Posts Tagged ‘Charles Kuralt’

On the Road with Charles

One of Charles Kuralt’s On The Road RVs on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. — Photo by Pat Bean

The Joy of Soft News

          “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines,” wrote Charles Kuralt, a role model for both my journalism career, and the nine years I traveled the back roads of America in a small RV with a canine companion.

           Kuralt began his On the Road television series in 1967, the same year I began my 37-year journalism career. The first time I saw one of the segments, I knew he was the kind of journalist I wanted to be, one who reported on good people who lived their lives quietly, each unique in her or his own way.

          I, partially if not completely, met that goal. While I did cover the nitty-gritty political stuff, and horrendous child abuse and murder trials, and even the tragical September 11,2001 terrorist attack, I also wrote many upbeat stories about interesting, good people involving uplifting achievements and events. I considered every one of those stories my job’s silver lining.

          In 2006, after I was retired, I visited the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where my favorite exhibit was one of the six On-the-Road RVs that Kuralt used during his 20 years to find and report America at its best. I blogged about it at the time, and later wrote about the experience in Travels with Maggie.

          Kuralt’s influence on me came back to my mind yesterday when I was reading one of my journals and came across the notes about my museum visit. Curious to know how long Charles had driven the back roads of America — it was 20 –led me to the internet, and the discovery of our 1967 connection. It also led me to discover that segments of On the Road can still be seen today.

          So, if you want an escape from today’s hard news, check it out at 20 Years On The Road with Charles Kuralt – Bing video Or you can just type in a search for Charles Kuralt videos and a bunch of links will pop up.

          Have fun.

Pat Bean is a retired award-winning journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

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The color purple makes my world better, especially when it trims up some white flowers and helps attract a butterfly.  Photo by Pat Bean

Flowers make  my world better, especially when they attract a butterfly.           Photo by Pat Bean


  “The salvation of America and of the human race depends on the next election … But so it was last year, and so it was the year before, and our fathers believed the same thing 40 years ago.”    

While these words might have been written just yesterday, they were actually written 168 years ago by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The color blue cheers up my world too, especially when used by glass artist Chihuly in this outdoor sculpture piece. — Photo by Pat Bean

I came across the quote when I was reading my 1998 journal, some of which was written at the same time I was reading Emerson’s journals and, at the same time, ranting about talk show hosts like Jerry Springer and narrow-minded windbags who preach of Christian values but seem to have no Christianity in them.

I was a reporter at the time and so couldn’t turn off what was going on in the world, which some days I now do for the sake of my sanity. Instead, back then, I comforted myself with the thoughts of writers like Emerson, who recognized the world has its cruel side, always has and probably always will, but focused more on its positive attributes.

“My life is a May game. I will live as I like. I defy your strait-laced, weary, social ways and modes. Blue is the sky, green the fields and groves, fresh the springs, glad the rivers, and hospitable the splendor of sun and star. I will play by game out,” he wrote, as well as: “If Milton, if Burns, if Bryant, is in the world, we have more tolerance, and more love for the changing sky, the mist, the rain, the bleak overcast day, the sun is raining light.”

            For me, it’s been writers like Maya Angelou, who believed God put rainbows in the sky to give us hope, and Charles Kuralt, who saw the everyday kindness of the back roads as making up for the acts of greed in the headlines, who have made my world better.

It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers and criminals,” wrote Kuralt.

If, as my grandmother would say, it looks like the world is going to hell in a hand basket – and I can’t disagree in these troubling times – there is good out there, too. Neighbors helping neighbors when hard times fall, kindness and thoughtfulness as part of everyday, ordinary lives, and friendships and partnerships that last a lifetime.

Yes. Nothing ever seems to change.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: CindyKnoke http://tinyurl.com/jsbmjdl I’ve always wanted to live for six months on a houseboat on the Mississippi River. It’s on my bucket list. But this houseboat in Amsterdam looks pretty cool, too. What do you think?

