Bathtubs, Birdcages & Chevrolet

Author Jim Hinckley heading home. Photo Sylvia Hoehn.

A key to success is an awareness of shortcomings. We all have an Achilles heel. For me there is a daily struggle with distractions. As an example, this afternoon while preparing for the next episode of Coffee With Jim, the live stream program on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page, I was thumbing through a 1929 Rand McNally atlas. As this weeks program with be a virtual tour along U.S. 6, I was looking for information about the highways course in Pennsylvania.

I have yet to drive the highway from its eastern terminus at Cape Cod, Massachusetts to Bishop, California. And I have yet to drive the section to Long Beach that was renumbered in the 1960s. I have, however, driven many sections of the highway in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado and Utah. And I have also driven some of the highway in Nevada and California.

Let’s see, where was I going with this? Ah, yes. Distractions. Well I made a few notes after reviewing the old atlas and realized that I was hungry. I also realized that it was well past dinner time. As it is an absolutely beautiful day, I made a sandwich, heated a couple beer battered cod fillets and some potatoes, and sat outside to enjoy a bit of sunshine.

Just sitting still is not something that I cam capable of. About halfway through lunch I remembered that the Garmin needed to be updated. So, I went back into the office and started the download. And as I need the Garmin for tomorrows trip to a regional tourism conference, thoughts drifted to the conference itself.

After lunch I sat down to finish the outline for the Sunday program. And that led to making adjustments to the original idea by leaving it open so I can include pertinent information from the tourism conference.

Research for the Sunday program led to an interesting discovery about an incident in the mid 1920s. In an astounding mid winter drive in 1924, the legendary driver Cannonball Baker set a new record of seven days, seventeen hours and eight minutes on a drive from New York City to Los Angeles. A portion of this drive was over what would become U.S. 6.

Well, after stumbling on to the story I book marked the page for future reading. As I had shelved work on this weeks episode of Coffee With Jim until after the conference, I began reading the story about Cannonball Baker. To set this record Baker drove an eight cylinder Gardner, a car manufactured in St. Louis.

Since this wasn’t a car that I was familiar with, I pulled up some books as well as trade journals and publications from the 1920s to find out more about Gardner. As it turns out the story of the company and its founders is quite interesting. So, since I was due to write another feature about automotive history for Motoring NZ, I made notes, did some more research and cranked out an article about the Gardner.

Linked with features written for Motoring NZ is a corresponding audio podcast, 5 Minutes With Jim. Can you guess what happened next? Well, I dug out some more books and began researching automobile manufacturing companies that had operated in St. Louis. And then I wrote the script for the podcast that will be recorded on Friday.

The day had started with a completely different set of goals in mind. It started simple enough. Breakfast, my daily German language lesson and emails. The original plan had been to work up some white board ideas for the new video project being developed in limited partnership with MyMarketing Designs. The intro teaser was completed recently and will tie into the tourism conference tomorrow. The plan is to have the pilot complete by Saturday. Then, if we can land sponsorship or funding, it will be developed as a series.

Author Jim Hinckley in his native habitat, the back country and lost highways

We had worked on a similar video series to promote the Kingman area several years ago. We even completed two episodes (see video above) and put out DVD’s that were sold along the Route 66 corridor. But funding remained elusive and so we shelved the project. Since then the owner of the marketing company has created a multimedia news network, The Bee, that reaches and engages several hundred thousand people each month. And I have cranked out another book, developed a new series of feature articles, and honed Jim Hinckley’s America. So, we decided the time was right to give it another run.

Instead of the white board, I was distracted by some unexpected issues. There was an issue with entering my time card for the community education program developed for Mohave Community College. And then there was some correspondence from Kingman Main Street that needed an immediate response. That was followed by resolving an issue with a book order (singed copies of 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die are now available for order). By then it was time to meet with a county supervisor to discuss ideas for a tourism initiative during a walkabout.

And so there you have it. A day in my world. And it isn’t over yet. I still need to make some adjustments to the website. And I see that the publisher has sent an email pertaining to the current book that requires to be addressed.

I am unsure when I decided to make a living, or try to make a living, from telling people where to go. All I know is that for as long as I can remember tremendous pleasure has been derived from telling people where to go. It has been a grand adventure, to say the very least. Boredom is never an issue, even in the age of pandemics, paranoia induced insurrections, the Ice Age in Texas, and assorted disasters.