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A Vespa on 66 … and other notebook items April 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Art, Books, Businesses, Events, Motels, Motorcycles, Preservation, Uncategorized, Vehicles, Web sites.
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Eric Swanger is planning on driving the length of Route 66 in a few days.

What makes his trip special is he’s doing it entirely on a Vespa scooter. He starts from Chicago on May 6.

He e-mailed:

I am keeping a blog and posting a ton of pics. For the Route 66 segment, I’m doing an average of 150 miles per day. I intend to spend a lot of time getting to really know the road.

He knows it fairly well already. He’s made four major trips on the Mother Road. But this will be his first on a scooter.

That’s not all — after reaching Santa Monica, he’ll turn north and go clear to Montana while traveling east. By the time he’s done, I figure he’ll have logged 8,000 miles.

He’ll be driving a 2007 Vespa GTS, which goes up to 85 mph and gets 70 miles to the gallon.

In more news from the Mother Road:

  • The order that allowed the City of Albuquerque to take possession of El Vado Motel was made permanent on Tuesday. There is an application for a demolition permit filed by previous owner Richard L. Gonzales. But the city’s senior planner for the Landmarks and Urban Conservation Committee told me the demolition application has been rendered moot.
  • The Fanning U.S. 66 Outpost and General Store, located four miles west of Cuba, Mo., is holding its grand opening on May 10. The store is next to the recently built world’s largest rocking chair.
  • Joe Sonderman, a Route 66 enthusiast based in St. Louis, has a book coming out called “Route 66 in St. Louis.” It will be published on May 14, and will retail for $19.99.
  • Jacob Saunders is traveling the road, and he’s set up a terrific blog to document his experiences. The dozens of photos show how much stuff there is on Route 66, yet there are still a few things he missed.
  • Reed’s Route 66 Antiques and Silks in Erick, Okla., is holding its grand opening May 24. It’s at 201 E. Roger Miller Blvd., aka Route 66, which is one block from the Roger Miller Museum. The first 50 customers that day will get free homemade cinnamon rolls.
  • From the Get Yer Freak On Department: With this blog item, you’ll see some photographs of arty video footage projected onto abandoned buildings near the Route 66 settlement of Amboy, Calif.

Route 66: Where it’s been, where it’s going April 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, History, Preservation.
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Using a bunch of upcoming Route 66 festivals in Southern California as a news hook, Carol Bidwell of the Long Beach Press-Telegram writes a good article about the Mother Road’s history and where it stands at the present day.

It includes talk about what happens after the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program ends in 2009. There have been discussions about renewing it, but no definitive efforts have occurred.

Program manager Mike Taylor says it was started as a seed program so Route 66 can eventually create its own national association and go on to bigger and better things with preservation funding and other such initiatives.

The idea of a national association first was hatched last year at the Route 66 Festival in Clinton, Okla., but I’ve heard little about it since. Perhaps we’ll hear more at the Route 66 Summit in Litchfield, Ill., in a few weeks.

‘A little bit of everything’ April 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, People, Signs.
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Dave Bakke of the Springfield (Ill.) Journal-Register has a great feature about The Old Station in the Route 66 town of Williamsville, Ill.

The owner is Frank Kohlrus, and it sounds like he’s quite a character:

He sells Route 66 memorabilia at his unique Williamsville shop, The Old Station. He also drove a tow truck in Springfield for more than 20 years. He sharpens blades, sells tires and about anything else, changes flats, welds, hauls grain in the fall, buys and sells mowers, does machine work and sand blasting, among a few other things. If it makes a buck or two, Frank’s there. [...]

The first unusual thing you might see at The Old Station is the truck, half of it anyway, coming out of the front wall. The truck is for sale, “half off.” Get it?

Or you might first notice Betty Boop, painted by Frank’s wife, Jackie, on the front door. Pictures of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean are inside. Ah yes, inside. There you will find pipes (the smoking kind), bolts, handles, toy trucks, vintage soda bottles, lots of merchandise with Route 66 on it, thousands of things Frank has scavenged, traded for or bought over the years.

It’s “a little bit of everything,” says Frank, who, when asked what he does for a living says — guess what? “A little bit of everything.”

Sounds like Frank fits in with the Mother Road quite well.

The interesting part is Frank’s business saw an uptick when Patty Kuhn of the Route 66 Heritage Project led a charge to have the old alignment of Route 66 through town marked with signs better. It’s more proof that signage makes a big difference in tourism traffic.

What to do about electronic billboards? April 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Signs, Uncategorized.
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Here in Tulsa, there’s been considerable discussion by the city council on what to do about digital billboards. Some officials want to restrict them, some want new spacing rules for them, and a few undoubtedly want to ban them (although that option is unlikely).

