In my humble opinion birthdays are like mileposts. For a brief moment in time they give you pause with reflection on the miles traveled, and then they are in the rear view mirror. In that moment of reflection you give thought to the people met along the way, friends, places, tragedies, highlights, family, and people that are no longer a part of your life. And then the focus shifts to the road ahead.
Granted, with this birthday there is a growing sense that the road ahead is getting shorter. But that just adds incentive to crowd in as much living as possible and sharpen the focus on each minute to ensure that time is not wasted.
The year ahead is already shaping up to be quite the adventure. On May 27th, as part of the National Road Trip Day proclamation festivities, a life sized bronze statue of me is to be unveiled on the new Depot Plaza at the historic railroad depot in Kingman, Arizona.
Created by internationally acclaimed sculptress J. Anne Butler, this is quite humbling. And it is a distinct honor. But it is quite surreal, sort of like attending my own funeral.
With the passing of time I have learned that diplomacy is better than brawling. Still, over the years I have stepped on some toes while serving on various committee’s and working on various tourism initiatives. And of course, there are always a few folk that just get bent out of shape because they think you are outshining them.
So, it will be interesting to hear praise from some folks that usually look for a rope salesman and a tall tree when I am in the neighborhood. This might stretch the meaning of sincerity just a tad bit.
Walter, the mayor in Oatman, Arizona is sponsoring a presentation about riverboats, railroads and Route 66 that I will be making on May 28. He seems nice enough but I do have to admit that when it comes to popularity there is a bit of jealously on my part. Before my account was locked on Facebook, Jim Hinckley’s America had more than 7,000 followers and I was adding one hundred or more each month. Walter had amassed more than 300,000 followers and he is an ass, literally.
A real highlight in the next few weeks will be visits from dear friends that we haven’t had a chance to visit with since before the apocalypse. This week we are expecting a visit from Toshi Goto of the Japanese Route 66 Association. And a few weeks later it is a visit with friends with Germany that have become our extended family.
And just like old times in the BC era (Before COVID 19), my summer schedule is filling rapidly. As I derive tremendous pleasure from telling people where to go, sharing adventures, and inspiring road trips, it will be a delight to again provide service to tour groups, and to see old friends reviving their business.
By fall I will have not one but two new books to promote. They are manifestations of my attempt to make the down time during the apocalypse productive.
That will be timely as plans are being developed for a fall tour. This will include speaking engagements and book signings, as well as some programs from the road and visits with old friends in the tourism business. Already scheduled is a speaking engagement at the Mile of Possibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois, and another at the museum in Atlanta, Illinois.
Ma always claimed that I was born ninety and never seemed to age. Perhaps that is one reason why I haven’t paid much attention to birthdays since at least the 1960s.
Still, birthdays lead to reflection. And reflection leads to thoughts about the past, the present, and the future.
It has been a long and winding road filled with adventure, friendships, and sorrow. And in spite of the storm clouds that loom on the horizon, I can’t help but feel that some pretty memorable adventures are awaiting me on the road ahead.