JHA Conference 2016

jhac16I’m on the way to my second Jefferson Highway Association Conference. It’s in Carthage, Missouri, this year. The heart of the conference takes place on Friday and Saturday with some pre-conference welcoming activities planned for Thursday and an optional sociability run available Sunday. I will be attending the Celebration of the Life of Laurel Kane in Afton, Oklahoma, on Saturday so will miss the day’s bus tour but hope to take in some of the sights on my own. I’m getting there on US-60, coming back on US-62, and staying at Boots Court while in Carthage. Beyond that, plans are flimsy. The photo at right is of the spot south of Louisville, Kentucky, where US-60 split from US-31W (Dixie Highway) and started carrying me towards Carthage in earnest.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to provide a place for comments.

Remembering Laurel

laurel_trikeLaurel Kane has been gone nearly three months. The Route 66 icon and personal friend died on January 28, 2016. In the days that followed, many of her friends and associates shared memories on Facebook, on their own blogs and websites, and in various comment threads and other locations around the web. For a hodgepodge of reasons, not all of which even I understood, I didn’t. It certainly wasn’t because of a lack of memories. There were plenty of those swirling through my mind as January came to an end but I made no effort to capture them. I just let them swirl.

There was no funeral gathering or big memorial service at the time of Laurel’s passing. Several members of the Route 66 community, in the area for another event, are gathering in Afton today to share memories. Her family is hosting a Celebration of the Life of Laurel Kane at her beloved Afton Station next Saturday which I will attending. This seems the right time for this post.

I knew Laurel for slightly more than a dozen years. Our first face-to-face meeting was in September 2003; Our last in May 2015. Phone calls, email exchanges, and other communication occurred both before our first and after our last physical meeting. Our most recent email exchange took place a few days before Christmas.

That initial meeting was at the Route 66 Festival in Springfield, Illinois, which I believe was the farthest from Afton Station I ever personally saw her. I had already driven Route 66 end-to-end twice before I learned about things like festivals. I learned of that one too late to get in on the awards banquet but did manage to snag a spot at the eGroup breakfast. (For any that don’t know, a Route 66 Yahoo group often gets together for breakfast during major Route 66 gatherings.) I knew only a few names and almost no faces and probably looked pretty much lost. Laurel invited me to sit with her and her daughter and I was lost no more. Of course, I soon learned that making people feel welcome was just one of Laurel’s talents.

We met several more time over the years. All were in either Tulsa or Afton with the exception of our last meeting in May when I was attending the Jefferson Highway Conference in Muskogee. Juggling Laurel’s always busy schedule and that of the conference, she and Ron McCoy met me for linner (Laurel’s name for a meal between lunch and dinner) in Pryor about halfway between Afton and Muskogee. Laurel insisted on getting together despite it interfering with watching her beloved Kentucky Derby.

pic01aThe picture of Laurel with Ron and Ethyl is from a 2011 stop at Afton Station. Not only do I miss seeing her at the station, I miss, as do so many others, reading her blog. It may have been created to promote the station but Thoughts from a Route 66 Business Owner might involve just about anything going on in any part of Laurel’s world. It was sometimes informative, sometimes insightful or entertaining, and always interesting.

I also miss Laurel as a reader. I miss her in ways that not everyone will. Laurel was one of a small group of people who subscribed to both my trip journals and my blog. She was actually part of the smaller group who read them with anything approaching regularity. I know Laurel did not read every word or look at every picture but she read and looked more than most. And she occasionally interacted with a comment or an email which made her part of an even smaller group. Laurel had visited every state in the union and had lived in several. Her response to a journal post often concerned something she remembered about where ever I was from her own time there. A semi-recent one was my January 2015 visit to Florida. When she saw I would be near a place where she once had a condo she dropped me a note. I was able to give her a little update and benefit from her restaurant suggestion.

The Cliff House in San Francisco was a completely different story. The historic restaurant is something of a symbolic end to the Lincoln Highway. Despite never having been there, Laurel had assembled a large collection of Cliff House memorabilia and got a little kick from the few times a road trip took me there.

Laurel also read my printed words and read them before almost anyone else. Like this website, the two books I have self published are more bucket list and hobby than a serious attempt at a new career. Laurel agreed to help me out by proofreading both books and both were considerably improved by her efforts. Although she had the knowledge and skill to be a grammar Nazi, Laurel was pretty much the opposite. Most of her corrections seemed like friendly suggestions and that’s essentially what they were. Laurel was never upset or even slightly offended on the rare occasion I chose not to follow a suggestion. She sometimes even encouraged a little rule breaking like when she followed tagging an incomplete sentence with “…but I like incomplete sentences.”

