Later, we stopped at the Route 66 Visitors Center and Preservation Foundation in Hackberry, Arizona, about 25 miles west of Kingman. We met the proprietor Robert Waldmire, if you can call someone who does not charge for his museum that; he calls himself simply, caretaker.
The first things I noticed when we rode up, were a home made sun room and an old school bus converted to a beautiful wood hippie-bus. I knew this was going to be a memorable stop. The sprawling building is filled with Route 66 memorabilia, and just neat old 40’s and 50’s stuff, educational information of the route and the bioregions it passes through, free coffee, tea and cookies.
Bob is a gray-bearded small man of indeterminate mid-age and unflagging enthusiasm. His father invented the first hot-dog-on-a-stick he called the Cozy Dog, that later became known as corn dogs. Bob took his inheritance after his father died and bought this desert place as his gift to America. “You might say corn dogs built this place.”
We talked for a long time about all kinds of stuff, between visits from three couples from Ohio on big motorcycles, and two Bobbies on vacation from the United Kingdom. I notice that his enthusiasm and just plain joy in living, and giving, sends people away happy. The ramshackle museum, home, roadside attraction doesn’t look much the province of a rich man, but I think it is.
We took pictures all around and reluctantly began pedaling away. After a couple of minutes we heard hard panting and the loud squeak of Bob’s antique Schwinn bicycle. Despite a nearly flat rear tire he was giving us an escort out of Hackberry, smile splitting his face.