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.

REFLECTIONS, PLANS, AND WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Where to begin? Thanksgiving was, as the name implies, a day of thanksgiving in our humble homestead.
It may seem a bit self centered but the list of things for which we are thankful begins with the fact I survived to see the holiday after a year that included interviews with Jay Leno, which required a drive to the Los Angeles metro area, skin cancer, and a bacterial infection that put me in the hospital. From that point the list of things for which we are thankful for include our 2.5 grandchildren, my family, and the opportunities to share my fascination with Route 66 and the road less traveled through books and photography that I hope will inspire others to chart their own adventures of discovery.
Tied in with the later are the wonderful people met along the way and as a result of the books written. These folks are truly the seasoning that make those adventures so memorable.
We are also quite grateful for the friends and acquaintances that have survived a year filled with even more trial and tribulations than we endured. With that thought in mind, I have a personal message for Cort – get better soon or the next music shipment could be very strange indeed.
The plans for the weekend, as is often the case in my corner of the world, are quite lengthy. They include a long anticipated trip to the auto show in Las Vegas, a shared birthday present for my son, finishing the photo file for the Route 66 encyclopedia, and preparing all of the related files for shipment ot the publisher on Monday. Then I can start on the feature for Old Cars Weekly, seek the top of my desk after locating the desk, and organize photos for future projects.
With the slate relatively clean I can turn my attention to other projects such as trying to interest the publisher in the next book, and planning a Route 66 adventure to promote the books as well as photography from behind the wheel of …If I get bored there are a few dozen jobs around the house that have been pressing for the past couple of years.
I have shared a few of these thoughts, these words of encouragement before but in light of the ongoing replay of the Great Depression they are worth repeating.
1)   as bad as it seems today, if tomorrow is worse, then today will seem like the good old days –
2)   no matter how bad the job is, you can bet money that it offers opportunity for a slower death than starvation –
3)  if you start every day meditating on the worst case scenario for the day, you will be suprised by just how good the day seems to go –
4)  if you focus on the past with little thought of the future, you most will not see the opportunity until it becomes a part of history –