Adios (and good riddance) 2020. Hello 2021. It has been, shall we say, an interesting year. It has also been a year of opportunity, of challenge, of loss, of frustration, and of concern for friends and family. It has been an historic year, a world altering year and a year of discovery. And so I, for one, am eagerly looking toward 2021 with just a hint of apprehension and a bit of excitement.
With the cancellation of presentations, classes and the scheduled speaking tour I have had ample time to rediscover the simple pleasure of very long walks in the desert, to read, to work on learning about new technologies and how to harness them, and finding new ways to tell people where to go. But, to be honest, I have had to fight the crippling sense of futility and linked depression that seems to be lurking in the shadows this year. I suppose some of this can be attributed to the difficulty of accepting the fact that the entire world has been forever changed resultant of the pandemic and then seeing opportunity for Jim Hinckley’s America in the dawn of a new era.
Support of the crowdfunding initiative on the Patreon platform (www.patreon.com/jimhinckleysamerica) has proven to be more important than ever in 2020. This and learning to use Zoom have made it feasible to make presentations on Route 66 and travel for various groups such as the Rotary Club of El Paso and the Inland Empire Gardner’s in Spokane, Washington. The response received as well as seeing how important things like these presentations are to people experiencing isolation resultant of quarantine or illness has provided a distinct since of satisfaction. As always, the quickest way to get out of a funk is to help others.
In a similar manner the development of the weekly Coffee With Jim program that is live streamed on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page Sunday mornings has been quite interesting. Sponsored in part by the iconic Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri, the program has apparently become an oasis in a sea of bad news for many people. I keep it light, fast paced and fun. Aside from a weekly trivia contest with prizes, and a plug for my books and sponsors, I cover topics that inspire thoughts of road trips, that inspire, and that are somewhat educational.
I am still surprised that people inspire me, and on occasion pay me, to beat my gums. This past Sunday’s program about interesting cemeteries on Route 66, and their surprising military or celebrity association, attracted an international audience of almost 5,500 people. And that was before it was archived with other episodes as well as programs in the On The Road With Jim series on the YouTube channel. This Sunday the topic will be an historic look at Christmas celebrations in America.
Counted among the interesting projects developed in 2020 to ensure that my dearest friend and I continue eating on a regular basis is blog writing for clients of MyMarketing Designs. When this company builds a website they offer a blog writing service for clients. I am the writer of those blogs. And so it has been an educational experience as well as a challenge to find material to write blogs for a kite store, for an RV sales and service company, for an air conditioning company and for several other companies.
I returned to my roots in 2020 with the writing of a weekly feature on automotive history for MotoringNZ, an online automotive publication based in New Zealand. My career in exchanging the written word kicked off in 1990 with an automotive feature written for Hemmings Motor News. For most of the next ten years the majority of my published work was on the formative years of the American auto industry. This included a stint as associate editor for the now defunct Cars & Parts magazine, and the writing of a regular feature entitled The Independent Thinker. These often overlapped with travel stories when I wrote about museums or Edsel Ford’s cross country adventure in the summer of 1915.
Shortly after I began writing for Motoring NZ, I adjusted the format for 5 Minutes With Jim, our weekly audio podcast. It is now a journey through time with stories about automotive pioneers like Louis Chevrolet, the origins of automotive manufacturing companies, fascinating and and odd inventions, and similar subjects. The real boost for this project came with arrangement that allowed for it to be professionally edited by a New Zealand radio engineer. The audio podcast is now sponsored in part by the one of a kind Roadrunner Lodge in Tucumcari, New Mexico.
Speaking of sponsors we have been working on developing innovative ways to provide low cost or even free promotional opportunities for businesses, communities and museums this year. Now more than ever it is important that we build supportive cooperative partnerships. One of these initiatives is the Coffee Mug of The Week sponsorship. Each week on the Coffee With Jim live stream program I give a shout out to a business or museum that has sent us a coffee cup. It is the least I can do for business owners, many of them friends or acquaintances, that are struggling this year.
Several years ago I developed a series of community educational programs on area history, Route 66 and the economics of tourism for Mohave Community College. This spring they were cancelled, which was a kick in the income. But they were picked up again this fall via Zoom and that gave me an opportunity to learn more about this platform. It also proved to be the next logical step in developing and packaging these classes for other community colleges or communities. And that is just what I will be doing come 2021.
I have also launched a free weekly (soon to be biweekly) travel planning newsletter. In addition to providing another promotional venue for advertising sponsors, road trip inspiration and travel planning tools, it is a venue where I can offer event organizers free promotion.
This morning there was another glimmer of hope for 2021. It was in the form of negotiations about a new book with a publisher I worked with several years ago. Details will be forthcoming soon but suffice to say that book number twenty may be debuting next fall.
So, as 2020, the year of COVID 19 and a never ending election, draws to a close I bid adios. And as I count down the days to 2021, there is eager anticipation with a faint of apprehension.