I had nothing to do with the creation of the photo at the top of this post. I stole it from Laurel’s Facebook page where she posted it as a profile picture back in 2011. Though unintentional, I did have something to do with that. Facebook friends of mine probably know of my habit of changing my profile picture to a similar one from my childhood when I set out on a road trip. When I did that for an August 2011 trip I added the description “Looking for a triker bar”. That’s when Laurel changed her profile photo to the one from her own childhood and asked, “Can I go to the triker bar with you?” We never made it to a triker bar but we did make it to Clanton’s and Tally’s and a few other places including the “Center of the Universe“. Every one of those many memories brings a smile.

Although they don’t all come from actual meetings, a search for “Laurel Kane” at DennyGibson.com returns a couple dozen references for anyone curious about other memories.

Trip Peek #35
Trip #61
Sweetheart Cruise ’08

pv44This picture is from my 2008 Sweetheart Cruise trip. This was my first time joining the annual (weather and other stuff permitting) cruise organized by a small group of Missouri road fans. The name comes from its proximity to Valentines Day and the fact that it usually includes sweethearts Kent and Mary Sue Sanderson. This particular cruise ran north along the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Hannibal then crossed over and returned through Illinois at some distance from the river. There were lots of bald eagles and pelicans to be seen on the way to Hannibal with the area around Lock 25 near Winfield, MO, where the picture was taken, being one of the hot spots. The second day featured some Sanderson childhood memories including a look (from the outside) at the Lustron house that Mary Sue remembered her father assembling after it arrived on a truck. Weather was fine for the two days of the actual cruise but I did encounter snow on the way home which prompted me to move from two-lane to expressway much sooner than planned.

Two aspects of this trip, one good and one bad, were photo related. On the good side was the move to posting 800 x 600 pixel photos after more than eight years of sticking with 640 x 480. On the bad side was the failure of a memory card containing lots of snowy National Road pictures on the third day. I’m sure they would have looked marvelous in the new larger format.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Book Review
Greetings from Coldwater
Emily Priddy

gfc_cvrI’m going to admit right up front that defending this post against my About page claim that readers will “not be seeing a review of the latest novel” is pretty much a lost cause. I proclaimed my earlier review of Cincinnatus “not guilty” on the technicality that, at five years of age, it was not “the latest novel”. That tactic simply won’t work here as Greetings from Coldwater was published right at two months ago and is Priddy’s latest offering and first novel. That I am guilty of breaking my own promise is obvious. I can only beg for leniency on the grounds that I did say I’d be reviewing books “related to something I personally like such as old roads or cars” and, while Greetings from Coldwater isn’t actually about Route 66 or classic Volvos, both have roles. Maybe I can be forgiven.

Volvos only get bit parts but Route 66 is a star. The novel’s story-line is a girl-meets-boy romance. Motel owner Sierra Goldsmith meets school principal Grant Loucks and sparks — tastefully subdued — ensue. But Grant doesn’t even show up until page 104 and there’s romance in the air almost from the book’s beginning. That romance is between Sierra and Route 66. More specifically Route 66 in New Mexico. Anyone who knows Emily Priddy will recognize that the love Sierra has for the state and its portion of the historic highway is a dead-on reflection of the author’s. There is no avoiding the fact that there is a certain amount of autofantasy (It’s related to autobiography.) in the book but it’s hardly a hindrance. It doesn’t get in the way of the story and it adds energy and conviction to its telling.

Sierra is not a motel owner when the story begins. She stumbles into the aging Tumbleweed Motel shortly after her fathers death. Her mother died years before and they had separated years before that. The fictitious Tumbleweed is in the equally fictitious town of Coldwater, New Mexico. The more or less directionless Sierra, buys the motel and proceeds to refurbish it as she learns about the small town that has suddenly become her home. Even after Miss Shirley, the previous owner, leaves the Tumbleweed, Sierra isn’t the only full time resident. She inherits/adopts Joey, the developmentally disabled resident “handyman” Miss Shirley had taken in long ago. Other businesses in the town include a garage, hardware store, and bar each with a friendly and helpful — in his own way — owner. It’s a good place for someone who, although not exactly running from her past life, is not at all eager to share it.

