Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Literary Love, Endless Highways and Stone Presidents

I am heading out west for a three-week road trip in a few days -- it will be a mad rush to a cousin's wedding in Portland, then to Reno with scattered stops along the way for lunch and coffee with friends, to my mom's house to pick up a bunch of boxes of my old belongings and things that belonged to my grandmother, then back to Virginia with my mom to keep me company, in a race to get her to the airport so she can fly back home in time to get to work six days after we leave Reno.

Highway and clouds

Somewhere out west.

It's just over 6,000 miles round trip.

Why a road trip? Well, we have a car that gets fantastic gas mileage (so that, actually, gas will cost about the same that it did on my 2002 road trip in a Jeep Cherokee), plane tickets are very expensive these days, and to take two trips with two plane tickets, or even one plane ticket to Portland, plus a rental car to drive to Reno and back to Virginia would end up costing far more in the long run, by my calculations. Plus, I'm just tired of flying. I've been flying my whole life, but I think passengers are getting meaner and nastier to each other, customer service has gone way down, and personal passenger space has become inhumane, even before people start putting their seats back into my lap (a practice I think should be banned except on red-eye flights). I plan to travel all over the world in my life, and that will certainly involve flying, but why torture myself if I don't have to?

Anyway, I'm going on this road trip, and I am a bit nervous and a bit excited and a bit reluctant and a bit delighted. I'll get to see lots of friends and family I love...


I think this is my dad.

...and meet people I've never met but can't wait to meet, and see scenery I've never seen before and add to the list of states I've visited (Montana, maybe? Idaho? South Dakota?), and possibly see Mount Rushmore and maybe step foot onto the Laura Ingalls homestead and definitely visit Powell's City of Books, which I've longed to visit ever since I first heard of it years and years ago.

Highway 36-3

Highway 36 in Northern California

And I'll have hours of thinking time on the way out west, which will be nice. I've spent a lot of time getting music ready to download onto my new iPod. But, even better, I've found LibriVox, a magnificent site of free recordings of public domain literature (a big thank you to all the people who are willing to donate their time and energy to make something like this available to the world).

Now I have downloaded so many hours of books and poetry that I might not be listening to any music at all.

* Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
* Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts by Frank Richard Stockton
* Treasure Island and Foreign Lands by Robert Louis Stevenson
* Mountains of California by John Muir (for when I'm driving through those same mountains)
* Andersen's Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
* Gawayne and the Green Knight by Charlton Miner Lewis
* Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum
* Song of Wandering Aengus by William Butler Yeats
* Ulysses by James Joyce

and finally, a bunch of poetry by Christina Rossetti, T.S. Eliot, Edgar Allen Poe and Tennyson.

This, my friends, is why I am so excited to have an iPod. Because now I will be a captive audience for all those books I've been meaning to read. There were so many more to download, and so many authors, including Jane Austen, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Herman Melville and on and on. I'm still not sure I'm finished downloading; I'm torn between Mansfield Park, Moby Dick and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

So this brings us to the burning question of the day: if you listen to a book, can you then say you've read that book? Ah, modern technology and the dilemmas it poses.

And now back to the road trip -- I don't have a laptop and will have only sporadic access to any computers, so I'll be out of sight for a while, but I will be back in mid-August with, I hope, lots of photos and some tales to tell.

(Like the time I was driving through New Mexico, in the middle of nowhere, listening to the song "The Lighthouse Tale" by Nickel Creek, when, in the middle of desert that stretched as far as I could see, I passed a street sign for Lighthouse Lane... mere coincidence?)

OH: and I almost forgot, for those who are as fascinated by word roots and meanings as I am, here is a site that looks into the linguistic and mythological origins of the names of the characters and other words used in the Harry Potter series... J.K. Rowling clearly put a lot of thought into the names she used.


Crashdummie said...

Hang on a moment… Darth Vader is your father?!?! But in that case, that makes you… Princess Leia! :p

Wow, a roadtrip? Me and some galpals of my have planned that before we turn 30 we’ll come to the states for a 1 month roadtrip along the west coast, fly over to the east cost and have a lil roadtrip there… lets see how it turns out.

You have fun meeting up with your family & friends, and come back with loadsa stories and pics to show n tell!


Felicia said...

Thanks so much for that HP word root link. Enjoy your trip :)

paintandink said...

Heehee, Crashie... actually, I'm the unknown sibling... Alison Earthwanderer. Okay, that was cheesy... soooooorrry.

Felicia, you are most welcome. Thank you for stopping by!

Pam Aries said...

Have fun on your roadrip! I would LOVE t othat in my old 77 VWbus! I would have to know a lot of Vdub mechanics on the way though! you will have a blast..take lots of pics!

carolyn said...

I say Yes you can say you read the book well okay technically you had someone read the book to you but that's okay. Be warned though you might just miss the odd turning whilst listening I know I certainly have done. Have a wonderful trip.

Tinker said...

Thanks for the wonderful link.
What a fun roadtrip you have planned out - I'd much rather travel by car and see the sights along the way. Have a safe trip - enjoy!
Oh - and don't forget to bring back lots of photos!

Crashdummie said...

nah, that was adoreable - i knew that was coming ;)

hope you are enjoying ur vacation, cant wait to hear all abt it!


Tinker said...

There's a little award waiting for you here:


to welcome you back, when you return. Rock on!

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

I hope your trail stops for a coffee in my hometown. What a journey you are taking! The stories you will have in your pocket will be wonderful to read about.

CaBaCuRl said...

Hope you have a great time on your road trip...what fun! Also meant I didn't have much to catch up on in your blog, after I'd returned. Thanks for the Librivox site.

Crashdummie said...

still no update? :(

Merisi said...

Still on the road, little envy creeping up here. ;-) I always said that one day I'd love to take an East to West Coast road trip. Would have to do it alone, though. Would want to take lots of pictures (C. is in Virginia right now, makes me kinda want to be there too).
Looking forward to your report.