I never tire of the fascinating people that are met through Jim Hinckley’s America. Recently I encountered Casey McGowan at a Route 66 Association of Kingman “meet & greet” that was also a cruise to Cool Springs on the old highway to Oatman for local auto enthusiasts. Being a fan of classic cars (surprise!) and history it was easy to find common ground for easy discussion as he was a fan of Route 66 and was driving a fairly rare Rambler Rogue. He had another interest that intrigued me, a quest to photographically document the history of automobile dealerships in Kingman, Arizona.
I encountered McGowan again recently at Chillin’ on Beale, an event held on the third Saturday afternoon of each month March through September in Kingman. He had brought not one but two Rambler Rogues to the event, and a beautiful AMC Javelin. Yesterday there was a bit of a break in the schedule so I accepted his invitation to see his vast collection of all things pertaining to the now defunct American Motors Corporation and to talk Kingman dealerships. The entire venture was a most pleasant surprise.
To say that this fellow and his wife are fans of AMC would be akin to saying that Needles does get a tad bit warm in August. Posters, dealer memorabilia, dealer signage, and rare promotional items were proudly displayed in his garage that also housed an array of vintage gas pumps that he had restored. These served as a fitting backdrop for a collection of cars that included the Rogues, Javelins, an AMX and Gremlin X.
A person doesn’t need a venue such as Jim Hinckley’s America to meet fascinating people. They simply need to spend a bit of time on Route 66. This is the highway of dreams and dreams made manifest and there is limitless opportunity for the meeting of fascinating and inspirational people. That was the subject of conversation last evening as my dearest friend and I shared stories, beer, wine and a pizza from Floyd & Company at Diana’s Cellar Door with Dean Kennedy, an old friend from Indiana.
As Kennedy travels west on Route 66 toward California, every evening dinner has been shared with groups of friends new and old, and acquaintances met through shared Route 66 experiences over the years. This old road really does seem to be America’s longest small town, an almost magical place where everyone knows your name and greets you with a warm smile.
From its inception Route 66 has always had the best press and publicity. That, however, can only partially explain the highways international popularity decades after it officially ceased to exist. What makes this road special, what gives Route 66 its magic is the people. The people who cruise the road in vintage cars, on bicycles and motorcycles, and who simply walk it from end to end. The preservationists. The historians. The writers and photographers. The people who walk off good solid jobs and dedicate their lives to the restoration of an eighty year old motel and to ensuring travelers have a memorable adventure. The people from Japan and Australia, Germany and Canada, the Netherlands and Czech Republic who travel the highway in search of the quintessential American experience and the freedom of the open road. Route 66 is the road of dreams and dreams made manifest.
Jim Hinckley’s America is sponsored in part by Grand Canyon Caverns & Inn