Not only does Priddy have the knowledge, through years spent on Route 66 and the Coldwater-like towns it connects, to paint a complete and colorful background for her story, she has the skill, from years as a journalist, to tell that story properly. I wouldn’t know a good romance story if it stuck its tongue in my ear (although I suspect that’s a sign of a bad romance story) so I can’t really say if the tale of Sierra and Grant is one. I can say that it is well written.

It is also well drawn. Several of the novel’s chapters are fronted by pen-and-ink drawings produced by Priddy. In her acknowledgements she points to the late Bob Waldmire as the influence for these. Some are indeed reminiscent of his work and add to the book’s Route 66 flavor.

There are some “Easter eggs” in those drawings and in the text. Readers familiar with the Route 66 community will have fun finding them, all readers will be treated to a well informed sense of what life beside the historic highway might be like, and some readers will really enjoy following Grant and Sierra as they deal with the baggage Sierra brings to their relationship. I guess I even enjoyed it a little myself. It is somewhat, as Joey would say, “a kissy story” but not terribly so. The girl definitely shows some love for her guy but she shows at least as much for her road.

Greetings from Coldwater, Emily Priddy, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, September 26, 2015, 9 x 6 inches, 272 pages, ISBN 978-1517049386

Trip Peek #34
Trip #32
IL 66 Run

pv20This picture is from my 2005 Illinois 66 Run trip. The three day outing started with an early morning wet drive to Indianapolis that led to a somewhat drier drive to the Luna Cafe in Mitchell, Illinois, to connect with a group of Route 66 fans to drive to Springfield, Illinois. Pre-planned activities more or less ended with an overnight in Springfield but a portion of the group continued north the next day and that is when the picture was taken. It shows some of the remnants of a bridge that once carried US 66 over Salt Creek near Lincoln, Illinois.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Dandy Trail

pic08bEver wonder what it would be like to drive to a city a hundred miles away, drive half a circle around the city for breakfast, then drive the other half circle and go home? If so, you’re kind of weird but I can answer that question for you. On Sunday, I drove to Indianapolis, followed the circular Dandy Trail around the city, and met friends for breakfast in a west side suburb.

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to hold any and all comments

Trip Peek #23
Trip #35
SB Rendezvous

pv23This picture is from my San Bernardino Rendezvous fly-and-drive trip to the 2005 Route Festival. I flew into Phoenix then drove north through Prescott, Jerome, and Sedona to reach Historic Route 66 at Flagstaff. The photo is of the late Bob Waldmire’s 1972 VW Microbus being returned after mistakenly being towed from the authors & artists area of the festival. Bob was pretty nervous until the bus was back on the ground without damage. Following the festival, I drove through Joshua Tree National Park before picking up US-60 to the coolest named airport in the country, Phoenix’s Sky Harbor.


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.

Route 66 Festival 2014

pic01bI am now on my way to the 2014 International Route 66 Festival in Kingman, Arizona. My first day ended in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is not exactly on the imaginary straight line connecting Cincinnati and Kingman. In fact, it is at least 300 miles from any such line and I’m going to get a lot farther away from it before I’m done. I’m starting out in Tennessee because I’ll be visiting my son in San Diego before the festival and I’m following the Old Spanish Trail, which starts in Saint Augustine, to San Diego. Between Chattanooga and Saint Augustine, I’ll be on the Dixie Highway which isn’t any farther off of a Cincinnati to Saint Augustine line than those fancy modern interstates. I’ll probably get on the route in the title a little before the festival and I’ll certainly drive parts of it as I head home afterwards but, if Route 66 is the only reason you’re here, you’ve got a couple of weeks to wait.

The trip journal is here. This blog entry is to make blog-only followers aware of the trip and to provide a place for comments which are very welcome and appreciated.

Trip Peek #9
Trip #66
2008 Route 66 Festival

Tow Tater from GalenaThis picture is from the my 2008 Route 66 Festival road trip so it is quite fitting that it was my sixty-sixth documented trip. Because the festival was in Litchfield, Illinois, which is Sixty-Six’s nearest approach to my home, I was able to work the entire festival into a four day trip. There were appearances by both Beatles and Elvis impersonators along with the real celebrity in the picture. That is the actual truck that John Lasseter first saw on Route 66 and used as the model for Tow Mater in the movie Cars. The original in now named Tow Tater and is normally on display at 4 Women on the Route in Galena, Kansas. Tow Tater was trailered to Litchfield for the festival where he was a major hit with kids.

Trip Pic Peek #8 — Trip #85 — 2010 OLHL Meeting


Trip Pic Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the trip journal it is from.