Posts Tagged ‘William Least Heat Moon’

“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.

Read Full Post »

 “When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

African Safari:The Dark Continent Beneath Our Feet

Nairobi skyline at dust. It was all so different, and colorful, and chaotic. I loved it. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

A nine-hour, cattle-car flight – well that’s what it feels like if you fly economy – deposited us in Amsterdam, where we caught an eight-hour connecting flight to Nairobi, Kenya. We had left Houston at 3:30 p.m. on August 19, but with the 17 hours of flight time, a short layover and the eight-hour time zone difference, it was late evening on the 20th when our feet first touched Africa.

A Pollman’s Safaris’ driver met us at the airport for the ride to our hotel. He stuffed our luggage and six other passengers into a van that had seen better days. In fact, I don’t recall seeing a single vehicle in Nairobi that didn’t look like it had seen better days.

But the color and intensity of Nairobi at night stirred my blood, as did our driver who would have put a New York taxi driver to shame when it came to dodging oncoming traffic as he zoomed in and out among vehicles that seemed to follow no set rules.

The word Nairobi comes from the Maasai phrase “enkare nyorobi,” which means the place of cool waters. The city, founded in 1899, is better known however as the Green City in the Sun, or the Safari Capital of Africa. It has a population of about 3.5 million and is the fourth largest city in Africa.

The other three pairs of travelers, who had flown in on the same flight as we had, were each staying at different hotels, and they were dropped off first.

The Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, where Robert Redford and Meryl Streep stayed while filming "Out of Africa."

At one of the hotel stops, guards looked under our van with mirrors. At the next stop, the Stanley Hotel, there was no such safety precautions and we could hear partying and music coming from inside. It sounded like a fun hotel.

As we drove through the city, I observed a sign that said 16.7 million Kenyans live in poverty. In contrast we passed huge well-lighted Toyota and Yamaha factories. More interesting, however, was one car driving on a flat as if nothing was wrong.

Like Dorothy, we weren’t in Kansas, or Texas, any more.

It was about 10 p.m. when our driver finally took us past a guarded barrier to let us off at the elegant Norfork Hotel. The precautions emphasized the travel warning to Kenya which Kim and I had chosen to ignore.

The armed guards made the warning seem more real, but any fleeting thoughts of danger quickly faded when we were graciously greeted to the quaint hotel by a doorman in a long green coat and a tall green top hat.

Next Episode: Hemingway Slept Here

Read Full Post »

White Oak lake State Park: A place to sit a while and watch the clouds roll by. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Arkansas has 52 state parks, 26 of which have facilities to accommodate RVs.

I know because finding state parks along my route is part of my regular trip-planning routine. If it were possible, I would spend all my on-the-road nights at state parks rather than commercial ones.

These public campgrounds are usually less expensive, have larger sites, and almost always come with a view and trails that Maggie and I can hike.

Hollyhocks growing near the Wonder House at Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Two of my favorite Arkansas campgrounds are White Oak Lake and Queen Wilhelmina. The first is located just 20 miles away from Camden, where I will start my travels for the year next week. I’ve visited it a couple of times but never stayed overnight because of its close proximity.

In a perfect traveling world – well the one that I prefer – I travel about 150 miles than camp for two to three days so I can become more personally acquainted with a landscape.

Queen Wilhelmina, meanwhile, is almost exactly 150 miles from my daughter’s home. I came upon it a few years back when I was driving the Talamina Scenic Byway between Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The park, located high on a ridge in the Ouachita Mountains was too inviting to pass by. I decided to stop for the night, although I had only traveled 20 miles this day.  Five days later I finally left to continue my journey.

This time around I’m planning to spend my first night on the road at yet another Arkansas State Park. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you all about it next week.

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” William Least Heat Moon, “Blue Highways”

Read Full Post »

Canyonlands National Park, Islands in the Sky -- Photo by Pat Bean


“What is the feeling when you’re driving away from people, and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” — Jack Kerouac.

Travels With Maggie

Good-byes and hellos with months between hugs from loved family members have long been a part of my life. It began when I left home at 16, continued when my children left home and is still a way of life today.

My five children are not among those who settled down in the same town in which they grew up, the kind of place where your best friend is that freckled-face boy or curly-haired redhead girl who sat behind you in kindergarten.

For people who need roots – and a part of me envies them – it’s a great life. But my children must have had too much of my wander lust in their genes to take this route.

They scattered to the four winds, almost before the ink on their high school diplomas was dry. At one time, I had a daughter in Canada, a son in Korea, a son in Japan, a son in Hawaii and a daughter in Utah. A few years later and they were all scattered elsewhere.

For this mom, who had long dreamed of living on the road as William Least Heat Moon did in “Blue Highways,” this wasn’t a bad thing. When I sold or gave away most of my possessions and took to the road in a 22-foot RV with my dog, Maggie, I wasn’t leaving any child behind.

My living on the road has meant I probably get to see my children more than I would if Maggie and I had stayed put – but certainly not as often as the mom whose children live next door, or even just across town. It means my hugs have to be squeezed into limited visits.

I’ve come to think of my life as one of those bitter-sweet oxymorons. While I love the hugs and hellos I also treasure the good-byes. There’s still way too much of the world out there I still haven’t seen.

I’m always hearing people say they want my life. I usually believe a few of them.

Read Full Post »