Jay Leno, Barn Finds, and Road Trips
Surreal. Can you think of a better word to descibe the past couple of years? It definitely is a descriptor for my life since at least the onset of the apocalypse in 2020.
Since the first of December, I have had a publisher initiate discussions about the feasibility of writing two books in 2023, with no advance, and had two book signings. One book signing took place in the parking lot of a Burbank, California motel. The second was at a venerable book store that opened in the early 1950s, and Jay Leno showed up driving a Duesenberg.
Highlights of November include a regional tourism meeting in Needles, California and a tour of the historic El Garces hotel and Harvey House that opened in 1908. On the drive home the alternator quit on the Jeep and so I drove home on battery power without lights.
Oddly enough the amp gauge dropped to zero at the junction of Route 66 and Boundary Cone Road near Oatman, Arizona. This was almost the exact spot that pa’s Studebaker broke down back in the early 1970s. That trip turned out to be a two part adventure, us walking into Oatman and then after repairs, my first solo drive on the highway.
In October my dearest friend and I embarked on our first Route 66 odyssey since the onset of the apocalypse. To parphrase a bit of classic literature, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Put another way, it was our best road trip in many, many years. And it was hands down one of the worst that we have had in forty years.
In the new era you don’t merely rent a car. That is a relic from the BC (before COVID) era. Renting a car is an adventure in itself. It is a gamblers special. Will the rental company be able to honor my reservation? If so, will the vehicle I get be anything like the one that I reserved? And then there is the wild fluctuations of price that will often be two, three or four times the cost of a rental car before 2020.
The most surreal moment of my life, at least so far, took place in May of this year during the National Road Trip celebrations. That was when the Kingman Main Street spearheaded project that included a self gudied narrated historic district walking tour and a public arts project was unveiled.
The walking tour was a project that had initially been discussed in 2014. So, it was a privilege to do the research and to provide narration. The public arts component was a statue of me by internationally acclaimed sculptress J. Anne Butler. Even seeing the statue adorned with a Christmas wreath last week paled in comparison to the unveiling ceremony.
All of this has me looking toward 2023 with excitment, eager anticipation, and a hint of apprehension. The series of programs aboutKingman Arizona, barn finds on our Car Talk From The Main Street of America podcast gave the embryonic endeavor a boost. To kick off the new year we are asking people to share their stories about a favorite car, a barn find, their worst car, their first cor or the car that they still wish they owned.
Our second podcast, the live stream Sunday morning travel program Coffee With Jim may be undergoing a major transition. We have finalized arrangements for use of the Arizona room at Calico’s restaurnt as a studio. Now we are looking for sponsors.
Hosting the program at Calico’s would add a new dimension to the program. We would have an interactive audience, and in addition to the audio podcast, we would record it as a video for the Jim Hinckley’s America YouTube channel.
We are filling the spring calendar fairly quickly. It is still a far cry from 2019 but it is still early. And we are starting on a fall schedule of appearances as well. The organizers of the 2023 Miles of Possibility conference scheduled for October in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois have asked me to speak at the event.
And now we are counting the days until Christmas. Then we can work on our very special year in review program.
Here is to life lived in a surreal world.