With the luxury of a half century of hindsight I can now see that the quest began in the summer of ’69. That was when I began trading hours of my life for money. That was the summer that I began working for Ed of Ed’s Camp on a long abandoned alignment of Route 66 in the Black Mountains. I now see that this is when the hunger to write, to share stories and to preserve history was sparked.
Ed was a geologist of some renown that had arrived in Arizona from Michigan shortly after WWI. He had established the camp sometime around 1928, and created a rough around the edges empire built on a desert oasis. The business evolved with Route 66 and in the years after WWII, Ed’s Camp offered an array of services to the traveler. There was a small cafe, cabins, gas station, garage, rock shop and produce market where Ed sold tomatoes and melons grown on site. Ed was also a prospector, was rumored to be involved with the burning of King’s Canyon Dairy and was internationally renowned for his geologic discoveries in the deserts of western Arizona.
IN western Arizona Route 66 course though a breathtaking landscape.
My primary job was to help with the gardens; weeding, helping with irrigation system repairs and other chores. But Ed had taken a shine to me and found other ways to put me to work. He also found ways to share his vast knowledge of the desert but I was far to young to fully appreciate the opportunity a summer with Ed represented. Still, I enjoyed books, especially books about adventurers and I was living an adventure of epic proportions.
Years later, even though I didn’t remember all of Ed’s quirky comments, details about the time a Pickwick bus missed a curve on Sitgreaves Pass and nosedived into a bank or his geology lessons, when I started writing about adventures memories of that summer often dominated my thoughts. That was when the seeds of my quest to become a writer were sown.
The pre 1952 alignment of Route 66 in the Black Mountains of Arizona
Even though I have had nineteen books and countless feature articles published, the hunger is still there. I am still hungry to share and to inspire adventures. I am still eager to make new discoveries and to share them. And that is, perhaps, the cornerstone for Jim Hinckley’s America. It may have started as a platform to market my work, it has become a venue for sharing my talent for telling people where to go. And as a bonus, it has become an opportunity to provide a service, to assist communities, small businesses, authors and artists by providing them with a promotional boost.
To date the quest, the writing, the search for adventure and the development of Jim Hinckley’s Americaas a venue for telling people where to go has been a truly grand adventure. And now a new year and new decade is underway, and indications are that this will be the most amazing year to date.
Growth of the audio podcast, Five Minutes With Jim, is up 1,200% year to date. We now have 6,000 followers on Facebook. On February 7, I will be speaking about the Old Trails Road at the historic El Garces Hotel in Needles, California. On June 4, I will be talking about Route 66 travel in Spokane. And now the quest is on for sponsors as I have received a request to speak at the International Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czechia. The plans for a Route 66 centennial conference at Grand Canyon Caverns is underway. In limited partnership with Desert Wonder Tours, I am now leading walking tours in the Kingman historic district, and along the Cerbat Foothills Recreation trail system. The fall tour on Route 66 is under development and it includes attendance of the Miles of Possibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois. In answer to requests received, I am now writing an autobiography as exclusive content on the Patreon based crowdfunding website.
And so as the quest continues, I give thought to Ed, to a summer of adventure and to a the living of a life of adventure.
The last ten days have been a whirlwind. It started with a bit of interesting historic research that has enhanced my understanding of Route 66 evolution. Consider this little tidbit, in 1939 one million vehicles entered Arizona on Route 66. Here is another, within twelve moths of the highways bypass in 1978, Grand canyon Caverns experienced an 80% decline in business.
Linked with this research was a most interesting educational project. I finished the first series of classes on the history of tourism in the southwest for Mohave Community College, and have begun work on the next series on the economics of tourism. This is my first attempt at teaching in a formal setting and I was quite pleased to hear that the college will be offering the classes on two campuses this coming fall.
The Patreon platform based crowdfunding initiative is being revamped as I gear up for the very ambitious project that is tentatively being scheduled for May 2020. In a nutshell the project is development of a time capsule for the Route 66 centennial. The core of the endeavor is 21-days, 21-live interviews on the road. I will be talking with the pioneers of the Route 66 renaissance such as Michael Wallis as well as a new generation of leaders that are taking the helm for promotion and preservation of the iconic highway such as Rhys Martin. Linked with the video will be audio podcasts interviews and a photographic record of the journey as well as creation of the time capsule. If all goes as planned the project will end with in the cradle of the American auto industry that spawned the creation of the US highway system.
