(Could Not Be Confused With Newport, Rhode Island)
April 1, 2022
After I decided to go on this wanderabout, a friend of mine at DOE gave me the book Blue Highways. Brian had read it, really enjoyed it and my plans made him think that I, too, might enjoy it. The author, William Least Heat-Moon had lost his job and his wife had left him. He packed up a van to drive around the United States on the “blue highways” which he defined as the small, forgotten, out-of-the-way roads connecting rural America (which were drawn in blue on the old style Rand McNally road atlas).
Driving through rural Pennsylvania this morning, I thought that these roads are about as blue as they come. I have turned on “avoid highways” on Google Maps and I trust that it taking me from Carlisle to Haines Falls, New York. So far, I am not sure as I seem to be on many roads that are slick and potted with faded yellow center lines.
Brian is one of the nicest guys I have ever known. Kind, articulate, smart and caring. He didn’t deserve to be stuck in the job he had at DOE — too much talent. He lost his wonderful wife to pancreatic cancer after I left DOE. It still hurts to think about; they were a wonderful couple. She was “ relentless optimistic” as he described her.
My trip would be much different if Brian had not given me Blue Highways. I doubt it would have turned on “avoid highways.” A big part of my trip has been the back roads I have traveled. I understand much more about our country than I would have if I had driven our antiseptic interstates.
I keep praying that I will wake up one day and be able to write about this trip in a more creative way. In a way that better captures my feelings, emotions and thoughts about what I am experiencing. Until that day, I’ll just keep on doing what I can.