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“You CAN fly, You Can Fly You Can Fly!…”Even When You CAN’T! – Musical Peter Pan on Broadway

November 18, 2020 Headline News, USA News No Comments
  • The Armchair Adventurer™ by Mark William Sheehan

I’ve gone to the bookshelves where my favourite’ travel’ books allow me to ‘take cover’ and, at the same stroke, free me to travel from my comfy armchair. Bears Hibernate. I think this is what the planet is doing during the Covid 19 cloud-cover. We’re hibernating.

While fidgeting on the home-front under the Covid19 cloud-cover I’ve retreated into the bookshelf for inspiration. Each of these brilliant books has the capacity to put me back in the saddle, behind the wheel, and atop the saloon stool in places I intend to visit when the gantry lowers again for travel to the USA.

Even if I can’t put the landing-gears up right now, my bag is bulging at the front door and packed: ready for the day I’m again able to put the keys in the ignition and go.

Like the vintage Motel 6™ commercials used to boast: “We’ll keep a light burning in the window for you!” A good read will get my toe tapping, like the sound of a train at speed, over an open track.

It’s all part of my master plan to Read Now and Run-Along-Later! Here ‘Flies!’ with some of my favourites:

 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I used to think the author, Mark Twain wrote this book just for me. A wild-child busting his britches to be free. What better way to cast-off the shackles than to float along the ‘big muddy’ with a runaway slave named ‘Jim’. Huck’s adventures, on the slow-floating timber raft down the wide Mississippi’. Two thousand, three hundred and 30 miles of River spilling into the Gulf of Mexico in ‘the Big Easy’ of New Orleans. Magical. Today, thousands of adventuresome travellers float the literary mainline of Samuel Clements on the river aboard side-wheelers and paddle boats designed to turn back time.. The pace is pleasing and authentic, even with all the creature comforts added-in. Re-reading the book is like turning back the clock to the time when the massive, slow-moving river was the swiftest way to freedom.

River Horse

Native American author, William ‘Least Heat Moon’ used a modern-day motor boat and trailer when he took a voyage that cut ‘clear ACROSS America by water. Think about it… most rivers in North America meander to the sea somewhere, going on a north-to-south grid… going ACROSS the massive American landscape would take some heroic planning. The descriptions of the Mohawk Valley, the Hudson River palisades and the New York Erie Barge Canal are as good as it gets. Next visit, I’m going to hire an Erie Canal boat and skipper my own clipper. Top speed 8 miles an hour in the event I bump in to anything.

 Islands in the Stream

Ernest Hemmingway puts real sea salt in the pores. I’ve been back to the Everglades, Key West, and the Florida Keys a dozen times now, and the flavour of ‘Papa’ Hemmingway lingers on the street-corners long after his death. Revellers still spill out onto the sidewalk and tip one-too-many in “Sloppy Joe’s Saloon and ‘Captain Tony’s ‘dive.  Charter boats still hunt for ‘Snook’ and bonefish in the flats of the Gulf Stream, and in open water tagging tuna and shark is a daily event. Every evening, thousands of folks gather on the waterfront at Mallory Square to watch the sun dip into the Atlantic. My last visit was to watch the sinking of the massive spy ship, the Vandenberg. She went to the bottom in less than 2 minutes…a moment of silence, then everyone went back to drinking.

Travels with Charley

In the early 1960’s John Steinbeck put an odd-shaped camper-top onto his pick-up truck (UTE?) and lit-out to rediscover America. He took his best friend along for the ride, ‘Charley’ his beloved, oversized poodle. They seemed to have gotten lost a lot, but I now know Steinbeck was in search of more than the next camping spot. Being ‘lost’, allowed the author and his ‘conversation-starter’ ‘Charley- dog’ to roll up to the curb and ask locals for directions. You meet the nicest people this way. I plan to rent a pet next time I do an RV trip in the USA.

On The Road

Jack Kerouac’s tale of drifting from San Francisco to New York with a sad-looking five dollar bill in his pocket has become the definitive sub-culture creed for the ‘beat generation’ of writers. He and his pals took the southern route, just because they could. Grappling for gas money and smokes, crashing parties and invading guest beds and flopping on stranger’s sofa’s along the way ignited an entire nation of young people to stick out a thumb and hitch a ride.

Route 66 America

Billy Connelly sees the world from a different pair of eyes, no matter where he’s standing. Or, in the case of this travel tome, sitting. Billy’s magic carpet along ‘the mother road’ of Historic Route 66 is atop a massive ‘trike’. A hi-bred motorcycle with two burly rear tyres and a big-ass-butt for toting stuff around in ‘the boot’. Trikes are very stable cousins to motorcycles, while letting the rider feel the wind on their face and the thumps and bumps of the open roadway. Nobody in America seemed to know Billy is a famous entertainer: his Scottish accent was the only ice-breaker he needed to crack open a conversation and ‘a cold one’ with ‘the locals’. Thousands of visitors take this path in the saddle of a rented Harley Davidson each year. Look out for the pot-holes.

“If you ever plan to motor west, travel my way, take the highway that is best. Get your kicks on Route 66.”  Song lyric Bobby Troup

The Lost Continent Small Town USA

I like just about everything penned by our writing pal Bill Bryson. This writer just can’t help himself; he’s chronically comic with his pen and perspective. Bryson puts joy on the page, no matter what the topic. For this book, he covered 38 states, packing his unique sense of humour and insights along with him. “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to!” Read anything by this bloke. “I felt like a priest let loose in Las Vegas with a sock full or quarters…!”

