On a more personal note, I would like to say thank you to each and everyone who provided the bright spots that made the trying and tumultuous 2011 a year like not other. The list of to whom we owe a special thanks is a lengthy one that includes Wolfgang Werz, Dries and Marion Bessels, Dale and Kristi Anne Butel, Joe Sonderman, Rich Dinkella, the Mueller’s, “Croc” Lile, Jerry McClanahan, Jane Reed, Connie Echols, Josh Noble, and Ramona and Bob Lehman. 

A Route 66 time capsule in Kingman, Arizona

With the exception of final edit, photo selection, and the writing of captions, the Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas is finished. As the primary goal for this project was to craft a time capsule representing the 85 year history of Route 66, the people behind its crafting and transformation into an icon, and that highways origins, I made the very difficult decison to break with tradition and as a result, this book will not feature the work of Kerrick James.
The photographic artistry of Kerrick served as a key element in the success and superb reviews received for previous titles such as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Backroads of Arizona, and Route 66 Backroads. In Ghost Towns of Route 66, my wife and I supplied a few of the illustrations but it was Kerrick that ensured the vitality of the book.
It should noted that Kerrick and I do have a few joint projects simmering on the front burner. One of these is a feature, or series of features profiling Route 66 for Arizona Highways.
A primary reason for this departure was the very generous contributions made by collectors Joe Sonderman, who is also an accomplished author, Mark Ward, and Steve Rider. These historic images will account for about 90% of the illustrations with the remaining 10% being supplied by my wife and I. 

An example of the historic images to be used as
illustrations in the Route 66 encyclopedia. This
photo is from the Joe Sonderman collection.

As I envision my work to be a foundational element for the promotion of the highway, the people who keep its unique culture alive, and their businesses, we are planning to coincide the premier for this book with Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri on October 20th. Ambitious plans are in the works to follow this with a year long promotional tour that includes appearances at several major Route 66 events, a serious of articles for various publications detailing this tour that I hope will be made in a 1951 or 1952 Hudson Hornet, and a wide array of appearances at schools with the goal of sparking an interest in history.
Tied to this are plans to introduce the wonders of Route 66 to a wider audience, and to, hopefully, spark an American enthusiasm for the highway, its history, and its importance that will equal that expressed by European, Australian, and Japanese visitors. With that as the goal, I am crafting a few features that will present the old highway as the ideal venue for vintage automobiles.
I finished the first of these features for Old Cars Weekly a few weeks ago. The scheduled date for publication is unknown at this time.
This takes me back to a reoccurring theme. Another project I am quite excited about, and that I am very honoroed to be associated with is the development of a photographic exhibit entitled Route 66 in Mohave County for the Powerhouse Visitor Center in Kingman.
At this time plans call for it to be complete by July of this year. However, it will be displayed in segments until that date with the first segment scheduled for completion in February.
As the title states, this posting is a bit of a personal note. With that said, I have one more observation to share.
After traveling the highway in October, and making every effort to see it as though it was our first trip, I am quite convinced that the best is yet to come on Route 66, and that 2012 could be an amazing year. The interest and fascination with the iconic old highway seems to be increasing instead of leveling or waning.
More communities are awakening to the economic potential in developing attributes of their association with the highway. Resultant of this, Route 66 is being transformed into more than America’s longest attraction, it is also becoming its longest time capsule and a template for the resurgence of mom and pop enterprise.


It is the dawn of a new year and, possibly, a new era on Route 66. Please, let me explain what I envision and then, perhaps, together we can unleash the Phoenix from the glowing embers that is the resurgent interest in America’s most famous highway.
With the exception of Mr. Knudesn’s National Historic Route 66 Federation, the various organizations and publications created in the past two decades to promote and preserve Route 66 have met with limited degrees of success. The reasons for this are as varied as the landscapes through which this highway passes.
Some were initiated with good intentions but lacked the resources to make the vision a reality. Others were blatant, self serving attempts to profit from the resurgent interest in the highway and as a result stifled honest efforts to create a unified, linear Route 66 community that mirrored the one created by the U.S. Highway 66 Association launched in February of 1927.
Now, more than ever, the Route 66 community needs that unified voice, an organization that stitches together the wide array of individual and state association efforts into a cohesive element. So, here is a summary of what I propose. Please, feel free to provide your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions.
1) This organization would not supplant or intrude into the affairs of existent state associations, city promotional efforts, or organizations such as the National Historic Route 66 Federation. Instead, it would serve to coordinate efforts between these various entities.
2) This organization would consist of an eight member board, one representative from each state, and a director. Preferably the state representative would be appointed by the Route 66 association in each state.
3) As examples of how this organization would benefit the Route 66 community, and serve as unifying element –
a) maintain a list of speakers, authors, and artists to expedite the organizational efforts of city or state associations to create events –
b) in a manner similar to that of Tripadvisor, allow travelers to provide reviews of dining and lodging establishments, as well as museums, attractions, and events. Complaints would be forwarded directly to the owners or managers of properties and their response would also be published –
c) the organization could serve as the information clearing house for film crews, tour companies etc. seeking information about the highway, planing a trip on the highway, looking for site specific information, contact information, etc. –
d) assist organizations in the promotion of events through press releases, the publication of articles written about the event for appropriate publications, etc. –
4) The organization could create a much needed electronic archive of historic photographs, post cards, maps, etc.
5) The organization could assist in the design of programs for dissemination through schools and universities. In addition, it could provide contact information for speakers to present these programs.
6) The organization could provide key distributors of information, such as Route 66 News, with press releases for events, updates on artists and authors, reports with accompanying photographs and other pertinent information.
7) Funding for the organization, including a salary or travel reimbursement for board members and the director, would be derived through membership dues, and state tourism monies.
8) As incentive for businesses to join, the association would publish a yearly directory of member businesses with an overall rating derived from traveler reviews. These businesses would be asked to provide organization members a 10% discount on services which would serve as individual incentive for membership.
Okay, thoughts, ideas, suggestions?


