Dec 172013
 

nick-gerlich-route-66









Is there a doctor on the route?!?

Nick Gerlich is really one of a kind Route 66 roadie. Most of us know him, a lot of us have traveled part of the route with him, and not too many can claim the dedication on tracking and mapping of the old(er) sections of Route 66.

I met Nick like most folks: Via Social Media. I actually met Nick in person for the first time in Las Vegas totally by chance as we found out each of us would be there, the same day for different events. So naturally we set up a time and met for a beer (or three) and talked about one thing: Route 66.

From there out Nick and I have become close ‘roadies’ and we share in each others passion. ANYTHING I need to know about Route 66 throughout Texas, I know I can ask him.

I have traveled parts of the route in Texas with Nick (3) times now and each time all for different reasons. I always try my best to see Nick if I know either one of us are within a few hundred miles from each other.

He has such a vast knowledge of everything Route 66 and his intentions are nothing but pure, and I admire that.

He is a fellow lecturer, has been on TV and in print as well as many other formats to share his passion for the route, so it almost seems he and I are running parallel lives (if not missions) for Route 66.

And he seems to always have his mountain bike in the back of his van to hit the parts of the route when a car just simply won’t do!

You can check out his website at www.drgerlich.com or his Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/nickgerlich

May 062013
 




KINGMAN – Just call it The Gathering.

Roughly 10,000 people attend the Route 66 International Festival held each summer. Those disciples of the Mother Road – and their tourist dollars – could descend on the city en masse as Kingman is considered one of the favorites to host the event in 2014.

Such a gathering would have an undoubtedly positive affect on the city’s economy, but pulling off such a large-scale production will take teamwork by a number of public and private entities as well as residents.

Author Jim Hinckley and downtown Kingman booster Steve Wagner, both Route 66 and Kingman enthusiasts, seek volunteers to serve on committees that would work on specific aspects of the event, from drawing live bands, organizing car shows, food and beverage vendors and Route 66 beautification.

“It began almost 20 years ago in a rented tent in the faded wide spot in the road that is Landegrin, Texas,” said Hinckley of the International Festival now managed by the Route 66 Alliance.

A different community hosts the event each year.

Kingman is a front-runner to serve as the host city,” said Hinckley.

The men are banking on approval with the end game of pulling off a successful festival that highlights Kingman’s attraction as a destination.

If Kingman does land the hosting gig, the event would be held in conjunction with the August 2014 edition of Chillin’ on Beale Street, said Hinckley.

The initial plan, he said, calls for a Saturday car show, an exhibition of artists and authors in the Southwest whose work focuses on Route 66, a barbecue at Hualapai Mountain Park and live music.

The event, said Hinckley, “would introduce visitors to some of the community’s unique attractions, such as the Stetson Winery and the award-wining Desert Diamond Distillery.”

This August the festival is in Joplin, Mo. Last year it was in Victorville, Calif., and the year before that it was in Amarillo, Texas.

“We like to move it around,” said Rick Freeland of the Alliance.

Freeland confirmed Kingman is the front-runner, but an announcement won’t be made until Aug. 3, the final day of the Joplin festival.

“This will be great for Kingman,” said Freeland. “Every town or city that has hosted the event has seen a significant bump in the local economy. And this is a true international event. Route 66 truly does have a global following.”

Freeland said the Alliance’s primary goal is to double the number of cars that travel Route 66 between Los Angeles and Chicago.

If you’re interested in helping out, call Hinckley at (928) 530-7899 or Wagner at (928) 377-2239.

By Doug McMurdo – Daily Miner

Nov 122012
 




This is our third guest article on Route 66. This one focuses on the ‘winter’ of, or ON, Route 66!

Traveling down the historic Route 66 is a unique way to get your family together during the Christmas holiday. Gather the troops from across the country and reconnect on the old historic “Mother Road” that, at one time, was best passageway from the Midwest to the West.


Drive through the streets of a fabulous world of kitschy Americana, follow each other in a caravan of cars or pile in an RV (try to avoid motorcycles during winter — it can get cold!). Each little town you pass has a legend attached to it. You may find yourself touring an old school house, visiting a nostalgic ice cream shop and looking over your shoulder in one of the many ghost towns along the tour. With the wind in your hair and not a worry in the world, this will be the best Christmas EVER!

Step into a history rich with roadside attractions, neon signs, rusty gas stations, 50s diners and vintage motels. It’s all part of the experience, part of the adventure. What do you need to know and where do you go?

