Book review: “100 Things to Do on Route 66 Before You Die”

Traveling Route 66 has ended up on many people’s so-called “bucket list,” or “things you ought to do before you kick the bucket.”

Prolific author Jim Hinckley created a bucket list for Route 66 itself in his newest book, “100 Things to Do on Route 66 Before You Die” (160 pages, soft cover, photos, Reedy Press).

The usual suspects — such as the U-Drop Inn in Shamrock, Texas, and the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico — made the list. But what makes Hinckley’s book more interesting is he includes places you might not expect — such as a Persian restaurant in Pasadena, California.

The book comes divided in five sections — museums, restaurants, motels, photo ops and “must-see” attractions. Each of the 100 entries is described in two to four paragraphs, including its address and/or website. Whether on purpose or not, the short-and-sweet format makes it an ideal “bathroom book,” where one can read several Route 66 entries in just a few minutes.

Hinckley sprinkles obscure or new places among the Route 66 mainstays. Among the lesser-known ones making the cut include Lulu Belle’s eatery in Ash Fork, Arizona; The Fourway restaurant in Cuba, Missouri; Roadrunner Lodge motel in Tucumcari; and the aforementioned Heidar Baba restaurant in Pasadena (Hinckley recommends the gleimeh bademjoon and doogh).

Other semi-obscure additions include the Los Angeles Police Museum and the U.S. Cavalry Museum and Research Library in El Reno, Oklahoma.

Hinckley doesn’t stand pat with older attractions, either. He notes the century-old Ike’s Chili in Tulsa recently moved to the city’s 11th Street alignment of Route 66. And Mesalands Dinosaur Museum and National History Laboratory in Tucumcari recently acquired Howard Shank’s collection of leaf, fish and insect fossils to its holdings.

One of the best parts of the book is several dozen “tips,” which lengthens the bucket list for Route 66 to north of 120. In those, Hinckley also provides everything from the best times of the year to travel the road to recommending a visit to a restored Russian Orthodox church in Benld, Illinois.

Old-timer Route 66 travelers may quibble about a few omissions. But “!00 Things to Do on Route 66 Before You Die” is designed as an inspiration for new adventures as well as ensuring one doesn’t miss the essentials.

As a result, “100 Things to Do on Route 66 Before You Die” probably will offer a few new excuses for even veteran travelers to take another Mother Road trip. That’s reason enough to get the book.


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