Route 66 is no mere highway. There are Route 66 associations in Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia. Many of them organize events and tours, and publish travel guides. In Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and Europe there are companies that specialize in Route 66 tours. At the 2018 European Route 66 Festival in Zlin, Czechia an estimated 20,000 people were in attendance from ten countries including Brazil. The innovative Route 66 Navigation app and Mother Road Route 66 Passport that has transformed the travelers experience on this storied highway was developed by the owner of Touch Media in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has initiated an ambitious program to restore a colorful neon glow to the Route 66 corridor. Innovative initiatives developed to capitalize on the popularity of Route 66 are sparking a renaissance in derelict neighborhoods.

With the Route 66 centennial fast approaching all along this storied highway from Chicago to Santa Monica old motels are being given a new lease on life with some becoming destinations. Towns large and small are using the international fascination with Route 66 as a catalyst for historic district revitalization as well as economic development.

Even though the highway is lined with tangible links to centuries of history, Route 66 is often viewed as America’s longest attraction, a linear attraction instead of as a string of time capsules. The focus is often myopic and centers on neon, tail fins, and a romanticized view of American life in the 1950s.

With this book my intent was to introduce the reader to a few special communities that highlight Route 66 as the world’s longest museum. I also wante to present this storied road as a living time capsule and add depth as well as context to the story of the most famous highway in America.

And that takes me to the title of today’s post. To date the reviews for the book have been mixed. Some of the comments posted are constructive criticism that I will keep in mind. A few leave me wondering if the critic thumbed thorugh the book or if they actually read it. Long ago I learned a valuable lesson that I share with the novice author. Read the reviews for insight and ideas, but DON’T take them personally. Remeber, it is just business.

Some of the reviews reflect a lack of udnerstanding about the process, the work involved with transforming an idea into a book. But that can be said about most any work from building a house to restoring a car.

Photo courtesy Mohave Museum of History & Arts

When it comes to writing there is more than just hours of research and adding words to blank pages. The publisher wants to turn a profit, and that becomes their priority. The editor strives to meet the needs of the publisher, preserve the artisitic visionof the author, and yet keep the overall work within a rigid set of parameters.

As an example, with this book I profilied a few select communities to illustrate a point, Route 66 is the link between past, present and future. A few of the reviewers questioned why some towns and cities were included but not others. Well, the simple explanation is that if every town was included the reader would need a truck to get it from the book store to the house, and a reinforced shelf to store the book.

The price is another issue that has been noted in numerous reviews. Yes, to be honest I was shocked as well. And then I ordered several reams of paper and discovered that the cost had risen dramatically since last year. Yesterday I topped off the gas tank for a trip to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, and suffered from a bit of sticker shock. But on my return to Kingman, I noticed the price had increased a dime in less than twelve hours.

I write this as an explanation, and to spark some conversation, not as a complaint. If I were thin skinned reviews would never be read. But after wrestling with editors, trying to meet the needs of publishers, working to market the book, finding ways to make enough money to fund the writinig habit, and dealing with things such as being locked out of my Facebook account, I have developed a rather tough hide.

And with that said here is some free advice for the aspiring author. We are each blessed with gifts and talents. And we have a responsibility to develop them so we may be a blessing unto others. The focus can not be on making money as that will generally lead to disappointment.

This is not to say that there isn’t tremendous satisfaction in writing. And it opens some amazing doors. But you will need to be creative if you want to eat on a regular basis. You will also need to be ambitious, think outside the box, and learn to roll with the punches.

And with that said here is a recent interview with 2Lane Life. A disclaimer is warranted. I am not the only one that has technical issues. The first five minutes of the program are plagued with an array of audio issues. With that said sit back and enjoy a visit with America’s storyteller.

Telling People Where To Go

Telling People Where To Go

Sunset at Beale Springs, site of an interview with Evan Stern of Vanishing Postcards podcast. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

It has been a most interesting week, and it is only Thursday. Last night I attended the Route 66 Association of Kingman meet & greet at the Liquid Coffee Shop and Bistro, a new business in the historic Kingman, Arizona business district.

I had written the associations monthly newsletter last weekend. And so an hour before the get together, I sat for an interview with Evan Stern of the fascinating Vanishing Postcards podcast. As he wanted somewhere quite for the interview, and and as this was his first visit to western Arizona, I drove to beautiful Beale Springs, a true desert oasis less than two miles from Route 66 and downtown Kingman.

Evan Stern is a most fascinating young man with an inquisitive mind and unbridled curiosity about Route 66 and the people that give the iconic highway its magic. It was an honor to be included in his spring 2022 series of podcasts.

We had met the evening before when he joined a community education class that I was teaching at Mohave Community College. I developed the classes to foster an increased awareness of area history and how that history can be a catalyst for tourism development.

