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THE SMALLEST CAR IN THE WORLD, THE MOST FAMOUS HIGHWAY IN AMERICA, AND UPDATES FROM MY ADOPTED HOMETOWN

A long title that gives but the faintest of hints about the wide array of interesting items that I have to share with you today. First, item number one. My dearest friend discovered this tongue in cheek story about the world’s smallest car and shared it with me last evening. As Route 66 often dominates my thoughts or is lurking in the recesses, I thought that if he was serious about getting this to market there would be a Route 66 cruise in the future.As the policies, dictates, and edicts of the government increasingly seem to be severed from common sense of practicality, I had another thought when watching this video. If the government were an automobile manufacturer this is exactly the type of vehicle they would produce. The primary difference is that they would pay $8,000 to manufacture it and sell it for $4,000.Now, a few updates from America’s most famous highway. It would seem the knee jerk reaction to recent allegations against Mr. Marsh 3 is manifesting in a growing cry to dismantle the now iconic Cadillac Ranch. I have to admit, the meaning, or even concept, behind this roadside monument escapes me. To be honest, it always seemed like a waste of perfectly good cars, a sort of drug induced surreal nightmare. Still, somehow, the very silliness of it seems a natural fit to the often eccentric atmosphere that permeates the Route 66 community. After all, fun and being able to do things you are not allowed to do at home is a large part of the Route 66 experience and in my neighborhood they frown on spray painting cars. In my humble opinion the fine folks of Amarillo, and the Route 66 community, would suffer a tremendous loss if the Cadillac Ranch was ripped from the fabric of the roadside. And for those who think dollars and cents, I am quite sure this monument to eccentricity generates a fair bit of revenue for the city. Next, a few updates from my adopted hometown, Kingman. Several months ago an historic district beautification program kicked off with the creation of a series of innovative shadow box insert murals for the west wall of the historic Old Trails Garage. Well, I spoke with the artist this morning, Sandy Rusinko, and she informed me that the mural for window three is complete. That means we should have it installed within two weeks. I was also informed that work is underway for the next window. This one is being funded by the new owner of the historic Brunswick Hotel. That leaves just one more and then we can address the old doorways, and move to the next building. So, who wants to contribute $400 toward the transformation of the Route 66 corridor in Kingman?Speaking of the Brunswick Hotel, this evening my wife and I will be meeting with the Swiss owner, Werner Fleischmann, to get a first hand look at progress on renovations and to discuss the gallery we will have in the lobby. Rest assured, updates will be provided. Initially our work will be displayed in the gallery but we will only be on site by appointment, when meeting with tour groups, or when time allows. If you would like us to meet with you or your group, please let me know so we can schedule a visit to ensure you are not missed as you motor along Route 66. Additionally, I am finalizing details for the hosting of special evening events in the gallery, and for providing walking tours of the historic district. If these options are of interest please let me know so we may coordinate schedules and discuss the cost.Since word began circulating about the development of a video series entitled Jim Hinckley’s America, I have received a surprising number of inquiries about availability. Well, work will resume this weekend and, dependent on how this goes, I should be able to provide a possible date for release by Monday.As a final note, I have dusted off an old project and decided to finish it even though it represents a bit of departure from most of my work in that it is a novel, a fictional work. Since this a new realm of endeavor, are there any agents or publishers out there that would be interested in evaluating the work?  Don’t forget to check back on Friday evening when the last installment in the first five week series for the Ultimate Route 66 Contest will be posted.  

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LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN

After our meet, greet, and sign session at Barnes & Noble, the Route 66 celebration in Amarillo kicked into high gear with a wonderful party at the home of “Croc” Lile, one of the organizers for the event and a popular artist. As it was a beautiful evening we opted to walk the few blocks from the hotel to his home and along the way met many others who had also chosen to savor a stroll along the tree lined streets. It was a delightful celebration with the common thread being a passion for iconic Route 66. Many of those in attendance, such as Joe Loesch of the Road Crew, and Jim Ross, the author and photographer, I had corresponded or talked with but never met. Others, such as Dale Butel from Australia were old friends. The conversation was lively and animated. The food excellent. Still, the highlight was in making new acquaintances, such as Dale’s charming wife Kristi Anne. All to quickly weariness prompted us to say goodbye and begin our walk back to our temporary home. After a pleasant nights rest, it was off to the Route 66 egroup breakfast hosted by Mike Ward.

