MEANWHILE, …

When hearing people talk of killing time or being bored, I am always amazed. Time is the one precious commodity that it is impossible to get more of and boredom is something that I last experienced when Gerald Ford was president (of course, I was in high school at the time).
Life is so full of excitement, frustration, depression, laughter, adventure, friends, family, holidays, loss, road trips, discoveries, illness, and the endless possibility for more of these, that boredom seems like such an impossibility. Likewise with a need to kill time, a commodity that I never have enough of.
If I was to see this outlook as a fault, and wanted to blame someone for it, it would have to be my dad. When he was born my grandfather was in his sixties and my grandmother in her forties.
Resultant of this, I grew up in an odd world where the events of the 1960s swirled all around us but we were locked in the 1930s and 1940s, a world where kids began driving as soon as they could see through the spokes of the steering wheel and reach the pedals, and the work day began at 5:00 sharp. The day was divided between chores and school, if you had spare time there were always more chores or something to learn, like how to repair a garage wall after mistaking the throttle knob for the choke. 
With the exception of a few years in my youth where an effort was made to shake off what I perceived to be shackles, I have always found a project to plan for, to complete, or to think about. I offer this long winded preamble as an explantion for an inquiry about how I find enough time in my day to write books and have a full time job.  
While we are on the subject of books, here is the latest Ghost Towns of Route 66 report from Amazon.com –
#5 in Books > Travel > United States > Regions > Midwest

#20 in Books > Travel > United States > Regions > West

#24 in Books > Travel > United States > Regions > South


I am always glad to see a book is being well received. What I can’t see, and hope for, is that the book will add depth as well as context to the Route 66 experience. Of even more importance, I hope it inspires folks to make their own voyage of discovery along this storied old road.
The report on Ghost Towns of the Southwest leaves me with similar hopes. It also leads me to believe that the subject of ghost towns and Route 66 are rather popular.
#26 in Books > Travel > United States > States > Arizona

#60 in Books > Travel > Reference & Tips > Tourist Destinations & Museums
 
I wrote the Route 66 encyclopedia with a two fold purpose in mind. One, I wanted to create a resource that would chronicle a very large portion of that highways history, present that highway in a broader context through the concise history of each town along the highway, and portray the road as a tangible link that connects the future, the present, the past, and even the distant past.
Two, I am hoping it will spark curiosity about the highway and places along the route. Additionally, I am hoping that spark of curiosity will translate into exploration for Route 66 in its modern incarnation has transformative powers that are difficult to describe. As crazy as this may seem, I am quite convinced, especially after the last trip in October, that keys for the restoration of the nation are to be found in the people, the mom and pop enterprises, and the sense of community found along Route 66.
And that leads me to the next book projects. The one being bandied about with Voyageur Press, the publisher for the past five books, is a travel guide with a twist.
I could never hope to compete with, or even create a better guide than, the EZ 66 Guide by Jerry McClanhan. However, I could craft a companion title that would add some zest to what is arguably the most exciting opportunity for adventure in America.
What I envision is a guide that will enable the traveler to immerse themselves in the rich and colorful history along the way, as well as provide them with the keys for unlocking wonderful treasures found with the shortest of detours north or south of the highway. Examples of the latter would be Hualapai Mountain Park and lodge, 15 miles south of Kingman, or the Cave Restaurant, about the same distance north of the highway in Misosuri.
But the book I would really like to write would be a bit different than any of the other eight published titles. I would like to write a travel guide laced with my trademark dry wit to add some comedic overtones to a search for America that can only be found on Route 66.
I want to find, and introduce readers to, the America I remember. This is not the America that made the Negro Motorist Green Book a necessity for a large segment of the population but the America that negated its need.
My search would be for the America where individuality trumped generic corporate offerings. It would be for the great mom and pop enterprise that ensured each community had its own distinct personality.
In either case, it is my hope to take the time capsule feel of Route 66 to a new level next fall. Hence my quest for a vehicle manufactured by Nash, Hudson, or Studebaker between 1948 to 1953, and businesses interested in having their business tied to Route 66 through some advertising sponsorship.
Bored, not a concept I understand. Wasting time – sorry but I don’t have time.