But it appears the Route 66 town of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., has come up with an interesting compromise. According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin:

The City Council has given Lamar Advertising, which owns nine billboards in the city, the go-ahead to build three electronic signs – two on the northwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue and another on the northeast corner of Arrow Route and the 15 Freeway.

The electronic billboards will replace nine signs, resulting in a decrease of six signs. The agreement allows the city to use the billboards for public service messages.

Councilman Sam Spagnolo said giving the city an opportunity to publicize fundraisers and other events is a plus. He described it as a “win-win.” [...]

The two billboards at Foothill Boulevard and Archibald Avenue will be 17 by 17 feet and in the shape of the Route 66 emblem. The billboard near the 15 Freeway will be 14 by 48 feet.

This makes a lot of sense. The billboard companies get their LED billboards, the city can use these newfangled devices to tout tourism and charities in the city, and the number of billboards overall drops.

If such a deal were struck in Tulsa, billboards could publicize Route 66, the Gilcrease Museum, the Golden Driller and other attractions. If you’re going to allow new advertising technology that creates more messages and is more attention-getting, make sure some public benefit comes from it.

For the record: I have a much less dim view of billboards than most. Billboards are part of the road-trip experience. A journey down Route 66 would be less interesting without messages such as “Free 72-oz. steak,” “Tucumcari Tonite!” and “Here It Is!” along the way.

Fun Run preview April 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Road trips, Vehicles.
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This coming weekend’s Fun Run, directed by the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, is the subject of a preview in the Kingman Daily Miner, including an extensive schedule for the event.

The Fun Run, which anticipates more than 800 entrants, is a car/motorcycle cruise that winds on Route 66 from Seligman to the Topock/Golden Shores area near the Colorado River, with plenty of stops and hosted meals in between. It’s by far the biggest Route 66 event in Arizona each year.

“Route 66″ DVDs pushed back to resolve customer complaints April 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Television, Uncategorized.
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TVShowsonDVD.com has interesting news about the upcoming DVD re-releases of the original “Route 66″ television series of 1960-64.

Apparently dates for upcoming releases, including a complete Season 1 and a half-season of Season 2, had been canceled. But those dates apparently will be rescheduled:

Along the course of putting out the first DVD packages, Infinity (and Roxbury) recognized there was some customer dissatisfaction with the half-season sets put out for the first season, and they want to resolve this. To begin with, they are scrapping the half-season concept at this time. As a result, Season 2, Vol 1 is completely canceled. Instead, though, we will get a Complete Season 2 DVD package! It’s currently penciled in for an October release, but that’s not finalized just yet.

In the meantime, the Complete Season 1 DVD IS still coming out. But it’s being pushed back to release sometime in August, in order to give the studio more time to address customer complaints about how episodes were presented on disc in the first half-season sets for that show. There has not been any word yet on whether Infinity will offer any sort of “upgrade/fix” path for people who purchased the original versions and wish to get the corrected versions, but we’ll let you know if we hear anything.

To elaborate a bit: In Season One, Vol. 1, the folks at Roxbury Entertainment faced a deadline crunch and were unable to track down original duplicate film stock of “Route 66″ in time. So a few viewers perceived subpar image quality on a number of episodes. One episode in particular used a set of reels that had about six minutes edited out.

In the Season One, Vol 2, release, a letterbox look was employed to take advantage of the burgeoning high-definition television market. This resulted in the picture being cropped on the top and bottom.

I must admit that the overall quality of Vol. 1 was so good, I tended to overlook what I considered to be minor flaws. I’ve seen other re-releases of movies from decades ago look far worse, mainly because the film stock had deteriorated. In Vol. 2, I didn’t even notice the cropping until someone had pointed it out. Even then, it didn’t detract at all from my enjoyment of the few episodes I viewed.

Still, it appears the complaints were persistent enough (and perhaps Infinity felt its good reputation was at stake) that Roxbury decided to take a step or two back and be a little more diligent. Roxbury’s president said “Route 66′s” DVD sales had exceeded expectations, so lack of revenue shouldn’t be an excuse for skimping on quality control.

Atlanta buying decorative lampposts April 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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The beautification of Route 66 through Atlanta, Ill., continues.

The Bloomington Pantagraph reports that the town has bought at least six decorative lampposts and may buy up to 10 if enough locals sponsor them. The lampposts will be installed on the alignment of Arch Street, aka Route 66, through downtown.

Sponsorships to help the town defray the costs are $1,500 each. A 5-by-7-inch plaque will be installed to recognize the sponsor.

There’s more:

Other improvements in the works include night lighting for the mural on Arch Street and the Route 66 Park, the restoration of two bubbling fountains around the square, and a lot of flower planting. The night lighting for the mural and park is expected to be done in the next few weeks.

“We’re amazed at the amount of tourists we have through here,” Cheek says, “We’re just trying to get the town looking nice.”

If you’re interested in sponsoring a lamppost, call (217) 648-2351.

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