This particular class a hybrid. I provided a guided tour to four key blocks along he Route 66 corridor in Kingman. For the second portion we returned to the Beale Street campus and I gave a virtual tour of Route 66 from the old Kingman Army Airfield to the western city limits using historic photos provided by the Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

Afterwards we walked to the historic Sportsman’s Bar that opened its doors in 1907 for a cold beer and some initial conversation. This authentic territorial era saloon is a bit rough around the edges but it is comfortable, sort of like a well worn pair of boots or jeans.

Stern wasn’t the only guest in attendance of the meet & greet. Acclaimed photographer Efren Lopez of Route 66 Images was also in attendance. He is currently traveling Route 66 gathering images for a new product, and introducing his recently released coffee table book filled with stunning images of the historic highway. Afterwards Lopez and I strolled across the street to the recently opened Federico’s for a plate of tacos, and a cold beer. It was great to catch up, brainstorm about projects, and simply get caught up.

At the end of last week I kicked off a test run for a new project, a 15 minute live stream podcast, Wake Up With Jim. Sponsored in part by UK based RouteTrip USAit will be an interactive fast program about road trips, books, and interesting people. After ironing out a few bugs that resulted from being modern Amish which leads to a trial and error method of development, this week I made it official and will be giving it a full four weeks to determine feasibility. Judging by the initial reaction the 5:30 A.M. MST program is going to be a success.

The week has also included writing blog posts for clients of MyMarketing Designs. It can be challenging to find new material for kite stores, the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce, an RV Park and campground, and a landscaping but I do enjoy the research.

Research is also my Achilles Heel. On more occasions than I care to count, I will be deep into research for a project with a pressing deadline and distraction leads me down a twisted but fascinating rabbit hole.

That is exactly what happened on Tuesday in the research library at the Mohave Museum of History & Arts. I was working with retired history professor Dan Messersmith to get accurate information about the Kimo Cafe, now Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, the Hotel Beale, Brunswick Hotel and other historic sites in Kingman Arizona.

This is for the self guided, narrated historic district walking tours that are being developed by Kingman Main Street. This project has provided ample opportunity to wander down more than a few rabbit holes. And even though these detours have led to a frustrating loss of time, each is providing materials for other projects.

In this particular instance the rabbit holes were the amazing McDonald collection of Route 66 and National Old Trails Road post cards, as well as vintage guide books that was recently donated to the museum. It is an astounding archive that I will be delving into often for this as well as future projects.

This photo of Route 66 in Kingman is an example of the materials that were causing a most interesting discussion during a recent research session. Photo Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

The week has also included development of a schedule for the spring community education classes at Mohave Community College. And as a hint that 2022 might be a return to the normal world of the pre BC era (before COVID 19), I fielded a number of requests for speaking engagements and appearances. It is refreshing to see the calendar through May being filled in with confirmed appearances.

I expect that to this schedule will soon be added tour company dates. Pre COVID it was quite common to meet with four or five tours each week. In addition to signing books and making presentations at dinners or suppers, I also provided additional services. This included arranging dinners, receptions, and serving as a step on guide.

This is always interesting. And it can also be a bit challenging as the Powerhouse Visitor Center with its museums in Kingman is often not usable. Hours for tours are quite limited, last tour at 3:30 or 4:00, and it is closed on Sunday.

Before closing out the week I need to get the Jeep into the garage, attend a breakfast meeting, and prepare for the Sunday edition of Coffee With Jim, our live stream program on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page. I also need to finalize a presentation about the history of electric vehicles, and their future on Route 66, that will be made Saturday morning for the Tucson Electric vehicle Association.

Looming on the horizon for coming weeks is tax preparation. And I also need to start laying out plans for the promotion of my next book, number 20. Scheduled for release in late January, Here We Are … ON Route 66, is already on Amazon for preorder. This means that soon there will be requests for interviews, and the need to juggle book signing/presentation schedules.

Telling people where to go for fun and profit. Sharing the adventure. Inspiring road trips. Blurring the line between past and present by bringing history to life. And meeting the most fascinating people. In a nutshell this is Jim Hinckley’s America. This is a week in the life of a fellow on a quest to become a writer when he grows up.




Murder, Chaos & Good Times

Murder, Chaos & Good Times

Mountain View Cemetery in Kingman, Arizona. © Jim Hinckley’s America

Murder, chaos and good times. That may seem an odd title but I can assure you that for me this is situation normal. Let me explain.

Back in 2019 B.C. (before COVID) my latest book, Murder & Mayhem on The Main Street of America: Tales From Bloody 66 was published by Rio Nuevo Publishers. That was in late fall.

Apparently the blending of Route 66 and true crime stories piqued interest. In spring 2020 notice was received that the book had been awarded a silver medal in an international independent publishers competition.