Driving Tips

  • Be sure you have appropriate car insurance (with roadside assistance) so you are 100 percent protected and carefree on your journey.
  • Don’t advertise you are away from home. When in a city with inhabitants, keep your maps out of plain sight when stopped and use the truck stops if in need of rest — they are generally the safest place to rest your eyes.

Great Idea No. 1

Before you go on this fabulous family vacation, make a playlist of Christmas songs and old country driving tunes (Willy Nelson would be a great choice). Burn it to a few disks and bam! Christmas gifts, done! You’ll be singing all the way from Amarillo to Tucumcari. Pair that with the EZ66 Guide for sale at Route 66 World Bookstore and Roadfood and you’ll be on your way to worry free holidays.

Great Idea No. 2

Roadfood. It’s a must-get book. Ever wanted to eat at little off the beaten path at classic regional restaurants but don’t know how to find them? This book was written by a couple who went on a country-wide trip, finding and rating the best unknowns. While the directions are good, a navigational device is extremely helpful.

Fun Places to Stop

Christmastime along the Route 66 is vibrant with life and lights. It’s quirkiness illuminates with decorations aglow.

  • Chain of Rocks Bridge — Constructed in 1929, the bridge crosses the Mississippi from Alton, Ill. to St. Louis, Mo. and has a 30-degree turn midway across a mile-long bridge, according to nps.gov. Today, it has trails for walking and biking — fun for the whole family.
  • The Blue Whale — Sitting in Catoosa, Okla. is an 80-foot long smiling blue whale that Hugh Davis built for his whale-collecting wife, Zelta, as a gift. The attraction dates back to the 1970s.
  • Sandhills Curiosity Shop — Located in Erick, Okla., this wacky shop is full of music memorabilia. But it’s not just a shop, it’s an experience. Sit for awhile and have a chat with the owners, Harley and Annabelle Russell.
  • Restored Phillips 66 Gas Station – Between Clinton and Amarillo, Texas, this is where gas is 19 cents a gallon. That was all the way back in 1927, according to ridingroute66.us.
  • Cadillac Ranch — Amarillo, Texas has a mythical land covered with 10 historic Cadillacs, noses stuck in the earth as they erect from the land. You are free to graffiti your presence on the pieces of art, says legendsofamerica.com. They are open to the public to decorate.
  • Tucumcari, New Mexico – A pleasant reminder of the good old days. With historic motels like the Blue Swallow and Motel Safari, you can sleep under the pretty neon signs which light up the route through town.
  • Winslow, Ariz. — Simply, so you can stand on the corner in Winslow, Ariz. and live in the Eagles song, “Take it Easy.”
  • The Grand Canyon Railway’s Christmas Polar Express — In Williams, Ariz., a charming little town sits along the Route 66. During Christmas, the railway turns into a magical Christmas train to the North Pole.
  • Santa Monica Pier — Route 66 ends with an amusement park, an old carousel and the lovely California coast.

Lastly, be sure to take special care of our Route 66. Help preserve historic landmarks along the 2,400 -mile stretch. What can you do? Clean up after yourself and others, drive slow and enjoy the sites and get into the nostalgia by helping the local businesses survive.

Article by Olivia Lewin

Jul 282012
 


Travel on Route 66 in its heyday was something to write home about.

The Mother Road opened new worlds to tourists eager to send postcards to share their discovery of such exotic places as Florence “Mom” Madsen’s Dining Room in Amarillo. Known in these parts as “The Chicken Queen,” Madsen served fried chicken and biscuits to locals, foreign ambassadors, actors and sports heros.

Postcards now are an essential and abiding part of the road’s lore, preserving images of lost stops along the famed east-west band.

“To be a hardcore, serious Route 66 follower, ‘collectible’ means finding an authentic postcard or an old highway sign or mementos of the businesses that no longer exist,” said Nick Gerlich, who this month joined his brother in retracing their father’s journey down Route 66 from Chicago to Amarillo.

A West Texas A&M University marketing professor, Gerlich chronicled the trip on a MilesFromNowhere Facebook page.

“I still have a hard time today completely wrapping my mind around the idea of loving an old defunct road,” Gerlich wrote July 10, explaining that public fascination with the Mother Road grew as the federal government decommissioned it in 1985.

“More than anything, I think that 66 stands out among other old U.S. roads because it played such an important role in our history, literature and pop culture,” Gerlich wrote.

Steinbeck didn’t write about U.S. 30, and Bobby Troupe didn’t harmonize about U.S. 1.

Little Feat may have sung about Highway 95; Greg Allman may have been born in the back seat of a Greyhound bus (rolling down Highway 41), but those roads just didn’t cut muster. They only moved people.