 

Blue Highways

When you lose your teaching job and life relationships become a train wreck what next? For Native American Least Heat Moon the decision was easy. Do a ‘runner! Toss gear into the back of a van, grab the Rand McNally Road Map of America and simply ‘put the pedal to the metal’. Actually for Least Heat, it was more like a mild meander, as Mr Moon was keen to go slowly, and explore America along the small, forgotten, out-of-the-way roads connecting rural America. Those paths were the tiny blue varicose veins depicted on the map known as ‘Blue highways’. Least Heat was determined to avoid all the major ‘super-slabs’ and interstate highways that dominate the USA. His descriptions are almost, as good as ‘being there’.

Grapes of Wrath

I’d given away so many copies of this tale, I was surprised to find a dusty, ‘dog-eared’ copy on the shelf.  This tale makes me pinch myself every time I think I’ve got it tough. Written to take place during the ‘Great Depression’ of the 1930s this family’s tragic ‘dust bowl’ eviction from their farmstead put them on ‘the mother road’. The ‘migrant road’ trip to the dreams of a better life in California put my current Covid19 confinements into perspective. Have tissues by the bedside when you read this one. John Steinbeck the author, based his fictional characters on ‘the real McCoy’. Petrol in those days was a whopping four cents a gallon, if you could afford it.

Working

Studs Terkel is perhaps one of the best interviewers that ever lived. He captured America in a can when he hopped boxcars during the ‘great depression’ of the 1930s. Studs simply asked everyone he bumped into along the way for a nickel, and when most said no, he asked them how they felt about their jobs. He got pure gold back in reply. During a radio interview in Chicago, Studs said If you really want to know America, you’ll discover it in the voices of her people. From Hookers and hustlers to housewives, shoe shine street urchins and senators he played ‘no favourites’ in ‘asking around’. Real Voices across the “Real America”. Open ‘Working’ on any page you please, and you’re going for gold. People will open up to a complete stranger with revelations they would never dream of sharing with a loved one. Why is that? I’m ready to get to ‘work’ myself, so I’ll be signing up for a volunteers’ spot with EARTHWATCH. A bit of dirt under my fingernails.

The Great Gatsby

  1. Scott Fitzgerald penned this ‘roaring twenties’ tale from my childhood backyard in Manhasset, Long Island. This ‘privileged Island’ is a mere 113 mile long sand spit, but it has become the homestead and playground of some of America’s wealthiest, well-known and ‘well-heeled’ families. No trip to ‘The Big Apple’ of Manhattan should be attempted without at least popping across the East River onto Long Island. Sandy Beaches open to the public, sport fishing and boating, galleries and shopping-till-you-drop take on a new perspective in ‘the Hamptons’ and if celebrity-spotting is on your bucket list, take the pail and shovel to the beach and begin walking… it won’t take long. With a bit of money in my pocket, I can overnight in the famous “OHEKA Mansion’ and turn back the clock. ‘Dress for Dinner- its ‘black tie’.

Hemmingway’s Haunts 

Most people know Michael Palin as a bloke from his creative and acting stints at Monty Python and ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ but the fact is, he’s a prolific and highly talented writer. Palin gets a ‘bee in his bonnet’ and then just writes fabulous books about it. For this title, he bunked down in Hemmingway’s childhood haunts, gained hangovers in Key West saloons following in Ernest Hemmingway’s foot-falls, ‘running with the bulls’ and tracking prong-horns in the mountains outside of Ketchum Idaho. No animals were harmed in the writing of the book, Palin only sighted wildlife thru the view-finder of his camera.

The Long Way Around

It started as a daydream. Pondering a map of the world over a pint at home one Saturday afternoon, Ewan McGregor, acclaimed ‘Star Wars’ actor and self-confessed motorcycle  enthusiast noticed that it just might be possible, to ride all the way round the world…on a motorcycle! Floating over the wet bits by boat. When you get an idea that just might be too big to consider on your own what is the most effective course to take?  Call your best friends and say you think the entire thing is, totally IMPOSSIBLE! And that’s where the rubber meets the roadway. Ewan and Charley travelled 22,345 miles through 18 countries and The Long Way Around is a must-read for anyone who’s ever thrown their leg over the saddle of a motorcycle. This adventure is best enjoyed, sitting in a comfy lounge-chair, feet up with a tall glass of something soothing.

 It’s a Wrap!

“We’re going to the Mattresses…!”  – A line out of The Godfather

In the film, “The Godfather”, there is a mafia war about to get fired up, and the Corleone ‘Family’ are buying mattresses by the dozen to bunk down until the gunfire stops and a peace treaty is signed.

A bit like John Wayne commanding his fellow trail-blazers to ‘Circle the Wagons’ in readiness for an attack.

It feels a bit like that for now, with the Covid19 lock-down.

The full impact of Covid19 on us may not reveal itself for years yet, but in the meantime, we can read-up and make the most of our time getting ready for the day we can travel freely.

Drop us a postcard, we’re happy to hear from you.

 


CONTACT BOX:

Do your homework NOW? Reach out and be ready for the pent up ‘Travel Tsunami that will no doubt, happen!

Wanta go along?

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