Posts Tagged With: blue highways


Voyager, William Least Heat-Moon, with a friend,  Pilotis,  (ryhmes with lotus), a river pilot, decided to see if they could take a river boat clear across the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Yesterday,  I read half way through River Horse, the name of his book which is the definitive name of his boat, Nikawa, the Osage Indian word for river is ni, kawa is horse, (nee-kah-wah).

Heat-Moon previously wrote Blue Highways, about a solo journey.  He circled the U.S. on the small highways that are drawn in blue on maps.

Jim and I identify with Blue Highways  as we meander in the motor home, keeping to  “roads less traveled.”  Last year we doodled through 29 states, thousands of miles and laughs. This year our travels are quite low-key, slower paced. One great joy is time to read, read, read.

I happily picked up River Horse.  In common with Heat-Moon is a fascination for unusual names; sounding loudly of history and place and poetry and beginnings;  of people and creatures. He speaks of  poetry in the names of Hudson River fishes.

“How impoverished the river would be without stonerollers, horny-head chubs, comely shiners, margined madtoms, northern hogsuckers, hogchokers, short-head redhorses, slimy sculpins, and-more rarely-oyster toadfish, gags, lookdowns,f our-eye butterfly fish, northern stargazers, freckled blennies, fat sleepers,and whole classes of bowfins, anchoivies, needlefish, pipefish, silversides, jacks,wrasses, puffers, and flounders (left-eyed or right-eyed).”

Of  colloquial names for fishes, I have my own story, of sitting on the dock at  Nahma , Michigan with a piece of  fishing line and a safety-pin while my dad went out on his rowboat to catch real fish.  My brother and I would lower the line with a small piece of lead attached to it, a piece of folded grass for bait, and pull up mud rollers, mud suckers and bullheads. All the same fish. More traditionally known in other parts of the country as catfish. When our bucket was full, we got bored with fishing. It was too easy. The rivers and lakes were full of  good tasting fish, no one wanted the bony meat, and earthy tasting bullheads. My dad collected our bucket of fish for fertilizer.

Heat-Moon writes: “The river itself has been, to name a few, Cahohatatea, Shattemuck, Muhheakunnuk, Mahicanittuck, Mohegan, Grande Riveie’re, Angoleme, Rio San Antonio, Rio de Gomez, Rio de Montaigne, Norumbega, Manhatan, Maurititus, River of the Prince, Nassau, Groote, Noordt, River of the Mountains, and (even today) the North.”

Oh, the seduction of poetic names.







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A Possible Maybe Becomes A Done Deal…

In my July 6th Blog entry I discussed reading the book(s) of William Least Heat-Moon. It was then that I described I had starting reading his last book River Horse and I was kind of struggling with his book(s) because of what I called an awkward writing style. At that time I classified my situation a “Possible Maybe” that I would actually finish reading that book.

Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was kind of both of our problem…he was a college English teacher and I have a basic high school English education. So, he has a much larger word vocabulary of larger words than I do. I’m an ex-engineer and numbers are my strong suit while English was my weakest subject. I remember telling my 10th grade English teacher…”You can’t give me a D…it’s the only language I know how to speak!” 🙂

Anyways…I’ve finally finished reading the book. It’s been 10 days…slow going…kind a lot like some of his river voyage across the interior of the United States.

Early on in the book he describes his excitement about floating on the rivers that have been in place for thousands of years…unlike any of the Blue Highways he traveled on his road trip. Later in the book crossing the Great Plains and approaching the Rocky Mountains…he expresses his frustration at how slow the going was…like they could have been walking faster than the headway they were making on water. As you might imagine…he details a wide variety of people he met and experiences along his way.

So, if you’ve got a large vocabulary and enjoy reading real-life travel stories…you’d probably enjoy this book. Was he succesful? Did he reach the Pacific Ocean? Sorry, I don’t give away book endings…you’ll just have to read the book to find out. 🙂

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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Travel Addicts…

After re-reading Blue Highways (see yesterday’s Blog entry) I was reminded of a file I had saved in my documents file. It’s a list of sayings from people who liked to travel…


For the born traveler, traveling is a besetting vice. Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim’s time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort.

– Aldous Huxley

…from the midst of dark pine forests, the isolated snowy peaks were looking out like giants. They served us for grand beacons to show the route at which we advanced in our journey.
– John C. Freemont, 1843

The traveler may feel assured, he will meet with no difficulties or dangers, excepting in rare cases, nearly so bad as he beforehand anticipates. In a moral point of view, the effect ought to be, to teach him good-humored patience, freedom from selfishness, the habit of acting for himself, and of making the best of every occurrence…Traveling ought also to teach him distrust; but at the same time he will discover, how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance.

– Charles Darwin

To have been the Dreamer for so long and now to be the Doer, inside the dream instead of outside it, still feels like a dream.

Alyce Cornyn-Selby

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.

~Ray Bradbury

Muhammad says, ‘Love of one’s country is a part of the faith.’ But don’t take that literally! Your real ‘country’ is where you’re heading, not where you are.

– Rumi

I think that travel comes from some deep urge to see the world, like the urge that brings up a worm in an Irish bog to see the moon when it is full.

~Lord Dunsany

the open road is a beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.

– William Least Heat Moon

Everybody needs places to play in…where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.

– John Muir

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.

— James Michener

. . .If people and their manner of living were alike everywhere, there would not be much point in moving from one place to another.

– Paul Bowles

I hesitated a moment to view this immense mountain, the top of which was obscured in the clouds, and the ascent appeared to be almost perpendicular.

– William Clark (Lewis and Clark)

Traveling is a learning process that takes place in a real rather than an artificial environment.

– People’s Guide to Mexico

There are places that have great strength for one that knows how to understand and feel. They are places of unique power that comes out of the depths of the earth. It can be a place apart, somewhere in the fields, in the mountains, surrounded by rocks or boulders, at the entrance of a cave, at the high summit or at the rim of a canyon…

Romayne Wheeler
Life Through the Eyes of a Tarahumara

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.

– Douglas Adams

Life is a daring adventure or it is nothing.

– Helen Keller


Here’s my favorite saying that I picked up somewhere along the way…

A bad day of RVing, beats a good day at work!

Here’s a photo of our magic carpet, that takes us to so many wonderful places, taken at the Thousand Trails RV Resort in Soledad Canyon, California.

As Charles Kuralt from the old “On The Road” TV series used to say…”Wonder what’s around the bend?” Travel On!!!!

(By the way…I so enjoyed re-reading Blue Highways, I decided to re-read it a third time…starting again yesterday…only slower this time!)

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:

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