Looking back, looking forward

Well, 2015 is about to make its exit. And this transition, this marking, this passage, of one year into the next urges us to reflect on what we've accomplished, how much love we've shared with family and dear friends, what storms we've weathered, who we may have lost from our lives, and what we hope to look forward to in the coming year. Following are some of my 2015 highlights, and then some of the things that I hope will happen in 2016.

Looking back on 2015:

Good travels! At least six trips to SE Kansas for the Route 66 in Kansas book. One trip to ABQ to visit daughter and son-in-law, and oh darn, had to take Route 66 part of the way. Currently, on my second trip of the year to Florida to visit son and daughter-in-law, and oh darn, it's warm and sunny down here. Back in June, Steve got a nice vacation from the newspaper and his piano tuning business and we escaped to Michigan and Wisconsin for close to two weeks. We attended his family reunion and mine, visited the Field Museum to see the Viking exhibit (we're both part Norwegian), and carved out five lovely days to do pretty much nothing in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin.

Lovely Door County, Wisconsin, June 2015.
The conference! I spent most of the year working on Miles of Possibility:  the Edwardsville Route 66 Conference. You've all seen lots of posts and lots of photos about the event, so suffice it for me to say that I'm very pleased with how it all went. And I thank everyone who had anything to do with it for your support and I thank everyone who attended for coming and making it a great weekend!

Breakfast on Sunday after the conference with L to R Steve Rensberry, me, Darla Hoffmann, Gene Morelli, Dora and Andy Meroney, and Sharon and Mike Ward, November 2015.
Friends and Festivals! Attended, signed books at, and had good times at Birthplace of Route 66 in Springfield MO and the International Mother Road Route 66 Festival in Springfield IL! Enjoyed conversation and meals with many good friends during the year, but failed to catch up with others. Looking forward to catching up in 2016 with the ones I missed this year.

L to R Joe Crain, me, and Joe Sonderman at the huge car cruise at the International Mother Road Route 66 Festival in Springfield IL, September 2015.
The Route 66 in Kansas book! Joe Sonderman and I did not begin 2015 with the knowledge that we were going to be doing this book. Joe was working on another, perhaps more complex, book project for the year. I had the conference to take care of and did not plan to contract or write a book in 2015. And Route 66 enthusiast and preservationist Ed Klein had plans to do the Kansas book. Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men...Ed could not do the book due to his other commitments and all the other good things that he does (like restoring the Front Street Garage in Galena KS!). And so Arcadia Publishing asked Joe and me to do another one in the Arcadia Route 66 series. We took it on knowing that it would make a busy year much more so, but we couldn't say no. Joe and I made several trips to KS together and I made several additional trips. Special thanks to Fred Billingsley of the Galena Mining and Historical Museum and Linda Kennedy of the Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum. Without these two, there would have been no book, and we are most grateful for all their assistance. We submitted all our materials the first week of November, the week after the conference! (I then spent the rest of November napping, watching some TV and movies, cleaning up the piles of project materials in my house, catching up on small writing projects, and beginning to think about new stories to tell.) One other writing goal that I achieved in 2015 was that of finally getting some fiction published. Two of my stories placed in the top ten in this year's WOW: Women on Writing's contests.

Route 66 in Kansas, 2015.
Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor! In June, our Blue Carpet Corridor Coalition put on the first annual event--a sort of rolling festival in 18 communities along the Blue Carpet Corridor, which consists of several alignments of Route 66 between Springfield and the Mississippi River. Despite thunderstorms and rain almost the entire weekend, it was a  successful first effort and we are busy planning the second annual event on the second weekend of June 2016. www.bluecarpetcorridor.org

My Blue Carpet Corridor vice-president (read co-president) Dave Tucker and me with Dino in Gillespie at our first annual event, June 2015.
Family! My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles are gone, but the highlights of every year are the time spent with my son Tom and his wife Nicole in Florida and with my daughter Erica and her husband Ethan in New Mexico. Visits with them in 2015 have been no less joyous than any others, but we had one very great sadness occur in October. Erica and Ethan's sweet blue-eyed boy Sinatra lost his long battle with cancer and several other ailments. He is greatly missed.

Sinatra, September 2015.
The momentous family thing that happened was that I found and later in the year met my brother's son Jim and his lovely wife Ramona. My brother died before I was born, so I never knew him, and I had been on a genealogical hunt for awhile. While Jim and Ramona were in Illinois for a family wedding from their home in CA, they stopped in Edwardsville and we had a wonderful visit. I chronicled this family reunion in another blogpost, should you wish to read it, here:  http://route66chick.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-fairy-tale-genealogical-story.html

Jim and Ramona Tennison, August 2015.
Looking forward to 2016:

Call them resolutions, call them goals, call them hopes and dreams, we all have things we want to accomplish in the new year, and here are mine:

Travel and festivals! I plan to be at Rockabilly on the Route in Tucumcari NM and Blue Carpet Corridor 2nd annual rolling festival in IL (yeah, I kinda have to show up for that one!) in June; Birthplace of Route 66 in Springfield MO (haven't seen any notice of 2016 dates yet but presumably in August); the Berwyn Car Show, the SECOND ANNUAL ILLINOIS ROUTE 66 CONFERENCE (go, us!) in Bloomington-Normal, and the International Mother Road Route 66 Festival in Springfield, all in Illinois in September; Cuba Fest in Cuba MO in October; and the Los Angeles 90th Anniversary celebration in November! In addition, Steve and I will try to get up to Michigan/Wisconsin again during the summer. And I anticipate being on the road for research, which brings me to...

New book project! I'm planning on submitting my proposal to a new publisher by the end of January. I am so excited about this project, for a couple reasons--first of all, it combines my love of Route 66 history with my women's studies when I did my master's degree, and also because this book will be a parallel project with a documentary film maker executing a similar project. More news on all this to come in the next couple months.

Celebrate and promote another book with co-author Joe! Yes, Route 66 in Kansas will be published sometime in the spring of 2016! We haven't been given an exact release date yet, but we suspect it will be sometime around the first of May. We loved researching, visiting, and writing about the fascinating 13+ miles of Kansas Route 66 and can't wait to share the book with everyone. I personally made, I think, six visits to the area in 2015 and enjoyed every one. There are book signings in the area promised, but we won't have firm dates on any of them until we have the exact publication date. We'll keep you updated!

Time with family and friends! As always, I'm wishing for loving times with those dearest to my heart in the coming year, and hoping for health and happiness for all my loved ones. 

Thank you, friends, who follow my blog and so share my adventures with me! I hope your 2015 was fantastic, and I wish for your 2016 to be even better! Happy New Year and Happy Travels, everyone!


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