I was about seven years old when a grizzled old WWI vet took me to a special place that he knew in the sand hills near Port Huron, Michigan. It is still a vivid memory as I came home that day with arrowheads in my jacket pocket.
One summer Uncle Burton took me deep into the woods in north Georgia, and filled my head with vividly told tales of a Civil War battle that had left his grandfather wounded. I came back with a memory, a passion for history and storytelling, and two musket balls.
Long before I began sharing tales of adventures, and forgotten chapters in history, through books and feature articles, decades before the launch of Jim Hinckley’s America, the lines between past and present were blurred. In retrospect I now see that from an early age I was an adventure junkie with an insatiable curiosity.
One time I walked from a very good paying job to answer the Siren’s call. On that particular occasion that call was made manifest in an opportunity to search for gold in Lost Gold Basin. Another incident involved scorching summer temperatures, a leaking kayak purchased at a yard sale (have I mentioned that I don’t really swim?), the Colorado River, and a place called Ring Bolt Rapids that had been used by steam boats during the territorial era. And there was the Fiat incidents (s) in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Once I started writing, and them making presentations, it was though the flood gates had opened. With each new published book or feature article the opportunities for adventures linked to history increased exponentially.
Dateline, Kingman, Arizona, July 16, 1915. Edsel Ford, driving a new Ford, arrived in Kingman last evening with associates and stayed at the Brunswick Hotel. He is traveling the National Old Trails Road with friends. Their destination is the Panama Pacific Exposition in California. Ford is also visiting and evaluating Ford agencies.
Edsel’s journey along the National Old Trails Road was a story that I was unfamiliar with, until the summer of 2015. That was the when the Historic Vehicle Association asked for my assistance. They were recreating Edsel’s odyssey in a 1915 Ford, and that meant that I had a very rare opportunity for a bit of time travel. For a couple of days I experienced travel in western Arizona as it was in the years before WWI.
Then, with encouragement from my dearest friend, several years ago I severed the tether. We took the plunge. Resultant of eye trouble (I couldn’t see any reason to put up with my employers increasingly abusive treatment and they couldn’t see any reason to put up with my deteriorating attitude) we pinned everything on Jim Hinckley’s America. Paying bills, eating on a regular basis, all of it was now dependent on my gift for telling people where to go and my talents for story telling.
The adventures and opportunity for adventures escalated dramatically. A book signing in California morphed into an interview with Jay Leno at his legendary garage. A trip to the European Route 66 Festival in Czechia with friends provided an opportunity to tow a broken Fiat, with a rope, down the Autobahn in Germany on a beautiful summer Sunday morning. A business trip to Germany opened the door to speak before high school classes about Route 66 and Americas societal evolution in the 20th century.
And now, work is underway to transform a hair brained idea into an epic adventure that includes educational programs. It centers on acquisition of sponsors, purchase of a vintage vehicle (Model A Ford?), and a road trip along Route 66 from end to end. Discussion are underway with sponsors. The search is on for a suitable vehicle. There have been meetings with producers to discuss making the adventure into a program that provides road trip inspiration as well shares history. The crowdfunding on Patreon has commenced. And lastly there are discussions with schools. Stay tuned.
Somehow, while building Jim Hinckley’s America, I morphed from an author trying to find a way to support the writing habit into America’s storyteller, at least according to accolades and news stories. And I recently learned that this is going to be made manifest in a life sized bronze statue of me in my adopted hometown of Kingman, Arizona.
This is part of a Kingman Main Street program that includes development of a self guided narrated walking tour of the historic business district and Route 66 corridor.
Adventure addiction. It can lead to some pretty amazing places. It can lead to some wonderful friendships. And it can ensure that boredom is merely a word in the dictionary.