|British film crew visits historic Wagon Wheel|
|Written by Jane Reed|
|Thursday, 05 August 2010 18:26|
Connie’s Echols’ daughter Angie was working in her mom’s office at the Wagon Wheel Motel when she received a call on Wednesday, July 23 from a man named Hamish. He had a British accent and said that his group was interested in filming a video at the Wagon Wheel for the Travel Channel.
According to Angie, he said, “You know you’re famous, don’t you?” He then went on to say he represented HCA Entertainment in London, England, and that they were filming a documentary for the Travel Channel, “The World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides,” and that Route 66 Revisited would be the ninth show in the series, slated for an October debut.
Angie said, “I thought it was a joke, but he gave me an international credit card, reserved three rooms for his British filming crew, and told me that he would send an email verifying the information and the arrival on Thursday evening of on-air personality Henry Cole, a videographer, and a sound technician.”
In the series, Cole rides a semi-customized Saxon motorcycle and is followed by his cameraman and sound technician in a white Mustang convertible. His crew films him, and they also use footage from a camera that is attached to his bike. They plan a few stops and also film discoveries along the way.
A Google search shows that Henry Cole is a British producer, television presenter, writer, actor, voice artist and filmmaker who has worked on some notable projects. In other words, he is the real deal.
When Connie got in on the act, she told them that she would arrange some food for them when they arrived Thursday evening. Echols, who has been renovating rooms at the Wagon Wheel since she took over in October, got busy on a few last minute details around the motel, talked to John and Virginia Watson from Frisco’s about bringing in some of their famous wings and other food, and invited Rick Damouth of Cowtown to bring by one his Spyders, which he delivered on a trailer. He rode in on one of his motorcycles, and Connie’s sister and her husband arrived on their Harley.
A few of Connie’s friends and family were alerted to the arrival of the crew, and a few more folks stopped by when they saw the crowd Wednesday evening about 8 p.m. Cole and his crew seemed to enjoy looking at the Cuba bikes, talking to the locals, and filming a little here and there. After eating some of Frisco’s food, they relaxed on the deck. Most of the Wagon Wheel Motel footage would be filmed Friday morning.
After a good night’s sleep at the Wagon Wheel—for which they credited the good beds—the crew gravitated to the Wagon Wheel deck Friday morning, enjoyed coffee and some breakfast, looked over the previous day’s footage on an Apple computer, and chatted with Connie and her family. The crew reviewed a map with a couple from Maryland who were staying at the Wagon Wheel and also traveling by motorcycle. After planning their interview with Connie, the sound technician and videographer left to set up. While the crew was setting up, Cole said of the peaceful morning scene on the deck, “I could stay here forever.”
Cole said that he had filmed a similar Route 66 trip six years ago, but this was a different experience since he was older. He lives in Cotswold, England with his wife and two young children in a converted barn. He expected to return home for post-production work in about two weeks.
Returning to England, they will edit all the Route 66 footage, choose the best parts, and compose the episode. Cole mentioned that it would probably be November when the episode airs on the Travel Channel, in the British Isles, South Africa, New Zealand, and in European countries. Usually DVDs are sold of the episodes, so the potential for the area’s landmarks getting some well-deserved coverage is great.
Eventually, the crew set up a couple of the motel’s green lawn chairs where Connie and Henry Cole sat. While they chatted, the video guy Sean and the soundman ran some tests. Then, Cole began asking Connie some questions about the motel and about what Route 66 meant to the country.
“I told him that at one time that it had connected everything, and that it was important during the war,” she stated. “He said on microphone that the Wagon Wheel is a must stay place on Route 66.”
After the interview, Connie gave a tour of some of the newly-renovated rooms to the crew. Later, Cole wrote in the Wagon Wheel guest book, “This place is brilliant.” In British terms that means it is excellent.
Finally, they packed up their gear and took off down Route 66 as so many Wagon Wheel guests do. However, they weren’t quite ready to hit the open road. They had one more stop at Fanning, four miles west of Cuba. The night before they had met Joe Medwick, Connie’s son-in-law, who had told him about the World’s Largest Rocker that he built in Fanning.
When the motorcycle and mustang convertible pulled into the parking lot at the Fanning US 66 Outpost and saw the Guinness Route 66 World’s Largest Rocking Chair, they were like any other tourists: They couldn’t stop looking up. “This is amazing,” Cole commented to the crew.
They had intended to do only a brief filming before going on to a planned stop at Devil’s Elbow.
The rocking chair changed their plans. They phoned ahead to the Devil’s Elbow attraction and said they would be an hour later than scheduled. Owner Dan Sanazaro got out the ladder, and Cole climbed to the seat of the rocker, perched on the edge, and filmed a segment about the 42-foot chair.
When he returned to the ground, he interviewed Dan and Carolyn Sanazaro about why they built the chair. Cole and the crew went into the Outpost for a cold drink, and the Sanazaros gave them Outpost T-shirts with the rocking chair on them and post cards of the attraction. As they were buying cigarettes, they mentioned that they were $13 a pack in England because of the high taxes.
Even though they were behind schedule, Cole and the crew visited the indoor archery range to the rear of the building. With the Outpost’s archery technician helping him and the crew filming, Cole made his first attempts at using a bow. He and the crew seemed to enjoy his goofs as much as anything. They mentioned, “It will be funnier on air this way.”
Finally after friendly good-byes, the Saxon cycle revved and swung off on to Route 66, the convertible followed, and the re-visiting of Route 66 continued. They were just another three guys on the road, experiencing the adventures around the next curve.