Hello 2023

Hello 2023

A 3,900 mile road trip through the heartland. Visits with old friends. The loss of a few friends. The making of new friends. A visit with Jay Leno. Opportunities to tell people where to go, and to share America’s story. A dream project made manifest after six years of effort. A National Road Trip Day celebration that was historic, at least for me. The launch of a new podcast. The publication of my 21st and 22nd book. Delays and frustrations with The Beast (the 1951 Chevy panel truck). These were a few of the high and low points of 2022.

I have never been a fan of the New Year’s resolution. I am, however, a fan of looking back on a year. That gives me insight about what needs to be fixed or improved so I can make new mistakes rather than repeat old ones. It also provides balance and perspective. And that in turn provides a foggy glimpse of the year to come. With this reflection and evaluation comes a blend of excitement, eager anticipation, and a hint of apprehension.

The excitement and eager anticipation about the new year was fueled by the past few weeks. For the first time since the dawning of the apocalypse we resumed our December book signing at Auto Books Aero Books, a venerable old store that opened its doors in the 1950s. And just like old times Jay Leno popped in for a quick visit.

Discoveries made in small town America, a highlight of 2022

About two weeks ago I received an unexpected email. It was from a cousin not talked with since 1974! But what made that note and the subsequent phone call even more surprising was that I had been informed years ago that he had passed away.

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with Stephanie Stuckey, CEO of Stuckey’s, the classic roadside business famous for pecan logs, and a board member with the Society for Commerical Archeology. We had met at the Miles of Possibility Conference where she was the keynote speaker. At that time I had shared information about the new innovative self guided, narrated historic walking tour in Kingman, Arizona that had been developed by Kingman Main Street and invited her to Kingman for a guided tour.

The walking tour project had first been proposed after an interesting presentation about QR codes at the 2014 International Route 66 Festival in Kingman. Selling the idea took more time than the fund raising, research and development of phase one.

Apathy. A lack of leadership and vision. Factions. Failure to build cooperative partnerships. These were just a few of the obstacles that we had to overcome to transform an idea into a reality.

The issues encountered with this project aptly illustrate why some communities with limited resources or attractions successfully utilize tourism as a catalyst for economic development and historic revitalization, and others with nearly unlimited opportunity languish. That was the focal point of my presentation at the Miles of Possibility Conference.

And in 2022, for the first time since 2019 we embarked on an epic odyssey of nearly 4,000 miles through the heartland. Aside from visiting old friends and speaking at the Miles of Posibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois, and we did some research and exploration along Route 66 as well as in Missouri, Kansas and Arkansas.

To plagiarize a bit of classic literature, that trip was the best of times, and it was the worst of time. Issues with renting car, a new reality, an injury sustained by my dearest friend, soaring gas prices, and a nightmare motel experience in Russellville, Arkansas are counted among the low points.

Highlights included discovering new restaurants, motels, museums and highways that we can recommend. There were some long overdue reunions with friends. We met some interesting people, were introduced to some new ideas and technologies, and had the opportunity to tell people where to go as well as share America’s story. And just as with BC (before COVID) era, there was ample opportunity to start booking engagements for the new year.

With few exceptions 2022 was a good year for the Jim HInckley’s America team. As always there was room for improvement, and that is one reason I evaluate the old year as a new one dawns.

So, here we are on the cusp of a new year filled with new opportunities. Are you excited?

Changing The World, One Partnership At A Time

Changing The World, One Partnership At A Time

My thoughtful spot, Beale Springs near Kingman, Arizona ©

When Beth and Paul of Kingman Main Street first approached me, I was taking sunrise photos for a project at the desert oasis of Beale Springs near Kingman, Arizona. They had an idea for a project that would enhance tourism, and that would transform the community through the building of cooperative partnerships.

As it turned out, it was a concept that had been simmering in my mind since 2014 when Carolyn Hasenfratz had introduced me to QR codes during a discussion at the International Route 66 Festival in Kingman. Over time the idea had evolved in my thoughts.

On occassion I had shared the idea during informal conversations with friends, and during my tenure on various committees. But the timing wasn’t right. And obviously I hadn’t been able to articulate the idea in a manner that ignited excitement. Even efforts to sell it to the tourism office had fallen on deaf ears.

I was hooked before they completed their pitch. And that was the first step in transforming the dream of a Kingman, Arizona narrated, self guided hsistoric district walking tour into a reality. Now the dream is to use it as a template for other communities.

But Beth and Paul had another idea. They wanted to link the tour with a public arts project. And that was the bombshell that I had trouble with. That was the component that needed lots of thought and discussion with my dearest friend before I could give it the green light.

Well, that was about 18 months ago. Phase one of the walking tour with 35 points of interest is complete. The first dozen are being unveiled during National Road Trip Day proclamation festivities. The remainder will be installed in a week or so, and then work will begin on phase two.

Depot Plaza in Kingman, Arizona ©Jim Hinckley’s America

Also scheduled for unveiling during the festivities is a bronze statue of me created by internationally acclaimed sculptress J. Anne Butler. I am honored and humbled. But it took some very deep soul searching to agree to this.

Kingman has association to some pretty legendary names worthy this type of recognition. Front Street, the Route 66 corridor was renamed Andy Devine Avenue in 1955. Devine, a legendary character actor, gre up in Kingman. His father owned the Hotel Beale.

