Road Trips R Us

Hanging on the wall of the Lone Spur Cafe was this photo of the top rodeo cowboys of ’53. Yes, that is film star Ben Johnson. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

For no discernable reason an encounter with a toothless old man that sported a tobacco stained white beard and a very odd conversation pop into my head on occasion. The incident took place years ago.

I was somewhere in the middle of vast cornfields in the back country of Ohio when a battered and rare Mack Jr. pick up truck was spotted. Nearly buried in the overgrowth it was barely visible in the shadow of a tumble down crossroads garage that had been built sometime between the world wars.

Curiosity led me to stop and ask if the owner of the garage was available. The aforementioned old man pointed at the fellow standing beside him and said, “That R us.”

Usually that remembrance pops into mind when I see an old timer with character etched deep into his face by the passing of time. Sometimes it is triggered through an encounter with a link to an era when individuality had not yet given way to political correctness.

On a recent whirlwind trip, just after sunrise, we stopped at the Lone Spur Cafe. I was sipping on hot black coffee and savoring a plate of superbly prepared huevos rancheros when this picture of the class of ’53 caught my eye.

I knew that actor Ben Johnson was the real deal. What I didn’t know was that he was a world champion cowboy back in ’53. He was always a hero of mine. And he was individuality made manifest. Hence the reflection on the fellow in Ohio and the reason for the title of today’s post.

And that long winded introduction that takes us to the business at hand – the reasons for the adventure, closing out October, and setting the stage for November. The primary reasons for this past weeks road trip was twofold.

A rendering of the proposed Hinckley Plaza, a component in the historic district walking tour project spearheaded by Kingman Main Street.

One, was a studio sitting with the internationally acclaimed sculptress J. Anne Butler, a new and odd experience. This is a component in the historic district project being spearheaded by Kingman Main Street. Assisting with development of the narrated self guided walking tour would be more than enough for me. But they insist on a secondary component, Hinckley Plaza at the historic Kingman railroad depot that will include a statue of yours truly, and a commemorative brick garden that has the long dormant Route 66 Walk of Fame as a focal point.

Part two of the trip was research for some upcoming projects. And that takes us to the last days of October 2022 which include a book signing at Victoria’s Sugar Shack in Kingman, Arizona on October 30th, 9:00 MST. On the Sunday morning episode of Coffee With Jim, the weekly live stream program on the Jim Hinckley’s America Facebook page that is archived on our YouTube channel, I will be sharing a virtual road trip. And then later that afternoon I will serve as a guide for an Adventure Caravans tour.

Flexibility is key to working with tour groups in Kingman. As an example the group had planned on a tour of the museums in the Powerhouse Visitor Center but that facility is closed on Sunday. So, instead I will lead a walking tour in the historic district, and then before dinner at the Dambar, make a presentation on Kingman’s rich Hollywood linked history.

By Monday it is my plan to send a new feature written for Route. The deadline for a story about the Dunton family and their 100 year history of doing business along the National Old Trails Road, and Route 66, in western Arizona is a couple weeks away but I want to clear the plate as much as possible.

And that takes us to November. I have eight clients to right blog posts for including the Bullhead City Chamber of Commerce. That is a service that I provide to clients of MyMarketing Designs, a website development and media company.

Sunrise in historic Prescott, Arizona. ©Jim Hinckley’s America

On the 16th, I will be leading a tour along the Route 66 corridor. This is a part of the community education programs developed for Mohave Community College. The goal of these classes is to foster a greater awareness of Kingman history. As I see it, in turn this will lead to an increased awareness about the potential for tourism related economic development in the city.

And takes us to another reason for the recent trip. I needed a refresher course. I needed to visit a city where tourism is viewed as an integral component of long term economic planning. And so we paid a visit to Prescott, Arizona.

This trip will also figure into a new project for our crowdfunding initiative on the Patreon platform that will kick off in November. We depend heavily on support through crowdfunding for our various educational programs and I feel it imperative to find a way of saying thank you so I often provide exclusive and original content.

Last year I reprinted Edsel Ford’s travel journal from 1915. In this series I will be providing detail information, recommendations, reviews, and where applicable, discounts on motels, communities, and specific highways. Road trips “R’ us. Telling people where to go is what I do.

On the 20th, I have agreed to speak on Route 66 and how it can be enjoyed by owners of electric vehicles. Then on the day after Thanksgiving, tentatively, I am to drive to Los Angeles.

In addition to the auto show there is a possible book signing at Auto Books – Aero Books in Burbank. And I will be photographing neon signs along Route 66 for an upcoming feature to be published in the new magazine Crankshaft. That should take me to tax season and laying the groundwork for a very busy 2022.

So, what are your plans for the last months of 2021?





Cold Beer & Reflections

Cold Beer & Reflections

Reflection is what you do after an afternoon spent sipping a pint of house brewed Bearded Bagpipe at Rickety Cricket in Kingman, Arizona, and enjoying some hearty conversation, and a few laughs, with acclaimed photographer KC Keefer of Denver and Rosie Ramos manger of Fender’s River Road Resort & Motel in Needles, California. This morning after recording another episode of Ten Minutes With Jimour audio podcast that is published on the Podbean platform on Sunday mornings, I sat down with a cup of coffee and gave thought to friendships, good beer, what a grand adventure life is and the twisted road that has taken me to this point.

It takes very little to put me in a contemplative mood, especially on a beautiful summers morning that kicks off with an awe inspiring sunrise after almost a week of being sicker than a moonshine sipping dog. I have always been a bit of a deep thinker. Ma always said that I was born ninety. Brad, an old cowhand I worked with on the Sierra Mesa spread out of Faywood, New Mexico used to tell me that I over thought things. Dries Bessels, a dear friend in Amsterdam, has often introduced me as an intellectual redneck, a title that I carry with pride.  I must admit that even though I hear it often, the redneck reference baffles me.

Dale Butel of Australia based Route 66 Tours, author Jim Hinckley, and photographer Efren Lopez. Photo Judy Hinckley

Conservation with old friends that centers on neon, Route 66 and the amazing generosity of the international Route 66 community is bound to inspire a bit of contemplation. Of course the events of the past week or two have also provided ample fodder for deep reflections. My step mother passed away a couple of weeks ago and this adds to concerns about my 91-year old pa that has become increasingly frail over the course of the past year or so. And there are concerns about my dearest friend as we aren’t exactly kids anymore, a point driven home after her recent doctors evaluation. Acceptance of the CEO position at Route 66 Crossroads, a nonprofit organization established to develop community education programs that foster increased understanding of tourism and its potential for economic development as well as community revitalization. And yesterday, after months of postponement and editorial adjustments, I received the initial galley proofs of the new book. So, it looks like I will have a new book to be promoting during the fall tour.

Still, at the heart of this mornings reflections were yesterdays conversation with Rosie and KC. They were in town to pick up the historic signage for Fender’s, the only motel that sits on an alignment of Route 66 as well as the Colorado River. With the generous support of the Route 66 community the sign had been restored at Legacy Signs & Iron. Plans are underway for a big party when the sign is re-lit on Saturday evening. The song Under The Neon by the Road Crew sums it all up rather nicely.

And, of course, as most major events in my life since 1959 have a Route 66 connection, anything having to do with that old highway sparks a memory or two. It also leads me to a bit of contemplation about the future. After all, the Route 66 centennial is fast approaching. How many pioneers of the highways renaissance will be with us to celebrate? How many landmarks will be lost between then and now? How may landmarks will be given a new lease on life? Who will be the new stewards of the Route 66 legacy? And that my friends is reason enough to sip on a cold beer and do a bit of reflection.