From an early age I felt out of place in life, almost as though
I was a step or two behind the rest of the world. My mother simply claimed that I was born 90 and never aged. My dad instilled a wanderlust, an unquenchable desire to see what is in the next county or just around the bend, and a fierce independence for living life on my terms. Poet Robert Service described people like me as “…a race of men that don’t fit in, A race that can’t stay still.”
The Hualapai Valley in Arizona at Antares Point.
As a young man, when friends and acquaintances were obsessing over acquisition of a Mustang, GTO, or Charger, I was quite content to rattle along dusty desert roads in a junkyard salvaged ’42 Chevy p.u. When they set their sights on college, I decided to pursue the life of my high riding heroes and make my living riding for the brand.
I tried my hand at various endeavors from mining to managing a finance company. Each job had merits, and they did provide the means for raising a family. Still, I chafed under the yoke of conformity. Writing was a means of escape, and an opportunity to share as well as encourage adventures.
Welcome to Valentine, Arizona
Fast forward to 2018 and eighteen published books later. Somewhere along the line, like Jello or Kleenex, the Jim Hinckley name became a sort of brand that was associated with adventures on the road less traveled. Somewhere along the line presentations and Facebook live programs, podcasts and blog postings, Twitter and Instagram, were added, and before I knew it, I was living in the spotlight rather than nestled in the comfortable obscurity that I was most familiar with. If notes and letters received were to be believed, I was encouraging people to take to the road less traveled and providing a bit of inspiration for people looking to live life on the trail less traveled, and that was a tremendous reward.
Well, now the time is at hand to take things to a new level built on a simple premise, memorable adventures are shared adventures. Jim Hinckley’s America is going to become the tourism office for small town America, and the back roads, with your help. Together we will encourage people, and tell them where to go. Together, through Facebook live programs and podcasts, we can introduce people to community leaders with vision and small business owners, to inspire people to take a chance and build a life on the road less traveled. Together we can create presentations that share ideas, and encourage people to transform their community. All of this is possible, if the memorable adventure is a shared adventure. Won’t you join me?
As you contemplate joining me on an adventure along the trail less traveled, consider the words of Henry David Thoreau. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
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.
Do you remember when telephones were a device used to
make calls? Do you remember getting change to use the pay phone? Do you remember using checks to pay bills? Do you remember using wind wings and cowl vents to offer a bit of respite from the summer heat when driving? Do you remember sipping a cold beer and playing pong on a table top device? Do you remember fumbling with road maps? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, there is a better than average chance that you suffer, to a degree, from the plight of technologically impaired.
A great deal of the past year has been spent working to overcome my technological impairment. To be honest this quest consumes a great deal of my time but it is a matter of survival. I can’t write books on a 1948 Underwood typewriter anymore, and I can’t market the books, or me, using stamps, stationary, envelopes, and a land line telephone. (more…)
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.
The October adventure officially came to an end last Saturday
Sunrise in Shamrock, Texas sets the mood for a great day on the road.
afternoon with the return of the rental car. It was, to say the very least, an amazing odyssey filled with good food, good friends, new discoveries, and endless road construction that nudged the frustration level into the anger zone. With few exceptions the weather was perfect, which again confirms my belief that mid to late October is the ideal time for a Route 66 adventure.
Officially it was a business trip. Still, I can think of few things more enjoyable than doing business on Route 66 and the back roads of America. To borrow from an old adage, the worst day on a road trip is better than the best day most anywhere else.
The primary destination was the Route 66 Miles of Possibilities Conference in Joliet, Illinois where I was scheduled to make a presentation on Kingman tourism 1900 – 2020. However, this was not just a Route 66 adventure as plans called for a slight detour to Jackson, Michigan where we would pay my pop a visit (he will be ninety in January) and to meet with Ted O’Dell who has a vision of using the long empty 1910 Hackett automobile factory as the cornerstone for a museum that chronicles the rich manufacturing history of the community.
An amazing array of original components make the old factory a time capsule of early industrial production.
