Whimsy at Red Oak II
For all intents and purposes the two and a half week odyssey through the southwest and the heartland of America, with a brief foray into the land of Dixie was a business trip. 
Presentations, education, and Kingman area marketing were the foundation for this truly epic adventure that spanned twelve states and almost 5,000 miles.
I have slowly built a coalition of organizations and business owners that see value in my ability to promote the Kingman area, as well as Route 66. This particular trip was sponsored by Kari Jo Hill, the Promote Kingman initiative (the host for an exciting event that will take place on November 19), Savon Bath Treats, Grand Canyon Caverns, MyMarketing Designs, the Hualapai Tribe, and the Route 66 Association of Kingman.   
As I truly enjoy the new job and the latest chapter in life shared with my dearest friend, there are no complaints even though at times the schedule was rather grueling. 
In coming weeks I will be sharing details and suggestions for great restaurants, unique lodging experiences, sites to see, festivals to add to the calendar, and a review of the new Chevy Cruze, a vehicle that was thoroughly tested on this trip. I will also provide details of what was garnered from meetings with business owners, tourism and economic development directors, city managers, Main Street Program directors, and attendance of the Miles of Possibilities Conference. 
Today, however, I will give just a few of the highlights from what was a most memorable odyssey made even more enjoyable by the people and friends met along the way. 
The first and last days were the most difficult as both required the covering of many miles, which meant that there was little time for dawdling, seeing the sites, or a great deal of visitation. Still, the landscapes traversed are among the most beautiful in the world and we did find time, on the first day for a few minutes with David Heward of Holbrook, and a lunch shared with Rhys and Sam Martin in Gallup.
The charming Rhys and Sam Martin
Day two was long and tiring; a drive from Las Vegas, New Mexico to Shamrock, Texas with a couple of meetings along the way. We missed the Mueller’s in Tucumcari but did enjoy lunch with David Brenner of the Roadrunner Lodge (Amanda was out of town). 
Then we slowed the pace rather dramatically; the next day was a leisurely drive to Claremore, and the day after, only as far as Joplin via 13.5 miles of Route 66 in Kansas. We played tourist with stops at places like Red Oak II, made a few new discoveries, attended more meetings, had dinner with friends and associates, met some interesting people, talked with old friends, missed a few others, and distributed promotional materials from the Kingman area. This theme continued for the remainder of the trip.
There were stops at the Coleman Theater where we listened to music from the Phantom of the Opera played on the vintage Wurlitzer organ during a raging thunderstorm, and a somber visit to a German military cemetery in Oklahoma. 
One evening included hugs from Ramona at the Munger Moss Motel where we shared dinner on a rather chilly evening with a tour group from Australia. Another was seasoned with the music of the Road Crew and the laughter of friends at Belmont Winery during Cuba Fest.
On another stormy night filled with roaring thunder and flashes of lightening bright enough to read by, my dearest friend and I were snuggled deep in a century old bed at the historic Corner George Inn, an 1880’s hotel and saloon in the charming village of Maeystown in Illinois that is accessed by crossing a stone bridge built in the 1850’s.

Another delightful little oasis for the weary traveler was found in Cortez, Colorado on the return trip. The Retro Inn that dates to 1953 is exactly what the name implies, a courtyard lined with time capsules. Clean, reasonable rates, and an attention to detail in presenting the illusion in each room that it is 1958 or 1960 place this motel on our favorites list. 

Another historic chapter in the Route 66 story was the Miles of Possibilities Conference that took place in Bloomington, Illinois. The organizers should be proud of a job well done. 
I was quite honored by the opportunity to speak about the Route 66 renaissance, with Kingman as an example, at the event, and a great deal was learned from attending a few of the presentations. As a bonus there was ample opportunity to visit with old friends, and the event was designed to showcase the charms of historic Bloomington/Normal.  
Forest Park in St. Louis. 
I was also quite honored by an opportunity to speak about 90 years of adventures on Route 66, and the history of that storied old highway in the southwest at the beautiful Missouri History Museum located in Forest Park. 
Even though an early alignment of Route 66 passes through a corner of this beautiful park, many enthusiasts miss it when cruising through St. Louis.
The museum is hosting a superb Route 66 exhibit through next summer. In addition, to touring the museum and exhibit, we had the privilege of enjoying an orphan car show that was taking place on the same day as my presentation. 
Food is always a big part of our adventures be they here in Arizona or to Europe. We revel in the discovery of historic, quirky, or fascinating restaurants and new taste sensations. 

