--Hey! I'm in! maybe long enough to post something. I've been writing posts for over a year, and then leaving them in their folder, never to be finished. I decided that I would just post them all, as is, stopping where my thoughts stopped. Surely I had more to say, but don't think I'll ever come back to say them. Therefore, here is number one in my unfinished series. I'll post another one in a couple of days or so.
August 2, 2010
A friend gave me a book lately, since I’ve been casting around for something new to read. She insisted I’d like it, even though it isn’t escapist, political or visual. I trust her word, so I started reading this week.
The funny thing is, it ended up being all three, and on a subject I feel close to - the Road Trip. The book is Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon (a Native American name) and it was first published in 1983. He spent the first couple of paragraphs outlining the bad news - laid off from his teaching gig, his soon to be ex already replacing him - and maybe a page or so sketching in his back story, and then he was off in his truck, following the back roads. The term Blue Highways refers to the colors on the map for the lesser traveled local roads:
“On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities, just before dawn and a little after dusk – times neither day nor night – the old roads return to the sky some its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”
Or find himself, eh? I have always been a believer in the philosophical crucible of the road trip, because when you shake off what accrues to the place you live in - the house, the neighborhood, the social circle, your spouse, your family - all that should be left is you. Right?
In this country, the Holy Road Trip has a hallowed place in literature, and On the Road has shaped so many modern wanderers, not to mention Easy Rider, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the Merry Pranksters’ Further adventures, and the Deads’ restless followers. You could legitimately call The Canterbury Tales as the original Holy Road Trip with much the same intent, but these days the meaning is to be found in the journey, not the destination.
I can look back to where a road trip came at pivotal times in my life. But before that, there was my attachment to my cars, usually low-slung, Italian, fast and convertible. The country looks entirely different from a car like that, especially if you stay on the back roads. To venture out for a drive on an unknown back road, with the top down on a nice day is adventure all by itself. You are an arm’s length from the people who live along the road, and you are breathing their air and much more a part of their world than your own. You can’t separate yourself from your fellow humans. So my preference is first for that kind of vehicle, though I suspect that feeling is more pronounced on a motorcycle.
I am actually only about 20 pages in to the book, but I am already thinking about following his route, along for the ride.
---- I actually did finish the book some time ago, and had more to say about road trips since I had planned to drive to New York for a craft show in October 2010. I cancelled on the show, partly because I didn't want to make the drive. Hmmmmm.