Yearning for the Open Road

Here's a picture of my summer reading list: "Blue Highways" by William Least-Moon, "In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson, "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" by Mark Adams, "In Patagonia" by Bruce Chatwin, and "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac. Truthfully, there's no way that I'm reading all this by the end of the summer.
For me, summer is for road trips. For the past two years, I have gone on a 2,000+ mile roadtrip around Memorial Day weekend. So as Memorial Day came and went this summer with no roadtrip plans and no vacation plans finalized, the travel bug bit me hard. Now I've got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell the open road.

The second best cure is a good travel memoir (or five apparently). I'm currently reading "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat-Moon. And it's been great.

In 1978, after separating from his wife and losing his job as a teacher, Moon, 38 at the time, decided to take an extended road trip around the United States, sticking to only the "Blue Highways." Heat-Moon had coined the term to refer to small, forgotten, out of the way roads connecting rural America (which were drawn in blue on the old style road atlas).

At first, a good story satisfies the travel craving. It's that little taste I needed. I get lost in the narrative and ride shotgun with the author through his journey. But after a while it starts to inspire. It starts to stir up that yearning for adventure. And that's when I relapse. The fever grips me and I get these really crazy ideas. I get to thinking, "well, if he can do a 13,000 mile road trip, why can't I do short one." Why can't I pull out the road map and plot some 3-4 week, 6,000 mile, cross country adventure?

So what would this crazy cross country trip look like? Roughly speaking it'd go something like this: I'd rent a car and drive west. I want to see Austin, TX. Maybe catch one of my favorite bands along the way to New Mexico. I'd stop and say hi to my brother at the Philmont Scout Ranch. Then visit a few national parks like Mt. Zion and the Grand Canyon. Eventally I'd make my way to California to visit my friend Susan Issacs. Here's where I'd return the rental car and switch to the train. I'd take the Coastal Starlight route from Los Angeles to Portland. After such a long train ride, i might rent another car and make my way to Glacier National Park. Once there, I might shift back to another scenic rail route called the Empire Builder and ride to Chicago. Then I'd hop on a MegaBus for the return trip to Memphis with a short stop in St. Louis, MO. I like the idea of mixed transportation. Taking a little bit of everything across country. I think i'd do this trip European style and travel very light. Everything would have to fit in a big internal frame backpack. The kind you'd go trekking across the mountains with. That way I could easily make the switch between car, rail, bus, or plane.

Could I realistically do this? Probably not. I cannot take off more than 2 weeks in a row at my current job. So I'd have to do half the trip at a time. But now I've run off into a tangent. This post was suppose to just be a short list. I really only meant to share with you my summer reading and now I'm outlining my great American road trip.

Recommend listening: David Ramierz "Carry Me Like The Wind"
For every line on my body I want a thousand stories
And for my heart to hold the great American novel