I think the Allman Brothers sang “Ramblin’ Man” just for me, cause I swear I was born a ramblin’ man. Perhaps my concept of rambling (travel) is not akin to yours but I have to tell ya’ four blasts of a ship’ s whistle still raises the hair on the back of my neck.
My concept of travel was shaped years ago. I was prisoner to the works of Steinbeck, Kerouac, Melville, and the great travel writers such as Paul Thoreaux. I’ve read, On the Road, Blue Highway, and Sunrise with Steam Monsters more than once.
Good literature can be a major influence in our lives; for me it was compelling. After I caught the bug, I hitchhiked the length and breath of the country, rode freight trains, and rafted lazy rivers. Those things seldom exist anymore. What exists now is a very mechanized, technocratic world in which there are rules and regulations at every stop. My idea of adventure is going out and doing it on the street. The adventure of the open road builds a certain character that you don’t get in little league.
When I was young the urge to be someplace was overwhelming. My elders assured me that maturity would cure this itch. Now that I’m 65 nothing has changed.
I think the wanderlust is innate because the origin of existence is movement. Immobility can have no part in it, because if existence were immobile it would return to its source, which is the void. That’s why voyaging never stops.
I am impassioned to introduce my girls to the blue highways of America. The blue highways are the back roads and are designated by the color blue on the old road maps. “What is the blue road anyway but an opportunity to poke at the unseen and a hoping the unseen will poke back.” (William Least Heat Moon) On the blue road, adventure is ridiculously easy to find.
We’re leaving on our 4th road trip, just because. The anticipation always gets me wonderin’ and dreamin’. The girls are ecstatic. “Where are we going daddy?” I explained that on a road trip, a good traveler has no destination and is not intent on arriving. One travels not to go anywhere, but to go, to travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is simply to move. “But where are we going daddy?” I said, “That depends upon which way the wind blows and besides no matter where you go, there you are.” If they were to be voyagers, they’d need to understand that.
My only worry would be their ability to text. Silent messages to mom can potentially bring down the intensity of a road trip.
I hope that on this journey the girls would not merely see sights, but experience the landscapes and people along the way. The journey must extend equally into the world within us, as it does into the world around us. Road trips transform us. I wish for them a true journey of an Odysseus, an Ishmael, a Gulliver or even a Dorothy of Kansas where the passage through space and time becomes a metaphor of a movement through the interior of their being. “Nothing ever bridged the gulf between the man who went and the man who stayed behind.” (John Le Carre)
My dear reader, try it my way, as a voyager, a rambler, and maybe the only gift of the journey will be a chance to inquire, to know nothing for certain, and gain an inheritance of wonder and nothing more.
The girls are packed, ready to go, and sound asleep. I need to finish this write, and get if off to Donna; we leave at dawn. At the bewitching hour of sunrise the pull of the blue highway is strongest. It’s a time when the open road beckons, and when the distant side of the beyond becomes a lure that we can’t resist.