We are living through one of the most fascinating, most unnerving, most trans-formative periods the world has seen since at least WWII. To be honest I would rather be reading about it in history books rather than watching it unfold. I would like to skip to the end of this book or even wait for the movie. I would bet my bottom dollar that I am not the only one thinking these type of thoughts.
I can only imagine how the people living through the triple upset – WWI, the Spanish flu pandemic and the deep economic recession that followed on the heels of these two disasters – must have felt. For those folks, however, it was five tumultuous years that forever transformed the world. The current crisis that is still unfolding has changed the world in less than four months and nothing will ever be the same when we return to normal, whatever that may look like.
Since launching Jim Hinckley’s America my life has revolved around tourism (telling people where to go) and bringing history to life. This storm will pass but until then tourism is as extinct as the woolly mammoth. And after the storm passes, what will tourism be like? With this thought in mind I have been working to develop a short term and long term strategy for me as well as for some of my clients such as the City of Cuba. And I have also been working on developing as well as expanding current programs in a manner that provides maximum entertainment and inspirational value for fans, that gives sponsors and advertising partners the best return on their investment, and that provides support for the Route 66 community.
First there is 5 Minutes With Jim, our weekly audio podcast that is made available every Sunday morning. We keep it simple and fun with a blending of history, trivia and travel tips. As an example on our first program for April, I tell the story of an amazing Old West shootout in Holbrook, Arizona, and give directions to the historic homestead associated with the incident. Previous programs told the story of the Cactus Derby, a race that featured the best racers of the day including Louis Chevrolet and Barney Oldfield. There have also been programs about my favorite places for pie on Route 66 (Grand Canyon Caverns and Victoria’s Sugar Shack to name two), infamous and overlooked murders, and automotive history.
On the crowdfunding site using the Patreon platform I have been sharing my autobiography in serial format as exclusive content. In light of the current Coronavirus induced economic situation this funding source is more important than ever as I am suspending fees charged to some advertising sponsors. I will continue to keep their name in front of people but if they are closed it just doesn’t seem right to be charging them. I have also discounted advertising packages by 50%, and am offering free listing for businesses with online stores across all platforms in the Jim Hinckley’s America network. And so to keep things going, to be able to support the Route 66 community and small businesses that are its life blood I am more dependent than ever on crowdfunding.
As so may people are in self quarantine and restricted on travel, I am providing short live stream programs on our Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page. This are being shot from various locations around Kingman, Arizona during my walkabouts. As I always say, shared adventures are the best adventures. A hearty thank you to the City of Cuba for their support of this project.
One project that I am quite excited about is the new Coffee With Jim program that is live streamed to our Facebook page on Saturday mornings from the offices of Jim Hinckley’s America. As book and movie reviews are a part of the weekly format, this will provide authors with a promotional platform. The fast paced half hour program features things like excerpts from the 1901 travel journal of Alexander Winton, travel related news and updates, product reviews and much, more. So, it also serves as a promotional platform for small businesses as well as communities that submit items for review or coupons. After the broadcast the video is added to our YouTube and Vimeo channels.
A 1914 guide to roads and highways in Arizona
I have also dramatically adjusted the format of the weekly newsletter that is published every Friday morning. This is offered free with registration through our Facebook page. It too features reviews, travel tips and news, and information on communities, events and new products.
The website is getting some much needed improvements as well. Much of the information will need to be upgraded or modified resultant of current travel restrictions and the economic climate.
Bottom line. Like everyone else in the world right now I am sailing into uncharted waters through an impenetrable fog. And like everyone else I am as nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Still, the show must go on. And so I will continue using Jim Hinckley’s America as my platform for telling people where to go.
Am I the only one that feels like a rabid bear is chasing me but with my shoe laces tied together, and a bag with a wolverine in one hand and a bag with a bobcat in the other, it is becoming increasingly hard to keep the panic in check?
Still, the show must go on. And so I am developing new programs and projects, revamping old ones and finding ways to use these to support small businesses, the Route 66 community and authors as well as artists. As an example, for folks with an online store I am offering to put our travel network to work for them at no charge. Links to their sites will be added to the social media network and a new section that is being developed for the website as well as applicable blog posts. I am also offering a 50% discount on advertising and sponsorship packages, even for existing promotional partners.