Virtual friends put faces with names, old friends shared the latest news, and donated prizes ranging from signed books to Route 66 tote bags were raffled. Again, time passed far to quickly and it was time to set up our table in the authors and vendors building for the main event on 6th Avenue, Route 66, in the cities San Jacinto historic district that kicked off on Friday and culminated with a massive auto show on Saturday. Our table location provided us with a front row seat to the main event, and a showcase for our wares that included the new Arizona Route 66 passports, free Kingman post cards, a display of our photographic prints, a spread of three of my most popular books as well as hte latest title, Ghost Towns of Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. Even better, we were sandwiched between the National Park Service and Jeff Jensen of Bygonebyways. Even though the event wasn’t due to kick off until noon, the crowds began to build by 10:30 and by 11:00 there was a steady ebb and flow of fans of legendary Route 66. The excitement and vitality in the air was palpable as the people moved among the tables. Directly across the street from our building was, as it turned out, an excellent little diner, Dolly’s. The food was so good, and the prices reasonable, we ate lunch there on Friday and Saturday!The sun sinking below the western horizon did not end the fun. It continued with some heading for the legendary Big Texan Steak Ranch and others to the hotel, and drew to close with Joe Loesch and his band performing at the legendary “Nat” ballroom. With eager anticipation for the day ahead, we called it a night just a bit earlier than planned. As it turned out, this was a very wise decision indeed!

ROAD TRIP

With less than two weeks to go before the next big road trip, an adventure to Amarillo for the 2011 International Route 66 Festival, the anticipation is building in direct correlation to the frustration that comes from having so much to do before we leave. There is the Jeep to service and camera equipment to prepare, the house to stock with supplies for my son and his family, and a million plus details to resolve at the office. The very essence of a Route 66 based adventure is to allow the road to dictate where the day begins and ends as well as what fills it. You can’t do that when tied to reservations and a schedule. Unfortunately most of us have schedules and as a result the best we can hope for in our travels is to have a day or two where the freedom of the road restores the soul. From that perspective, as excited as we are about the festival, and the opportunities to reacquaint ourselves with old friends and to make new ones, it is the two days at the beginning and at the end of the adventure that our spirit craves. To the best of our abilities we will use the first two days of the trip to purge ourselves of the generic so we will be in the right frame of mind for enjoying the grand celebration in Amarillo. To ensure this  we will have our EZ 66 Guide by Jerry McClanahan, the best guide book to this amazing highway that I am aware of, and the latest edition of the Route 66 Dining & Lodging Guide. These excellent guides, as well related books and travel kits, are available through the National Route 66 Federation. As a bonus, when you buy books direct from them there is the satisfaction of having supported a very good cause. The primary excuse (as if we needed one) for attending the festival this year is it will be the kick off for the promotional tour of the newest book, Ghost Towns of Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr. The secondary one would be the need for illustrations to accompany the current project, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas. So, if all goes according to plan, we should be heading east as the sun rises  over Route 66 a couple of days before the festival. As photo opportunities will dictate the stops for the day, we will most likely make few stops until we reach the east side of Flagstaff. We really want to photograph the old bridges between Winona and Flagstaff, at Padre Canyon, and at Two Guns. Our list of places to photograph in Winslow and Holbrook is quite lengthy as is the one for Grants and Gallup. As we hope to photograph some neon in Albuquerque, that will most likely be the end of the road for the day. Now, as to where we will lay our head for the night, that is the type of mystery that is the ambrosia of an adventure on legendary Route 66. Day two will will take us to the ancient capital of Santa Fe and along the pre 1937 alignment of Route 66, arguably the most historic segment of the highway as it follows the El Camino Real and the storied Santa Fe Trail. The towns found along Route 66 between Albuquerque and Santa Rosa on this loop often appear as old as the land itself. The Santa Domingo Pueblo predates the arrival of the Spanish conquistador by at least several decades as do the ruins at Pecos. Glorietta Pass, and the remnants of the adobe barn at the old Pigeon Ranch played a prominent role in a major battle of the American Civil War.  It was in the town square of Tecolate where General Kearney announced that New Mexico was now part of the United States during the Mexican/American War in 1846. We will fudge a bit in regards to the Route 66 adventure by venturing into Las Vegas, a favorite stop of mine. I always add this beautiful old town to my list of must see Route 66 detours as it less than thirty miles from the Mother Road.

