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“Genuine Route 66 Life” video series launched September 10, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Art, Businesses, Motels, People, Restaurants, Web sites.
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This has been in the works for a while. But on Monday, Denver-based photographer KC Keefer launched his “Genuine Route 66 Life” channel on YouTube.

The channel is subtitled “American Stories from the Route,” and this is what the series is about:

“Genuine Route 66 Life” is a celebration of people from around the world that share the same love for Route 66 and American nostalgia. These “American Stories From The Route” include writers, artists, innkeepers, restaurant and gift shop owners and perhaps most importantly the travelers from all over the world that keep the route alive. We hope you enjoy this self-funded project produced by KC Keefer, co-producer Nancy Barlow.

We’ve already used a couple of videos about marketing professor Nick Gerlich and the recently deceased dog, Boomer, of the Blue Swallow Motel. But here’s one about Blue Swallow co-owner Kevin Mueller and his collection of classic cars, which do more than just look pretty:

Here’s another clip about Tucumcari artist Doug Quarles:

One about Dennis Purschwitz, owner of the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas:

Finally, one about French Route 66 enthusiast Sylvie Toullec:

If you have a YouTube account, you may subscribe to his channel here.

Boomer, R.I.P. September 1, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Motels.
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Word came a few days ago that Boomer, Kevin and Nancy Mueller’s golden retriever at the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., died after suddenly taking ill.

An autopsy revealed the dog was riddled with cancer, even though there were no outward signs until the day of his death.

Boomer, along with another golden retriever, Bessie, served as the unofficial welcoming committee at the historic Route 66 motel. Boomer even had his own Facebook page.

News of Boomer’s death elicited scores of sympathy messages on Boomer’s page and the Blue Swallow’s Facebook page. It even produced this tribute video from photographer KC Keefer:

The Muellers say they’re heartbroken (having lost two dogs — including one from cancer — in recent years, I can relate). But they can take comfort in what they gave in the last two years of Boomer’s life — a constant stream of visitors, regular trips to the Ute Lake, chasing varmints around the motel’s grounds, and owners who obviously adored him. To socially active dogs such as golden retrievers, that’s already like heaven.

Exploring Two Guns July 13, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Highways, History, Motorcycles.

A couple of chums on motorcycles explore the ruins of the Route 66 ghost town of Two Guns, Ariz., which once was the home to a gas station and a wild-animal zoo.

More about Two Guns may be read here.

Evicted dinosaur coming to Route 66 in Arizona April 25, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Art, Attractions, Businesses.

A huge dinosaur statue that was evicted from a Southern California neighborhood over a zoning dispute is being moved to Route 66 at Grand Canyon Caverns in Arizona.

The 40-foot-long apatosaurus was installed at the Zoomars petting zoo in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. However, city officials nixed the statue. According to the Los Angeles Times:

The city sided with historical advocates who saw the dinosaur as an eyesore, cheapening the neighborhood’s real history, and others who just saw him as a nuisance.

Carolyn Franks, the zoo’s owner, has had to find a new home for the statue dubbed Juan the Capistrano Dinosaur.

Homeowners throughout Southern California have offered to put him in their yards, and a college professor wanted him on campus. But, ultimately, Franks settled on Grand Canyon Caverns, a tourist attraction in Peach Springs, Ariz., right on Route 66.

“I feel like a mom placing her baby,” said Franks, who drove out to the speck of a desert town before deciding it would be a good home for him. “I feel that dinosaur has brought a lot of joy to the zoo. I just want to share it with more people. I just want to put it in a good place.”

Grand Canyon Caverns, in addition to its motel, restaurant and canyon tours, also is home to a dinosaur of its own. But the new one is much more impressive. And it reportedly will be installed near the highway.

(Hat tip to Jim Conkle; image of the dinosaur at San Juan Capistrano, Calif., by Trader Chris, via Flickr)

Midewin Tallgrass Prairie may reintroduce buffalo April 18, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Attractions, Preservation.
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The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, located off Route 66 near Chicago, may reintroduce native bison there as early as December, reported the United States Department of Agriculture blog.

The blog said the park may bring in 20 to 30 of the buffalo, which once roamed the Plains by the millions less than two centuries ago. Buffalo were hunted to near-extinction by the early 20th century, until conservationists intervened.