Folks are going to need an escape from quarantine as well as a constant stream of bad news and political BS masquerading as news. And so the weekly audio podcast 5 Minutes With Jim will focus almost entirely on trivia, history, and stories from the road. As an example, on the episode of March 22, I share a rather dark tale from the ghost town of Glenrio, Texas. “In the old forlorn ghost town of Glenrio astride the Texas/New Mexico state line there is a non-descript cinder block-fronted building with broken windows and no door. Even though the town is a favored photo stop for Route 66 enthusiasts, this building is often overlooked even though it is one of the most famous buildings in Glenrio. It was here on July 10, 1973, that Dessie Leach was senselessly murdered.”
And we have launched a new live stream Saturday morning program through our Facebook page that is archived on the Jim Hinckley’s America YouTube channel. Book and movie reviews, a bit of reading from old travel journals (Edsel Ford, 1915, Alexander Winton, 1901), lots of surprises and lively conversation. This too is being used to lend a hand in these trying times as I am offering reviews of products, gift certificates, copies of authors books or anything folks want to provide.
The weekly travel planning newsletter is being revamped. You will find the latest information about closures, travel options, online gift shops, the latest releases of both books and movies and some great offers from businesses. You can sign up on our Facebook page.
As to the panic, it isn’t the idea of a self imposed quarantine or nearly empty shelves in the supermarket that worries me. So from that perspective, as I am a beans and taters sort of fella, the only concern is for the poor folks that might have to hunker down with me, and I am partial to quiet and empty places. As to hiding from the world with my dearest friend, well after nearly forty years together we don’t have a lot of secrets and to be honest there are few things that I enjoy more than time alone with her. Still, in all fairness I suppose it might be a good idea to cut back on the beans or to take more walks in the desert.
No, my concerns are with those families being devastated by the disease and economic tsunami that is sweeping around the wheels on the heels of the virus. My concern is for what this country is going to look like after the storm passes. After all, in spite of the crisis we seem to hold fast to our tribal divisions as a badge of honor and as Abraham Lincoln famously noted, a house divided against itself can not stand. My worries are for the Route 66 community. I am unsure how many businesses can weather this storm. Poorly informed folks sharing childish and juvenile postings on social media platforms have offended friends across the pond and kicked them when they were down. I am not sure how this kind of damage can be repaired.
Things are about to get interesting amigos. And I don’t mean to scare or panic you but it wouldn’t take much to get me to bet the bottom dollar that nothing will be the same when we get to the other side. The big question is, will we be the same.
The world had been ravaged and forever transformed by an unprecedented war that was in its final act. And so something as inconsequential as a bout of influenza garnered little attention. After all it was just the flu, something people dealt with most every winter. Even though the symptoms – headache, body ache, fever and dry, hacking cough – were more intense in nature, and the rate of infection was well above average, the overall death rate was relatively small. In some instances those afflicted had symptoms so mild doctors were led to conclude that the patient suffered from allergies or something similar, but not the flu. Unusual aspects of this influenza was the speed with which some victims were struck with symptoms and that most deaths were young adults.
Another reason few took notice of the influenza that was sweeping through the country and around the world in the first months of 1918 was the heavily censored wartime press in the United States, British Empire, Germany and the other warring nations. The exception was in neutral Spain. When the flu swept through the country and sickened the king, the intensity of the disease was noted in articles and editorials.
By the first of summer the disease was being experienced in most every country on earth but by mid July it was being viewed as an anomaly. A medical report prepared by the United States Army noted that the influenza epidemic was winding down. Late in the summer Switzerland was struck with a disease that had many of the symptoms of influenza but with greater intensity. And the death toll began to climb. People would feel sick in the morning, and be dead by evening. Again, it was the young adult that seemed to succumb first. On an army base located in France, in less than one week more than 1,000 soldiers were debilitated by the flu, almost 700 required hospitalization and nearly 50 died.
The pandemic that is now often referred to as Spanish Flu, and the fear it generated transformed America and the world. Factories, shipyards and offices were emptied as employees became ill, or were afraid to come to work. Public gatherings were restricted. Using the script set by the president, the Los Angeles Director of Public Health announced that, “if ordinary precautions are observed there is no cause for alarm.” Two days later as the number of cases climbed, he ordered the closure of all schools, churches and theaters, and the suspension of public gatherings. The Albuquerque Morning Journal, with a front page banner, offered advice – Don’t Let The Flu Frighten You To Death. Within weeks remote ranching and mining towns were devastated as one hundred percent of their populations were to ill to work or travel for supplies. In several instances an entire mining town would die from the influenza, just the flu.
