On the Road, Again

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I’ve been doing my share of driving lately, so I thought I’d post this little series. It has run here before, but that was about seven years ago, I think. I used to spend many hours on the road but not so much in the past few years. Now, I’m back at it to a degree. I’ve been traveling the same roads a lot, a back-and-forth type journey. I get bored with the same old scenery and the same old obstacles. I know to slow down for this speed trap. I know when the traffic in that city will be terrible. I know where ALL the bathroom stops are. Well, that last one can be a good thing, but I find myself looking at road maps (or MapQuest, etc.), searching for alternate routes, the “blue highways” popularized in the 70s by William Least Heat Moon’s book of the same name. Do you do that? I have wound up in some amazing places.
On another note, I have been contacted by visitors to this site who are worried about a regular who has been conspicuous by his absence lately. Popularly known as “Ghost,” he is so regular that others are worried, because he has failed to post in the past 10 days or so. I certainly share hopes that Ghost is all right, but I am afraid I am powerless to do much, beyond encouraging him to let his friends know he is all right, if his absence is deliberate for whatever reason. I’m proud of the feeling of community many of you share, but that is your doing, not mine. I hope Ghost will return soon.

62 responses to “On the Road, Again”

  1. Thanks for posting your concern about ” Ghost. ”

    My BIL and I do back road trips via Google Maps. We pick destinations, deliberately assign obscure waypoints, then let Google map it out. Get to explore back roads and countryside we might otherwise miss.

  2. Thank you Jimmy. And I like the retro strip. I still can look at maps and dream of travel. Even in this day of GPS-equipped cell phones I still buy a road atlas if I plan to travel anywhere. After all, you can’t always get a signal. Two years ago I took a driving vacation to Florida. When I got almost to the AL/FL line, my cell signal dropped and it did not come back till I got nearly to I-10.

  3. After spending the better part of a week in the mountains of NC, I can verify that there are many places with no signal. We always travel with a box of atlases, other travel guides, bird ID books, etc.

  4. Starbucks may be Seattle, but Portland is really big on coffee. Local small roasters just abound there, with Stumptown probably being the most famous.

    I don’t think Washington is more coffee than Oregon is.

    Janis is right. Robin is wrong.

  5. I love Blue Highways. It is the book that Steinbeck wanted to write when he did Travels With Charlie. All of Least Heat Moon’s books are good but Blue Highways set my path. Well, actually Steinbeck did but WLHM cemented it.

    Since I began my peripathetic wanderings long before either book was written perhaps I should say they justified them.

    Today is Go Braless Day in support of awareness of breast cancer. I was hoping it would bring out Ghost.

    Sorry, the groups on net I am moderator of gives me access to emails and names, way to reach members, I work through Yahoo and Google groups so am not familiar with this format. I was hoping JJ could reach Ghost.

  6. Don’t know that I don’t agree on Washington and craze for coffee.
    I don’t drink coffee, never have, but I spent over seven weeks there this summer and fall and it seemed to be an obsession.

  7. I was in my insurance office awhile back, and the lady that care of business asked me if I still used Road Atlas. I said, sure, I keep one in the car, and one by my ‘reading chair’ at all times. She said many of the ‘younger’ generation did not even know what she was talking about, that everyone now uses their smart phones….it seems GPS is going by the wayside already. Anyway, she gave me their latest.

  8. I almost bought one last night in a convenience store for 16.95 because the paper looked heavier and more durable than my Walmart version. It was a brand I wasn’t familiar with.

  9. Wow! I didn’t know you cared. 🙂

    Seriously, I’m OK; my Mom is OK. I apologize to those who may have been concerned that “figurative Ghost” had somehow become “literal ghost”. In my defense, I will say that my stars have been far out of alignment the past couple of weeks…several physician appointments for my Mom; three out-of-town trips (two over the weekends; one of them unscheduled and on short notice); a couple of personal issues with which to deal; a rush project at the Skonk Works. Add to that my continuing problems with InterWebNet connectivity at home, and you have a recipe for schedule overload.

    As of this moment, things are pretty much back to what I laughingly refer to as normal, and this evening, if the DSL gods so deign, I’ll catch up on all your posts made during my absence. Again, I’m sorry if I caused anyone to worry about me. But thanks for your concern. This is indeed a Community.

    Oh, and happy I could make it back for Go Braless Day. Film at eleven? 😉

  10. I use road atlases, too – and I check off the different states’ license plates on its index page as we see them on a trip. That habit goes back more than 70 years for me!

    Glad you’re back, ghost.