The post today will be a bit shorter than usual as I am still fighting a miserable cold and there are a multitude of loose ends to tie up before our annual New Years road trip. But to make up for this I promise lots of exciting news. So, lets get started.
The latest issue of 66 The Mother Road, a free, full color electronic magazine is now available. If the latest issue is a hint of what we can expect from the publishers, John and Judy Springs, in 2012, it will be a very exciting year indeed.
The next item of note pertains to the latest book from Joe Sonderman, Route 66 in Oklahoma. All of Joe’s books are welcome additions to the library and this one continues that tradition.
Joe partnered with Jim Ross, one third of the Three Musketeers of Route 66 in Oklahoma, for this work. So, you not only have treasures from Joe’s vast collection of vintage postcards and photographs, as well as his extensive knowledge of the subject, you have some of Jim’s as well.
If you have an hour or two to spare you can stroll down memory lane from Chicago to Santa Monica on Joe’s website. You may also order signed copies of his books through this site as well.
On June 7th, Tucumcari will be the place to be. Wheels on 66, a part of the New Mexico Route 66 Motor Tour celebration kicks off its first year in grand style.
The last item of the day is does not fit our time of good news. In fact, it is the flip side of the coin.
Roy Dunton, a prominent businessmen in Kingman whose association with Route 66 includes working at his uncles shop in Goldroad during the 1930s, transforming the Kimo Cafe into Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, and operating the Chevrolet, Ford, and Edsel franchises in Kingman along Route 66, had his home burglarized over the holidays. Missing is a very rare commemorative Body by Fischer coach and figurines, one of 6,000 produced.
The family is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of the item. I will post pictures as soon as possible but if you have any information the family may be contacted at 928-279-4629 and the police department number is 928-753-2191.


On more than one occasion it has been noted that in my head I am still 20 but the reality often intrudes on the illusion. I am quite sure there are other individuals that suffer a similar disconnect between the perception of age and the reality.
It is not always a physical shortcoming that kicks the illusion of youth to the curb. A few years ago I was writing a feature on the unique Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California for Cars & Parts when a pristine AMC Pacer brought me up short.
Standing before me was a bulbous blue and chrome manifestation of my true age. I had worked on these cars when they were late model trade ins, and now they were museum exhibits!

San Fidel, New Mexico – Geezerville

In recent years this line of thinking has become more prevalent, another sign that Gezzerville is my next stop. I am quite sure this is caused by something more than advancing age, creaking joints, and ear hair.
To a large degree I believe it is the speed with which the world is changing that may play a large role in this. After all, if I take but a moment to stop, to think, and to look around me, there is very little evidence of the world I once knew.
Perhaps this is also a reason I have such a fascination with Route 66 and the empty places. It might also explain my quest to travel that road in a vehicle older than I am.
Simply consider the technology behind this blog post compared to what it was when I sold my first feature article in 1990. That article was written on a 1948 Underwood manual typewriter using paper, and carbon paper. The photographs were taken with a 25 year old, 35 mm camera.
The article, with photos, was sent first class mail and it took four weeks to receive a response, via first class mail, and an additional two weeks for receipt of my check. Phone calls weren’t really an option, as I was not home during the day and did not having an answering machine. However, I did have a rotary dial phone.
You may ask, just how old are you? Well, I remember with clarity my dad paying .19 per gallon for gasoline on a trip through Mississippi and the first time gasoline was paid for with money from my pocket, it was .29 per gallon.
In late 1964 my dad purchased a year end close out Ford Fairlane. He asked about the availability of air conditioning as his plans were to move from Michigan to Arizona in the next 18 months. After numerous phone calls, the dealer informed dad that he could not find a vehicle so equipped but he could order one and have it in about four weeks.
On one of our trips across Kansas in about 1966, we stopped for gas and ended up being investigated by the local police. The suspicious activity was in dad trying to pay for the fuel with a one hundred dollar bill, something not often seen when a tank of gasoline cost less than six dollars.
After driving a wide array of battered old trucks and cars, I made the decision that with the money being earned at the mine a new truck was in order. So, in late 1980, flush with cash, I stepped into the showroom at Busby Chevrolet in Silver City, New Mexico, and purchased a three year old 3/4 ton Chevrolet truck, fully loaded, with camper, for $2,995.00.
This was quite a step up from the first car purchased with my hard earned money – a 1964 Rambler American station wagon for $225.00. And the price paid for that Chevy stands in stark contrast to the $3,000 paid for a ten year old Jeep Cherokee in 2008.
Even the lexicon has changed. As an example, when I was a young man “gay” meant happy, not …
I refuse to resort to “back when I was a kid” or “those were the good old days” even though the current era often has me looking back at the truly cockeyed 1960s and 1970s with wistful romanticism. I still adhere to the adage that when ever you are alive, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.
If it were just the popping joints, the thicker glasses, the receding hairline, and the price comparison on getting a set of partials, I might be able to keep the illusion of youth going just a bit longer. However, when combined with the dramatic and sweeping changes of the modern era maintaining that illusion becomes a chore unto itself.