The long term ramifications from deaths can only be imagined. In Russia and Iran, an estimated seven percent of the population would die before the pandemic ended. Robert Speer, the mayor of Denver, died on May 14, 1918. Rose Cleveland, the sister of President Grover Cleveland died on November 22, 1918. Driver Johnny Aitken who had led the first Indianapolis 500 died on October 15, 1918. Francisco de Paula Rodrigues Alves, the re-elected president of Brazil, died before taking office on January 16, 1919. Horace and John Dodge, manufacturers of the Dodge automobile did not die from influenza, but rather from complications made worse by underlying health issues.
In the 21st century, especially in countries with access to the wonders of modern medicine and technology, we have come to believe that plagues, pestilence and pandemics can be kept at bay or even subdued. The terror of polio outbreaks is bit a fading memory. Until the recent abandonment of vaccinations by generally rational people measles was a relative rarity. As a result, the Coronavirus that is currently sweeping the globe is rather jarring, a rude wake up call. And so it is easy to succumb to panic, fear and hysteria, especially when we have access to instant news, and rumor.
I have never been a fan of horror movies. Real life is much scarier. If you would like to read about a truly terrifying episode in history, and put the current crisis in perspective I suggest picking up a copy of The Great Influenza by John M. Barry.
Ideas on what constitutes the ideal road trip are as varied as the people that embark on these adventures. However, most everyone will agree that two components needed to to ensure a memorable odyssey are unique restaurants that offer good food as well as regional specialties and good friends to share the meals. Food on the road, or more specifically a few of my favorite places for food while on the road, is the subject of the latest episode of 5 Minutes with Jim, our weekly audio podcast.
So, on this weeks blog post I wanted to expand on that theme. With that said here are a few of my favorite places for a snack, a breakfast, lunch or dinner while on the road. Not all of them are found on Route 66. After all, this is Jim Hinckley’s America. And as our slogan says, telling people where to go is our specialty. We test the pillows and taste the enchiladas so you can be assured of an honest review and recommendation.
Let’s kick this off with two recommendations from my adopted hometown of Kingman, Arizona. In our free weekly newsletter you have most likely seen advertisement for Calico’s restaurant. Located on Beale Street (U.S. 93) just to the west of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, this family owned restaurant offers an array of traditional American offerings as well as a few specialties such as the coyote BLT, a twist on an old favorite with the addition of alfalfa sprouts and avocado on a nine grain bread. They also have two meeting rooms for groups, one with a private bar.
Enchilada New Mexico at Oysters in Kingman, Arizona
Oysters in Kingman is one of those hole in the wall places that is easily overlooked or seldom given a second look, let alone a look to see what is behind the non descriptor interior. Located on East Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) near the Kings Inn Best Western, this is a true treasure. Authentic Mexican dishes, not the stuff that is hidden by over spiced rice and beans, and surprisingly delicious and diverse sea food offerings are their specialty. For quite some time this has been our go to place for the Sunday family dinner. With the exception of the occasional return to an old favorite, I have been working my way through the menu and have yet to have a bad meal.
There are a couple of places I can recommend in Needles, California. One is the Wagon Wheel restaurant, a Route 66 classic. As with Oysters, I have yet to have a bad meal at this venerable old restaurant. As a bonus the prices fall are budget to mid range. My second choice is Valenzuela’s, a one family owned little restaurant that opened in 1952. If I had one complaint with this little time capsule it would be that the hours of operation are somewhat sporadic, and they are closed most of the summer.
I first discovered Bella Notte in Jackson, Michigan while in town for a speaking engagement in the fall of 2018. This past October there was an opportunity to share this delightful restaurant with my dearest friend as it was across the street from JTV where I was scheduled to give an interview. My recommendation, the fresh Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna in a Béchamel Sauce.
As we receive numerous requests for restaurant tips, reviews and suggestions, a regular series of podcasts and blog posts will be added to the schedule. And as we are gearing up for more road trip adventures, our list of favorite places for roadside dining will be growing. So, stay tuned.