Artist and author Bob Boze Bell claims Kingman as his boyhood home. A display of his work as well as family heirlooms associated with Kingman history are on display at the Powerhouse Visitor Center.

So, to see such an honor bestowed upon me is a bit overwhelming. There is a surreal sense of attending my own funeral.

The statue will be the center piece of the newly created Depot Plaza at the historic railroad depot along Route 66. The plaza will also include the Route 66 Walk of fame that had been introduced at the 2014 festival, and abandoned a year or so later.

The plaza, seeing the walking tour idea coming to fruition, and the statue is invigorating. But nothing excites me more than the sense of community that has come about through this.

I have been deeply involved in an array of community development projects in Kingman since at least 1994. That was the year, working with Scott Dunton, we established the Kingman Route 66 Association. Some endeavors were successful. Some fell flat. Aside from the 2014 festival, nothing has fostered such a passionate response.

Beth and Paul, and the Kingman Main Street team tirelessly worked to build cooperative partnerships. Organizations and individuals, the city of Kingman and the tourism office, all became passionate supporters. And that bodes well for the future.

One person can change the world. One person can make a difference. But only if they can inspire, only if they can build passionate partnerships united in a common goal. But only if they can give credit where credit is due. Only if they can be leaders that inspire. Only if they can sell the dream.





The Joy of Telling People Where To Go

The Joy of Telling People Where To Go

It is a God given gift, or so people tell me. I first began

harnessing that gift for telling people where to go in 1990 with the writing and publication of feature articles and books (18 to date with another due for release this year). Initially it was largely viewed as a means to stave off starvation. Then I began to meet the most wonderful and inspirational people. Then those people began to seek me out during their adventures, and to tell their friends to do the same. In turn this led to the promotion of my adopted hometown, Kingman, Arizona, and America’s small town, Route 66.

100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die

The ultimate bucket list - from restaurants to photo ops, from time capsule motels to attractions here are 100 of author Jim Hinckley's favorite places on Route 66



You Snooze, You Loose – Missed Opportunities, Lessons Learned, and Hard Knocks

You Snooze, You Loose – Missed Opportunities, Lessons Learned, and Hard Knocks

A quick visit is all it takes to tell if a town or village is

possessed of a sense of community, is progressive and forward thinking, and if it has a vision for the future,  or if it is riddled with apathy,  indifference, self serving factions, and leadership focused on the rear view mirror.  Take a drive through town, hit the historic business district, and then take a couple of laps through neighborhoods. Skip the fast food joints and stop at a local diner or tavern, be a fly on the wall and listen. Pick up a local paper (or read the on line edition) and be sure to read the editorials as well as the comments.

My dearest friend captured this moment of contemplation during a winter outing in Arizona.

Today’s post isn’t meant as condemnation. It is a bit of a soapbox sermon inspired by thoughts and reflections as I gear up for this mornings conference call with the Route 66: Road Ahead Partnership economic development committee. It is also an expression of frustration.

As many of you know, my dearest friend and I call Kingman, Arizona home. Located at the heart of a wonderland of vast and diverse landscapes, and at the center of the longest remaining uninterrupted segment of Route 66, the town has, perhaps, the greatest undeveloped tourism potential of any community in the southwest. This boundless opportunity is magnified by a location on the western edge of the “Grand Circle” that is the premier destination in the southwest, and the fact that within 400 miles of Kingman there are ten million people with interest in mountain biking, camping, spelunking, fine dining, off road exploration, wineries, colorful festivals, ghost towns, museums, white water rafting, classic car events, Native American culture, the Grand Canyon, and hiking along shade dappled trails.


Neon Nights, Tall Tales, and A Route 66 Walkabout

Neon Nights, Tall Tales, and A Route 66 Walkabout

As with so many things it began simply enough. In this case it

was a question asked. Actually it was the asking of several questions before the idea came to mind, and then it took even more questions before the idea coalesced into the illustrated walking tours now being offered by Promote Kingman. The endeavor has proven to be relatively popular, and judging by the response received, entertaining as well.

What sets the adventure along the Route 66 corridor, and through the historic business district in Kingman, Arizona apart from the average guided walking tours is the liberal use of modern technology and photos from the archives of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, and my personal collection. With several hundred historic images downloaded to my iPad, I am able to provide a walk through time and allow people to experience the evolution of the city, as well as Route 66.

I can be quite the story teller, or so I have been told, but this adds life to the tall tales. As an example, while telling the story of the Clark Gable and Carol Lombard nuptials, I can transport people back to Kingman as it was in 1939.

Kingman’s lengthy association with the rich and famous of Hollywood is a lengthy one. When Buster Keaton filmed Go West in 1925, this was the fourth major motion picture shot in the area.

On the illustrated walking tour, often under neon lit skies, I stop at filming locations, and other celebrity associated sites. An ample dose of stories about murder, mayhem, sordid affairs, and nefarious characters is also provided. All of this, of course, is amply seasoned with stories of colorful characters, travelers on the National Old Trails Road, such as Edsel Ford, and Route 66.

For more about Kingman’s celebrity association, tales from the dark side, and walking tours, check out our patrons page for exclusive content (button top right corner).