In 1966, US 66 was the highway that my family followed west to Arizona. In 1968, I rode my bicycle along Route 66 to my first paying job, watering the tomato gardens at Ed’s Camp. In 1978, Route 66 was one of the highways that I followed on my runs to Oklahoma City and Wichita during my brief career as a truck driver. In 1982, I was driving my 1946 GMC to Kingman from a ranch near Ash Fork to court my dearest friend.
Fast forward to 2015. Courtesy Jan and Henk Kuperus of Netherlands based U.S. Bikers my dearest friend and I made our first trip to Europe. Four years later and we have added several more European adventures, been blessed with countless international friendships, and traded the traditional nine to five job for the wild and woolly adventure that is Jim Hinckley’s America. The common link is legendary Route 66.
As I was updating the project board this morning, setting the schedule for the coming weeks, and putting together a calendar for publication of advertisements for sponsors, I couldn’t help but reflect on the amazing transformation of Route 66 from highway to icon and destination. I also had to reflect on how this mere highway has transformed our lives. To date this year we have served as an unofficial welcoming committee in Kingman to people from Florida, Michigan, Alaska, Japan, England, and Slovakia. Before the end of May we have friends from Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Canada, the Czech Republic, Indiana and California due for a visit. I am also scheduled to meet with tour groups from throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and North Carolina.
The Jim Hinckley’s America website has had more than 20,000 visitors since the first of the year. There has been a 75% increase in Facebook page followers in less than a year. The podcast is picking up steam. Jim Hinckley’s America is becoming an internationally recognized travel media network. Route 66 is the foundation.
And what looms on the horizon? Why Route 66 adventures, of course! This coming Saturday there will be a fun filled Route 66 Q & A session at Grand Canyon Caverns. Next week I begin teaching classes on Route 66 history and tourism at Mohave Community College. I am tentatively scheduled to speak at the Miles of Possibility Conference in Normal, Illinois. New sponsors of Jim Hinckley’s America include the Blue Carpet Corridor in Illinois and Calico’s restaurant in Kingman, Arizona. This morning an invitation was received to attend a gathering of the European Route 66 faithful in Amsterdam. The organizer for the 2020 European Route 66 Festival that is tentatively set to take place in Poland is planning to be in attendance as is Marian Pavel, developer of the Route 66 Navigation app and the forthcoming Mother Road Route 66 Passport. The arrangement to assist with development of Cuba, Missouri promotion has been given the green light for the second year.
Then there is the publication of the new book. It is actually going to happen by fall! And that opens more doors for grand adventures on the old double six.