Tag Archives: William Least Heat Moon

A bad turn isn't the end

A man's never out of work if he's worth a damn. It's just sometimes he doesn't get paid. I've gone unpaid my share and I've pulled my share of pay. But that's got nothing to do with working. A man's work is doing what he's supposed to do, and that's why he needs a catastrophe now and again to show him a bad turn isn't the end, because a bad stroke never stops a good man's work.

—William Least Heat Moon. "West by Southwest." Blue Highways.

A man becomes his attentions

Had I gone looking for some particular place rather than any place, I'd never have found this spring under the sycamores. Since leaving home, I felt for the first time at rest. Sitting full in the moment, I practiced on the god-awful difficulty of just paying attention. It's a contention of Heat Moon's -- believing as he does any traveler who misses the journey misses about all he's going to get -- that a man becomes his attentions. His observations and curiosity, they make and remake him.

—William Least Heat Moon. "East." Blue Highways.

Mapping Blue Highways

Similar to the previous post about Slowly Down the Ganges, I am mapping the places from another book: Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. Reading these travel tales excites me -- I want to know where the authors went almost as much as why they went and what they did there. I want to see the places they saw. I want to follow the roads they followed. Perhaps I should see if there is a local chapter of Geographaholics Anonymous.

Blue Highways is, so far, doubly exciting because I've spent a great deal of time traveling the roads of the US. The blue highways he refers to are the smaller roads on the map, not the freeways, not the interstates; in other words, as a native of the great nowhere, my kinds of roads. I'm only 20-some pages into Blue Highways and I'm getting the itch. If Least Heat Moon could do it, imagine...

Anyway. The places and backroads in Blue Highways are remarkable. Sometimes Least Heat Moon mentions them in passing, sometimes he stops and visits. Each encounter with the locals has had a welcome ring of empathy. I am mapping Least Heat Moon's excursion as it happens -- as it happens on the page, at least.

Here is the map I have created so far with places from Blue Highways.

If you are a Google Earth user, here is the same map as a network link file that you can follow as I update it: Blue_Highways.kmz.