The beginning to an end, and round again, for Least Heat Moon was when he lost his teaching job. He figured he had two choices – to sleep the matter over or to go crazy. He chose neither. Instead, he decided to take a self-fulfilling journey in search of “places where change did not mean ruin and where Time and Man and Deeds connected. ” Least Heat Moon took a circular route from one end of the United States to another using the back roads or the blue highways because he believed that “life does not happen along interstates.
” He likened Life to a circular route that comes round again, to start over and anew. Least Heat Moon came from the Sioux tribe and like most Native Americans believed that those who embrace the new by discarding the old do not deserve to be honored. His trip gave him the opportunity to meet and talk to people, in the process learning from their experiences. In most cities he visited, people ask about his job. Inasmuch as he had just lost his, Least Heat Moon was vague with his replies and was tempted to answer differently each time.
Someone from Grayville, Illinois thought people with nothing to do was common in any part of the country, while someone from Shelbyville, Kentucky distinguished job from work and from occupation in terms of motivation, time and money. He saw people moving and renovating homes in Kentucky. They were log cabins of 1807 and Bob Andriot took pleasure in preserving them for another two hundred years. Bob has something from the past that he is making into something new to pass on to the future.
Bob’s kind is so unlike those in Frankfort which was named after their local hero, Stephen Frank. From the old Frank’s Ford it became Frankfurt out of convenience without regard of its historical significance. The entire look of Frankfurt was similarly modernized. Kentucky’s name became associated with Col. Harlan Sanders and his crispy-fried chicken. Least Heat Moon dined in Claudia Sanders Dinner House. Least Heat Moon believed nothing beats the delicious and authentic regional food served in local cafes like they did three decades or so years ago.
The Hammonds of Palisades made building a boat their life, a dream made true by their relentless pursuit of it. He lodged and dined at the Shakers’ Trustees Hall, which was built in1839. The Shakers have not outlived their building for their unrealistic views of life and adversity towards progress. On the other hand, Ida, south of Appalachia, was slow to progress because of its isolation. At Gainesboro, Least Heat Moon found that even if he was traveling alone he was to an extent sociable because of the chance that he will meet someone at every stop.
At Shepardsville Road, Madison Wheeler refused to part with his old store’s signage despite a tempting offer for the simple reason that he wanted to keep his name. Least Heat Moon was invited to sup at Wheeler’s table, something that Least Heat Moon appreciated noting that those who “live on little are the ones to ask you to dinner. ” In Nameless, Tennessee Least Heat Moon spent an evening with the Watts who showed that him simple pleasures that last and stay in the heart like buttermilk pie, old music, hot bread and a doctor who “calms like the hand of the Lord.
” He made several futile attempts to meet and talk to Native Americans, Hopi or Navajo, for fear of rejection. At Echo Cliffs in Arizona he noticed that White Men in station wagons bought beads from Indians, when it was the White Men in wagons who sold beads to Indians before. When history is repeated, there is a twist in the course of events. In crossing Colorado, the Spanish missionaries of 1776, navigated the Vermillion cliffs in 10 days, ate cactus and 2 horses, made steps to climb and cross 400-ft walls.
Least Heat Moon made his in 20 seconds, sitting down. What was terrifying to the Spaniards was magnificent to Least Heat Moon. What was a hurdle to the Spaniards was a breeze for Least Heat Moon. There were 2 observation towers containing reminders of WWII in the southern part of Rehoboth Beach. The young would have no idea at all, but had they been born earlier they would have been among the fallen heroes. Glen Marshall of Smith Island found running a boat a good job because he had no boss to take orders from. , which to him was better than money.
Alice Middleton thought that Island Belle brought progress to their island by bringing in provisions, news, medicine, and mails as well as transported the sick and the dying. It was their equivalent to the cars of America. Kendrick Fritz was a Hopi Indian studying Medicine at the Southern Utah State College. Fritz re-acquainted Least Heat Moon on their shared heritage. Fritz said that prejudice against Indians came from seeing them make trouble and that already made them a savage in the eyes of the White Men. The Indians hated the White Way but they enjoy their pleasures as much.
Fritz would go back to Tuba, to his people, to practice medicine and money will never be a consideration. To a Hopi, religion is praying for harmony, as well as rain and crops, and a good life. A common symbol among Native Americans is the emergence or the “road of life. ” People go through birth, death, and rebirth. The symbol is also about the journeys we take as well as the “cosmic patterns that human beings move in. ” The Hopi Way teaches that every one is a part of one whole, a greater family. A hunter is forgiven if he hunts and kills for food, for “only life can feed life.
” In the Hopi religion a person is not just one but a part of many things and that if he respects himself then he respects all things too. A person must not set himself above the rest as that would set him apart. The Hopi Way is the Way of the Spirit which is everywhere. Through his encounters with people Least Heat Moon gains insightful knowledge that it serves no purpose to hold on to the past for it will never return, but, it would be regretful if the past is totally forgotten. It is within man to renew the past, not as a repetition but an exciting variation, like the log cabins with beautiful interiors.
The present should always connect to the past for there will always be something to learn from and improve on. Without Claudia Sanders kitchen, the world would never know taste of the famous Col. Sanders chicken. The rich cultural heritage of Least Heat Moon seen through the eyes and heard from the lips of Kendrick Fritz replaced his fears with pride and a deeper appreciation of the beautiful journey he had made. It gave him the answers to the questions he sought when he started out and the meaning of the “wrong turns and blind alleys … fumbling and chance discoveries” he made in his trip.
Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road from his Leaves of Grass collection was a reinforcement of the enriching lessons that came along to Least Heat Moon in his travels. Whitman’s verses spoke from the past to Least Heat Moon’s present. Despite the distance he had covered Least Heat Moon’s journey is not finished, because he discovered that “a true journey has no end. ” Works Cited Least Heat Moon, W. (1982). A Journey into America. Blue Highways. An Atlantic Monthly Press Book. Little, Brown & Company. Boston/Toronto.
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