  11. Welcome home Ghost. When you read back you will see how much your absence has affected some of us. You owe Anonymous a new manicure and set of nails!

  12. Anonymous, I have seen some that were designed mainly for the trucking crew. They had listings of all facilities available at the interstate exits. Don’t know how they can keep them accurate with the constant turnover in eateries and gas stations. I got a Rand McNally at either Sam’s or Wally World, don’t recall which. It was large print format and spiral bound so no trouble getting pages to stay open or lie flat. Very handy.

  13. Just checking in for my “weekly” or “weakly” chat. I don’t use MapQuest or phones. My travels of great distances are done by mega cruise ships, so, I leave the navigating to Captain Guiseppi What’s His Name and his crew. They are usually Italian since we go on Carnival mostly. (The port of New Orleans is only 75 miles away!) I’ve been in the captain’s area and all the instruments are labelled in Italian. I can still read a good bit of it. No road trips coming up until the Halloween date Auburn has with the Bears from Ole Miss. (Auburn is emphasizing academics this year instead of football! We had an open date Saturday and had to go into overtime to win it!) We even have a tour of the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, AL as part of one of our trips in November.

    Blessings on everyone. ‘Til we meet again! (On to the local health club!) Sure good to have Ghost back!

  14. Well once and for all Jimmy has proven that he does not “look into our windows”, at least in Ghost’s windows. Maybe I should tell my kids that I post on here pretty regularly so maybe they need to check in if something ever happens to me. Truly it is great to be concerned about someone that we not physically met, but actually care for.

    I have used Google Maps and Google earth to take “trips” before. Clicking on places that I used to live or have visited can be pretty fulfilling.

  15. Ghost it reminds me of when my kids would not come home and “claim” that they told us that they would not be home and where they were at. Sometimes they told the truth. Cell phones helped with that.

    One time I went to pick up my daughter at the East Lansing train station and Justin Verlander was pitching a no-hitter (that he lost in the 9th inning). About 5 miles out I realized that I left my phone at home. When I got to East Lansing, there was a bunch of construction and I had NO idea how to get to the station. I kept driving around in circles when I then started to look for a pay phone. I stopped at a convenience store to use the phone and my daughter happened to be standing there. I over heard her say “DAD’s ALL RIGHT!!!” Because I had my phone on vibrate, my wife did not know that I left it at home.

  16. I love maps of all sorts- dead tree or electronic, current road maps or historic renderings. Like JJ, I like to imagine life in these other parts of the world. Google Street View is a favorite of mine, I love to drop in randomly around the world.

    Number 2 Son and I talk about taking a cross-country trip via the blue highways- maybe next summer between his graduation from college and before entering the working world.

  17. Welcome back GR – IMHO the reaction to your absence shows why deciding to keep those who care about you in the dark is a bad idea. You may think you are sparing people from bad news, but imagination usually comes up with scenarios much worse than reality. Glad to hear the absence was simply schedule overload (which happens to us all at one time or another).

  18. Thanks Jimmy, for responding to queries.

    I’m another map lover, and I used to use Map Quest for online searches, but recently I’ve become intrigued with Google maps. I’ve found it helpful to know what the place I’m trying to find will look like when I finally get there (sidewalk view). Not every place has pictures, but it’s fun sometimes to revisit previous residences or vacation sites to see what they look like in recent times.

  19. Well, I am glad Ghost has returned! Not only do you owe me a set of nails but a 6 pound weight loss. When I ran out of fingernails I needed the toes for driving so Dickens and I ate nuts, beef jerry and Diet Coke. Well, Dickens didn’t hit the Coke, he likes cheese.

    Now I will catch up. My quinoa and stir Fried vegs are here. Love.

  20. Steve,

    Your story reminds me of the story of the older couple, who’s grown kids told them they couldn’t visit for Thanksgiving. The mother called one of the daughters and told her that she and her father were getting a divorce after 50+ years of marriage. The daughter immediately called her sister and brother and told them to plan to visit the parents immediately that it was a family crisis and she called the mother and told her of their visit. The mother hung up the phone and asked her husband, “Well, what can we tell them to get them to visit for Christmas?”

  21. go to an antique mall, and find old highway maps from the 50s/60s. the major roads on those maps are the two lane highways of today, and you can do some great back roading with them

  22. With all the drama about our missing Ghost, a song has been running through my mind… From Bye Bye Birdie… We Love You Conrad…
    I am using my tablet so I can’t post a YouTube link, but you can look it up. I am sure Ghost remembers it.
    Yes, we really DO care!