This trip was no exception. One rainy afternoon we enjoyed a superb beef stew at Clanton’s Cafe in Vinita, followed by apple cobbler. On another day it was an excellent Shepherd’s Pie and pleasant conversation with Nick Adam at the Ariston Cafe. 
In Colorado we discovered a quirky named restaurant where the food was marginal at best. In Cuba, Missouri we sampled the lamb burger with a Greek touch at the new Four Way Restaurant and was pleasantly surprised. 
In short, it was a successful and fun filled adventure. Those who invested in my promotional endeavors should be pleased. 
As noted, in coming weeks I will provide more detail. Moreover, as I will be attending the events in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks, there will be even more to share.    



The good folks at the City of Kingman, Josh Noble, the tourism director, Ray Cullison and the Kingsmen, and the volunteers who labored so hard to make the recent Best of the West on 66 Festival a success deserve a hearty thank you.
It was a delightful and fun filled event that my dearest friend and I enjoyed immensely. Even better, it was an event that was shared with, and enjoyed by friends from the Netherlands. 
Though the event evolved from the rather successful 2014 Route 66 International Festival, it has some rather interesting roots. 
Published in 1946, A Guide Book to Highway 66  by Jack Rittenhouse had a rather lengthy entry on Kingman. “Each September, the citizens of Kingman celebrate their famous “Dig-N-Dogie Days” in a rodeo which combines cowboy contests with miners’ events. Since Kingman lies on the margin between cattle country to the east and the mining country to the west, the event draws a wide audience of local folks as well as many outside visitors. Only working cowboys can enter the riding contests …”
Somewhere along the line, the miners contests fell by the wayside. The name was changed to Andy Devine Days, an honorarium for the towns’ favorite son and the name sake for the Route 66 corridor through town. 
Still, the Best of the West of 66 Festival preserves the spirit of the original celebration, and the sense of community noted by Rittenhouse is highlighted.
Political squabbles are given a rest as the mayor and mayoral candidate participate in the parade that courses through an historic business district lined with spectators, and cowboys, now mostly professionals, still kick up the dust at the Mohave County Fairgrounds. 
With the Route 66 International Festival that had the theme of Kingman: Crossroads of the Past and Future, a new dimension was added. In partnership with the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, the world’s first electric vehicle museum was established. Also, a Route 66 Walk of Fame to honor the people that have contributed to the transformation of this highway into an icon was unveiled.
At the festival in 2014, the international nature of the Route 66 community in the 21st century was on display at an historic and unprecedented conference that featured representatives from several European Route 66 associations. This year it was the grand marshals, Dries and Marion Bessels of the Dutch Route 66 Walk of Fame and inductees into the walk of fame in 2015. 
Frank Kocevar, developer of the Route 66 Experience website did a masterful job of capturing the historic event on video.
The Best of the West on 66 Festival was but one manifestation of how Kingman, Arizona was transformed by the 2014 Route 66 International Festival. 
The long dormant Route 66 Association of Kingman was reactivated shortly after that event, and has become a leader in historic district revitalization initiatives, in the fostering of a sense of community purpose, the marketing of Kingman internationally, and an array of beautification projects. 
As examples, in partnership with the local True Value store, the Hualapai Tribe, and Legacy Signs, the organization launched an ongoing graffiti clean up program, a mural program, and neon sign restoration program. They have also contributed signs for organizations and businesses such as Luv of Paws and Route 66 Car Wash.
In partnership with the Graves family, the facade renovation at the Old Trails Garage, a current project, is generating tremendous international interest.
In large part this is resultant of the recovery and restoration of a towering circa 1930 neon lit Packard sign that hasn’t seen the sun since the 1940’s. The lighting of this sign will surely serve as a catalyst for revitalization a block that is at the heart of the historic business district.
Good times and good friends were the order of the day this past weekend. I didn’t expect anything different. After all, these are exciting times in Kingman, Arizona.   



