Blue Highways: A Journey Into America is another of the books listed in the Atlas Obscura article by Richard Kreitner and Steven Melendez: “The Obsessively Detailed Map of American Literature’s Most Epic Road Trips.”
This is the seventh of the cited books that I have read so far, and each one immediately becomes my favorite. I hope the five remaining books will be equally rewarding.
William Least Heat-Moon is of English, Irish and Osage heritage, and his birth name is William Lewis Trogdon. His father called himself Heat-Moon, and his older brother calls himself Little Heat-Moon, therefore, William decided he is Least.
In 1978, after losing his job as an English professor, and learning that his wife was seeing another man, William Least Heat-Moon set off from Columbia, MO, on a journey that circled most of the United States, His goal was to travel only backroads, the highways drawn in blue in the old Rand McNally road maps.
He turned an old van into a traveling camper that he named “Ghost Dancing” for its grey color, and covered 13,000 miles in the next three months. Along the way he learns the stories of many people, which are the stories of America. He, in turn, shares those stories with the reader, along with facts and histories of the areas he travels to and through.
Least Heat-Moon’s descriptions are so clear that you almost believe you were there with him. They are so beautifully written that you will wish you had been. This book is the first of his Travel Trilogy, and I will probably add the next two to my list of books once I get through the five remaining from the “Obsessively Detailed Map.”