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“The Magic in Springfield” October 31, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions.
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Here’s a video called “The Magic in Springfield / Route 66,” as in Springfield, Ill.

It was produced by McKenzie Wagner Inc., a marketing consultant based in Champaign, Ill. It’s a well-produced clip, albeit misleading in spots. Several of the Route 66 attractions shown aren’t in Springfield, but in other towns — a few of them several hours’ drive away.

Autographed “Route 66″ DVDs for sale on eBay October 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Television.
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I’ve been alerted that there’s a set of “Route 66: Season One, Volume One” DVDs, autographed by co-star George Maharis, for sale on eBay.

The publicist for Maharis and the “Route 66″ re-release alerted me to this, so the autograph is on the level.

Proceeds from the sale benefit the Friends of Ivanhoe Elementary School group in Los Angeles. The price starts at $9.99. The auction ends Nov. 8.

Off the beaten path October 30, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Restaurants.
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Martini Mike of the Duke City Fix collective blog talks about the Red Ball Cafe, which has sat at 1303 S. Fourth St. since 1922.

You’ll notice in one of the pictures that there’s a Route 66 shield on the front wall. Despite that, this is a restaurant of which I’m mostly unfamiliar, mainly because the Red Ball is on the more obscure 1926-1937 alignment of Route 66. Most travelers go right down Central Avenue, thus missing one of the most historic restaurants in town.

Mike wrote:

The burgers taste like I just took the patty off my own BBQ grill. The green chile is hot and can also be substituted for equally hot jalapenos. All their chilis and salsas are made fresh daily. Their beans are smashed in their own juices, not “refried”. Their tortilla chips are home made. And these are weird and delicious… “Chispas”! Like a piece of the shell off a Chimichanga is the best way to describe it. And CHICHARRONES!

On yesterday’s “brunch” trip at 1 PM I indulged yet again in a #17… Enchilada Plate. Red. Beef. Egg, over easy, on top. And a side of home made Chicharrones to sprinkle on everything. Mmmmmm. That reminds me- the other night my mother was explaining to her childhood friend who was visiting how much I enjoy good food. She was amused at how the quality could be gauged by my dramatic oral response. Yum, mmmm, maaan, etc. Could the entire cafe hear me moaning in ecstasy yesterday?

There’s lots of reasons to visit the Red Ball Cafe. The distinctive neon sign (advertising 5-cent burgers in smaller print) and being “Home of the Wimpy Burger,” after the Popeye character. Also, it gives you a reason to take a trip down the much-underrated Los Lunas alignment of Route 66.

“Route 66 Railway” book is out October 29, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Books, History, Photographs, Railroad.
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Railroad buff Elrond Lawrence long-gestating book about Route 66 and its historical relationship with Santa Fe/BNSF, “Route 66 Railway” (176 pages, $49.50, Los Angeles Historical Railroad Foundation) is now being shipped.
An article in the Salinas Californian, Lawrence tells about how and why the book came about:

“My goal was to recall the days when crossing the Southwest was an adventure,” Lawrence said. “I try to convey the mythic qualities of that road and the railroad, far from the bland interstates.”

Lawrence was a boy of 5 when he first saw the diners and mom-and-pop motels strung along Route 66.

Route 66 Railway cover

"Route 66 Railway" cover

His eyes widened as he gazed at Santa Fe Railway freight cars, their tops scraping a dry and darkening sky as they swayed into view.

A supple streamliner – perhaps it was the mythical Super Chief itself – flew by, clickity-clacking under a bright moon.

“My dad loved trains,” Lawrence said. “He’d take my mom and me on trips from our home in Fontana (outside Los Angeles) to Barstow.”

“Route 66 Railway” is published by the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation. The 176-page book contains about 250 photos, many of them shot by Lawrence.

For more about the book, go to Lawrence’s site here.

Mustang tour will break record October 28, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Events, Road trips, Vehicles.
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The Mustangs Across America tour, which will trace part of Route 66, isn’t for another six months, but it has already broken the event’s record for most cars that will be participating.

According to TheMustangNews.com, 345 cars have already been signed up for the mid-April tour. That breaks the record of 334 cars in 2004. The 2009 tour marks the 45th anniversary of the Ford Mustang.

Records have also been broken in the amount of foreign participants who have signed up for the 2009 Mustangs Across America 45th Anniversary Drive. This year attendees are coming from over 10 countries including Australia, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Over 75 registered parties are coming from abroad for the Mustangs Across America 45th Anniversary Drive, which is an all time record for the event.

Mustang enthusiasts from all over the United States are also well represented with participants from over 38 of the 50 states including even Alaska. Mustangs of nearly all vintages and model designations will be participating in the caravan road trip, representing the breed from 1964 through 2009 and beyond.

“To have so many people planning to make this historic Mustang drive with us in 2009 is a humbling testament to the Mustang spirit”, says event coordinator Sam Haymart. “Despite the gloom and doom of our economic news in the past year, the enthusiasm of the open road and desire to be a part of this event has risen above it all”.

Registration for the event is open until April 5 by going to its Web site. Here’s the schedule:

  • Friday, April 10: Kick-off and Welcome Reception – Las Vegas
  • Saturday, April 11: Las Vegas to Holbrook, Ariz.
  • Sunday, April 12: Holbrook, Ariz., to Santa Rosa, N.M.
  • Monday, April 13: Santa Rosa, N.M., to Mustang, Okla.
  • Tuesday, April 14: Mustang, Okal., to Shreveport/Bossier City, La.
  • Wednesday, April 15: Shreveport/Bossier City, La., to Birmingham, Ala.
  • Thursday – Sunday, April 16-19: Attend the MCA 45th Mustang Anniversary Celebration (Separate Registration Required with Mustang Club of America Event)
  • Sunday, April 19: Mustangs Across America Dinner Banquet

Here’s a video from the 2004 tour:

Converting a skeptic October 28, 2008

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Road trips.
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David Landsel of the New York Post wasn’t planning on driving Route 66 between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, Ariz., and had regarded driving the old road as “unnecessary and hardship.”

But he did, and is now kicking himself for not spending more time in Gallup, N.M., and eating at (and staying overnight) at La Posada in Winslow, Ariz.

Landsel also has photos from his trip.

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