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  • Writer's pictureRobert Gidley

Andy Devine is not forgotten

Mar 17, 2023 (Fri)

6:20 am RV Metropolis, Mesa, AZ

The price we pay to attend the Mike Birbiglia show last night is getting up at the butt-crack of dawn to make the next event. We need to be in Kingman, AZ by 11:00 am (and not just by 11:00 am, but early enough that Gini has a chance to get dressed).

Robert rolls out of bed, stares at that butt-crack and understands why people just roll over and go back to bed. He’s been retired long enough that the idea of getting on the freeway at this hour has zero appeal.

A rare picture of the sunrise over Harvey

6:50 am

Somehow, he’s managed to not only make coffee, but to correctly disconnect our power line (it would be Very Bad if we drove away while still plugged in; we would definitely not make it to Kingman in time).

RV Metropolis is still asleep at this hour and we struggle to find our way out of this maze. Holy cow, what a lot of twisty turny little roads!

9:30 am On the road, AZ

We’ve been steadily climbing through the Hualapai Mountains (the Hualapai are the local tribal group). To our surprise, Harvey does pretty well at climbing mountain roads, thanks to his V-10 gas-guzzling engine. We will say, though, that those Amazon Prime truck drivers sure move along…

The terrain is still mostly similar to the Sonoran Desert, although we now seem to be in the Mojave Desert. One new thing: Joshua Trees!

They don’t look like trees, and they are called trees because “they are tree-like in habit,” although we don’t notice any houses in them, or tire swings hung from them. Nobody knows why they are called Joshua Trees, because the elaborate story about how Mormons crossing the desert thought they resembled Joshua’s outstretched hands that helped the Israelites beat the Canaanites turns out to be hokum.

Still, they are a nice break from the regular desert flora, which we’re getting a bit tired of.

Joshua tree

10:30 Kingman, AZ

We made it! Robert is welded to the seat, but we made it!

Our first reaction on getting out here: Sweet Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid, it’s cold! The temperature up here in the mountains at 3500 feet is about 46°, which is about 500 degrees colder than we’ve been used to. Brrr.

If the name of this town seems familiar, it’s probably from the song: Route 66:

Don't forget Winona

Kingman, Barstow

San Bernardino

It’s one of the throw-away towns chosen for it’s phonetic content, rather than the historicalness of it. This is one long strip mall with every chain store ever created in the United States, one after the other.

11:00 am Cracker Barrel, Kingman, AZ

We meet up with some old friends of Gini (Howard and Irene) that she hasn’t seen in a long time—so long she doesn’t remember when. Turns out they are also faithful blog readers who are understandably a bit nervous about getting mentioned here. (And not without cause, long-time readers will remember Buzzkill Brian and Guinea Pig Ed, who did not have shining moments here.)

Anyway, they amazingly recognize each other and we head into the heart of the Cracker Barrel. This is Robert’s first time in a Cracker Barrel and the décor is…interesting. The walls are covered in advertisements and artifacts from the early 20th century. Back in the good old days before women could vote and when a simple infection could kill you. Also before washing machines and transistors.

Décor in Cracker Barrel

The food is, well, all four of us were looking for something that would be even vaguely healthy and we’re confronted with things like “Biscuit Beignets” (which comes with butter pecan sauce for dipping!). They certainly know how to pack in the calories!

12:30 pm Still in the Cracker Barrel, Kingman, AZ

So we’ve been waiting for the host of these birthday shenanigans, Jim T. He’s supposed to be on his way here and sends a text that he’s in the room with the fireplace, which is the same room we’re in. After checking to see if there are two Cracker Barrels in Kingman (nope), everyone’s peering around trying to find them.

To be fair, it’s been 30-some years since they’ve seen Jim T.. Turns out that he and his party were seated at the next table right behind Gini and in fact, Jim T. had asked Gini to move her chair so he could get in. Then much handshaking and merriment occurs. It’s kind of a time warp shock to see someone with a 35 year gap in between. The last time Gini saw Jim T. he had dark hair and a pony tail.

We perused the goods that Cracker Barrel sells (it’s about half restaurant and half Gift Shop and half Candy Store).

3:00 Dunbar Steak House, Kingman, AZ

We have come to the Dambar Steak House for a survival birthday party for Jim T’s wife, Mona, who is turning 75 (or just turned), which is our entire purpose in being in Kingman, AZ (don’t forget Winona!).

On the way here, we turned onto Andy Devine Ave. What?!? thinks Robert. Is this the same Andy Devine who was Roy Rogers sidekick? The one who rode the atomic bomb onto Russia in Dr. Strangelove? Yup. Turns out he grew up in Kingman (and might have gotten his weird voice in a childhood accident here).

Despite the picture, Andy Devine is big here

Not content with being a lyric in Route 66, Kingman has seized upon this connection and tried to turn it into an industry. This is only slightly stymied by the fact that Andy Devine hasn’t made a movie in 50 years on account of him being dead. Still, Robert and Gini remember.

Robert and another dead person

Meanwhile, Robert orders drinks and waits. And waits. There’s a snafu with getting the Zoom meeting set up (in the end, only one person dialed in, and they were in a restaurant and couldn’t hear anything, but it was the principle of the thing).

5:30 pm Still in the steakhouse, Kingman, AZ

We are served dinner and dessert and the presentation is almost ready to go.

We now turn the blog reins over to Gini, who spent this entire time chatting with people that Robert doesn’t know about things that happened long ago:

“I’ve known Howard and Irene since the 1970s so over 50 years or so. We met in a singles group at St. Andrews Presbyterian church in Newport Beach CA. A few years later I met and married Jim Newton and we moved to Mission Viejo, California. Howard and Irene married and we all decided to have a Bible study in our new home. To advertise our Bible study, a notice was hung in the apartments in Irvine where Howard and Irene were living. Jim and Mona were living in the apartments while Jim was getting his doctorate from UCI and they saw the notice and decided to come to our Bible study. So for a long time, we met every week. The Bible study eventually evolved into a discussion group with a strong feeling of friendship and family. As time passed, life took us in different directions and locations.

“At the party, we laughed and visited and giggled and filled in each other’s memories about things that happened (or didn’t) that we had forgotten. For example, I have no memory of going gold panning.”

Harvey hitched up at the Dambar Steak corral

8:30 pm Hampton Hilton, Kingman, AZ

One nice thing about living in Harvey is that almost any Hotel seems luxurious. Especially when they are (or at least appear to us to be luxurious). Our room here has a shower! Two sinks! A flushing toilet!

And all this space—plus a pool? Well, not in the room, but a brief elevator ride down and we’re sitting in a hot tub and doing laps in a nice, warm pool.

We would probably still be there, except that a college girls softball team showed up and like every pool everywhere, the acoustics are ideal for amplifying girlish glee into hearing-damaging levels.

Back to the room, where we can just fall into bed without re-arranging the couch…Ah


How we got here

Gini & Robert

Harvey Staff

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1. It was Slim Pickens, not Andy Devine, who played Major T. J. "King" Kong and rode the A-bomb in "Doctor Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

2. For a good ten-question trivia quiz about Andy Devine, go to:

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