The ruins of Endee, New Mexico.

If there is a downside to the resurgent interest in Route 66 it is the fact that some of the refurbished historic places are becoming quite popular and as a result, reservations may be a good idea. With that said we will journey from Las Vegas to Tucumcari on scenic highway 104, past Conchas Lake, and end the day at Motel Safari.

The world famous Mid Point Cafe in Adrian, Texas.

The remainder of the journey to Albuquerque will include stops at some of our very favorite places; Endee, Glenrio, and, of course, the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas. To drive through Texas chasing the wonders of Route 66, and not stop here for pie and coffee is akin to going to Las Vegas and never eating at a buffet or pulling the handle on a one armed bandit. Indications are that the festival in Amarillo this year will be the largest celebration of legendary Route 66 in decades. In addition to an all star cast that includes Michael Wallis, fans of the legendary double six from throughout the world will be in attendance. Now, the return trip hangs as a very large question mark. All I know for certain is that we must head west, and that I need to be at work by Wednesday.

THE MIXED BAG – PART TWO

At lunch when I wrote the first part of this post a green ball distracted me. My original intent was to provide something a bit more uplifting and inspirational than an essay on the perils and rewards of pursuing a career as an author. So, before another distraction leads me astray …The acknowledgement section of the Route 66 encyclopedia will be a lengthy one and that is if I went to the publisher with it today. A complete list of who helped transform this dream into a book will be posted at completion of the project but in the past few weeks the list has grown to include Rich Henry, a help on many fronts with this and other projects, Becky of Becky’s Barn, and the fine folks at the Illinois Route 66 Association. As noted previously, my concern is not in meeting the deadline for this project but in what might be overlooked or missed for inclusion. An excellent example would be the recent discovery of Murray’s Dude Ranch, “The World’s Only Negro Dude Ranch” in Apple Valley, California. So, if you have a suggestion for inclusion, be it a person, place or thing, please share. My name may grace the cover of this book as the author and photographer but that is only because the cover will not be large enough to include the name of everyone who made it possible. This is our project. I am merely compiling the information. So, feel free to jump in and help write another chapter in Route 66 history. The next item on the list is in regards to photographs. The heading photo, will be the first in the Ghosts of Route 66 series. The second will not be quite as dark or gloomy, a sepia toned image of the Painted Desert Trading Post as seen from the old Dead River Bridge. “Croc” Lile, an excellent artist himself, has been graciously tutoring me on the world of art galleries and related matters, patiently endured my questions, and has even served as the distributor for my work including the limited edition prints. Once I finalize a print schedule, and make sure I haven’t wore my patience out with Croc, I will post details here. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrIn the mean time click on the link above for more information about the Lile Fine Art Gallery. The entire Sunset Gallery complex is a wonderland and through Bob “Croc” Lile’s tireless efforts it will be a beehive of activity during the Route 66 festivities in June.With that segaway let me ask who is attending the big shindig in Amarillo? If you need more information about the event, host hotel, or are just curious follow this link. Short of something cataclysmic happening, my dearest friend and I will be attending to kick off the premier of the newest book to flow from the word processor of Jim Hinckley, Ghost Towns of Route 66, to meet old friends, and to put faces with names from correspondence. As I understand it Joe Sonderman, the man who has been transforming a cavalcade of images from the glory days of Route 66 into a series of time capsules for Arcadia Publishing will also be in attendance. If you are not familiar with Joe, his collection, or his work, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of one of his books even if you do not belong to the Route 66 fan club. My bet is that if you buy one the others in the series will soon follow. My favorite is Route 66 in Arizona. Of course I am a bit prejudiced in regards to this state and really enjoyed the images from Kingman, my adopted hometown. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0738579424&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrI spoke with Kathy Alexander recently and she is also planning on attending. Her amazing Legends of America website was the primary catalyst for the new book, Greetings from Route 66http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=076033885X&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr.It is my guess that this will be one for the history books. I hope to see you there.This isn’t my oney reason for eagerly anticipating the end of winter. There is a new season of Chillin’ on Beale Street on the horizon. Dave Gurney, a friend from Australia, will be returning to Kingman in a bout a month. The Route 66 Fun Run is always a first celebration of the American love affair with the automobile, the road trip, and legendary Route 66. For me there will be several bonuses this year. Bob Stevens, former editor for Cars & Parts, will driving out from Ohio in his 1960 Corvette. Dale Butel, Route 66 Tours of Australia, will also be participating with one of his groups. Another friend, Dries Bessel, and his charming wife, from Amsterdam will be motoring west this summer. A visit with these fine folks is always a treat. Then there is the fall tour. At some point around the first of October, my dearest friend and I will drive the entire length of Route 66 from Chicago to Kingman to get the photos for the encyclopedia. Fall colors are the goal. I have been invited back to AM Arizona in Prescott. Details are in the works and when they are finalized I will post dates. So, what are your plans for 2011?