Work on the website continues, albeit with a bit of a delay. More on that in a moment. The goal is to provide a multifaceted travel planning center that also adds advertising dollar value for sponsors. And with that said I need to give a shout out to some of our newest advertising sponsors, Mohave County Fairgrounds, the Illinois Blue Carpet Corridor, and Calico’s Restaurant, my go to spot in Kingman when meeting with groups, hosting a meeting, or for a live program with larger number of guests.
The Facebook live programs, linked with the YouTube channel and audio podcast, Ten Minutes With Jim, are growing in reach in engagement as well as in number of subscribers. I attribute some of this to a bit of a change in format. As an example this past weeks Adventurers Club live program was a bit of show and tell from the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. The growth is quite encouraging as it indicates I am doing something write; providing the balance of history and travel information the traveler wants as well as value for our advertising sponsors. And I must admit that there is a bit of perverse satisfaction in seeing number that indicate our social media network linked with the website and podcast is our performing that of tourism offices in several communities including Kingman.
The highlight of the week was an opportunity for reflection. In the grand scheme of things it was a small disaster. After all there was no death or injury, it didn’t cause the stock market to crash, and I lived to tell the tale. It did, however, delay completion on what I am hoping is the final edit of the caption file for the new book which is already six months over deadline. It also stalled a National Park Service project, stifled website design, and created a huge backlog of work that contributed to postponement of this weeks Ten Minutes With Jimaudio podcast. So, on a personal level being without internet service for almost an entire week was a major disaster. It almost left me longing for a time when we weren’t so dependent on corporations that have little regard for customer loyalty and when we weren’t so reliant on technology.
As this was the second such incident this year, needless to say I will be switching internet and phone service provider next week and bid adios to a company that we have been paying faithfully for more than three decades. Small business owners are quite aware that customer service which builds customer loyalty is the best investment a company can make. Corporations have a tendency to forget this. They become megalithic, disconnected and develop a sense of indestructibility. That is the danger in allowing development of monopolies.
With that little ramp I wrap up things for the day. It is Memorial Day weekend. As we set out in search of fun, beer, and barbecues lets not forget the reason for the holidays. For my dearest friend and I, it will be a weekend of short road trips on Route 66, memories made with good friends from Germany, and just a hint of business.
Stay tuned for updates, photos, and a bit of road trip inspiration.
On several occasions I have alluded to an old cowhand that I
worked with on a ranch along the Mimbres River in southern New Mexico. To say the very least, he had a very unique philosophy for life. As an example, he often referred to himself as “an optimistic pessimist” who started every day meditating on all of the things that could happen or go wrong. Then, according to him, when the day was done, he would be the only one smiling because it didn’t go as bad as he had envisioned.
Shamrock Texas is the location for the 2018 Route 66 International Festival.
Oddly enough, I have found that the old cowboys philosophy works quite well in regard to the New Years Day celebration. As the last day of the old year winds down, I pop the top on a cold bottle of beer, watch the sun sink in the west, and meditate about the new year from the perspective of the optimistic pessimist, but go light on the pessimism. I prefer to think of myself as a pragmatist or a realist.
The year that is coming to a close, 2017, was the best of times and the worst of times. I have little doubt that twelve months from now I will be looking back on 2018, and have the same thoughts. Today, however, we are looking toward the future, not into the past.
If Jim Hinckley’s America had a cornerstone it would be the
simple premise that adventures are meant to be shared even if that sharing is done vicariously. It started with the books that were a blending of my fascination with the infancy of the American auto industry and a passion for adventures on the back roads as well as the two lane highways. This was followed with presentations, a Facebook page and Facebook live programs, a video series developed in partnership with MyMarketing Designs, this blog, the provision of services as a tourism development consultant for businesses as well as communities, the crowdfunding initiative, and an on again, off again podcast. Now, the latest endeavor, a closed Facebook group for folks to share their adventures, encourage people to take adventures themselves, and help me tell people where to go, preferably in a manner that makes them want to take a trip – Jim Hinckley’s America Adventurers Club.