  23. Debbe 😉 I’m baaaackk… 🙂


    I don’t know if I made it clear or not, but while I was AWOL I didn’t even have time to *read* posts, much less enter posts of my own. I’m still working my way through them, but I saw where you said you were going through a bad patch related to your Mother’s passing. Of course, I can identify with that. Hope you are doing better now, hon. And the music will resume.

  24. Oh. My gosh. That is the ONLY song anyone ever allowed me to sing in a musical! I was one of the fainting teenage girls who sang to Conrad Birdie (off key and whimny ) “We love you Conrad, oh yes we do, we love you Conrad and we’LL be true..”

    I will never FORGET the only time I got to sing on stage. The rest of the time they told me to mix with the chorus and keep my mouth shut!

  25. Well I didn’t have the Ann Margaret role, that required actual talent and a voice. I was one of the air brained fainting chicks. I remember my friend who played Conrad wore a gold lame’ stretch suit with jewels all over it.

    This satire was about Elvis and Conway Twitty who most of us don’t remember as a teen idol of that magnitude but we are talking Broadway musical between 1961 and 1963 and that was before Elvis dressed like that. I remember it being produced on Broadway by financing from my hometown so we got to perform at end of the live run and way before movie.

  26. Mark the whole time Ghost was MIA I kept thinking of Ghostbusters and I just watched entire video. It was funny, I tried to link, I still need lessons in phone!

    And how could I not think of the famous pottery class in Ghost?
    Forced myself to watch that one too.

    And since Ghost vanished when we offered to buy and deliver a kilt, how about the killed ghosts in Brigadoon who got to come back for one day and dance?

  27. Mark
    Thanks for the Bad Cat tip will order at the library.
    Have to cultivate a new librarian – why is it all my go to people are retiring?

    Thanks as always for the chzbgr.com links – I share and the list is growing
    long enough I am afraid “they” will soon ask if I am human.

    I agree about Blue Highways must have read that close to 40ya.
    An Acquaintance is about to take that sojourn.

    When we win big in the lottery I am going to hire a driver to take the back roads
    And design a vehicle where the driver sits behind the 2 front seat observers.

    Ghost for some reason I had a premonition you would show up today – of course
    if you had’ent it would have been a failed premonition.
    Glad you are back.

  28. Anonymous, haven’t seen Brigadoon, but do remember the I Love Lucy episode that did a takeoff on it.

    You know, as far as your getting the Scottish wool cape, etc, maybe your boat-building associate from the UK would have some good suggestions as to where and how to buy more. It’s getting late in the year, but next year look for a Scottish Celebration somewhere you would like to travel. They have one in Tennessee I went to once. Great food, herding dog demonstrations, all kinds of vendors, and for the ladies, brawny men performing feats of strength and skill.

  29. Anonymous, your story of mixing (hiding?) amongst the others and remaining silent on stage reminded me of the Mandrell Sisters TV show (in, what was it, the 80s? I was a mere child back then 🙂 ) , including Irlene, the youngest one who played the drums. I always had the impression her mic was dead, and she was just lip-syncing the songs. But, as I’m sure you were, she was quite decorative. 😉

    And still think I need that cape to enhance my superhero image.

  30. Dearest Ghost, am I ever glad that you are back in the land of the living. No kidding, I was ready to give up! Let’s all fix things so that someone will know what to do if we disappear.

    A big thank you to JJ and Mark and to all who helped in the search. Ghost, did someone let you know we were desparate to hear from you, or was it a coincidence?

  31. Purely a coincidence, Sweet Charlotte. Late this morning was literally the first time I’d been able to check in since my last previous post. And the last thing I ever expected was to see my name *above* the comments. 🙂

    Perhaps we should leave in our last instructions that our obituaries are to be published here under our screen names? Wow, that came out morbid.

  32. Somehow I went back on YouTube to find Highland dancing scenes and ended up watching Edinburgh Tattoo and military sword dancing in kilts. You all are making me feel really old because I was a stage manager in college version of Brigadoon in 1960s and Ghost was apparently not even a tadpole then or even a supermarket or egg.

    By the way, the Honda service guys were terribly disappointed when I told them it was national bra less Day (they were doing something in support of breast cancer awareness) but no one had come in yet. When I went In bathroom I decided it didn’t make much difference.

    Yes, about all I contributed to most theatrical performances was eye candy. Seems the story of part of my life.

