The Questions Have Changed

The Questions Have Changed

An unusual shift pattern in a 1967 International ©

The more I learn the more I realize how little I know. Those words of wisdom were imparted to me many, many years ago by a grizzled old cowhand that I rode with on the Sierra Mesa spread near Faywood, New Mexico.

To illustrate the validity of the philosophy consider the shift pattern in this 1967 International pick up truck. I have been driving old pickups for almost fifty years but this was a bit of a surprise.

The path that led me to this time capsule truck is a long and twisted one. Several years ago I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with tourism efforts in numerous Route 66 communities. These towns were flailing about in search of an economic boost and a way to revitalize blighted historic districts. And yet their knowledge of the Route 66 renaissance and the opportunities that this presented was akin to a frogs knowledge of tap dancing.

So, using Jim Hinckley’s America as a platform, I developed a serious of programs to foster a greater awareness of Route 66, its history, its international popularity and the economic potential all of this represented. Then I offered to speak in communities along the Route 66 corridor.

This was followed with a couple of test programs designed for high schools. They were well received at schools in Benld, Illinois, in Germany, and Kingman, Arizona.

Next I used the concept and created a more specific series of programs. Then I pitched the idea of community education classes to Mohave Community College in Kingman, Arizona. The goal was to increase community awareness and spark some excitement.

While all of this was going on I was working with the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership as a member of the economic development committee. And that led to the provision of assistance to a Rutgers University program that was developing Route 66 community profiles as an early phase in the development of a “tool kit” that would enable communities to capitalize on Route 66.

With the Route 66 centennial fast approaching, I dreamt up an idea that takes key components from each program and combines them with a Route 66 road show. The road show would include special educational programs in Route 66 communities, presentations about Route 66 and tourism in communities off the road, and creation of a time capsule of sort for the centennial.

The time capsule component would include interviews, live and recorded, with people on the road. This would include travelers, tourism officials, tour company owners, business owners, pioneers in the Route 66 renaissance movement, and people with a Route 66 connection in the pre interstate highway era.

Now, when this all started I had know real idea on how this initiative would develop. But I knew funding would be an issue and so I established a crowdfunding program on the Patreon platform.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss. As I fumbled along the multifaceted project developed a clarity.

There were a few detours along the way but these were folded into project template. One of these is the narrated self guided historic district walking tours that I am helping Kingman Main Street develop. As I gain knowledge on how this is accomplished it becomes increasingly obvious that similar projects could be developed for any community.

Now, is where my eccentricity enters the picture. I have decided that the road show will be more successful if a vintage vehicle is used for the endeavor.

A vintage vehicle would magnify media focus. A vintage vehicle could easily ensure brand recognition for the endeavor. In turn this would magnify promotional and marketing initiatives. A vintage vehicle would make it easier to start a conversation with strangers. And a vintage vehicle would make it easier to engage school students.

Well, I have long wanted a Model A Ford. As I see more and more people driving Route 66 in one of these venerable and durable old Fords, the more obsessed I become.

But I must admit, this might not be the most practical option. So I dusted off my knowledge of vintage vehicles honed through of years spent writing about automotive history. And then in the evenings I spent hours in research.

Well, all that has been accomplished is conviction that a vintage vehicle is crucial. And I am increasingly convinced that with the right vehicle it would be practical. And it would also be possible to go vintage and still be fuel efficient.

And so the quest began. To date I have looked at a number of Model A Fords, and found one or two that are almost perfect.

I have also looked at several hundred vehicles that would work well, if they hadn’t been buried in the brush for decades. Or if they hadn’t been on fire, rolled, wrecked, rusted out, used for a chicken coop or if they had an engine.

I have also looked at a number of vehicles that are ideally suited for the endeavor. But as I want to be the best steward possible of the funds from supporters, I am working within a budget.

And that further limited options. But as I am planning on the launch of the road trip next spring, there is still time.

Today I looked at an incredible time capsule. A 1967 International truck with 81,000 original miles. The smile V8 and an overdrive transmission made it even more appealing. And there is the possibility of also acquiring an Alaskan camper that was mounted to the truck in 1967,

The cost is a bit worrisome and negotiations have commenced. But investing that much money makes me wonder, if perhaps, I should just renovate the tried and true old Jeep Cherokee that is the daily transportation. It is almost 25 years old, but I really want to do this in something a bit more vintage.

I also looked at a ’42 Dodge and ’52 Studebaker today. Both had seen better days. Both might serve as parts trucks. I figure either truck could be restored for $20,000 or so. That would surely make them worth at least $10,000.

But that wasn’t a wasted endeavor. The owner and I will be having some conversations real soon. She has stories to tell that are perfect for the Route 66 centennial time capsule. She grew up in Yucca, Arizona on Route 66, and her family operated the Whiting Brothers there.

All of this has led to a bit of reflection. There was a time when I thought that I knew the answers, at least a few of them. I am unsure if it is due to age but as of late it now seems as though the questions are being changed much faster.