Asheville, North Carolina,
October 18
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Artwork for banner adapted from "Mister X," by William P. Marks, Vortex Comics • Blog Title from "Serenity" by Joss Whedon _________________________ A fiber artist making wool felt garments and local wool fleece and yarns on the side, Previously, I have been all these things: • architecture office manager • department store clerk • restaurant: waitress, bartender & barback, cashier, busboy, dishwasher, prep cook, line cook, manager • architecture student • engineering draftsman • graphic designer • advertising art director • magazine publisher • fanzine: publisher, editor, writer, photographer, designer • garage band manager • web designer & programmer • database (FM pro) developer • software trainer • non-profit organization staff member • ad salesman • fiber artist: weaver, spinner, tapestry weaver, dyer, feltmaker • reader • writer • sailor • runner • drinker, toker • big sister • oldest child • wife (2x) • swinging divorcee


JUNE 17, 2011 10:52AM

Unfinished: The Holy Road Trip

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--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.  

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Ardee, great to see a new post here from you today! Regarding Blue Highways you might want to check out my friend, Dave McLane's posts on Small Town America which includes 14 parts to the photo essay.

Here is part one:
This book sounds like it's worth a look, just by the beginning alone. It seems we have both stopped back here at the same time. I bought some parsnips and beets yesterday and thought of you.

Last road trip I did was from Oregon to New York, and it was semi-wonderful. We had a trailer, a cat, a hamster, a boy and his wheelchair, my adult daughter and her friend. Too many people--oh and my alternator went. Ended up flying back to Oregon. Hope you enjoy your road trip, sounds pretty inviting and makes me want to explore The West a little more. Nice post, thanks for the information about the book.
I am going to be blue until I can read this Thanks A.
Grand post. To drive with the sun on you face, the wind blowing hard and just letting the road take you is a fine thing indeed.
To say one more thing about the book, it was actually pretty good, though not what I expected when I started this post. I expected more of "Zen and the Art..." and instead it was more travelog. But he also captured the subtle ways that the US was already changing in the late 70s. Ghost towns, unemployment, factory closings, it had already started. Very interesting.

Hey designanator! - it feels like such a long time since I've posted. Dave's series looks great, especially the photos. Thanks for the suggestion.

Hi Latethink, road trips can also be horrible - I recall several disasters when I was a kid, sounding much like your vacation. No, to me, the trick is going by yourself.

Algis, You would love it. But why aren't you writing your own book? On the other hand, you could just put your posts together, and done.

Thanks Scylla. Back road wanderlust, nothing like it.
i don't know how you can call this "unfinished." and i'm shocked that you've got a year's (!!) worth of writing sitting there, waiting for you to post it. i can't even get one piece ahead of myself - sheesh.

for me, the highway is a siren song. i can't resist it for long and would have taken that trip to NY *just* to be able to drive and see what's along the way. :)
You caught the spirit here, and you make me restless.
For me it's an old Landcruiser minus the roof. On a warm day you can lay the windscreen down on the hood, set the revs and stand up in the thing - like flying. Spread your arms ; steer with your knees.
But yes, only on the lonely roads along the coast, even down here.
It's the spirit I appreciate.
Good to see you writing again - I hope the shop is going well.
Candace- Unfinished, because there were paragraphs planned about earlier trips and realizations, attendant drugs and altered states, and what the highways used to look like. Most of my road trips were in sports cars, but the trip to NY was going to be in an overloaded camper van, craft booth taking up the bed, on a no-side-trips schedule. No fun at all.

Kim, I am picturing you careening down a dusty back road standing in your Landcruiser. Great image. The shop is doing well! Broke even last month, we'll see about this month. I'm starting to have a little more time to spend online, so hope to be back soon.
Good to see you are back writing again Ardee. Hope you find "To venture out for a drive on an unknown" rewarding - Rated with love and hugs.
I am looking forward to reading your year's worth of posts.
Good to see you Rolling, glad to be back.

Thanks, Willie - hope they make sense to someone!