  33. Ghost
    All I get is a survey blanking the screen.

    A Nony Mouse

    Check out a Renaissance Festival they have capes – maybe in Tartan.
    Do here in MN – and I know you would enjoy the experience – Tumbrels full
    of Craft People. I enjoy them as much as the “Entertainment”

  34. So that’s where the near constant gleam in my eye came from!

    Bear, I get that survey, too. (One of the delights of accessing the InterWebNet version of any of the Gannett fish-wrappers.) Usually, I’ve found, one only has to click on one response at random to get the survey to go away. What boggles my mind is the fact the company apparently thinks there is some value to collecting random, unverifiable information.

    Almost as much as my mind is boggled by the thought that speelchek thinks “sperm” is a misspelling of “supermarket”.

    “Clean up on Aisle 7.”

  35. Ghost, how do we know that you aren’t dead? You are a ghost after all. A lame joke. I knew that you were fine. I’ve been very busy myself as you can see from the time. It was a coincidence that today was the Navy’s birthday as I have been to a wedding at what used to be Trader Jon’s. If you were connected to the Navy you probably know about the place. Very very little of it (one brick wall) looks the same, but it was fun to be there.

  36. Good Morning Villagers….

    And a special good morning to you, GR 😉 (In the voice of Elmo) I am happy, happy, happy!!! I am relieved that all is well with you and your mother, I also have thought about your BIL. I am doing better in my mood swings, they come and go as you well know. You have a lot of catching up to do in reading the past posts…..I’m just glad you didn’t buy that cape and do a Wiley Coyote off a cliff.

    And a special thank you Jimmy, for acknowledging our concerns.

    Now, I have a funny story to tell…and it really happened. You know Emb has got me started on stargazing in the morning hours. And John, Orion’s Belt is right over head.

    Anyhoo, I have a new co-worker, Mikey, he has been stargazing too, The other day I asked him if he saw the stars, it was slightly cloudy that morning, he asked “you mean the planets?” I said ‘yeah’….he said no, but I did see Earth….I just looked at him and lost it. Mikey is a deadpan humorist, and a good worker. Mikey also is cleaning up his act, and is doing good. He brought in his new purchase, a Bear bow. I was impressed. Then he brought in one big long arrow….remember the scene from “Robin Hood” where Costner’s character splits a bow with a bow….Mikey did the same thing, and it was real as he said there is no way one could physically put an arrow within arrow that far….it was the force of the second arrow that made the almost impossible impact. I am happy he is finding positive things in his life instead of drugs.

    Oh, and my son Ian does know I post here…..I am going to remind him that if anything happens to me he is to come here and post….morbid, no, considerate, yes.

    Mark, I had that album once..Tubular Bells, and I really like “The Girl in the Yellow Dress”..very bluesy. Saw some other links to the left…will tune in later. Thanks

    Poltergeist….only you could come up with that GR 🙂

    Ya’ll have a blessed day

    And, now, where has Indy Mindy been…..!!!!!!

  37. Jimmy:

    I think that you will also enjoy “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey.

    This next one is not a “road novel,” but it can still take you places: “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse.

  38. Mark, here in the Florida hills it is very possible to lose a signal. With all of the stuff that we now have in orbit you would think we could solve that.

  39. AM sky question for EMB, I saw a bright object (planet?) in the NE sky @ 6:40AM from Baton Rouge, LA, a little N & W of New Orleans. Could it be Venus?

    Blessings on everyone on this beautiful Fall day.

  40. Indy Mindy is ok, I saw. Her on Facebook yesterday and made a comment I think. I can certainly contact her.

    Denise no, Jerry, as she hasn’t been there that I know of. Denise is the one who packs in a ruck sack with the clothes on her body and one change to wear and a third to wash out in Mountain streams and pound on rocks, dry on bushes. She has mentioned making long trips alone before and it didn’t sound like she did it in a minivan with six suitcases and four ways to communicate like me.

    Oh good morning all, I need to get dressed and brush my teeth with bottled water. Water is off, on way to Lowe’s for new hot water heater for main house.

  41. “AM sky question for EMB, I saw a bright object (planet?) in the NE sky @ 6:40AM from Baton Rouge, LA, a little N & W of New Orleans. Could it be Venus?”

    For 3-4 months, a bright, pre-dawn celestial object in the E, other than Luna, is Venus. You can even see it after sunup; just find it before sunup and follow it the same distance from Sol. Best to stand in the shade to avoid Sol’s glare. Once you do that, find a flagpole or whatever, get Venus right above, and show someone. Try not to become a pest / your new-found skill. You might get hanged as a witch.

    Peace, emb

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