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“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” — Edward P. Morgan

“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.” — James Bryce

Seeing lions in Africa might have been the very first thing I put on my bucket list, thanks to reading Osa Johnson's lion watching stories. And in 2007, I crossed it off what over the years grew to hundreds of things I wanted to do. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Seeing lions in Africa might have been the very first thing I put on my bucket list, thanks to reading Osa Johnson’s lion watching stories. And in 2007, I crossed it off what over the years grew to hundreds of things I wanted to do. — Photo by Pat Bean

The First 10 Books That Popped Into My Head

I’m always coming across best book lists. While they often have many of the same books on them, they also can differ tremendously depending on the genre of the list or the compilers.

Gypsy Lee was my version of Charles Kuralt's "On the Road" RV, which now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. -- Photo by Pat Bean.

Gypsy Lee was my version of Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” RV, which now sits in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. — Photo by Pat Bean.

So on reading one of these lists recently, I decided to put together my own list of “10 Books that Influenced my Life.” I came up with the list in just a couple of minutes, and afterwards I could probably have listed another 10 books.

But here is the list of the first thoughts that scrambled through my little grey cells.

“I Married Adventure,” by Osa Johnson. This was the first travel book I ever read, and it gave me my first inkling that I was born with wanderlust in my soul. I checked the book out of the library, from the adult section, when I was about nine years old.

“Forever Amber,” by Kathleen Winsor. I found this book in the bookcase of my grandfather’s book cabinet, the same place I found the works of Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, James Fennimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, and many more of the classic writers, all of which I read at quite a young age. “Forever Amber” sticks out in my mind because when I reached junior high school,, I overheard a group of girls calling it a “dirty book.” I didn’t know what they meant so I went back and reread it – and still didn’t know what they meant. I was a late bloomer. The book, by the way, would almost get a G rating in today’s world. It was this book, however, that prompted me to never censor books my children read.

And reading about Tim Cahill's outdoor adventures encourage me to seek out my own adventure trails. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And reading about Tim Cahill’s outdoor adventures encourage me to seek out my own adventure trails. — Photo by Pat Bean

“Gone with the Wind,” by Margaret Mitchell. I so loved this book that I read it three times in the same year. Each read gave me a different meaning to the ending. It was this book that taught me that readers put their own interpretations to writing, and that there is more than one interpretation – and not always the one the author visualized.

“Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat Moon, the second most influential travel book I read. It was this author’s van travel that started my own travel dream, which I fulfilled when I spent 9 years living and traveling full-time in my small RV, Gypsy Lee.

“Atlas Shrugged,” by Ayn Rand, Wayne Dyer’s “Your Erroneous Zones,” and “The Women’s Room” by Marilyn French were read at a crucial turning point in my life. From one I learned that there was more than one way of looking at life, and came to the conclusion that the one and just about only true evil was to harm another person. From another, I realized that only I was responsible for my life and what I allowed in it, and from the third I accepted my strong feminine self that social expectations had dampened. As far as forming the core of my being, these three books are significantly responsible.

“The Snow Leopard,” by Peter Matthiessen. This is one of the books that fed my passion for the outdoors, travel and the natural world. It turned me on to environmentalism and gave me a new way of looking at things.

And “On the Road with Charles Kuralt,” and “Road Fever” by Tim Cahill helped define my travel writing style. I wanted to capture both the simplicity and joy of life that Kuralt brought to his writing and TV segments, and I identified with Cahill’s love of the outdoors and adventure and understood his understated sense of humor. I wanted to write like Cahilll, but with a feminine voice and eyes.

Just off the top of your head, what 10 books most influenced your life?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Where’s My Backpack, http://tinyurl.com/lkxupke and Incidentally http://tinyurl.com/oyjp95f These two blogs let readers travel from their armchairs, a pastime I indulge in frequently when I’m not actually on the road. The first blog takes you on a walk through Rome, and the other lets you enjoy the beauty of stained class art if you are in the vicinity of Chicago.

