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Cow Bop embarking on another summer Route 66 tour April 17, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Music, Road trips.
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Western swing and jazz band Cow Bop, along with several other guest artists and bands, will go on another Route 66 tour this summer, according to a news release from Cow Bop guitarist Bruce Forman.

This time, the World’s First Linear Music Festival on July 25 to Aug. 9 will be sponsored by Rifftime, a new community website.

There will be music all along the Mother Road, sharing pictures, stories and streaming video on the web through one coordinated website: route66.rifftime.com

“This is an exciting way to share my experiences and love of Route 66 with other artists and to revive the tradition of traveling and interacting with new people. Now the internet has made it possible to share all this with the world!” says Forman. “Bands will play in clubs, restaurants, bars, at iconic roadside stops and along the street, even jamming with others that are making this trip.  Just like the generations of people who have made the trip searching for something new, we are creating another way to share our music and to build a more vibrant community.”

An archive of Cow Bop’s three earlier Route 66 tours can be found here. Acts that want to take part during the tour are encouraged to sign up at the dedicated Rifftime site.

Here’s one of Cow Bop’s performances east of Albuquerque during a previous Route 66 tour.

“Route 66″ available on Hulu today April 14, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television.
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The first season of the critically acclaimed 1960s drama “Route 66″ and part of the second season are free to watch today to the Hulu online platform.

Shout! Factory, which acquired the rights to the series in late 2011, pledged to make the television show available for streaming online, in addition to releasing all four seasons in a DVD box set.

Hulu created a landing page for “Route 66.” Those with a Hulu Plus account can watch the first 58 episodes on televisions, smartphones and other devices. However, those without an account can watch those episodes on a PC for free, with commercial interruptions.

If you’re new to the series and aren’t sure where to start, the first very episode, “Black November,” remains among the most-praised among aficionados.

The Emmy-nominated “Route 66” co-starred Martin Milner and George Maharis as chums traveling in a Corvette convertible from town to town, looking for adventure. Although the “Route 66″ program seldom was ever shot on the Mother Road, it remains a major reason the real U.S. Highway 66 became such a major part of pop culture.

I interviewed Maharis in 2007 about the “Route 66″ series. Maharis now is about 85 years old. Co-star Martin Milner has been in poor health for years and was unavailable for an interview.

UPDATE: Tom Chen at Shout! Factory said some, but not all, of the episodes from “Route 66′s” second season have been uploaded to Hulu. The rest of season two will be uploaded later. But for now, Shout! Factory is promoting the availability of “Route 66′s” entire first season. The story has been updated and clarified to reflect that.

(Hat tip: Home Media Magazine)

Fundraiser launched for proposed Route 66 television series April 12, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Road trips, Television.

Steve Brown, host of PBS-TV’s “The Real Desert, with Steve Brown” and longtime Route 66 enthusiast Jim Conkle in recent days launched an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign for a 13-part documentary about Route 66 for the network.

Here’s the video for the campaign:

Brown and Conkle hope to raise $66,000 by June 6. The price tag sounds steep, but Brown explained why:

We need to produce it to broadcast standards in HD or better quality, with closed captioning (that alone will run $8,000) in order to meet national PBS requirements. On our recent shoot of an episode of The Real Desert, with Steve Brown, the insurance alone ran $655 – for the weekend, and that’s just for general liability.

It costs a lot to take a small crew out for two weeks or more on the road, and post production and editing, and then there’s distribution and promotion. But the end result is regional distribution with a strong likelihood of national distribution on PBS, as well as international distribution through a host of other channels, with additional content available online and on mobile platforms.

This funding, while it will not cover all of the expenses, covers the bare bones basics on the road, and allows us to recruit sponsors over the next six months to fully cover production costs. Neither Jim nor I will get paid from this support. We do hope to eventually get paid through production and distribution of the show, as well as a little from the tour accompanying it.

If we do not reach our full goal, the funding still provides us with the resources necessary to get the project underway, recruit sponsors both from the eight states along the route, as well as other corporations, foundations, and organizations.

The campaign launched Wednesday. As of noon Friday, it had raised about $430.

I’m skeptical whether Route 66 needs 13 episodes. That’s a lot of time commitment for television viewers. “Billy Connolly’s Route 66″ was fewer than four hours long, for example, and I thought that was about the upper limit for that sort of project.

And in the YouTube age, short and tightly edited videos can reach millions of viewers — even more, if it goes viral — for not a lot of money.

Brown’s original plan was six episodes. If the campaign doesn’t reach its goal, many he can go back to that for a leaner look at the Mother Road.

Then again, I could be proven wrong. It’s happened before.

Prominent National Geographic writer will travel Route 66 April 7, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Road trips, Web sites.
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Andrew Evans, a prominent writer for National Geographic with his Digital Nomad blog, in a matter of days will travel the full length of Route 66 for Brand USA, a public and private partnership that promotes international travel to the United States.

The announcement of the trip, made in Chicago this morning, contained these details:

For the last 126 years, National Geographic has helped Americans discover the rest of the world. This year, we’ll be helping the rest of the world discover America. This week, I embark on my first in a series of Great American Road Trips. I am especially thrilled to be driving the entire length of America’s Historic Route 66, from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. The Mother Road represents the evolution of America as a nation, and I can’t think of a better way to see and experience my country then exploring this epic 2,488-mile highway.

I invite all of you to follow along (on this blog, and on Twitter) as I drive the entire length of Route 66, and then embark on a series of other Great American Road Trips in my own wonderful and exotic country, the big, bold and beautiful USA.