CHANGING TIMES

From its inception in 1926, Route 66 has had excellent press. As a result it is, arguably, America’s most famous highway even though it is not the most historic, most scenic, or the longest.

Ghosts of the lost highway

Its popularity shows no sign of waning even though it has reverted to its original incarnation as a series of interconnected trails, county roads, state highways, and city streets. Long ago it transcended its original purpose and is today a cross between the historic preservation of Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan and the superficial glitz and illusion of Disneyland. It is a repository of American history from the 20th century and a 2,000 mile amusement park. Intermixed with the solemnity that comes from traveling hallowed ground there is the euphoria of youth revisited. It is this blending that makes a simple journey on Route 66 into a life changing  odyssey. I write about the highways history in an effort to provide context and understanding. I write about the wonders found along its storied route to encourage others to make that life changing drive and to provide the armchair adventurer with fodder for nights filled with colorful dreams.

A vanished view of Route 66

At the risk of seeming vain, I feel almost a scared duty in utilizing my gifts to preserve the history of the road and encouraging others to discover its charms. It is a humbling thought to consider that what I write, what I photograph, may serve these purposes for generations yet born. I am not alone with these thoughts, with this humble awareness that my work is preserving history and chronicling history as it unfolds. Talk to people like Jerry McClanahan, Jim Ross, Dave Emerson, Dan Rice, Laurel Kane, and countless other scattered along this ribbon of asphalt that spans the nation and that serves as a bridge between the past and future. 

Chadwick Drive (Route 66) Kingman, Arizona

 The awareness that results from the writing of this highways history, and from driving its cracked and broken asphalt, provides a perspective on changing times as well as how to adapt to them. It also provides a degree of frustration when I can not find ways to manifest that perspective in ways that help my adopted hometown, Kingman, preserve its history, instill enthusiasm about its wonders, and make it a place others want to call home. Compounding this sense of frustration is the acute realization of how fast time passes, how fleeting life can be, and how important it is to live life to the fullest. I fully realize this magnified sense of urgency in regard to time allotted for preservation, for encouraging, for promoting, and for utilizing gifts and talents, is resultant of the death of my mother and sister in December, the skin cancer surgery this morning (received a clean bill of health a half hour ago!), and walking amongst ruins that were polished dreams of stone, glass, and wood less than a half century ago. So, rather than curse the darkness, I choose to light a candle in the form of photographs and tapestries woven of words that may inspire someone with the talents I lack. Then, perhaps, Kingman will again take its place among the many jewels that line legendary 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica. Perhaps it will then again be more than a stop along a legendary road and will instead be a destination people seek on their journey along a highway paved with dreams. With that said, in between my doctors visit this afternoon and the one in the morning, I will again turn my attention toward chronicling the first 85 years of Route 66 history with the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas, volume one, as well as an assignment for Dave Emerson that will appear in the next edition of his Keeping You On The Mother Road directory. And, if time allows, I will also begin promoting Ghost Towns of Route 66, my effort to give those faded communities overlooked in the recent resurgent interest in the highwayhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr a moment on center stage, scheduled for a debut at the international Route 66 festival in Amarillo in June.

