John Holod’s documentary film “Route 66 RV Adventure: Exploring the Mother Road” provides a taut, enjoyable, and fairly up-to-date look at Route 66 from behind the wheel of a recreational vehicle.
Holod has produced “RV Adventure” DVDs about Alaska, Northeast Coast, Rocky Mountains, Southeast Coast, Gulf Coast, Baja, and eastern Canada. Last spring, he turned his camera to the Mother Road for several weeks of shooting from a Winnebago View vehicle.
After an irreverent take on the mascot of the Jackrabbit Trading Post in Arizona, Holod starts the film in downtown Chicago and works his way west. Between snippets on the Mother Road’s landmarks, Holod sprinkles short interviews with historian and artist Jerry McClanahan, musician Harley Russell, Funks Grove Maple Sirup matriarch Glaida Funk, Pontiac Mayor Bob Russell, Seaba Station Motorcycle Museum operator Jerry Ries, and others.
The interviews offer a break from the film’s crisp pace and provide interesting contexts. For instance, Don Decker at the former Wrink’s Market in Lebanon, Mo., said this about Route 66 travelers: “They’re trying to get ahold of something that’s really American.”
Holod’s documentary looks terrific. He obviously boasts plenty of experience behind the camera with his good framing of shots, and the high-quality footage is as good as what you’ll find on the Route 66 DVD market.
Holod also serves as the affable narrator of “Route 66 RV Adventure.” He serves up the occasional quip during the travelogue, including a few “groaners” that prove endearing.
Though Holod’s film is 92 minutes, veteran Route 66 travelers will notice a few landmarks that didn’t make the cut. That’s a testament of how rich Route 66 is — Holod had to leave a few places on the cutting-room floor to keep his film a reasonable length. Indeed, in an email, Holod said: “I could have made one twice as long with all the interesting things there are to see on [Route 66].”
In fact, Holod seems to have gotten a little too tight with the editing. I detected sequences where Holod’s narration was cut a moment too soon, making scenes feel as though they ended abruptly. “Route 66 RV Adventure” could have benefited from a few seconds of breathing room.
Among the special features, the 26 minutes of Travel Tips will prove to be one of the DVD’s most useful features. It contains recommendations for guidebooks, restaurants, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, and RV camps. Each listing comes with addresses, websites, and phone numbers.
Holod also provides a short overview of the Winnebago View RV he used during his 6,000 miles of filmmaking. He says the Winnebago provided good fuel economy, and its smaller size enabled him to travel or park in more places than a larger RV. But it made me wish, for drivers with bigger rigs, he would have provided them advice such as primitive alignments to avoid and attractions where large RV parking is inadvisable.
Also among the Special Features is a 19-minute trailer for Holod’s other “RV Adventures” DVDs.
The odd duck of the Special Features is a 9-minute infomercial for Dental Laser Nogales clinic in Nogales, Mexico, across from the Arizona border. Because Nogales lies more than 300 miles from Route 66, I thought this jarring clip was a mistake. In an email, Holod explained: “The dental clinic was included because many people who buy my DVD’s are RV’ers and spend their winters along the border. I found the clinic was a great way to save a lot of money on dental work so I included it.”
(Review copy of “Route 66 RV Adventure” courtesy of John Holod Productions. The DVD can be ordered for $19.95 here.)