I am always inspired by projects such as Ted’s but this one has a personal connection. My grandfather was a prolific inventor who was deeply involved with the early auto industry in Michigan, specifically in Jackson. In 1900 he was a machinist for David Buick. For years a photo of my grandfather and Henry Ford adorned the mantle of the ancestral Hinckley house on Hinckley Boulevard in Vandercook Lake just to the south of Jackson.
The trip was also an opportunity to introduce a new aspect of the patrons program, the crowdfunding initiative launched to enable me to expand on the various community development and small business promotional projects under the Jim Hinckley’s America banner including the Facebook live programs. To lend your support as a patron simply click on the Patreon button on the top right side of the page.
Juvenile humor abounds at Uranus and now they are a distributor of Jim Hinckley’s America videos.
Louie Keen, the self proclaimed mayor of Uranus, Missouri was the first business owner to take advantage of the new program and lend support to Jim Hinckley’s America at this level. So, I wanted to meet with him in person, get our partnership off on a solid footing, set up the displays for the Jim Hinckley’s America: Trek Along Route 66videos and to pick up a few items for product placement as well for some forthcoming contests. This level of support for the program provides the business owner with “product placement, an occasional shout out during Facebook live programs and posts, and blog posts as well other promotional opportunities in exchange for your support are just a few of the perks that come with becoming a Jim Hinckley’s America promotional partner.”
Uranus is one of those places that has to be experienced. Rather than spoil the fun I will just say this, the fudge consistently receives rave reviews and the humor found at every turn is sure to unleash the inner child. How can you not smile when the clerk says, “Thank you for picking Uranus.”
Another aspect of the trip had to do with the quest to become a writer when I grow up. At Bookworks in Albuquerque, I made a presentation on a Route 66 bucket list, and signed copies of my latest book, 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die. I also signed copies of books at the National Route 66 Museum, the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Ariston Cafe, Wagon Wheel Motel, and for fans along the road as well as at the conference in Joliet.
In St Louis we had a luncheon marketing meeting with the editor and publicist for Reedy Press, publisher of the book, and Jo Ann Faust Kargus, author of the fascinating and artful Route 66 Splendoradult coloring book. We also discussed the possibility of future projects as I am closing in on completion of a book for Rio Nuevo Publishing. The photos needed for this book was another reason for the trip.
Presentations and interviews framed the venture. Aside from presentation made in Albuquerque and Joliet, I also spoke on heritage tourism and economic development in the original Las Vegas, the one in New Mexico. With each and every visit to this charming little community thoughts of changing my address grow stronger. Even though it isn’t a Route 66 community, a 5.8 detour is well worth the trip but I highly recommend the drive from Tucucmari to Las Vegas on state highway 104. Then there was a visit with Pat Smith at the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, and an interview with Galen Culver of KFOR television in Oklahoma City, a CBS affiliate.
Of course, the highlight of any adventure is the people you meet along the way – friends, adventurers, inspirational travelers. On a Route 66 adventure this reward is magnified one hundred fold, as is the sorrow of people missed because of schedule induced restrictions or that have passed on.
My dearest friend and Efren Lopez at Swadley’s in El Reno, Oklahoma
On our October adventure we were privileged by an opportunity to enjoy a delightful dinner at Belmont Winery (a stop that should be included in any Route 66 travel plans) with Trish and Jeff Voss. There was also an interview with artist and creator of Red Oak II, Lowell Davis, a few meals and laughs shared with our Route 66 family in Joliet, a dinner and lively conversation in El Reno with Efren Lopez, some cake, coffee, a wonderful lunch and discussion with Peter at the Wild Hare Cafe, and conversation with Nick Adam at the Ariston Cafe as well as a pleasant reception hosted by Connie Echols at the Wagon Wheel Motel and dinner in Tucumcari with Amanda and David Brenner. We missed Croc Lile and Bob and Ramona but we did catch Michael Wallis and Rhys Martin in Tulsa, another great dinner.
As is often the case, we returned home road weary and exhausted but with big smiles, fond memories, and thoughts of the next adventure.