I have quite a few things to share with you today including some suggestions for new additions to the library, our pending road trip schedule, an invitation to a great little event or two, and an opportunity for putting in your two cents worth. 
First, however, today is definitely a day for somber reflection. As with the assassination of President Kennedy (I was sent home from school early that dark day in November of 1963) people remember exactly where they were when first hearing the news of the unfolding disaster in New York City. 
As I reflect on that day fifteen years ago, what saddens me the most is the current state of the nation. In 2001, we were a nation united, a nation suffering through shared grief with neighbors, co-workers, and friends throughout the world. Today we are polarized and divided more than at any time in recent history.
It was noted previously that I picked up a most interesting book at the airport in Frankfurt, To Hell And Back: Europe 1914 to 1949. The book is dry and a bit deep. It is also eerily timely; the rise of extreme right wing nationalism, currency crisis, manipulation of public opinion for consolidation of political power, utilization of regional conflicts as a means for bolstering weak economies that in turn result in a flood of immigrants that make ideal scape goats, unions and liberal coalitions fighting rapacious corporations that maximize profits at the expense of workers, abandonment of promises made to military veterans resulting in simmering anger, border crisis, and a collapse of public confidence in government. 
// I strongly recommend this book. But don’t plan on a speedy read, take it in bites, and meditate on what was read.
Okay, now for something a bit lighter – road trips. The schedule for October is almost finalized. However, I still can squeeze in a presentation or two for organizations, museums, or as a community event, or an interview. And I most always have time to visit with friends and friends yet made over pie and coffee during our travels. 

At this time, scheduled overnight stops include Las Vegas (the original one on the Santa Fe Trail in New Mexico), Shamrock, Claremore, Joplin, Lebanon, Cuba (a Friday night presentation at the Wagon Wheel Motel and the Road Crew on Saturday night at Belmont Winery), St. Louis, Union City, Tennessee, Bloomington, Illinois (the Miles of Possibilities Conference), Red Oak, Iowa, Holdredge, Nebraska, and Canon City and Cortez in Colorado.
Bracketing the October trip is the Best of the West on 66 Festival in Kingman on the weekend of October 23, a presentation in Laughlin, Nevada at the Needles Chamber of Commerce fund raising dinner, and a presentation on Route 66 in the southwest for a tour company during their stop in Kingman. Shortly after our return, we will set out for the 90th anniversary of Route 66 celebration in Los Angeles.
I have a new sponsor for this particular series of trips. Even better, Hualapai Lodge, Grand Canyon West Resort, is at the heart of an adventure wonderland on the Hualapai Reservation; the only road that provides access to the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, the only two day rafting trips in the canyon, and much, much more.  
// Joe Sonderman has a new book coming out soon. I had hoped to pick up a signed copy during Cuba Fest, But Joe sent a note informing me that the scheduled date for release is closer to Christmas. 
Joe has graciously supplied numerous historic images for my books, and has written numerous books on Route 66. Needless to say, I am quite eager to get a copy, especially after being afforded a sneak peak.
Next, in response to the inquiries about the Jim Hinckley’s America; A Trek Across Route 66 video teaser posted on the Promote Kingman Facebook page, the plan is for the first episode to be complete by fall. This is another project that has had an array of false starts in the course of the last year or two but I am confident that this time everything is in place to bring it to fruition. 
Your opinions, thoughts, and suggestions about this project would be most appreciated. You may contact me directly, or the technical folks My Marketing Designs that are behind the development of this video series. Their phone number if 928-637-6127. 

Elmer Graves, 90-year old owner of the Old Trails

I was a bit surprised by the notes, emails, and phone calls received after publication of the article for the Kingman Daily Miner about the European Route 66 Festival. I know that there is an online edition but still, this is a small town newspaper.
Apparently the paper took note of the international interest generated by the article as well since there is now an ongoing discussion about the possibility of me writing a weekly column on Kingman, Route 66 related developments, Route 66 related economic development, interesting people in Kingman (such as Elmer Graves and his 82 year association with the Old Trails Garage) or people that stop during their travels. The editor, however, has reservations about the possible readership for such a column and the subsequent advertising revenue that would be generated. Here is an opportunity to put in your two scents worth. Kingman Daily Miner – (928)753-6397, 
Every month the Route 66 Association of Kingman, in conjunction with a member business hosts an open house. This open to the general pubic event is a great opportunity for networking, meeting area business owners as well as community leaders, and for meeting some of the folks who travel Route 66. 
This month the meet and greet will take place at 6:00 P.M. on the 26th of September at Rutherford’s 66 Family Diner, 2011 E. Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) in Kingman. The association has informed me that Wolfgang Werz of the German Route 66 Association is planning on attendance.
To wrap this up, please, take a few moments to reflect on the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the divisions that plague us today. Then give some thought as to what you can do to bridge rifts. 