And then during the apocalyptic year of 2020, I began fielding requests for presentations on the subject via Zoom. I was still being asked to talk about the founding of the American auto industry, Route 66 adventures and southwestern history. But morbid curiosity put discussions about murder and mayhem to the top of the list.

As more people began reading the book there was a noticeable uptick in the receipt of terse, angry and even occasionally subtlety threatening notes. These stemmed from inclusion of events such as the Tulsa, Springfield, and St. Louis race massacres as well as similar incidents from the history of Route 66.

At first I found being called left wing, socialist, anti American and liberal, comments often prefaced with colorful use of obscenities, as mildly humorous. Now, however, I view them in a larger context and see them as symptomatic of the increasingly toxic climate in this country.

But as a primary goal of the book, as it is with my writings and speaking engagements, was to add depth and context to the subject of Route 66, and to spark informed discussions, these derogatory comments will be ignored. But I can’t help but feel that being so narrowed minded it is possible to look down a beer bottle with both eyes is rapidly being considered a virtue and that doesn’t bode well for the future of the republic.

This year I added another dimension to my repertoire. As I began work on developing a narrated self guided tour to the historic district in Kingman, Arizona for Kingman Main Street, the discovery of obscure and fascinating movie and celebrity history opened another new chapter in the Jim Hinckley’s America story.

To date a lot of the discoveries have been Kingman centered. And that is the subject of a presentation that will be made at Mohave Museum of History & Arts in Kingman, Arizona on October 16. But I have ventured down a few rabbit holes and found that many Route 66 communities have some surprising celebrity history.

And I have found some obscure and odd stories. Who was Bessie Love and why was she visiting Kingman? On a bet did Jack Dempsey go a few rounds in the boxing ring at the Sump bar during a visit to Kingman, Arizona?

Counted among the casualties of 2020 was my work with tour groups. Unfortunately this summer was only mildly better as COVID 19 continues to inhibit a return to normal tourism.

But when it comes to tourism there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. Even though the season is winding down, it has been a delight to meet with Austin Coop’s Two Lane America tours. Sharing stories about Kingman and Route 66, and answering questions during the tours lunch stop in Kingman has provided a sense of normalcy.

Shades of normal times are also found in the support from Steve Wagner of the Route 66 Yacht Club and Scott Dunton of the Kingman Route 66 Association. They provide pins, patches and other items that I can provide as free souvenirs.

As I look toward 2022, and a return of tourism I will be seeking support for other organizations, businesses and communities. I will be looking for souvenirs that can be provided to travelers, and advertising sponsors that will be my partner in promotional initiatives. Good times, better times just around the corner.





Did You Miss Me?

Did You Miss Me?

Noting that shared adventures are the best adventures has

Introducing a Dutch tour group to the intricacies of driving a 1923 double T Ford truck. Photo Daniel Kuperus

become a trademark of sorts. When it comes to Jim Hinckley’s America those shared adventures range from road trips to Facebook live programs, navigating the often confusing world of apps and software programs, research projects and even driving lessons in a 1923 double T Ford truck. In my world every day dawns with an opportunity for new adventures.

As I haven’t posted in awhile you may have guessed that an adventure was unfolding and that this adventure would be shared. Actually there were a number of adventures unfolding and as a result, the schedule was quite full from daylight to well past dark. Did you miss me?

Let’s see if I can keep this brief, but interesting and informative. Last week Jan Kuperus of Netherlands based U.S. Bikers contacted me. His spring Route 66 tour was on the road but resultant of a medical situation, a visa snafu, and a couple of other unforeseen problems he was short on guides. So, at just after 2:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, for the low cost of a $75 ticket, I boarded the east bound Southwest Chief at the Kingman railroad depot and headed out for Albuquerque.  (more…)

Road Trip!

Road Trip!

As you read this my dearest friend and I are on the road on

the way to the  Miles of Possibilities Conference in Joliet, and our son is happily (we hope) enjoying his role as caretaker of the homestead. Combining the business of Route 66 with the fun of Route 66 was a central component of the annual conventions developed by the U.S. Highway 66 Association that was formed in early 1927. The modern incarnation kicked off at the 2014 Route 66 International Festival in Kingman, Arizona.

The conference in Joliet promises to be an interesting, historic, and fun filled event. How can you can you go wrong when entertainment includes music by the Road Crew at the historic Rialto Square Theater and the list of featured speakers reads like a list for Route 66 who’s who; Cory Jobe
Illinois Director of Travel & Tourism, Bill Thomas of the Route 66 The Road Ahead Partnership, John Weiss, Ellie Alexander, the director of tourism in Pontiac, Illinois, and Jerry McClanahan, to name but a few.

If you can’t join us in person maybe you can do so vicariously as the plan is to host our weekly Facebook live program, as well as short interviews, from the conference. So, stay tuned and follow Jim Hinckley’s America on Facebook.