It’s going to be really fun.

In addition to his blog, you can follow Evans here on Twitter.

Last fall, Evans spent a few weeks traveling the state of his birthplace, Texas, for National Geographic. Stops in the Lone Star State included a vintage fashion store on Route 66 in Amarillo.

I’ve read a few of Evans’ blog posts in the past, and he’s ideal for this new assignment. He travels with open ears and eyes, with few apparent preconceptions.

As Evans’ blog noted, Brand USA will also publicize nine other road trips this year, including the Blues Highway, Great River Road, Oregon Trail and the Pacific Coast Highway.

A recent report said Brand USA’s efforts generated $7.4 billion (with a “b”) in economic impact and created more than 50,000 jobs in 2013. And in recent weeks, Brand USA has cranked up its promotional engine for Route 66 by releasing a series of videos in various languages.

(Image of Andrew Evans in the field by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr)

Magic on Route 66 April 6, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Restaurants, Road trips.
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Magician Justin Flom, who’s made a lot of appearances on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, apparently hit a lot of coffee shops during a trip on Route 66.

This engaging video consists of clips — and tricks — from that trip.

Tesla supercharger added to La Posada grounds April 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Restaurants, Road trips, Vehicles.
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A supercharger for Telsa electric cars has been added to one of the parking lots of the historic La Posada hotel on Route 66 in Winslow, Ariz., according to the Casa Grande Dispatch.

The newspaper also said La Posada will add chargers for other electric cars, including Nissan, Toyota, Honda and GM. Hotel co-owner Allan Affeldt said adding the chargers is “the right thing to do,” and already has a large array of solar panels to generate electricity.

A remarkable coincidence recently occurred with the Tesla supercharger’s installation and Telsa Motors owner Elon Musk:

The need for a second Tesla supercharger came about when Affeldt learned that hotel reservations had been made by one noted billionaire, Elon Musk, and a large entourage to include three Model S Teslas. Apparently Musk was on a rare vacation with his wife, children, parents, brother and security team, taking in the Grand Canyon, Route 66 and other Southwestern sites.

As to how the Musk party happened to make reservations the very same week that Affeldt’s single supercharger was to be installed “is a mystery,” says Affeldt, but also a rare opportunity to have the first user of his system be Musk himself, the man who joined a struggling electric vehicle company several years ago and turned it into the global leader in e-car technology.

“Once I knew he was coming I added a second charger,” says Affeldt, “and my electrician worked every day to get the system up.” The system cost Affeldt over $10,000 for two 100-amp charging circuits, each requiring a 200-amp breaker, each drawing 80 amps per charge. The Tesla-badged EV charging stations are located just left of the main entrance on the Route 66 side of La Posada. One week ago Musk’s three Tesla sedans rotated through the chargers while he and family enjoyed the ambience, art and cuisine of Affeldt’s La Posada and Chef John Sharpe’s highly decorated Turquoise Room.

Affeldt thinks the hotel’s Turquoise Room restaurant was the original draw for Musk. The restaurant has been honored as one of the best in the Southwest.

Affeldt recently posted a photo on his Facebook account of him, his wife and Musk with two Teslas at the superchargers.

Telsa superchargers — which can provide 170 miles’ worth of charge in 30 minutes — are sprinkled along the Route 66 corridor in California and Arizona, including another recently added in Holbrook.

According to Tesla, by the end of the year, superchargers will be installed along Route 66 in New Mexico, Texas and the western half of Oklahoma. By the end of 2015, superchargers will be no more than 150 miles or so apart on the Mother Road.

On a related note, I’ve received word the National Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation is working to set up an electric vehicle museum in the Powerhouse Museum during the International Route 66 Festival in August in Kingman, Ariz.

Affeldt weeks ago made big news when he announced his intention to buy another historic Harvey House, Hotel Castaneda of Las Vegas, N.M. Affeldt said in a recent Facebook post he would take possession of that property April 8.

(Image of a Tesla Roadster by randychiu via Flickr)

Man will ride a bicycle in a pink bra on Route 66 April 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Road trips.
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Starting in the spring, I hear about innumerable people attempting some sort of long-distance stunt on Route 66 to raise money — or awareness — for some cause. Because there are so many, they’re not mentioned here unless the stunt is quite unusual.

Dusty Showers has come up with such a stunt.

Showers, president and founder of The 2nd Basemen nonprofit, is pedaling nearly the entire length of Route 66 in a bicycle while wearing a pink bra.

The purpose of his ride is not to be a cross-dresser, but raise funds for assistance to breast-cancer patients and their families. The 2nd Basemen “provides financial help to those facing a breast cancer diagnosis by assisting with medical bills (copays, prescriptions, testing) and family bills.”

The campaign, called Road to Hope 2014, starts June 1 at Showers’ high school in Libertyville, Ill., near Chicago. He hopes to end his trek July 10 in Los Angeles — about 2,600 miles later.

According to the news release:

He is planning to stop in 20 major cities and hold 10 fundraisers along Route 66. He is seeking sponsors in the way of monetary funds and major items needed for the trip, such as: a vehicle for his team, GoPro cameras, hotel rooms, a bicycle, and more. Sponsorship packages are available with exposure for those willing help Dusty fight this debilitating disease through The Road to Hope 2014 project. For sponsorship information, please contact Kevin Worthy for more information by phone at 630-749-8311 or via email at [email protected]

If you want to donate or help, go here.

This summer, if you see a dude on a bicycle in a pink bra, there’s only one person it could be. And I sure hope he washes that bra from time to time.


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