WINTER AND THOUGHTS OF SPRING

I received a succinct inquiry yesterday that simply asked, “What is all the hype about Route 66.” After careful deliberation I attempted to answer in an equally succinct manner.
“That is a very good question. It is not the most historic or the most scenic. However, from its very inception it has had the best hype. Meanwhile, here in Kingman, it is a rather frostry day. To the north, the clouds hang heavy and dark over the mountains casting the canyons into deep shadows. To the south, the snow covered flanks of the Hualapai Mountains stand in stark contrast to the thick black clouds that obscure the summit.
Today the old road has transcended its original purpose to become an icon of epic proportions. You might say the myth is becoming the reality (I borrowed that from Joe Sonderman, a fellow author).
It is a time capsule chronicling almost a century of American societal evolution with an overlay of Disneyland glitz. It is America’s longest attraction. It is the very essence of America. It is nothing short of amazing.
Only on Route 66 can mom and pop enterprise compete, successfully, with chains and franchises, which makes it the last bastion for these type of endeavors. There are beautiful 1930s era stone cabins, fully refurbished with just a thin veneer of modern amenities, restaurants owned by the same family since the 1920s, museums, trading posts, refurbished neon, ghost towns of the 20th century, and stunning landscapes.
Does this answer your question? May I suggest you take a drive this next spring or summer and discover, or rediscover, the joy of a the all American road trip.”
I shared this on Facebook and asked if anyone had something to add to this. It would seem Europeans and Australians have a very deep understanding of what a unique treasure this old road is. Americans, however, seem to be largely unaware or uninterested. I find that interesting as well as sad.

Technically winter is still weeks away but weather wise, it is here. Heavy clouds, snow, and a distinctly damp chill are not the only manifestations of winters arrival. Another would be my thoughts that keep drifting toward spring and summer adventures on Route 66 as well as the road less traveled.
Providing the balance, the tether that holds the thoughts to the present, is approval for the new exhibit, Route 66 in Mohave County, that we will be supplying photos for. I really want this exhibit to grab the visitor, to draw them in and make them part of the adventure, but most of all I want to inspire them to set forth on their personal voyage of discovery along this amazing highway.

The recent snow fall in the surrounding mountains has me eager to load the Jeep, have my dearest friend in the passenger seat, and the cameras on board to capture scenes most Route 66 enthusiasts never see. These thoughts often lead to ones about what other seldom seen seasonal wonders we can provide glimpses of.
For stunning beauty, winter is perhaps the best time of the year in northwestern Arizona. The dramatic contrasts of deep snows on mountains as a backdrop for some of the harshest landscapes on the planet never ceases to inspire a deep sense of awe and reverence.
Even though I find great visual pleasure in desert winters, my preference is the days when the temperatures hover in the triple digit range. And there you have another reason why I no longer reside in places like Michigan.
On December 12th we will be driving to Prescott as I will be the featured guest on AM Arizona in Prescott, one of our favorite little cities. Hopefully this will not provide to many opportunities for a refreshing of my icy road driving skills.
I also hope that the mud and snows in the high country will not keep us from making the return trip on the beautiful but remote Williamson Valley Road the connects Prescott with Seligman, one of our favorite drives. And there you have the reason I drive a Jeep instead of a sports car or hybrid.
The rest of the month looks relatively quiet with the exception of the grand kid invasion of December 25. That, however, is but one of the perks of surviving all of those years as a parent.
In the next few weeks I should be able to provide more detail about the pending vintage car odyysey on Route 66. I hope to also be able confirm a few details about
Cuba Fest and the debut of the next book – next fall.

