A quick visit is all it takes to tell if a town or village is
possessed of a sense of community, is progressive and forward thinking, and if it has a vision for the future, or if it is riddled with apathy, indifference, self serving factions, and leadership focused on the rear view mirror. Take a drive through town, hit the historic business district, and then take a couple of laps through neighborhoods. Skip the fast food joints and stop at a local diner or tavern, be a fly on the wall and listen. Pick up a local paper (or read the on line edition) and be sure to read the editorials as well as the comments.
My dearest friend captured this moment of contemplation during a winter outing in Arizona.
Today’s post isn’t meant as condemnation. It is a bit of a soapbox sermon inspired by thoughts and reflections as I gear up for this mornings conference call with the Route 66: Road Ahead Partnership economic development committee. It is also an expression of frustration.
As many of you know, my dearest friend and I call Kingman, Arizona home. Located at the heart of a wonderland of vast and diverse landscapes, and at the center of the longest remaining uninterrupted segment of Route 66, the town has, perhaps, the greatest undeveloped tourism potential of any community in the southwest. This boundless opportunity is magnified by a location on the western edge of the “Grand Circle” that is the premier destination in the southwest, and the fact that within 400 miles of Kingman there are ten million people with interest in mountain biking, camping, spelunking, fine dining, off road exploration, wineries, colorful festivals, ghost towns, museums, white water rafting, classic car events, Native American culture, the Grand Canyon, and hiking along shade dappled trails.
If Jim Hinckley’s America had a cornerstone it would be the
simple premise that adventures are meant to be shared even if that sharing is done vicariously. It started with the books that were a blending of my fascination with the infancy of the American auto industry and a passion for adventures on the back roads as well as the two lane highways. This was followed with presentations, a Facebook page and Facebook live programs, a video series developed in partnership with MyMarketing Designs, this blog, the provision of services as a tourism development consultant for businesses as well as communities, the crowdfunding initiative, and an on again, off again podcast. Now, the latest endeavor, a closed Facebook group for folks to share their adventures, encourage people to take adventures themselves, and help me tell people where to go, preferably in a manner that makes them want to take a trip – Jim Hinckley’s America Adventurers Club.
At some point the whole endeavor morphed into a multifaceted platform for the promotion of artists, authors, communities, and the small businesses that make the adventures on the back roads memorable. Now, Jim Hinckley’s America has become an adventure in itself.
So, what’s next, you may ask. Well, first there is the current book project that has a deadline of next spring. In this little tome we will delve deep into the dark corners and recesses of Route 66 where murders lurked in the shadows, mayhem came without warning, and natural disasters added to the highways reputation as bloody. As always, I will be adding a bit of context to the highways stories with tales about Egan’s Rats, the St. Louis based crime syndicate that often made Capone’s boys in Chicago look a bit mild, a few serial killers, a couple of unusual killing sprees, a few unsolved murders, and natural disasters of epic proportions.
The marketing and promotion of books published is on going process that is as much a part of being an author as the writing itself. This year I am, or was, juggling the promotion of three books released in 2017; Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town, Ghost Towns of the West, and 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die. Unfortunately Reedy Press, publisher of the latter, recently suffered a devastating fire at their warehouse and distribution center in S. Louis. All inventory was lost. Now, even though I am promoting all three, all that can be done in regards to 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die is market with the caveat that the book will be available sometime after the first of the year. There will be no holiday sales, book signings are postponed or canceled, but, fortuitously several major reviews for the book won’t be released for several weeks or longer.
Tim Kikkert of the Canadian Route 66 Association has informed me that a favorable review will be forthcoming in the journal for that organization. Melissa Beasley has reported a similar review will be published in the magazine produced by the New Mexico Route 66 Association. In addition, I am adjusting the schedule, and adding new dates to the calendar for book signings in 2018 that will include the Route 66 bucket list presentation.
Then there is the podcast. This project has languished on the back burner for quite sometime but I am currently gathering the equipment needed to ensure it is a professionally done endeavor. It was the need for equipment, as well as the time for the projects development that after months of deliberation led to the launch of the crowdfunding initiative. I am a bit like a sloth when it comes to rushing into projects.
From its inception, thoughts about the crowdfunding initiative centered on two primary needs for its launch and development; funding that would allow for the expansion of Jim Hinckley’s America as a promotional platform for artists, authors, small businesses, and communities, and the provision of services to artists, authors, etc. As with most of my projects, it has been developed in a painstakingly slow method of trial and error (a character flaw of mine is an aversion to instruction manuals). There are a few more tweaks to be added, and I am confident that it will evolve, but overall I am pleased with the balance. Of course, your opinions and suggestions, as always, would be greatly appreciated.
From the aspect of providing a promotional and marketing platform for the aforementioned authors, artists, small businesses, and communities, I am rather pleased with the entire Jim Hinckley’s America initiative. The reach on the Facebook page alone, which in turn is the level of of exposure being provided to promotional partners such as Uranus, Belmont Winery, Grand Canyon Caverns, etc. is growing a steady clip. Now attentions are being turned toward expanding the reach of the other two legs in my social media network; Instagram and Twitter. I will also be expanding on the association with the Promote Kingman and Promote Route 66 initiatives, and with the Route 66 Association of Kingman in coming months. All of this will add value for those who invest in the crowdfunding initiative, one of the primary goals.
Let’s see, what else is on the agenda. Ah yes, the ongoing battle of keeping the house from falling down around my ears. Last week it was water heater replacement (don’t ask what the plumbers fees were) all because the one that we purchased 28 years ago failed. This past Thursday, I came one step closer to getting Barney the Wonder Truck back on the road (does anyone want to buy a vintage Dodge?). Tuesday, I spent under the kitchen sink replacing the entire drain system into the wall while my dearest friend worked on a clogged drain in the shower. And next week, I will be on the roof enjoying views of the Hualapai Mountains while replacing shingles in an effort to postpone an entire roofing project.
I am rather confident that for the foreseeable future boredom will be kept at bay. Meanwhile, the house is beginning to smell like Thanksgiving as my dearest friend is baking a pumpkin pie. I wonder if it will be possible to refrain until tomorrow? Speaking of tomorrow, I am eagerly awaiting a dinner of roast and potatoes.
Folks, in all seriousness, thank you for the support. It is my sincere hope that you, your family, and your friends enjoy a delightful Thanksgiving holiday.
On September 1, my latest book was released, number 18. It is
a deviation from most of my published work. It is in essence simply a detailed list of 100 of my favorite places on Route 66, and it was one of my most challenging projects to date. How can you distill something as amazing as a Route 66 adventure, an odyssey of more than 2,000 miles through the heartland of America on the most famous highway in the world into a simple list of just 100 museums, attractions, restaurants, and classic motels?
With that as an introduction, let’s discuss the places that made the list. We will start with the delightful Belmont Winery near Cuba, Missouri. In advance I should note that several places and events in Cuba, and in the surrounding area made the list. As you might have guessed, my dearest friend and I are quite enamored with this charming Ozark Mountain community, and the people that make it so special.
Belmont Winery, officially, is located in Leasburg, Missouri. Perched atop a wooded knoll there are delightful views of the valley below, and the rolling forested hills that march toward the western horizon, especially from the covered open air pavilion. (more…)