“Route 66 moved lives.”

A story in cards

A closer look at Route 66 postcards reveals more than a geographical connection to the road. Hundreds bear the stamp of McCormick Co., now an Amarillo advertising and public relations firm.

“McCormick started in 1926, and that’s when Route 66 began,” said Cathy Pruiett, creative services director and keeper of the agency’s postcard collection.

Company founder James L. McCormick operated a photography business and engraving shop in Amarillo through the 1930s and ’40s and often was hired to photograph attractions along the highway, agency Chairwoman Kathy Cornett said. The company also distributed other companies’ postcards to businesses in the region, Pruiett said.

Employees and friends scour garage sales and antique stores to add to the agency’s collection, which numbers in the hundreds, Cornett said.

The earliest card in the collection, printed in 1934, pictures a seated woman gazing across Palo Duro Canyon, Pruiett said.

Postcard collecting is a “huge, huge hobby,” according to Rudy Franchi, an appraiser for PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.”

“There are thousands of categories people specialize in, and Route 66 is one of the most popular,” Franchi said.

Postcards are abundant, so most won’t bring sellers more than coins. But a Route 66 tie can boost a postcard’s value, Franchi said.

Route 66 is roadside America — old motels, drive-in theaters, diners,” Franchi said. “There are as many topics as there are people.”

Freeze-frames

Left-behind legs of the Mother Road expose many once “ultra- modern” tourist courts as forgotten shells — if they’re still standing at all.

“I’ve been fascinated with old motel architecture and things like that since I was a wee one. I’m 65 now,” said Mike Ward, of Mesa, Ariz., whose collection of more than 2,500 postcards gets a regular airing on a Route 66 Postcards Facebook page he helps administer.

“I’ll post them, and if I can find an address and get a (Google) Street View of what’s there now, I’ll post that. Sometimes, (a business) is still operating under another name or it’s been repurposed.”

Many Texas Panhandle attractions freeze-framed on postcards no longer exist.

A Wienerschnitzel operates where Tha Best Tourist Court once stood on East Amarillo Boulevard.

CVS occupies the prime corner at Amarillo Boulevard and Pierce Street/U.S. Highway 87 where La Rose Courts once advertised 22 cottages, 12 hotel rooms and a reading room. A postcard declares the location “Where the Highways of the Nation Meet.”

When Interstate 40 siphoned tourists from Route 66, many businesses died. Newspaper archives contain a few clippings detailing fire damage or petty crimes at the sites.

Moving history

A “confessed time traveler,” Gerlich said technology and social media have helped create a new era of postcards — or posts, at least.

“One of our biggest collectibles is our photographs,” said Gerlich, a participant in a Route 66 Pictures Facebook group page where people post photos from the old highway.

“Taking those photographs today of things that might have existed 50 years ago, posting pictures of the wreckage, chronicling the historical, in some case, collapse of the buildings — it’s a moving history,” Gerlich said.

“Those old structures are brought forward with today’s pictures … that help the serious Route 66 follower keep it going.”

By Karen Smith Welch – Amarillo Globe News

Dec 192011
 



The ‘party’ of the year for Route 66


If you are gonna throw a party, might as well make it a big one! And if you decide to throw it in Texas, you better make it an international party! It doesn’t get any bigger than that!

The 2011 International Route 66 Festival was held on June 9th through 12th in Amarillo Texas. And by all accounts – it was a HUGE success!

The different days had different events – from banquets, to concerts, to car shows, to food, to food, to food (wait, did I say food?!?!) to award ceremonies, to booths, to just plain old fashion fun.

Now, we are going to do a little something different on this day of Christmas. Not only am I going to show the ‘old’ - but I will include the ‘new’.

For the old – click HERE to visit the 2011 website to see all that happened on the weekend of the festival.
For the new – click HERE to get information on the 2012 International Festival in Victorville CA.

We have already planned on spending a few days at the event – so look me up and say ‘hey’ when you see me!

Jun 242011
 



Woke up and was eager to stop back over at the U Drop Inn and see it in the daytime.
We went inside and spoke with a lady (man, I forgot her name!) and she went over the restoration process with me and told me while it was great the government funds helped with the restoration, the government told them they could not run the diner / kitchen for 10 years after the project was complete. They have (fortunately) 2 more years to go before they can ‘open shop’ in the diner.

Overall, I was impressed with the building.



Juliana waiting for service – she might have to wait a bit!







The Philips 66 Gas Station in McLean TX.







