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Pain Walker launches Web site December 27, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in People.
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Remember Dennis Kinch, the man afflicted with chronic pain who walked Route 66 to raise awareness for the National Pain Foundation?

He’s no longer with the foundation, but he’s establishing a nonprofit group called Pain Education, Awareness and Re-invention, or PEAR. He’s also writing a book about his experiences and producing a documentary.

He also plans to revisit the people on Route 66 who helped him during his long walk (if you missed his adventures the first time, check out the Route 66 News archive here). This time, however, he’s going by car.

Kinch has launched a Web site, called WalkforHealing.com. He’s also established a MySpace site.

California Welcome Center will have Route 66 theme December 27, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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According to this short story in the San Bernardino County Sun, a new California Welcome Center on Hospitality Lane near the junction of Interstates 215 and 10 will have a Mother Road flavor when it opens in February:

The California Welcome Center will combine a Route 66 and 1950s retro theme with plasma screens, multimedia, and kiosks linked to local Web sites, along with wireless Internet access.

California might have gotten the idea from Texas and this rest area.

A new big frog for Waynesville? December 27, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Towns.
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There’s a big, painted stone frog on Waynesville Hill just off old Route 66 in Wayneville, Mo. It’s been a local landmark for years, and its name is W.H. Croaker.

According to the Waynesville Frog Fest site, this is how the frog was created:

You see, several years ago the Missouri Department of Transportation was widening the roadway into Waynesville and it was necessary to do a lot of blasting to the mountainside and when they were done it left an outcropping of rock that many said looked like a very familiar shape. Well the ladies at Waynesville City Hall (Barbara Stinson, Toni Wright & Sheila Debo) decided to do something with the outcropping and called Phil Nelson, the operator of Blue Rose Tattoo, who shaped and painted the rock into the likeness of a frog, me, W.H. Croaker. The ladies were interested in starting an annual event that was set in the cool springtime and with the new rock frog on the hill they made that the theme. Now with many more members to the committee it is growing into a grand event, so hop on down and have a good time.

A postcard of W.H. Croaker can be seen here.

Today, the Waynesville Daily Guide reports that a similar-looking frog could be part of a water slide at the town’s upcoming water park, which would replace the closed city pool. The story includes an artist’s rendering of the water park, with the big frog.

Although plans for the water park aren’t final, Park Board Chairman Roger Olney says the frog idea is a popular one.

“Everybody on the park board kind of liked the big frog slide in keeping with the frog theme and the frog on the hill,” Olney said.

The frog concept would run about $50,000 with a total cost of about $150,000 for the full splash park, Olney said.

The park is looking at a water park instead of another pool because it’s much less expensive. A full pool, Olney said, would cost $1 million to $1.5 million.

The current pool closed because of structural problems.

Man who cruised Route 66 in Corvette for charity dies December 27, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in People, Road trips.
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John “JJ” Bouma, who cruised Route 66 in a red Corvette in May as a fundraiser to combat the Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or ALS, that afflicted him, died at age 54 on Friday, according to the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press.

The caravan’s weeklong, 2,800-mile journey from Chicago to Los Angeles raised $318,000 for ALS research and was photographed for an exhibit and videographed for a documentary about the disease.

“The trip was both exhausting and exhilarating for him,” said Pam Bouma, JJ’s wife. “It was indicative of how he liked to do things. Nothing was ever just about him.” […]

To keep alive his passion to make the world a better place, the Bouma family is setting up a JJ Bouma ALS Clinic Fund at Fifth Third Bank. Memorial contributions will be used to establish a clinic associated with a Grand Rapids hospital to treat West Michigan ALS patients. […]

To contribute to the ALS fund in Bouma’s memory, contact the ALS Association’s West Michigan chapter, 731 Front St., at 459-1900 or at [email protected]

Here’s the Web site that documented Bouma’s cruise and helped raise money. A final entry came from Al’s son on Tuesday:

JJ travels to heaven and leaves a legacy for all of us:

It really was unlike any other. My Dad and the rest of us (the crew) set out to raise money and awareness, but as we drove across the country, we started to feel that there was even more to it. He, I, and the others were soon to understand that this was the beginning of something bigger. PALS, their family and friends, the media, and everyone else along the way all joined in to welcome us. I think we needed to see them just as much as they needed to see us. This was the spark in a plan that was still undetermined. The finish line was not the end as I have come to find out. Cruise 66 was a success beyond measure. My father liked perfection and in my opinion this was no doubt as close as it gets.

Words are not enough, but I’m inspired and proud to be his son. I know our souls will meet again, but for now, I’ll miss you Dad.


Home for Christmas December 25, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, People, Road trips.
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After completing her 2,390-mile trek on Route 66 on Sunday in Santa Monica, Michelle Thompson cycled south on Pacific Coast Highway and arrived at her brother’s home in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Christmas Day afternoon, like she had hoped.

KABC-TV in Los Angeles was there to see her ride through a congratulatory banner. There is a two-minute video with the above link if you want to see her brother, wearing a Route 66 T-shirt, welcoming her. It was an emotional moment for everyone.

Thompson promises to update her site later with photos from the trip.

UPDATE: The Daily Pilot in Costa Mesa has a story today about Thompson being with her brother on Christmas Day and her Route 66 trek.

Along the route, which has taken her through eight states, she has been collecting various bric-a-brac and sending it off to John. Her brother is now the proud owner of an obscenely large cowboy hat, a string of lights representing each state along Route 66, and hillbilly chopsticks — essentially an oversized clothespin.

Besides getting random tidbits of Route 66’s extensive history, Michelle’s favorite aspect of the journey was the helpful people she met at gas stations, motels and elsewhere. These “road angels” shared food, shelter and support along the way, many calling in or e-mailing to check on her progress, or offering advice.

“People I didn’t know anything about nine weeks ago have become lifelong friends,” Michelle said. “They have definitely stayed with me.”

Congratulations, roadies. You’ve made new friend of the road, simply by being your usual gracious selves.

She made it December 25, 2006

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, People, Road trips.

Michelle Thompson, the woman who was trying to bicycle the 2,400-mile length of Route 66 to raise awareness of oral cancer and help her ailing brother, met her goal of finishing the Mother Road before Christmas.

According to her Web site, Thompson pulled onto the fabled endpoint of Route 66, the Santa Monica Pier, at 11 p.m. Christmas Eve.

On Monday morning, she rode her bike to Costa Mesa, Calif., to see her brother on Christmas.

The Inland Press-Enterprise reported that Thompson had cycled her way to Rialto by Sunday.

Even with the trek near its end, stories of generosity keep coming:

On Sunday at Don’s Bikes of Rialto, owner Scott McAfee gave her a discount on a new helmet and offered to tune up her bicycle for free. An employee gave her a big hug upon hearing her story, Michelle said.

“You don’t expect that. I have been getting a lot of encouragement,” she said. “People will come up to me or yell out the window, ‘Good for you.’

“A lot of times, I wondered if I was doing any good,” she said Saturday. “Then I would meet someone who would approach me at a gas station and tell me about their experience with cancer.”

She said she could have made it to Costa Mesa by Sunday night, but after spending weeks on Route 66 and learning of its history, she felt compelled to finish riding the storied road. […]

“I’m going to pull into my brother’s driveway and give him a big hug,” Michelle said. “I’d like to go to Mass on Christmas Day, but that depends on what time I get there. I’d like to spend the day laughing and telling stories.”

The trip, she said Sunday, “has renewed my faith in family and human kindness and God.”

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