Author Jim Hinckley signing books after leading a neon nights walking tour in Kingman, Arizona. Photo Anita Shaw
In our home we celebrate Valentine’s Day every day of the week. Never is there is a day that I don’t reflect on how fortunate I am that an amazing woman looked beyond my down at the heels, rough around the edges exterior and accepted my invitation to share the grand adventure that is life. This year my dearest friend and I will be celebrating 37 years of marriage as well as countless shared adventures, both good and bad. And make no mistake about it, it has been an epic adventure.
When we first met, after the mines had shut down, I was working as an itinerant ranch hand and part time truck driver earning a few dollars while searching for more permanent employment. I drove a battered old ’46 GMC pickup truck, and on occasion we would double date in an even more battered ’26 Ford touring car. I had spent most of my life on the road. My folks often joked that I had been potty trained along Route 66. She was a quiet, but beautiful, clerk working in a local department store that drove a ’70 Charger. Her travels had been limited to a family reunion in Tombstone, a family vacation to Disneyland, a trip to the Grand Canyon and regular visits to family in Phoenix.
Me and my old dog, Critter, called a line shack about 25 miles from town, on a dirt road that turned into a quagmire when it rained home. I had an outhouse, kerosene lamps for lights and a word burning stove for heating as well as cooking, and hauled my water. To escape the heat of summer I often slept on the porch under the stars at night. She still lived with her parents. I will be sharing more of our story in the autobiography that I am writing in serial format as exclusive content on our Patreon based crowdfunding site.
Several years ago we launched our most amazing adventure to date, and it is still unfolding – Jim Hinckley’s America. Books, presentations, the website, a weekly travel planning newsletter, live stream programs, 5 Minutes With Jim podcast and more; a travel network and marketing venue for small businesses and communities as well as artists, authors, photographers, museums and nonprofit organizations with very limited promotional budgets. We provide a service for travelers, have made the most amazing friendships, and traveled to places we could never have imagined 35 years ago.
Kick off for the new presentation series in Needles, California
And now we are taking this to an all new level. We have developed promotional packages for most every budget, and created opportunity for partnerships invested in tourism related economic development. Three new presentations have been developed and we are now in the process of organizing a series of speaking tours linked with book signings. This was launched last week to a packed house in Needles, California and to date we have appearances confirmed in Spokane, Kingman, and Zlin, Czechia. We have tentative appearances in Ely, Nevada, Pontiac, Illinois, Cuba, Missouri and Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Meanwhile we are chasing promotional partners for the two big projects this year; the Route 66 promotional tour that includes the Miles of Possibility Conference in Pontiac, Illinois and the International Route 66 Festival in Zlin. And we are moving ahead with development of community education programs through Mohave Community College and Route 66 Crossroads, a recently organized nonprofit developed to foster creation of cooperative partnerships in communities.
In recent years things have turned full circle. The quest for information that led to the writing of my first book began in Jackson. And last October we returned to Jackson for a speaking engagement, and the launching of a new chapter in Jim Hinckley’s America.
Thirty-eight years ago I would never imagined that telling people where to go could be so much fun or be so rewarding. And I surely never imagined having such an incredible friend to share the grand adventure that is life.
Before you ask, I haven’t won the lottery. An uncle did pass away last year
but he wan’t wealthy, and he didn’t include me in his will. As to treasure, last month I found a 1939 dime in my change, and acquired a promotional brochure for Dinosaur Caverns (now Grand Canyon Caverns). So, you may ask, how do I intend to share the wealth? What, exactly, are the golden opportunities alluded to? To explain that, I will need to start with a bit of shameless self promotion.
First, I am taking to the road again. On July 22, I will be signing books and the new DVD at Autobooks-Aerobooks, 2900 Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank, California. There are other tentative appearances in southern California that bracket the one in Burbank but these are awaiting confirmation. I will provide dates, times, and locations as soon as possible. Also, please feel free to contact me to schedule an appearance; a book signing, a presentation, or both. For the 2017 season I have created a presentation entitled Kingman, Arizona: 120 Years of Tourism.