A FEW BRIGHT RAYS OF SUNSHINE ON A COLD WET DAY

In my corner of Route 66 it is a cold, wet day with snow dusting the mountains and hillsides. Still, in the past six hours or so there have been so many exciting developments it is almost as though bright rays of sunshine are piercing the winter gloom.
I do not have details as of yet but Josh Noble, the area tourism director, has informed me that work is now underway on the El Trovatore Motel, a Route 66 landmark since 1939. Apparently this restoration will include the towering neon sign on the bluff behind the motel. Details will be provided as soon as they become available.
Mr. Noble is also spearheading an exciting geocache program along Route 66 from the New Mexico border to the Colorado River. This will be part of a series of Arizona centennial projects.
For several weeks I have alluded to a photography assignment for a tourism center. This morning the project received final approval and as a result, I can now provide a bit more detail.
The Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman will be transforming much of the second floor mezzanine into an interactive photo exhibit that will serve as a virtual tour of Route 66 in Mohave County. I am both humbled and honored to announce that my dearest friend and I have been selected as the photographers for the project.
The scheduled date for completion has not been established but a tentative time frame would be early summer. In the mean time, the exhibit will be displayed in stages as it progresses with much of it being in place by the time of the annual Route 66 Fun Run.
Not all news received this morning was good. One little item matched the weather perfectly, the announcement that a pending book deal is on hold until the end of the month or the first of the year. So, that leaves me with two writing assignments this month, one for Old Cars Weekly and one for 66 The Mother Road, the new online magazine.
At some point in the not to distant future I will be working my way through the final edit for the Route 66 encyclopedia and writing the captions for something close to 1,000 images. I am quite sure that will keep me busy for a bit.
Plans for this books initial release are still in the works. As a result little can be said with certainty but work is moving toward having the debut for the book at the annual Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri. As they become available details will be shared.
Attendance at two other major events, one in Tucumcari in June and the international Route 66 festival in Victorville, is also in the works. These would be to promote Ghost Towns of Route 66, Route 66 Backroads, and Ghost Towns of the Southwest. As is my custom the promotion of the books would also serve to promote the event, the road, and the people who make it such a special treasure. Details for these events will be posted as soon as they become available.
One more Kingman related note of interest. I have it from a reliable source that the 2012 season of Chillin on Beale Street, an event held on the third Saturday evening of each month from March until October, will be the most exciting yet. Again, stay tuned for details.

HAVE I GOT A DEAL FOR YOU – AND A FEW OTHER ROUTE 66 ITEMS OF NOTE

The first order of business is congratulations to Melba and everyone who worked so long and hard to bring recognition to the shortest stretch of Route 66, that 13 mile segment found in the state of Kansas. Rather than reinvent the wheel, follow this link to Route 66 News for more details of their accomplishment.
Another item of note pertains to Rich Dinkella’s latest endeavor to shine the light of fame on legendary Route 66. Again, Route 66 News has all the details.
If you have a company or business that is looking for unique promotional opportunities, I have got a deal for you. How would you like to have that business associated with Route 66? How would you like to help support the numerous places along this storied highway that make it the last bastion of mom and pop enterprise in America?
The idea initially started as the foundation for a new book. As I envisioned it the book would be something similar in nature to Travels with Charley or On the Road, a classic by Jack Kerouac.
In these difficult times when it seems the world has been turned upside down I thought it might be kind of neat to search for the America that shone so bright with promise during the 1940s and 1950s. I would not be seeking the nation that made the Negro Motorist Green Book a necessity for a large portion of the populace during those years but instead the nation that negated its need.
As I gave thought to this project it became increasingly evident that there could be but one road for this quest – iconic U.S. 66, the very Main Street of America for most of the 20th century. This road would be ideal for my journey into the past as it is the colorful thread that ties the past with the present and future.
When I allowed the imagination to meditate upon the many facets of this idea it became quite apparent that driving this road, and savoring its wide array of time capsules would not quite be enough. To develop the proper mindset that allowed me to see the present and future from the past, our mode of transport could not be a new rental car as it was on our last excursion along Route 66. 
Initially, I gave thought to something really unique, a rolling time capsule of historical proportions if you will. As I have long had a curiosity about the first generation of Hudson Super Six, roughly between the years of 1916 and 1928, that became the focus of initial research in seeking the ideal vehicle. 
This search evolved into evaluation of the Model A Ford for this venture, a vehicle admired for its durable simplicity that I have longed to own since my first days behind the wheel. My dearest friend, an adventuresome gal cut from the cloth of frontier era pioneers, gently nudged me to something just a bit more practical – a Nash, Hudson, or Studebaker manufactured between the years 1948 and 1953.
These cars are quite durable, are simplistic in nature, easy to repair and obtain parts for, and have unique styling but are also capable of modern highway speeds, as well as gasoline mileage in the 22 to 30 mile per gallon range. With the focus narrowed as to what type of vehicle would transport us on this grand adventure, and the course charted, I began meditating on other aspects of this odyssey worthy of Jason and the Argonauts.
The book is still the primary reason for the adventure. However, the more I thought of my pending voyage of discovery, the more I came to realize the inspiration that it was my hope to provide through this book should not stop there. I could use this journey to promote the road itself and the people who are transforming it into America’s longest attraction, the people like Laurel Kane, Connie Echols, and Dan Rice who represent the America of the pregeneric age that I was seeking.
This would be accomplished from developing and promoting international buzz about the adventure through the media, the blog, internet radio, television interviews, by scheduling speaking engagements in schools as well as museums, and other venues. As my thoughts twisted through the labyrinth of possibilities it dawned upon me that funding for the trip, a factor that could greatly hinder development of the project to its full potential, could be derived by offering business owners an opportunity to hitch their wagon to the Route 66 phenomena, and in so doing, fuel the resurgent interest that is making it economically viable to refurbish old motels, restaurants, and trading posts.
So, in a nutshell, what I am seeking is sponsors, companies that would like to have their name associated with such a wild and wooly adventure, companies that would like to see their logo and name displayed on a vintage Nash, Studebaker, or Hudson in a NASCAR type manner. What is needed are companies that would benefit from having promotional material for their company distributed along America’s most famous highway from Chicago to Santa Monica.
A rough date for this voyage of discovery is October of 2012. That should allow enough time to locate a vehicle, acquaint myself with its mechanical intricacies through repair and refurbishment as well as a few test runs, and resolve the myriad details associated with a scheme such as this.
As always, your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are appreciated. Stay tuned for details –