The fantastic ‘Leaning Water Tower’ in Britten TX.







We stopped at the Cross in Groom TX again. 10,000,000 visitors a year visit this place – did you hear that Groom TX?!?







Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo TX - Met a woman from Germany here. Juliana was able to use her German on her, and she told me she was looking forward to meeting Rich Henry at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch. I gave her my card and told her to tell Rich she could get a free gift!!! (Sorry Rich!)





Juliana spray painting for the first time – very little room to spray paint your name! These cars are covered!






We stopped in Tucumcari in the afternoon, this is a whole ‘nother post for another day - seeing we are BACK in Tucumcari this weekend doing preservation work…

Feb 132011
 

Having endured lousy reviews and the insults of Panhandle weather, one of the stars of Cadillac Ranch is entering rehab.

The roof has rusted away from a junker Caddie, a first at the mercurial monument rising from the Earth off Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo.

Stanley Marsh 3, the Ranch’s patron saint, isn’t sure when the top dropped from the vintage auto situated second from the west in the row of 10 buried nose down in the flatlands. But he knows what needs to be done: Amarillo artist Lightnin’ McDuff will have to operate.

“Eventually it will have its head back on,” said Marsh, the millionaire and jester who orchestrated the move of the roadside wonder in 1997 to its current location from a spot two miles east. “Lightnin’ McDuff is a real good welder. I always get the best and give them credit.”

Observers have described Cadillac Ranch, installed almost four decades ago, as everything from “a serious place in the history of the ridiculous” to “an American folly” to a mere “point of interest.” Marsh describes the line of four-wheeled relics more whimsically.

“The dominant feature of the Panhandle is the horizon line,” he said. “Having those fins cut the horizon line, it’s magical.”
Except for that headless heap. McDuff pledges the repair will begin soon.

“I’ve been waiting for the weather to warm back up. I can’t hardly take that into the shop,” McDuff said. “I’ll have to build a framework to straighten it back out and have something to weld to. If the weatherman’s not lying, I should be doing something on it next week.”

A California architectural cooperative called the Ant Farm originally installed the Cadillacs during the summer solstice of 1974. Graffiti artists turned the cars into a metal canvas.

And the creation turned iconic, mused and fawned over in songs by Bruce Springsteen and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, depicted in Pixar’s animated hit “Cars” and appearing in movies and documentaries and on album covers.

“Cadillac Ranch wasn’t made by any one person,” Marsh said. “It was made by everyone who has done anything to it.” Still, Marsh is forever linked to the Ranch.

“I first heard about (the line of standing Caddies) from a biker in Tulsa about 1976,” said Mark Morey, who teaches humanities classes at Amarillo College and has worked as curator of research at the Amarillo Museum of Art.

“He told me there was this crazy, rich guy in Amarillo who stuck Cadillacs in the ground. The myth had already become the reality that he had created it. It reached an extremely layperson’s level that quickly.”

The Cadillacs ended up in a row, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, parallel to U.S. Route 66 and leaning at an angle said to be the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

“Based on research I’ve seen, Stanley and (his wife) Wendy had a fair amount of input into the arrangement,” Morey said. “The Ant Farm wanted to arrange them more randomly.”

Marsh saw a deeper vision.

Driving along I-40 “you see one fender in front of another then, when you’re directly across from it, you see the profiles. That’s just the right view, but it’s ephemeral,” Marsh said. “It’s like a butterfly being born, then it’s gone.”

Those profiles might get a face-lift.

“There’s a door or two missing” from some of the cars, McDuff said. Metal fillers might fill the gaps, he said.

“It would be hard to find the right doors.”

The topless Caddie stood Friday in a field blanketed with snow, two spent spray paint cans at its base. The neon colors on the car spelled out the thoughts of visitors who are encouraged to leave their marks — “Wild West,” “RIP,” “Flint, MI” and simply “Miriam.”

Peyton Green, of Amarillo, brought his sister’s family from Colby, Kan., to see the Ranch.

“The whole thing is kind of odd,” he said.

Jared and Kelly — children of Green’s sister LaDonna and her husband, Tom Sloan — both are interested in art.

“I told them I wanted them to see it, and we stopped by the hardware store and they were, ‘What?’” Green said.

They soon pulled out spray cans to make their contributions to the graffiti that covers every inch of every Cadillac.

“It gives people a place to come express themselves,” LaDonna Sloan said.

But is it art? Teenager Jared Sloan, fingers multicolored with spray paint, said “yeah” enthusiastically. He thought he might want to try something similarly monumental.

“Only bigger.”

By Kevin Welch