Sunday, July 5, 2009

Blue Highways

Sometimes you need to get away. Sometimes you need to get away even though you just got back from two weeks in Utah. Sometimes your son in getting married in six days and you need to get away.

So I'm getting away. Every day. In Blue Highways.

I came across a copy of Blue Highways in the Travel Narrative Bookbox that arrived this week. I read Blue Highways when it first came out and I loved it so much that I've always considered it one of my favorite reads. Had to give it one of my rare rereads.

Blue highways are those roads on maps that come from nowhere and lead to nowhere. Back when this book was lived, the roads were often unpaved. (Would there be many unpaved roads in America, anymore?) William Least Heat Moon learns, in rapid succession, that his job is ending and his wife is leaving him. His response is to take out on the road.

He talks to people about change and meaning and nature and life. He meets some brilliant people and he meets some scary people. But it's a great journey.

I can't wait to get back on the road with this man.

A few quotes: "It's a contention of (my dad's)---believing as he does any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he's going to get---that a man becomes his attentions. His observations and curiosity, they make and remake him."

"Helen Keller...said life is a daring adventure or it is nothing. Adventure---an advent. But no coming without a going. Death and rebirth. Antithetical notions lying next to each other, as on a globe the three-hundred-sixtieth degree does to the first. Past and future."

"My rambling metaphysics was getting caught in the trap of reducing experience to coherence and meaning, letting the perplexity of things disrupt the joy in their mystery. To insist that diligent thought would bring an understanding of change was to limit life to the comprehensible."

And, finally, a conversation:
"'Your little spree sounds nice until you go back.'
'Don't have to go back who I was.'
'Can you get out of it?'
'I'll find out. Maybe experience is like a globe---you can't go the wrong way if you travel far enough.'
'You'll end up where you started.'
'I'm working on who. Where can take care of himself....'"

He fixes up an old van and decides to travel through America, stopping in cafes (calendar count is important in cafe quality). I'm only halfway through the book and I've been reading it all week.

I'm in no hurry to finish it.


  1. It's wonderful to come across a book that you are in no hurry to finish. It is like reading a book that is so good that you can't wait to finish and see the end.

  2. Interesting! I'm glad you're enjoying it so much. :) I read Steinbeck's Travels With Charley back in high school; I think it's the only American road trip book I've read. (Been on plenty of road trips though!)

  3. OMG..I have to read this book. I just put it in my reading log for today. Thanks.
    BTW....Where I live in Connecticut there are a lot of unpaved roads. They are beautiful but difficult to navigate in the spring when they flood since all we have are mountains. LOL But I love to walk them. Maybe someday I'll post some pics of these wonders still winding through our landscapes.

  4. Sounds like a great way to get away. Glad to hear you are just meandering through too. Enjoy those memories of Utah (beautiful!) and the upcoming wedding.

    Today I am reading all over the place looking for a little closure on too many unfinished books. Please visit me to enter my Buy a Friend a Book week giveaway? Happy reading!

  5. It's so unusual for me to read a book slowly. I'm surprised that I'm taking Blue Highways in little pieces.

  6. I'm happy to know there are still unpaved roads out there. Perhaps I need to check out one of those cafes Least Heat Moon talks about...a cafe with three or four calendars. Are they still out there?

  7. I've never read Travels with Charley. This might be a good time to try it. I'm off to the online library request spot.

  8. This has been on my tbr list for quite some time, but now I'll have to go check my library's webiste. This sounds like a perfect summer road trip - glad you're enjoying it all over again!

  9. I too read this years ago when it first came out...I have been down many blue highways and my share of unpaved roads...most of the latter thanks to the can-do spirit of my father who knew no strange place! When I gave him the book to read, I knew I had become a "librarian" in his eyes...the last trip he and my mother took was based on solely on blue highways all the way to the northwest coast and back. I try to follow his spirit as much as I can on my travels around Texas. Thanks for reminding me to revisit this book again.

  10. that sounds like a very interesting book. There are times when I just want to get away from it all too. Especially when big family events are happening. They are so stressful.

  11. This is one of the books I took with me up north. Now it is sitting soggily up there and I'm waiting for it to dry out enough to be readable. But I'm glad to hear it's a good one. Maybe if I blow on it a bit, it'll dry faster? And congrats on the upcoming wedding!

  12. I could always send you my copy....if I ever finish it!

    Anyway, since I love it, you'd probably hate it. I'll never forget how much I loved Stargirl and how much you loathed it!

  13. I am currently listening to In Search of Quoz by William Least-Heat Moon and the language is so entrancing, that I too am savoring it in small doses. He's pretty amazing!


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