Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 16 2012

Rick Antonson Celebrates the American Highway

By David McMillin

Rick Antonson may dedicate his energy to inspire visitors to crowd the roads that lead to his seaport home in British Columbia, but the CEO of Tourism Vancouver is no stranger to spending time far away from his home in Western Canada. From journeying through West Africa to climbing Mount Ararat in Turkey, Antonson represents the true definition of being "well-traveled."

When he's not on the road, he's writing, and his newest release celebrates his traveling spirit. Antonson's Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America's Main Street, is out today on New York-based Skyhorse Publishing. The book documents Antonson's two-week, 2,400-mile exploration of America's most famous highway.

In advance praise for the new release, Keith Bellows, editor-in-chief, National Geographic Traveler, says that this is "an encounter with an America that isn't as lost as we think. And in the end, Antonson proves that Route 66 indeed still kicks - as does America."

An Unconventional Perspective

For PCMA planners who dedicate so much time to site visits at big convention centers, major metropolitan areas can condense into a blur of airports, hotels and restaurants.

"Our world is rushing to a sense of sameness with most big cities - the retail, the architecture and the common standards of facilities," Antonson says. "The generic city is upon us."

Antonson's book celebrates the small towns that may never make it on to some travel itineraries. Many PCMA members have probably never passed over the Querino Canyon Bridge or driven through Stroud, Oklahoma, and Antonson says that the characters he met along the way in these off-the-beaten path destinations hold plenty of lessons for anyone in today's meetings and events industry.

"Travelers along Route 66 encounter the best of hospitality, the consistent 'anything I can do to help you' attitude, and the 'we're glad you took the time to visit us' mindset," Antonson says. "In the hectic and hurried world of our lives, that's a wonderful discovery and reminds us why it's important to gather together, to share ideas and to celebrate our differences."

While the number of travelers along Route 66 may be smaller today, Antonson says that the highway remains a true American icon, standing on par with the Statue of the Liberty and the Alamo.

"My personal hope for this book is that it will help rekindle America's love affair with Route 66," Antonson says. 

Click here to read more reviews, pick up a copy and start your own affair with this American highway.

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