At some point the whole endeavor morphed into a multifaceted platform for the promotion of artists, authors, communities, and the small businesses that make the adventures on the back roads memorable. Now, Jim Hinckley’s America has become an adventure in itself.
So, what’s next, you may ask. Well, first there is the current book project that has a deadline of next spring. In this little tome we will delve deep into the dark corners and recesses of Route 66 where murders lurked in the shadows, mayhem came without warning, and natural disasters added to the highways reputation as bloody. As always, I will be adding a bit of context to the highways stories with tales about Egan’s Rats, the St. Louis based crime syndicate that often made Capone’s boys in Chicago look a bit mild, a few serial killers, a couple of unusual killing sprees, a few unsolved murders, and natural disasters of epic proportions.
The marketing and promotion of books published is on going process that is as much a part of being an author as the writing itself. This year I am, or was, juggling the promotion of three books released in 2017; Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town, Ghost Towns of the West, and 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die. Unfortunately Reedy Press, publisher of the latter, recently suffered a devastating fire at their warehouse and distribution center in S. Louis. All inventory was lost. Now, even though I am promoting all three, all that can be done in regards to 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die is market with the caveat that the book will be available sometime after the first of the year. There will be no holiday sales, book signings are postponed or canceled, but, fortuitously several major reviews for the book won’t be released for several weeks or longer.
Tim Kikkert of the Canadian Route 66 Association has informed me that a favorable review will be forthcoming in the journal for that organization. Melissa Beasley has reported a similar review will be published in the magazine produced by the New Mexico Route 66 Association. In addition, I am adjusting the schedule, and adding new dates to the calendar for book signings in 2018 that will include the Route 66 bucket list presentation.
Then there is the podcast. This project has languished on the back burner for quite sometime but I am currently gathering the equipment needed to ensure it is a professionally done endeavor. It was the need for equipment, as well as the time for the projects development that after months of deliberation led to the launch of the crowdfunding initiative. I am a bit like a sloth when it comes to rushing into projects.
From its inception, thoughts about the crowdfunding initiative centered on two primary needs for its launch and development; funding that would allow for the expansion of Jim Hinckley’s America as a promotional platform for artists, authors, small businesses, and communities, and the provision of services to artists, authors, etc. As with most of my projects, it has been developed in a painstakingly slow method of trial and error (a character flaw of mine is an aversion to instruction manuals). There are a few more tweaks to be added, and I am confident that it will evolve, but overall I am pleased with the balance. Of course, your opinions and suggestions, as always, would be greatly appreciated.
From the aspect of providing a promotional and marketing platform for the aforementioned authors, artists, small businesses, and communities, I am rather pleased with the entire Jim Hinckley’s America initiative. The reach on the Facebook page alone, which in turn is the level of of exposure being provided to promotional partners such as Uranus, Belmont Winery, Grand Canyon Caverns, etc. is growing a steady clip. Now attentions are being turned toward expanding the reach of the other two legs in my social media network; Instagram and Twitter. I will also be expanding on the association with the Promote Kingman and Promote Route 66 initiatives, and with the Route 66 Association of Kingman in coming months. All of this will add value for those who invest in the crowdfunding initiative, one of the primary goals.
Let’s see, what else is on the agenda. Ah yes, the ongoing battle of keeping the house from falling down around my ears. Last week it was water heater replacement (don’t ask what the plumbers fees were) all because the one that we purchased 28 years ago failed. This past Thursday, I came one step closer to getting Barney the Wonder Truck back on the road (does anyone want to buy a vintage Dodge?). Tuesday, I spent under the kitchen sink replacing the entire drain system into the wall while my dearest friend worked on a clogged drain in the shower. And next week, I will be on the roof enjoying views of the Hualapai Mountains while replacing shingles in an effort to postpone an entire roofing project.
I am rather confident that for the foreseeable future boredom will be kept at bay. Meanwhile, the house is beginning to smell like Thanksgiving as my dearest friend is baking a pumpkin pie. I wonder if it will be possible to refrain until tomorrow? Speaking of tomorrow, I am eagerly awaiting a dinner of roast and potatoes.
Folks, in all seriousness, thank you for the support. It is my sincere hope that you, your family, and your friends enjoy a delightful Thanksgiving holiday.