Avenue, Route 66, just east of the famous Kingman water tanks) will include an informative kiosk about the sign as well as map showing the original location.
In Kingman, Arizona, Route 66 cuts through El Trovatore Hill. However, originally it looped around the hill on a road now signed as Chadwick Drive. This section of Route 66 also carried traffic on the National Old Trails Highway from 1921 to 1926. This one sided sign greeted east bound travelers near the crest of the hill.
I have offered walking tours in the Kingman historic district for a number of years. Now, however, with the rise of supportive partnerships working toward a common goal, the Promote Kingman initiative is making it official. In addition to regularly scheduled tours, custom tours and presentations can be scheduled. Additional information, in addition to currently scheduled tours, is found on the Promote Kingman website.
There are two tours scheduled for this weekend that should add to the array of festivities that are a part of the 30th annual Route 66 Fun Run. The first is a neon nights tour on the evening of Friday, May 5. The second is on Sunday morning, May 7. Both tours are about 2 to 2.5 miles and require at least two hours. The length of time, however, is subject to change based on how often the group wants to stop, shop, or sample a locally brewed beer. Details are available at Promote Kingman, or on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page under events. To enhance the tours, to add some depth and context if you will, through arrangement with the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, I have downloaded several historic photos that me to illustrate our shared adventure.
With the walking tours, I may have inadvertently pushed the list of things to see on Route 66 before you die to 101.