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“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

Many were the years I dreamed of living on the road in this VW van that’s now on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. — Photo by Pat Bean

Visions to Reality           

And then along came Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” vehicle, and my dreams got bigger. — Photo by Pat Bean

When I was in Ypsilanti, I visited the Henry Ford Museum in nearby Dearborn, Michigan. It’s a fantastic place, but one that left my wondering brain scattered all over the place.

One of these places focused on my dreams of living my life on the road, as I have been doing for the past eight years.

But it was Gypsy Lee, shown here shortly after I purchased her in 2004, that turned my dreams into reality. — Photo by Pat Bean

The modes of travel that I envisioned — from the green van of William Least Heat Moon’s “Blue Highways,” to the glorified Volkswagen van that has been revived (two of these camped at Lake Walcott in the past week),  to Charles Kuralt’s “On the Road” RV — were all there.

Gypsy Lee finally became my reality. And I love her.

Book Report: Leave out all the boring parts is good writing advice. I’ve heard it often.  But it sure takes a hit on word count. I did a complete read through of Travels with Maggie as rewritten so far last night and my 37,833 words to date dropped to 36,616.

The Wondering Wanderer’s blog pick of the day

Bean’s Pat: The Open Suitcase http://tinyurl.com/8jc42k8 This one’s for wanderers. It’s simply a long list of travel blogs. And hey, even mine is listed.

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 “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Ten of Hundreds


Lake Powell, which destroyed Glen Canyon and which wouldn’t ever have existed if Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang” characters had anything to say about it. — Photo by Pat Bean

I won’t say these are my 10 favorite travel books, because I could name 10 more just as easily. But these are books that influenced my decision to become rootless and make the road my home for the past eight years.

I Married Adventure, 1940, by Osa Johnson. I picked this book up at the library when I was about 10 years old. I was always sneaking into the adult section. I think I already knew I had wanderlust, and this book simply confirmed it. I, too, wanted adventure.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. My 22-foot RV, Gypsy Lee, is my version of Moon’s green van, Ghost Dancing. I loved this book so much that I’ve given dozens of copies away as gifts. The green-dotted scenic byways marked on today’s maps are my blue highways.

Road Fever, by Tim Cahill, I have loved everything this Wyoming author has written, especially this book that details a 15,000-mile trip from Tierra del Fuego to the top of Alaska. I’ve read everything this author has written that I could come across, including his many Outside magazine stories.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. This book fueled my desire to walk the Appalachian Trail, but except for a few miles on various sections it’s a to-do list item that I’ve waited too long to get around to doing. But I still have time to hike at least a few more miles on this trail whenever I come across one of its many trailheads.

One of Charles Kuralt’s more popular “On the Road” episodes wat the time he hooked up with a botanist to put names to all the wildflowers he was seeing, like this fireweed. — Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. I read this book many years ago, but reread it when I took to the road in 2004. My wordsmith friend, Charlie Trentelman, mentioned that I was the female version of Steinbeck, thus the title of my travel book, “Travels With Maggie.” Thank you Steinbeck.

On the Road with Charles Kuralt. Charles Kuralt was also influenced by Steinbeck. Kuralt, meanwhile, is actually the traveler most like me. We were both journalists, and we both prefer looking at life’s brighter side. I cried when Kuralt died, and one of my favorite travel photos is of his “On the Road” RV that’s on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.

The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthieson. A fantastic writer who makes one think. This book brought the Himalayas to life for me. I was privileged to have once heard this author speak.

Out of Africa by Isek Dinesen. Like Osa Johnson, this book made me want to travel to Africa. Not only did I do that in 2007, I visited Dinesen’s former coffee plantation in Nairobi.

