Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Late fall travel reading

My backyard was pretty frosty this morning, so I didn't get out to rake the leaves. I considered other tasks, including cleaning hunting gear and putting it away. Instead I picked up a book, "Travels with Charley" by John Steinbeck, the author of "The Grapes of Wrath." I read the book long ago, but decided to revisit it. It's a delight. I've caught up with Steinbeck since I first read it. I'm now in late middle age, like the author was when he took his three-month long trip through America to get back into contact with real people, and maybe to see the country again for the last time, as he was in failing health.
When we pick up a book at various stages of our own lives, we bring something new to it because of our own experiences.
When I read the introduction this morning, a sentence jumped out at me:
"We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."
After reading that simple sentence, I thought of a dozen places I would have liked to have been then, the Arkansas Ozarks, on the Shores of Lake Superior, Key West, Arizona, Montana, Scotland, Norway and others. I thought about where those places would take me.
We all have our lists, and dreams, and like any really good writer, Steinbeck gives you the solid words to hang your dreams on.
Steinbeck was ahead of his time. The trip took place in 1962, and to take it he had a firm put together what we would now consider an RV, but which was then fairly uncommon.
For any traveler, it's a good winter read.

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