I've been wanting to get out and travel lately. Since my wife became ill I haven't really been anywhere. Now that I'm tied up for a while with work, I thought I'd revisit Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon. I rarely re-read a book but since it's been probably 30 years at least since I read it, I'm hoping it will be like meeting up with an old friend - familiar but new at the same time. Off I went to the library in search of Blue Highways and I came across Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories From The Road by Heat-Moon so I grabbed it instead. This one came out in 2013 and is a collection of his short stories. I'm about half way through the book and it's most enjoyable.
Apparently, he lives in Rocheport, Missouri which is on the Katy Trail. In one of the chapters he describes the Katy Trail which runs along the Missouri River and was also the path Lewis and Clark took when heading out west. My cycling buddy and I rode the Katy Trail on the first of our long distance bike rides together. Big time fun and it led to us undertaking several other long distance rides. I remember us stopping in Rocheport for breakfast one morning - cool little river town.
There is also a chapter in Here, There, Elsewhere about beer. Interesting perspective on real beer/ale as opposed to what is passed off as beer by the big brewing companies. I've maintained for some time that the downfall of America began with the introduction of light beer. He doesn't go quite that far but he does make an excellent case for craft breweries, micro-breweries and taverns of the traditional type. And, he of road trip fame, was willing to travel to distant locales to support his hypothesis. I like that.
In addition to Blue Highways, I've also read his River Horse and PrairyErth. The Missus and I followed the Santa Fe Trail westward in '96. My cycling buddy recommended PrairyErth to me so I took it along on the trip, reading it in the evenings after we had stopped for the day. The book is about Chase County, Kansas and we stopped in at the courthouse and signed the visitor's log. I think it would be safe to say William Least Heat-Moon put Chase County on the map judging from the visitors who have shown up at the courthouse from all over the world. Again, an excellent read.
I saw that he also has written another book, Roads to Quoz. I'll have to see about that one after finishing off Here, There, Elsewhere. Maybe then I'll get back to Blue Highways. None of this is going to help quell the itch I've got to travel, however. I've still got my four states to see in order to have been in all fifty. A train ticket to Reno with a paperback copy of Blue Highways to read along the way could help scratch that itch. Better still, a motorcycle trip out west. Pickup US 50 in southern Indiana and head west all the way to Cal-ee-for-nye-a. I doubt if you can find many three calendar cafes anymore, though.