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. While I loved this book, Abbey’s “The Monkey Wrench Gang” is my favorite of all that he has written. It, too, could be considered a travel book in that it includes awesome descriptions of Utah and Arizona’s red-rock landscape.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. No travel book collection would be complete without Theroux. This is my favorite of his many.

Book Report: Busy morning, then a four-hour lunch with a group of mostly crazy old broads, whose Bay of Pigs nickname rivals my former group of crazy old broad friends called the Murder of Crows, that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. It comes under my umbrella mantra of smelling all the flowers and grabbing all the gusto this life has to offer. While I will do some editing as part of the rewrite of my travel book late this afternoon, I doubt I will add any significant word count. It’s the story of my writing life, conflicting goals. The good thing is that I no longer flagellate myself for such lapses.

Bean’s Pat: Photos and Facets; http://tinyurl.com/ckpfxer No! It’s not the London Bridge you’ve been seeing on television.

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A yellow-headed blackbird seen on my morning walk with Maggie makes me go "Awww!" -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the muddle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” – Jack Kerouac

Travels With Maggie

Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” is listed in almost every version of the 100 Best Travel Books. And on all of the various lists I’ve come across in recent years, I’ve read well over 50 percent of the selections.

But I haven’t read “On the Road.” That is I’ve never finished it. I’ve started the book several times but have never gotten beyond a few pages before laying it down and forgetting about it.

While there are quite a few of Kerouac’s quotes in my journal, such as the one above that I absolutely love, I can’t connect with this author like I do with say Tim Cahill, who has me rolling on the floor with laughter, or Charles Kuralt, whom I consider my travel soul mate, or John Steinbeck, whose down to earth writing draws me into his circle, especially since he writes about traveling with his poodle, Charley, and I write about traveling with my cocker spaniel, Maggie.

But I don’t, except for an occasional quote, get Jack. I keep thinking I will if I just read more than a few pages of “On the Road.”

Perhaps one day I will. Perhaps I’ll even find that copy of his book I bought a few years back to give it a fifth or sixth try. It was at least the third copy of “On the Road” that I’ve bought over the years, and I honestly have no idea where it is now.

And a patch of colorful pansies lights up my eyes as well as a fireworks display. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I recently read a book in which needful books kept turning up magically for one of the characters. I wonder what it means when books disappear. Or how come I can’t get into a book that so many other people think is a great classic.

Perplexing questions to which I have no answer. But I do love Kerouac’s above quote. It’s a whole book in itself.

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My dream vehicle when I was a working journalist. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

 “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” Charles Kuralt

The first time I saw an “On the Road” television segment with Charles Kuralt, I knew that was the kind of journalist I wanted to be. I partially achieved that goal in my 37 years as a journalist with the stories I wrote about interesting upbeat people and aspects of a nature, along of course with my coverage of ditty-gritty city council and crime news.

I even got, albeit rarely, to go on the road to cover stories for my newspaper. But I never had the freedom to take it to his level – to travel cross-country in an RV and write only what pleased me.

 Today, however, that’s exactly what I do. And it pleases me greatly to tell you about the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, outside of Detroit. It offers so much more than just the progression of the automobile down through the years.

Life used to move at a slower pace, and you can experience it at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 One can wander through Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory and imagine the excitement exuded when that first light bulb cast its glow. Or marvel at the dreams of fanciful flight Orville and Wilbur shared while working at their Wright Brothers Bicycle Shop. You can visit the home where Noah Webster wrote America’s first dictionary and walk through the first Ford Motor Home factory.

I almost wept when I viewed the sleek black Lincoln in which President John F. Kennedy lost his life in on that fateful November day in 1963. The vehicle represented a loss of innocence for my generation.

Thankfully, my tears, if I had shed them, would only have been of joy when I saw the next vehicle that moved me. It was the “On the Road” RV. If there is a heaven, and former free-spirited TV journalist happens to be looking down, I hope he realizes how much he inspired one lone female traveler.

Thank you Charles Kuralt for crystallizing my dreams.

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