The blog said:

The Midewin, the first national tallgrass prairie, covers 19,000 acres of the former Joliet Arsenal in northeastern Illinois. It is the largest piece of contiguous open space in the Chicago metropolitan area and is located just an hour’s drive from the Windy City.

“Establishing a herd of bison on Midewin will bring more visitors to the site to view these iconic symbols of our heritage,” said Wade Spang, supervisor on the Midewin.

It will also help enhance the local economy along the nearby historic U.S. Route 66.

Along with the bison herd, the proposal will also restore 1,200 acres of non-native grasslands to more desirable habitat for grassland birds by planting a diversity of native tallgrass species such as little bluestem, Indian grass and big bluestem.

The proposal also lays out a system of multi-use trails with elevated overlooks that will surround the bison pasture. Hiking trails will be within portions of it and only opened for trail use when bison are not present. Long-term plans include a visitor tram system that travels within the pastures.

Other than the occasion bison raised by hobbyist farmers, the closest place where Route 66 can see a herd of buffalo is at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Okla. — more than an hour’s drive north of Route 66.

So the sight of native buffalo much closer to the Mother Road would be very enticing to travelers — especially foreigners.

(Image of a bison herd at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve by Travel Aficionado, via Flickr)

Maybe you can help find a lost dog January 21, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals.
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Thousands of pleas to help find lost dogs get posted on telephone poles, in newspapers, and on bulletin boards across the country. One is probably tacked up in your neighborhood now.

Having lost a dog in recent years, I can relate to the worry. But because this website focuses on news along Route 66, I never thought I would post anything about a wayward canine.

Until now.

A longtime reader alerted me this evening about a dog that became lost along the Mother Road in Arizona this past weekend. And Route 66 enthusiasts may be in a good position to help recover it.

Here’s a portion of the email I received:

We are trying to help our friends, Keith and Pieter Schaafsma, who some of you may know, find their missing border collie, Reilly, who is a male, black and white smooth coat. He is 10 years old and is missing in the Twin Arrows area. They go out their hiking sometimes, and he took off after antelope out there yesterday and they can’t find him. They spent the night out there last night and looked all day today, put up posters. They have notified the appropriate agencies, talked to ranchers out there, etc., etc.

A photo of Reilly is at the top of this post. The dog ran off Saturday.

Here’s why this lost dog is noteworthy to Route 66 News. Roadies by the thousands visit the ruins of the historic Twin Arrows complex every year. Even during the tourism off-season, a dozen or more Route 66 fans probably visit the site each day.

According to my website’s data, thousands of people log on to Route 66 News every month. A few of those readers might be on the road and visit Twin Arrows tomorrow, Wednesday, or the day after that.

If you are one of those people, look for a smooth-coated, black-and-white border collie at Twin Arrows. And if you find him, call the owners at 928-699-103, 928-606-3967, or 928-773-1467.

If Reilly is returned to his masters safely, they’ll be grateful to the Route 66 community. And that’s reason enough to post this story.

UPDATE 1/22/2013: Sad news. I received this forwarded email Tuesday night from friends of Reilly’s owners:

Today we received the saddest of news that our friends’ beloved missing border collie Reilly was found on the side of the road near Winslow today.

Our greatest thanks to all who responded to our relaying of our friends’ pleas for help. So many people helped in more ways than I can begin to list here.

Thank you to each and every one of you. While the end of this story is heartbreaking, your kindness and concern are appreciated beyond measure.

Reilly reportedly had been seen alive at a nearby rest area just a few hours before.

Big Red at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch dies December 20, 2012

Posted by Ron Warnick in Animals, Businesses, People.
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Big Red, a long-eared mascot at Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton, Ill., died in his sleep late Wednesday or early Thursday, reported his owner Rich Henry on the Route 66 yahoo group.

Henry wrote:

He was the perfect image of health. Tuesday afternoon, during his annual comprehensive exam, received a clean bill of health. Yesterday was like every other day. We miss Him greatly, as he was making his mark with the Route 66 world.

Henry has requested no phone calls about his pet’s death.

This video, shot this summer for the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway, features Henry and Big Red:

Big Red was the successor to longtime mascot Montana, who died in June 2008 at age 7 after a period of declining health. Like Montana, Big Red would sit quietly on a counter and be petted by tourists who stopped in to check out the Route 66 business.

Henry ended up having a slew of pet rabbits after his daughter had one. At one point, he had 49 pet rabbits at the ranch. Now, less than a dozen remain. The others perished from old age.

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