The October adventure officially came to an end last Saturday
afternoon with the return of the rental car. It was, to say the very least, an amazing odyssey filled with good food, good friends, new discoveries, and endless road construction that nudged the frustration level into the anger zone. With few exceptions the weather was perfect, which again confirms my belief that mid to late October is the ideal time for a Route 66 adventure.
Officially it was a business trip. Still, I can think of few things more enjoyable than doing business on Route 66 and the back roads of America. To borrow from an old adage, the worst day on a road trip is better than the best day most anywhere else.
The primary destination was the Route 66 Miles of Possibilities Conference in Joliet, Illinois where I was scheduled to make a presentation on Kingman tourism 1900 – 2020. However, this was not just a Route 66 adventure as plans called for a slight detour to Jackson, Michigan where we would pay my pop a visit (he will be ninety in January) and to meet with Ted O’Dell who has a vision of using the long empty 1910 Hackett automobile factory as the cornerstone for a museum that chronicles the rich manufacturing history of the community.
I am always inspired by projects such as Ted’s but this one has a personal connection. My grandfather was a prolific inventor who was deeply involved with the early auto industry in Michigan, specifically in Jackson. In 1900 he was a machinist for David Buick. For years a photo of my grandfather and Henry Ford adorned the mantle of the ancestral Hinckley house on Hinckley Boulevard in Vandercook Lake just to the south of Jackson.
The trip was also an opportunity to introduce a new aspect of the patrons program, the crowdfunding initiative launched to enable me to expand on the various community development and small business promotional projects under the Jim Hinckley’s America banner including the Facebook live programs. To lend your support as a patron simply click on the Patreon button on the top right side of the page.
Louie Keen, the self proclaimed mayor of Uranus, Missouri was the first business owner to take advantage of the new program and lend support to Jim Hinckley’s America at this level. So, I wanted to meet with him in person, get our partnership off on a solid footing, set up the displays for the Jim Hinckley’s America: Trek Along Route 66 videos and to pick up a few items for product placement as well for some forthcoming contests. This level of support for the program provides the business owner with “product placement, an occasional shout out during Facebook live programs and posts, and blog posts as well other promotional opportunities in exchange for your support are just a few of the perks that come with becoming a Jim Hinckley’s America promotional partner.”
Uranus is one of those places that has to be experienced. Rather than spoil the fun I will just say this, the fudge consistently receives rave reviews and the humor found at every turn is sure to unleash the inner child. How can you not smile when the clerk says, “Thank you for picking Uranus.”
Another aspect of the trip had to do with the quest to become a writer when I grow up. At Bookworks in Albuquerque, I made a presentation on a Route 66 bucket list, and signed copies of my latest book, 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die. I also signed copies of books at the National Route 66 Museum, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Ariston Cafe, Wagon Wheel Motel, and for fans along the road as well as at the conference in Joliet.
In St Louis we had a luncheon marketing meeting with the editor and publicist for Reedy Press, publisher of the book, and Jo Ann Faust Kargus, author of the fascinating and artful Route 66 Splendor adult coloring book. We also discussed the possibility of future projects as I am closing in on completion of a book for Rio Nuevo Publishing. The photos needed for this book was another reason for the trip.
Presentations and interviews framed the venture. Aside from presentation made in Albuquerque and Joliet, I also spoke on heritage tourism and economic development in the original Las Vegas, the one in New Mexico. With each and every visit to this charming little community thoughts of changing my address grow stronger. Even though it isn’t a Route 66 community, a 5.8 detour is well worth the trip but I highly recommend the drive from Tucucmari to Las Vegas on state highway 104. Then there was a visit with Pat Smith at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, and an interview with Galen Culver of KFOR television in Oklahoma City, a CBS affiliate.
Of course, the highlight of any adventure is the people you meet along the way – friends, adventurers, inspirational travelers. On a Route 66 adventure this reward is magnified one hundred fold, as is the sorrow of people missed because of schedule induced restrictions or that have passed on.
On our October adventure we were privileged by an opportunity to enjoy a delightful dinner at Belmont Winery (a stop that should be included in any Route 66 travel plans) with Trish and Jeff Voss. There was also an interview with artist and creator of Red Oak II, Lowell Davis, a few meals and laughs shared with our Route 66 family in Joliet, a dinner and lively conversation in El Reno with Efren Lopez, some cake, coffee, a wonderful lunch and discussion with Peter at the Wild Hare Cafe, and conversation with Nick Adam at the Ariston Cafe as well as a pleasant reception hosted by Connie Echols at the Wagon Wheel Motel and dinner in Tucumcari with Amanda and David Brenner. We missed Croc Lile and Bob and Ramona but we did catch Michael Wallis and Rhys Martin in Tulsa, another great dinner.
As is often the case, we returned home road weary and exhausted but with big smiles, fond memories, and thoughts of the next adventure.