Monday, April 21, 2014


Author Jim Hinckley talking about Route 66 with
a New Zealand tour group at the Hackberry
General Store.
THIS was a near perfect weekend. The only thing that might have made it better would have been if the thick clouds shrouding the crown of the Hualapai Mountains that provided visitors with quintessential Arizona backdrops for their photos had also dropped a bit of rain on the parched desert.
On Saturday, after a few hours at the office, we were privileged with  an opportunity to visit with Wolfgang Werz of the German Route 66 Association and a tour he was leading, and to enjoy some barbecue and hang out with friends at the first edition of Chillin' on Beale for 2014. Today it was a Route 66 cruise, time spent with my dearest friend, and meeting with a tour group from New Zealand in Hackberry.
Counted among the many blessings in my life is the opportunity to see Route 66 through the eyes of our foreign visitors as a result of the books I write. After spending fifteen minutes telling the story of Hackberry, I answered questions and was fascinated by what these first time visitors will be taking home as memorable moments.
The breadth and diversity of the nation was a list topper for the Kiwi travelers. The people met along the way and the generosity shown seemed to be a close second. 
The empty places also made a lasting impression. The cost of progress in disrupted lives made manifest in the quiet streets of Glenrio or Texola, the ruins of Two Guns, or the tumble down remains of John's Modern Cabins  was a subject of much discussion.
As is often the case, the half hour allocated for the stop turned into one hour. Still, I heard no complaints from the visitors or the tour guide.
The shade dappled tables at the Hackberry General Store were tailor made for our visit. A slight breeze and temperatures hovering at the eighty degree mark ensured I had a perfect stage.
copyright 2014 Jim Hinckley's
More than three decades ago, after a hard days work at the Cedar Springs or X-Bar-One Ranch, I would often stop at this old store for some cold beer, a bag of Bull Durham, rolling papers, and a few snacks. At the time I was receiving my mail up the road at the post office-Union 76 station in Valentine.
Not much thought was given to the store, or the road out front being anything special. In my world dusty relics and time capsules were as much a part of life as horses, flies, vast Arizona wilderness landscapes, sweat stained hats, or the battered old '42 Chevy truck that provided me with transportation.
With completion of I-40, and the bypass of Route 66, the store died quickly. Revival commenced with the arrival of an eccentric hippie who presented the impression that time had stopped shortly after the music at Woodstock.
I am a fairly tolerant sort of fellow but Bob Waldmire was a different sort of animal, not the type of person seen in my social circle of cowboys, wranglers, cat skinners, truck drivers, and general redneck hard cases. Still, Bob was special, a man who truly did march to the beat of a different drummer. 
I am quite glad that I had the opportunity to develop a friendship of sorts. His departure left the future of the hackberry Store in doubt, but not for long. 
The Pritchard family has transformed the old store into a near perfect snap shot of the era of Route 66 renaissance. Vintage junk and cold soda pop hearkens to my early memories of the store, and countless others like it all along the highway decades ago.
However, as with most places along the double six today, there is a thin veneer of Disneyland as well. If done right this too enhances the sense of experiencing life on Route 66 during the highway's "glory days." Here it is done right.
Evidence of that is found in the throngs of people who stop, which gives the added impression that Route 66 was never bypassed. Perhaps the only real difference is that those who stop today are more likely to speak with an Australian or New Zealand accent, or talk German, Italian, French, or a dozen other languages.
In forlorn old Hackberry, as well as Amboy, Truxton, Afton, Cuba, Litchfield, and dozens of other towns between Chicago and Santa Monica, Route 66 truly is the crossroads of the past and future. It is also America's longest attraction. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Here in sunny Arizona, under clear skies of blue, it is a delightful Easter morning. There is a light breeze scented with the smell of sage and rosemary from the front yard, and the songbirds are providing a most enjoyable chorus.
Sadly, in the modern America obsessed with political correctness, the Easter holiday has become a point of contention rather than a time for reflection. In our homestead we are not big fans of the modern Americanized version of church even though I have been privileged with an opportunity to stand behind a pulpit or two. That, however, doesn't mean the symbolism and message underlying the Easter tradition isn't important to us. 
The post office in Hackberry, Arizona
So, as a result the days varied activities will be wrapped in meditation, contemplation, and reflection. Of course, it will also include a bit of adventure in the desert along the old double six, and meeting with a tour group from New Zealand somewhere near Hackberry, and simply enjoying the company of my dearest friend.
As we closed out the week with good friends, good food, and vintage cars under a desert sky at Chillin' on Beale last night, and a luncheon visit with Wolfgang Werz who was leading a tour from Germany, I should be ready to face a few days of challenges and a grueling schedule with at least a hint of a smile. 
It kicks off bright and early on Monday as I learned late last week that I will be short handed at the office for at least four days. That will double the work load, never an enviable prospect. 
On Monday evening there is an organization meeting for the Route 66 International Festival. Updates will be provided by Tuesday or Wednesday. 
On Wednesday the schedule calls for a full day at the office and meeting with another tour from Germany. Then on Friday morning before work I am to address a local civic group about Route 66 as a catalyst for community redevelopment.
Plans are to close it out by channeling anxiety and frustrations into a bit of destruction in the form of bathroom remodeling. That should give me something to look forward to. 


My Photo

I was born in North Carolina but am a product of the desert southwest with its vast, panoramic landscapes where spires of weathered stone cast long shadows under cloudless skies. It was there that I became enamored with the road less traveled, adventures on those forgotten roads, and the people you meet along the way.
For more than forty years I have explored the hidden places, the forgotten places, hungered for the colorful history found there, and sought the empty highways and dusty tracks that were once pathways to opportunity and the land of dreams.
These adventures and a fascination for the history of the formative years of the American automobile industry, and the resultant societal evolution, are the foundational elements of my published work. This work includes a former position as associate editor with Cars & Parts magazine and a monthly column, The Independent Thinker, and more than one thousand feature articles for various magazines and newspapers.
Additionally, I have written more than ten books that reflect these interests and chronicle my adventures including Checker Cab Manufacturing Company Illustrated History, The Big Book of Car Culture, Backroads of Arizona, Route 66 Backroads, Ghost Towns of the Southwest, Ghost Towns of Route 66, Route 66 Treasures, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia.
Meeting with tour groups, speaking engagements, providing travel planning assistance, and lectures round out what has become known as affectionately as Jim Hinckley's America.
In addition, my wife and I are also photographers with a lengthy and colorful resume of work appearing in magazines and books, on corporate websites, in a wide array of promotional material, and now, a photo exhibition in the Czech Republic. Our prints are currently sold through a limited partnership with Legends of America.
This would include prints of photos appearing on our blog, Route 66 Chronicles.

Jim Hinckley

Jim Hinckley
Jim Hinckley in his native habitat, the road less traveled

Author Jim Hinckley

Author Jim Hinckley
Somewhere on the road less traveled

Jim Hinckley on Legends of America

Did you know that Henry Ford played a pivotal role in the establishment of Cadillac? Did you know that the Stanley brothers of steamer fame were responsible for the creation of Eastman Kodak? Did you know the original Chevrolet was an import? Did you know that cruise control was the creation of a blind inventor? Did you know that Buffalo Bill Cody drove a Michigan? Did you know that there are two ghost towns on Route 66 that have origins linked to the Santa Fe Trail? Did you know that there was only one lynching in Tombstone? As a fan of the Legends of America website for a number of years, it gives me great pleasure to announce that as a contributor I will be able to add stories such as these to this vast online treasure trove.


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