ROAD TRIPS, ROUTE 66 LOST AND FOUND, AND A VISIT WITH AN ANGEL

The well laid plans for the weekend went south on Friday as my son had the flu which negated the Saturday drive to Las Vegas for the Motor Trend Auto Show, an early birthday present. So, my dearest friend and I went to plan “B” and used Saturday for the Sunday photo safari along Route 66 to Seligman, and Sunday for the Las Vegas trip.
A secondary reason for the Seligman excursion was the hope of locating the site of Deer Lodge, a roadside business that had consisted of cabins, a bar, service station, and store during the 1940s. I learned of Deer Lodge during the research for the Route 66 encyclopedia but its exact location remained a mystery and current sources indicated a wide array of sites between Pica and the Grand Canyon Caverns.
The first real break came in meeting the niece of the original owner. Her recollections and a couple of photographs that provided a few landmarks for reference gave me a great deal of confidence in regards to locating the site.
We hit the road early but by the time we made Hackberry the morning chill was giving way to delightful warm temperatures. Most folks visit the Hackberry General Store and never realize that directly to the south are the dusty, fast vanishing remnants of a town once given consideration for the Mohave County seat. 

The old school in Hackberry, Arizona


Of particular note is the old school. This mission styled building with an uncertain future was the last two room school in the state of Arizona.
The drive from Hackberry to Truxton, past the ruins of Valentine, and through Crozier Canyon is always a delight as well as a stroll down Memory Lane but on Saturday it was a true pleasure as the rich fall colors transformed the rugged landscape into a stunning tapestry of reds, yellows, and greens against a backdrop of towering walls of weathered stone. Nowhere was this more breathtaking than at the old Crozier Canyon Ranch, an historic property with extensive ties to Route 66 as well territorial history. 

Hackberry General Store


After a morning of wanderings in Hackberry, a pleasant visit with the Pritchard’s at the general store and the signing of books they had in inventory, and scrambling to the top of countless hills for photos, we had worked up a fair appetite and so decided that the lodge in Peach Springs would be the dinner (a burger and grilled cheese) stop for the day.  The lodge is the one bright spot in a very tarnished, well worn old town but I have always liked Peach Springs and the folks who call it home.
After a little photography and exploration amongst the ruins of Hyde Park, we went in search of Deer Lodge and found its barely discernible remnants in an instant. Our information had been proven correct. 

Deer Lodge site on Route 66 in Arizona


A pile of burned wood and timbers, and broken concrete, bulldozed into a pile, a section of stone wall, a portion of floor and a large sign with faded letters “Dee” on the face are about all that remain but we will return for more extensive exploration in the future. There were also a couple of 1930s era car carcasses that warrant examination.
We made Seligman as the long shadows of late afternoon were giving the town a sort of sleepy look. Still, the sidewalks were relatively busy as tourists from dozens of nations spun about taking photos, sampled the goods at the Snow Cap, and chattered with animated excitement.
The hope had been to round out dinner with a milk shake at Seligman Sundries but they were closed so we played tourist and took photos as though it were our first visit. We were debating the merits of also including Ashfork in our photographic expedition when an old friend, Angel Delgadillo, rounded the corner on his bicycle. A delightful day suddenly got even better.

The drive home was relatively uneventful with the exception of a stop to capture some of the stunning color in Crozier Canyon. Then on Sunday, I made the trip to Las Vegas, the flip side of the coin from the Saturday adventure.
Suffice to say, even though we had a grand time, the reasons why this was my first trip to Las Vegas in several years, even though we live only 100 miles to the south, were made abundantly clear.