The presentation may seem a bit narrow in scope. However, as it includes tales of Louis Chevrolet, Buster Keaton, and Clark Gable, political intrigue that resulted in the rerouting of a highway, and the arrest of a celebrity for indecent exposure, I am confident that you will find it interesting.
One more. In April, two new books with Jim Hinckley in the byline were released. To be a bit more specific, it was one new book, Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town, and an expanded version second edition, Ghost Towns of the West. In September, 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Dieis scheduled for release. At the end of May, the first DVD in a new video series, Jim Hinckley’s America: A Trek Along Route 66 was released. Signed copies of books are available through this blog, and the DVD, with autograph and Kingman, Arizona souvenir, is available through Promote Kingman. When inquiring about book orders include zip code, totals and payment options will be included in the response. (more…)
Over the years death has come in many forms on iconic Route 66. The
highways realignment or construction of a bypass was often the death knell for communities and businesses. The ever increasing flow of traffic, including broken down Model A Fords and powerful new Buick Roadmaster sedans, on a highway peppered with narrow bridges that left no room for error, as well as blind curves, steep grades, long stretches without a shoulder, and gas stations that offered a free six pack of beer with every fill up of the tank all contributed to the moniker “Bloody 66.”
A wreck on Route 66. Photo courtesy the Joe Sonderman collection.
Shortly after WWII, two brothers opened a service station in western Arizona. Using a homemade wrecker to fulfill a contract with the state to remove wrecks from the highway, they soon discovered that there was gold in the tangled wrecks, broken glass, and carnage. Within twelve months they were able to pay cash for a brand new truck with Holmes wrecker body. Within three years they had three trucks and operated three shifts. (more…)
This morning I enjoyed a brief but interesting discussion
with KC Keefer, the brilliant videographer behind the Genuine Route 66 series and a series of videos on forgotten places such as the Painted Desert Trading Post and Glenrio in partnership with Dr. Nick Gerlich. The topic of conversation was Route 66 as a catalyst for economic development and revitalization in rural communities. As that has been the subject of recent Jim Hinckley’s America blog posts as well as Facebook live programs, I found his insights and thoughts to be particularly relevant.
In building the foundation for economic development in a community, tourism as a primary component is a very poor choice. However, tourism should always be considered a component in the creation of an economic development plan, especially in a community that has Route 66 as the main street through its historic business district. Additionally, in these communities all marketing should include a Route 66 element. The popularity of the road will magnify these type of initiatives. often with tremendous results.
As important as Route 66 in in regards to marketing or revitalization initiatives, myopic focus on what Route 66 was can be as detrimental as not using it at all. It is imperative that a community also focus on the future. As an example consider the embryonic Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum in Kingman, Arizona. In addition, Route 66 should also be utilized as a means for showcasing the unique attributes of a community. If a town can blend these components in a single package, and has the leadership needed to get community buy in, it will be transformed, regardless of rural location or size. (more…)
Even though it was often said that I had a gift for telling people where to go,
it was at least ten years after the publication of my first feature article before an attempt was made to capitalize on that talent. Well, that was almost twenty years ago and though fortune in the form of financial compensation has proven somewhat elusive, it has been a truly rewarding endeavor. It has also been an educational experience, a faith building endeavor, a grand adventure, a chance to hone my skill as a pinata impersonator, an international odyssey, and an endless opportunity to meet the most fascinating people. This and the friendships made along the way are the true reward that has come from harnessing my gift for telling folks where to go.
Sunset in Kingman, Arizona
Now, with eager anticipation and a touch of apprehension I am turning my sights toward 2017. First, however, I need to give 2016 a proper send off. On Friday morning, at 6:15 Arizona time, there is theJim Hinckley’s Americaprogram from Beale Street Brews on Facebook live. I will be answering readers questions (feel free to ask your questions on Friday morning, or by email) about Route 66, the road less traveled, and the infancy of the American auto industry, and talk a bit about the exciting events pending for 2017. I also plan on introducing folks to Ralph Teetor, the inventor of cruise control. That evening the Route 66 Association of Kingman will be hosting a reception for Rasheed Hooda, a fascinating gentleman who is walking Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica, at Calico’s on Beale Street at 6:00 PM. (more…)