At the risk of seeming a bit pompous, I have always considered the writing of books and feature articles, as well as the photography that gives them depth and color, and the exhibits derived from the expeditions behind the stories, to be a sort of sacred honor. Each published work, each photographic exhibit is another opportunity to provide five minutes of fame to an obscure figure that changed our world through innovation or inspiration, to instill a hunger for knowledge or a road trip, or to inspire a future photographer or author.
In the writing of my first book, a profile of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, I pulled aside the cobwebs and cast aside the shadows that obscured one of the most interesting stories in American automotive history. I was also able to bring Morris Markin, an impoverished Russian immigrant that epitomized the American rags to riches saga, from the darkness of obscurity even if it was for but a brief moment.
As is often the case, the book was merely a foundational element in bringing this story to light. Built upon this endeavor was an article written for Hemmings Classic Car, and, almost a decade later, an interview with Jay Leno. At the bottom of this column is a link for the video of that interview.
It was in the writing of a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, for Cars & Parts, that I was able to bring an entire cast and ensemble from the shadows and into the lime light. Each month was a voyage of discovery, for me as well as the reader, as I told the story of Ralph Teetor, the blind inventor of cruise control, Francis and Freeland Stanley, the brothers behind the famous steamer and the prolific inventors that laid the foundation for Eastman Kodak, and countless others that transformed the world with their contributions to the development of the American auto industry. 
In recent years, the majority of my work has been focused on the forgotten and empty places, and the road less traveled. In Ghost Towns of the Southwest, I nudged Tombstone from center stage with the telling of the tale about Lake Valley, a town founded on a silver discovery so rich miners lamps were used to melt the silver from the walls of a cavern, and Shakespeare, a town founded on lies and hoaxes.
This book also awarded me the unique opportunity for broadening the scope of focus on the history of the southwest. I accomplished through the telling of stories about cities such as Gran Quivira, a modern metropolis before the arrival of the Spanish conquistador, and the towns established by the colonists that followed them.
It is my writings, and related photography, about Route 66 that has provided the greatest opportunities for adding depth and context to a popular subject, and for providing promotional opportunities for those individuals along the highway that keep its culture alive and flourishing. As a result, it is these endeavors that have provided the greatest satisfaction, and that have served as endless opportunities for meeting some of the most amazing people of the modern era.
Now, on the cusp of a new year, I am about to embark on the greatest promotional adventure yet undertaken. Would you care to join me?
First, if you have a small business, or you are the curator of museum on Route 66, and it would be of promotional value to have me stop by on our tours this year please let me know. And if you would like a really unique promotion for your business, we are still looking for a few sponsors for the Route 66 tour that kicks off in October at Cuba Fest in Cuba, Missouri with the launch of our latest book, a Route 66 encyclopedia and atlas. 
If you would like to join us on our Route 66 adventures and cruise all or part of this storied highway, drop me a note or check the schedule page for updates. This iconic old road is truly perfect for those who love cruising in time capsule style, as well as for those who prefer something a bit more modern, or in their own creations.
We will kick off the new year, if my dearest friend and I can shake our colds, with a trip to Amboy and the climbing of the crater. Along the way we will photograph the segment of road from Oatman to the Colorado River, with emphasis on the natural beauty of the wildlife refuge, this will be for the Route 66 in Mohave County exhibit being developed for the Powershouse Visitor Center.
The exhibit will officially open in July. However, it will be opened in stages with the first segment going on display in about March.
Pending jury duty in Prescott during the first week in February has necessitated putting a few of the things I fill my weekends with on hold. Still, arrangements are being made for me to be at Book Works in Albuquerque on February 25.
Also on the schedule for 2012 – the Route 66 Fun Run in May, the big events in Tucumcari tied to the New Mexico Mother, the international Route 66 festival in Victorville in August, and, of course Cuba Fest in Cuba at the end of October. As the schedule fills, I will provide updates.