Packing for a Route 66 adventure of
the international type – 
As you read this we are on the road to the airport in Las Vegas. By this time tomorrow, with weary eyes, we will be preparing to watch our first German sunset with an ice cold beer in hand. 
As is often the case, the days before an eagerly anticipated adventure are an endless series of frustrations, check lists, and the resolution of last minute details. And, more often than not, there are also a number of unexpected issues to address. 
As an example, on the Fourth of July my carefully crafted time table left the tracks with the discovery that the cooling fan for the refrigerator was no longer operational. Fortunately it was a rather simple fix even though it consumed a couple of hours that could not be spared. 
The first hours of Tuesday morning were consumed with a most stimulating marketing meeting at Ramada Kingman. Topping the list of exciting developments discussed were the recent conversations with the developers of the Solar Roadway project, and initiation of a feasibility study for funding and installation. 
The addition of a Solar Roadway sidewalk or parking lot to the property would be a manifestation of the theme for the 2014 Route 66 International Festival, Kingman: crossroads of the past and future. Linked with electric vehicle charging stations, the limited partnership with the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, and the proposed hosting of an electric vehicle weekend in conjunction with Chillin’ on Beale in October, the Solar Roadway project would also represent a major step toward transforming the historic property into a “green” motel complex. As a full service Route 66 resort, it would also add to the writing of a new chapter in this storied highways history. 
Last minute details are not always unpleasant. On Monday, I logged on to the Condor Airline website to check on a few details pertaining to the pending flight to Germany. Imagine my surprise to see a New Mexico Route 66 road sign on their home page. 
Even though we are quite excited to be attending the European Route 66 Festival, an historic milestone, it is the opportunity to enjoy the event with friends that really quickens the spirit. Of course that could be said for any Route 66 event or festival. 
Dependent on WiFi access, and the level of exhaustion as well as the days activities, a valiant effort will be made to at least post snippets or photos during the adventure. At the very least I will be posting snippets on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page. 
For those attending the festival, we will see you soon. And for fans of the double six, stay tuned for a vicarious adventure as well as exciting developments. 



To say the very least, my Route 66 odyssey has been a long and strange journey. It began with a trip to California from Virginia in 1959, in an old Chevy convertible that dad got cheap as it had been underwater during a hurricane. 
In the summer of 1966, we moved west from Michigan to Arizona following Route 66 from a point just south of Chicago. There, on the pre-1952 alignment of the old road, in the shadow of the Black Mountains, I learned to ride a bicycle and to drive. 
In my wildest dreams I never imagined following Route 66 from Oatman and the deserts of the Sacramento Valley to de Prael in Amsterdam, a holiday fair in Utrecht Netherlands, or to Ofterdingen in Germany. Nor could I imagine having friends from throughout the world because of my association with Route 66 and their fascination with it. 
In retrospect, it all seems a bit surreal. In 1968, I was riding my bicycle to Ed’s Camp to water Ed Edgerton’s tomato plants. Today, I provide consultation services for companies and communities looking to capitalize on the Route 66 renaissance, and have sponsors such as Grand Canyon Caverns and Ramada Kingman that subsidize my efforts to promote Route 66 as America’s longest attraction.
Even stranger are the incredible coincidences that have come to seem normal. Several years ago I provided a bit of assistance to Melanie Stengele, a German educator working through the University of Texas on a project that included a need to visit the long forgotten Arizona ghost town of Signal. 
Several weeks ago she contacted me to ask if I had plans to attend the European Route 66 Festival, and if so, would the schedule allow making a presentation at a secondary school in Bensheim where she teaches. As it turns out, the school is located only a few miles from the city that we fly into, and only a few miles from the village where Sylvia and Bernhard live, friends that we will attend the festival with.  
For the trip to Germany, the City of Kingman has agreed to pay a per Diem for five days, and to reimbursement for the cost of my airline ticket. Grand Canyon West and the Route 66 Association of Kingman are also contributing. 
Last Friday, T-Mobile of Kingman signed on as a contributing sponsor for the German adventure. I almost feel like an entry in NASCAR!
Before we can place the full focus on the German adventure, there is a journey to Needles this coming Thursday. I have been asked to make a presentation about my association with Route 66, and how the Route 66 renaissance can be utilized as a catalyst for revitalization and development. 
Then, on return from Germany, I can begin work on creating a series of presentations for the fall tour. The tentative schedule is to make a presentation during Cuba Fest (third weekend in October) in Cuba, Missouri, and two presentations, one on Route 66 in general  and another on Route 66 in the southwest, at the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park just to the east of St. Louis. 
What a strange and wondrous journey! From Oatman to Ofterdingen.