Every day is good. Some days, however, are better than others. That was but one of the many pearls of wisdom passed on to me from a grizzled and weathered old cowhand that I had the pleasure of working with on a ranch along the Mexican border more years ago than I care to count.
The past year or so I have had ample opportunity to reflect on that philosophy. Finding something good in every day has often been quite a challenge.
A seemingly endless stream of bad news about COVID related issues. Personal loss and illness. Missing visits with friends from across the pond. Political upheaval on the home front. Sitting in my living room and watching an assault on our capitol unfold like a really bad movie. Obviously none of these were highlights.
But there are silver linings to be found here and there. The near complete collapse of the tourism industry last year has sparked an awareness. Communities large and small are coming to a realization that tourism is an integral part of economic development.
And in communities along the Route 66 corridor, there is a growing awareness of the potential the interest in that road holds for economic development as well as historic district revitalization. There is an also a growing awareness about that highways fast approaching centennial.
This is being made manifest in countless ways. Kingman recently unveiled a stylish drive thru Route 66 shield. Tulsa is moving forward with neon sign initiatives. An array of initiatives and projects are being developed in Tucumcari.
COVID related travel restrictions decimated international tourism. Along Route 66 this glaringly illustrated the importance of the international Route 66 enthusiast to local economies. But here too there is a sort of silver lining.
The American love affair with the road trip began to wane several decades ago. COVID related restrictions, and time off work, sparked an unprecedented boom in the sale and rental of RVs, trailers, and vans. I for one eagerly await the return of our international travelers. But I rejoice in seeing so many Americans getting out of their comfort zone and rediscovering what really makes this country special.
On the personal front, the pandemic, the loss of friends, the passing of another birthday, and looming storm clouds had provided a jolt, incentive if you will. I have long wanted to own a Model A Ford.
Over the years finances and family obligations led me to keep that dream in the “some day” category. That has changed. I am making ownership a priority.
Directly linked to this is a vague plan to develop a series of educational programs. These would foster a sense of community and community purpose in towns all along the Route 66 corridor. And these programs would provide communities with information about the economic importance of tourism. They would also provide these places with a framework for developing their unique historic, scenic, and cultural assets to make the community a destination for visitors.
At this point I should note the cornerstone for this endeavor is a simple philosophy. If you make a place people want to visit, you make it a place where they will want to live, to raise a family, to open a business and to retire.
As envisioned the Model A becomes a, pardon the pun, a promotional vehicle. It becomes an educational tool. It becomes a point of interest and a conversation starter. It becomes a point of media focus.
It has been pointed out that a ninety year old car might not be the most practical for extended trips across the US. And so I have been working on a plan “B.”
So, something the search is on for a vehicle equally as attention getting but a bit more practical. The Model A would become the regional vehicle or would be trailered. The secondary vehicle, something like the 1953 Plymouth Suburban station wagon I looked at this past week then becomes the primary transportation.
Stay tuned. We have talked about this ambitious endeavor for far to long. It is time to bring dreams to life. The time has come move beyond planning. The time is now.