If you are a fan of cast iron bathtubs with the white porcelain finish thank David Dunbar Buick. Does cruise control enhance your driving experience on long road trips? If so you might want to thank Ralph Teetor, the prolific blind inventor. After all, it was an idea that he patented in 1950. Ransom E. Olds is best known for the Oldsmobile, and to classic car enthusiasts, the man behind the REO cars and trucks. Did you know that he was also the inventor of the gasoline powered lawn mower? Did you know that Louis Chevrolet’s first business endeavor was the manufacturing of bicycles?
As has become a custom this past few years, I have been preparing some presentations for the fall tour along Route 66 as well as for the winter. Each has been designed as an educational program with a bit of fun tossed into the mix. Louis Chevrolet, David Buick and Ralph Teetor are but a few of the fascinating people I introduce in Dawn of A New Era, a fast bit of time travel back to the dawning of the 20th century and the American auto industry. It was developed for a Hackett Auto Museum fund raiser in Jackson, Michigan. However, I now scheduling other appearances.
Community education has become a passion in recent years. I enjoy providing the tools needed for communities or grass roots initiatives to harness tourism, specifically Route 66 tourism, as a catalyst for economic development as well as historic district revitalization. So, I have created a condensed version of the classes developed for Mohave Community College this past spring. I should note that the college will again be offering these classes. They are scheduled to start in late October at the Bullhead City campus. I am currently scheduling these presentations for the fall tour as well.
As my new book, Murder & Mayhem on The Main Street of America: Tales From Bloody 66, is scheduled for release in early September, as a series of book signings are also a part of the October tour, an accompanying presentation is being developed. This won’t be suitable for the younger audience but I guarantee it will be of interest for anyone with a macabre sense of humor, or an interest in Route 66 history.
The last presentation is pure fun. It is also a bit educational for anyone with interest in becoming a writer, or for a school journalism class. In this presentation I chronicle my thirty year career as a writer. It is a darkly comedic adventure; an odd series of coincidences that led to an interview in Jay Leno’s Garage, a two year book project that went down in flames when the publisher went broke, and of course, the launch and development of Jim Hinckley’s America that started as a venue for promoting books, book signings and related presentations.
I am compensated for most presentations but there is no charge for those made at schools and similar venues. So, the tour, as well as the various facets of Jim Hinckley’s America – live streaming programs, podcast, videos, etc. – is dependent on support of the crowdfunding initiative on the Patreon platform, donations such as the one recently made by the German Route 66 Associations and advertising sponsors such as Blue Swallow Motel, Roadrunner Lodge and Uranus Fudge Factory & General Store, and major sponsors, Grand Canyon Caverns & Inn and the City of Cuba.
If you would like to schedule a presentation for you community, organization, event or fund raiser, please drop me a note. As the schedule develops it will be added to our Facebook page, noted in the weekly newsletter, and on the Travel Center page.
This past weekend during the annual Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona Route 66 Fun, I met a delightful elderly couple that have been enjoying each others company and road trips together for more than seventy years. However, what made their story truly fascinating was the fact that many of these adventures, including participation in the Route 66 Fun Fun, have been made in a Plymouth that they had purchased new at dealership near San Leandro, California in 1950.
During our conversation about life, adventure, travel, raising a family, and keeping a car on the road for nearly 70 years, the owner of this one of a kind automotive time capsule said something that really hit home, especially since recent weeks have found me engaged in an epic struggle to find a center, a place where work and life are balanced, and that overpowering sense of being suffocated in a thick black satin curtain is kept at bay. “Plan for the future but don’t loose sight of one simple fact, today is yesterday’s future. Take one step at a time, one day at a time and don’t become so focused on the future that you forget to live today.”
The Route 66 Fun Run is Jim Hinckley’s America personified; cars, a celebration of Route 66 and the great American road trip, fascinating people, and good friends. As the event has been a father and son day for almost 30 years, I strive to avoid work as much as possible. Still, I am one of the fortunate ones and that enables me to blur the lines between work and life.
My son and I started the day by strolling the streets of Kingman and talking cars. When it comes to diversity, I know of no other automotive event that compares to the Route 66 Fun Run. As an example, this year vehicles ranged from the stunning one owner 1950 Plymouth to a customized Kenworth, a Morris Minor pick up truck, a Tesla, a ’55 Ford “glass top” Crown Victoria, a 1958 Imperial, a handful of Model T and Model A Fords, hot rods, rat rods, vintage four-wheel drive trucks, and colorful convertibles counted in the dozens.
Dale Butel, Jim Hinckley and Efren Lopez
At noon I shared a bit of the event with an Adventurers Club live program from Freedom Apparel, and then we had lunch (excellent pulled pork sandwiches) at Floyd & Company Barbecue and Wood Fired Pizza. This was followed with a delightful gathering of friends at Beale Street Brews Coffee Shop. My dearest friend, son, and I finished up the day at Grand Canyon Caverns were we met with Dale Butel, owner of Australian based Route 66 Tours, his spring tour group, photographer Efren Lopez, and John McEnulty, owner of the caverns. We talked, shared stories, and laughed late into the evening.
Sunday kicked off bright and early with muffins, coffee, and an early morning drive back into Kingman where I spoke about the infancy of the American auto industry before a group on tour with Sam Murray’s New Zealand based Gilligan’s Route 66 Tours. And that was followed with a breakfast at Rutherford’s Route 66 Family Diner with some old friends.
If you ever have an opportunity, I can highly recommend the annual Route 66 Fun Run that is always held on the first weekend in May. It is quite the event, 160 mile long block party on the most famous highway in America.
Always something to see at Chillin’ on Beale in Kingman, Arizona
From March to September on the third Saturday afternoon of the month, Beale Street in Kingman, Arizona, just one block north of Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) is transformed into an automobile enthusiasts version of paradise. As a bonus there is great music, a vibrant historic district framed by stunning skylines of towering buttes, mesas, and spires of stone, cold beer served at two award winning microbreweries, and a delightful array of diverse restaurants. In October the date for the Chillin on Beale festivities is adjusted to coincide with the arrival of Craig Parish’s Route 66 Motor Tour. (more…)
It was never my intent to live a life linked to Route 66. Still, as I
look back over the years there is one common thread that ties it all together – Route 66. I have told the tale often, most recently for the new magazine Route, but that road has been has been a major part of my life since 1959.Now, looking toward the foreseeable future, it looks like that storied old highway will be taking us into the final chapter, and some of the most amazing adventures to date.
Currently it is a book for Rio Nuevo Publishing that is consuming an inordinate amount of my time. For those with morbid curiosity or a fascination with the dark side of Route 66, this will be a very popular book. When the project commenced, I had few illusions about what would be found with research. Route 66 was an artery of commerce licit and illicit, and the towns along the highway were filled with people – hard working people, criminals and thieves, psychos and gangsters, people filled with prejudice and virtue. Still some of the discoveries have been, at the very least, a bit disturbing. (more…)
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.