Reflection is what you do after an afternoon spent sipping a pint of house brewed Bearded Bagpipe at Rickety Cricket in Kingman, Arizona, and enjoying some hearty conversation, and a few laughs, with acclaimed photographer KC Keefer of Denver and Rosie Ramos manger of Fender’s River Road Resort & Motel in Needles, California. This morning after recording another episode of Ten Minutes With Jim, our audio podcast that is published on the Podbean platform on Sunday mornings, I sat down with a cup of coffee and gave thought to friendships, good beer, what a grand adventure life is and the twisted road that has taken me to this point.
It takes very little to put me in a contemplative mood, especially on a beautiful summers morning that kicks off with an awe inspiring sunrise after almost a week of being sicker than a moonshine sipping dog. I have always been a bit of a deep thinker. Ma always said that I was born ninety. Brad, an old cowhand I worked with on the Sierra Mesa spread out of Faywood, New Mexico used to tell me that I over thought things. Dries Bessels, a dear friend in Amsterdam, has often introduced me as an intellectual redneck, a title that I carry with pride. I must admit that even though I hear it often, the redneck reference baffles me.
Conservation with old friends that centers on neon, Route 66 and the amazing generosity of the international Route 66 community is bound to inspire a bit of contemplation. Of course the events of the past week or two have also provided ample fodder for deep reflections. My step mother passed away a couple of weeks ago and this adds to concerns about my 91-year old pa that has become increasingly frail over the course of the past year or so. And there are concerns about my dearest friend as we aren’t exactly kids anymore, a point driven home after her recent doctors evaluation. Acceptance of the CEO position at Route 66 Crossroads, a nonprofit organization established to develop community education programs that foster increased understanding of tourism and its potential for economic development as well as community revitalization. And yesterday, after months of postponement and editorial adjustments, I received the initial galley proofs of the new book. So, it looks like I will have a new book to be promoting during the fall tour.
Still, at the heart of this mornings reflections were yesterdays conversation with Rosie and KC. They were in town to pick up the historic signage for Fender’s, the only motel that sits on an alignment of Route 66 as well as the Colorado River. With the generous support of the Route 66 community the sign had been restored at Legacy Signs & Iron. Plans are underway for a big party when the sign is re-lit on Saturday evening. The song Under The Neon by the Road Crew sums it all up rather nicely.
And, of course, as most major events in my life since 1959 have a Route 66 connection, anything having to do with that old highway sparks a memory or two. It also leads me to a bit of contemplation about the future. After all, the Route 66 centennial is fast approaching. How many pioneers of the highways renaissance will be with us to celebrate? How many landmarks will be lost between then and now? How may landmarks will be given a new lease on life? Who will be the new stewards of the Route 66 legacy? And that my friends is reason enough to sip on a cold beer and do a bit of reflection.