Friday, June 14, 2002


We are coming up on a year since our trip to the Southwest.

I was watching TV the other night only to have the desire to travel well up inside once again. You all know how I enjoy the open road, the trip with my sister to Florida, our constant jaunts to Maine, and the adventures we had by car in Arizona and Utah... I've been all over the place in the last 12 months. And now that spring is in full bloom, the sky is sometimes blue, the air is sometimes warm... I'm ready to go again., which I presume is Kansas City Public TV, has a show they run called "Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations." Which recently found its way onto the more hip Boston PBS Station (Boston has two public television stations. The first is the old school WGBH, Channel 2. It is all about snooty art and crappy documentaries which pale in comparison to stuff they do on Discovery channel, and the other is a more progressive PTV, Channel 44, WGBX. The X is for Xciting! They show concerts, britcoms, fun crap... and now they are showing Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations.)

The premise is these two midwestern aged hippie types and their Midwestern aged hippie type narrator/cameraman (who is just a tad too hokey Arlo Guthrie meets Tom Beaudette for my liking) drive all over the midwest and search for cool stuff. Mostly Art. Folk Art. Real... art. Stuff people put in their backyards. Major showcases for art, such as unique and fun museums. Weird crap, like the hippie memorial. It's a fun show.

So a show like Rare Visions came on our local PBS just in time to remind me what a friggin riot this country is, and how many coolass things there are to see when you don't fly everywhere.

It also reminded me of a magazine that I used to read once in a while back in college. Doug had learned about it from a friend -- Monk Magazine. I was very happy to find their site online but am sad to see it isn't current, hasn't been updated since 2000.

Their deal is they are two guys, Mike and Jim, who sold all their stuff and jumped into a '72 Ford Van to drive around the country and write. They published the first mobile magazine, and their motto is "Simple. Mobile. True." They had great adventures, and met a lot of people your average American Citizen wouldn't go meet. They wrote about it. It was clever, artsy, but folky and down to earth as well. I need to go through the site and read what they did last. I wish I'd kept up with their doings over time. I enjoyed them.

I also just finished a very good (not great, super, fantastic) book called "A Walk Across America" by Peter Jenkins.

Peter was a disillusioned college graduate living in Alfred NY in the early 70s... He and his wife split up (they never should have married, but whattayagonnado?) and he decided one day that he was going to walk across the country. Simple as that.

He trained with his dog, Cooper Half Malamute and set out one fall day from Alfred to walk to Washington DC and meet with National Geographic to see if he could get a camera and tell his story when he got back. They gave him a camera, some film and lenses and sent him off.

He ended up living with a black family in North Carolina for quite some time while he worked to raise money for himself to continue the trip, had his mind changed about southerners being backwards, got creeped out by hippies in a farming cult in Tennessee, found God at a revival tent meeting in Mobile Alabama, met Homer on his mountain and was offered the place by the old man... it was an amazing journey. The book ends in New Orleans, where he met a girl who he wanted to marry... of course. Romance always gets in the way of great adventure. I took from the epilogue that she ended up coming with him. The epilogue was written from Colorado, with her. And his website answers what happened to their relationship. He's had a long road to walk since the early 70s.

He saw a great deal of this country that wasn't artistic or beautiful, but very real, and saw it at a time when being a bearded hiker through the heart of Alabama was a very dangerous thing. Seeing it from the safety of a car is one thing. Walking through it with a pack on your back and a dog by your side is another. I envy him his journey, but not the emotional pain that he's had to suffer, from his dog to his second wife and the constant questions he has had to endure regarding them. I'm too old and fat and encumbered by responsibility to just grab a dog and go. And I like having the husband I have... so sticking around to live and last in this relationship is what I believe is right.

Next best thing though...

With this desire for travel burning a hole in my soul, and these TV, website and book locations pointing to such abandon, we're thinking of a trip west this summer. But not all the way west. More north and west.

In August after I teach my class at the college we're setting out to see Scott in Chicago (and Mrs. Scott in Chicago) and are starting to get that planning, excitement, joyful feeling. We'll drive through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana on the way out, swing up through Wisconsin (to go to Green Bay, of course... I'm a freak) and then through Canada and NY State to come home.

We aren't the Monk brothers, nor are we funded by public television. And Kinger won't be joining us and our shoes won't wear out like Peter Jenkins, but we're going. God bless this country and the ability we have to just say "Hey, I'm taking a trip." Gotta love

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