LOST HIGHWAYS, GRAND ADVENTURES, AND GOOD FRIENDS

Six day work weeks seem as normal as sunrise to me. However, I prefer to make that five days earning the paycheck to support the writing habit and pay the bills, and one solid day of working on projects related to the important things in life such as writing books, taking care of the house, or similar tasks. That leaves Sunday for reading, friends, family, and, in general, relaxation. Ideally, we set aside a day or weekend every couple of months for a road trips. When the real job becomes a six day a week affair, the idyllic schedule goes out the window and Sunday, even though I do not relish the idea, becomes a work day and road trips become a luxury that time does not allow.

Such was the case yesterday. It started at 4:00 with some reading from the good book, correspondence, updating the blog with the weekly book reviews and travel tips, a short walk with my dearest friend, and then reading through the galley proofs for Ghost Towns of Route 66 in search of errors or captions that were out of place. The intricacies of the publishing industry have become an increasing source of fascination for me in recent years. The rise of digital books, the Kindle reader and similar devices, and the desire to understand how books are created once the thoughts of the writer are made manifest as words on paper fuel this interest. Another aspect is the ever changing world of promotion and marketing. As an example, Ghost Towns of Route 66 http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760338434&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifris not scheduled for release until June 1, 2011, with its big debut being at the Deep in the Heart of Route 66 festival in Amarillo a week later, I am just finishing the final edits, and it is already available for preorder on Amazon.com. After a fairly solid seven hours of work, Sunday afternoon was spent with my son and his family that now includes a three year old and our grandson, now six weeks old. There is nothing like a house full of family and laughing children to lift the spirits. I finished the evening by sending the publisher a small list of errors encountered in the proof reading, reading a few chapters in a new book, Canon Eos 50D Digital Field Guide, and making notes, and compiling a list of questions I would need answered for the latest writing assignment, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas.  The late night study is resultant of the dawning and reluctant realization that we need to expand and update our photographic equipment. The tried and true Olympus will, as our back up camera, stay with us and still be pressed into service on a regular basis but to meet the needs of the current project, as well a few in the works, something with expanded application possibilities is required. http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0470455594&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrSo, even though it would strain the budget a bit, thought is being given toward the purchase of a Canon EOS 50 D which means the never ending learning curve will take a new twist. Would anyone familiar with this camera care to chime in and provide their two cents worth? As to the encyclopedia, here are a few of the items I am seeking answers for:Hyde Park in Arizona – when was it established and were the cabins demolished or moved to another location?I have a copy of By Motor to the Golden Gate, Emily Post, 1916, reprinted in 2004. Are there similar books available that were written between 1920 and 1930? This leads me to the Westergard expeditions of the teens. Were these ever the subject of a book? What is the history of Brooklyn Heights in Missouri?The Harvey House restaurant in Bagdad, California, when was it established and when did it close? Nelson, Arizona was on the National Old Trails Highway. Was it also on an early alignment of Route 66 and what is the history of the town? Are there any accurate and reliable Route 66 guide books similar to the one wrote by Jack Rittenhouse in 1946 from the period between 1926 and 1940?Snell’s Summit Station at the summit of Sitgreaves http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=1968adventurer&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0786419407&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrPass, was there ever a motel on the opposite side of the pass? There are two aspects of writing that I never tire of, the discoveries made through research and the sharing of what is found. From this perspective the Route 66 encyclopedia is one of the most rewarding projects to date. It is also one of the most frustrating as I worry over its accuracy and content incessantly. I am now less than a year from deadline and already the pressure is mounting. As this will be book number seven, this feeling is becoming more like an old, comfortable sweater on a fall morning than a source of concern or apprehension. Between then and now there are at least two big road trips, the cancer surgery, another interview with AM Arizona, lots of visits with old friends as they journey along Route 66, and friends yet met. The year 2010 is drawing to a close under cloudy skies but this often means the sunset will be gorgeous. Here is to 2011, a year of grand adventures, good friends, and lost highways!

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