Put down the pen someone else gave you.
No one ever drafted a life worth living on borrowed ink.
It began one night over a couple of beers at a local bar. It took more than a year to plan and pull off.
“You know what I’ve always wanted to do?” I asked my friend Joy one rainy night as we sat commiserating about our complacent lives. “I’ve always wanted to travel Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. But I’ve never found anyone who wanted to accompany me.”
“You’ve found her now,” Joy said, and thus began more than a year of plotting and planning our escape from our lives for more than two weeks on the road.
Romantic visions of Jack Kerouac and the open road, John Steinbeck and a dog named Charley, neon lights and roadside motels clouded our minds as the mundane details of the trip threatened to intrude on our starry-eyed dreams.
Our daughters, both in their twenties, asked if they could join us. We were astounded.
“Why would you want to spend your summer vacation with two middle-aged women?” I asked my daughter Anna.
“It’ll be a blast,” she said.
Joy’s daughter Hillary said something similar, and so we became a foursome of road warriors ready to set forth on one of the most historic roads in the world.
Just the words “Route 66” conjures up visions of greasy hamburgers, neon signs flashing “No Vacancy,” characters out of a Sam Shepard play, and, of course, freedom to disappear into the gut of this country. Even though the trip occurred five years ago, I still see those visions.
Of course, my journal became my companion on the trip. Serendipity and downright foolishness collided into one of the most memorable trips of my life.
Soon after my return, I began writing a novel loosely based on the journey. All I had to do was take a small event from the real trip and amplify it into a golden nugget of a story. Amazingly, there were many stories that never came close to appearing in the book because they were just too outlandish to be believed. Those stories remain sacred, only to be pulled out when the four of us reunite to reminisce.
Live From the Road is now complete and awaiting the final touches before I venture into another area I’ve never been before. While I’m a published author of four hard-copy books, I’m publishing this one as an e-book with Kindle on May 23.
Leading up to the publication date, I plan to write several blogs about the real journey of a lifetime that began in Chicago in a night I’ll never forget. We met blues legend Buddy Guy and walked down State Street under a full moon so large it seemed smaller. That’s just the way it was on this trip and will always remain so.
Have you ever traveled Route 66 or some other historic road? Did it live up to your expectations?