One of my all-time favorite books is Travels with Charley, a travelogue written by an aging John Steinbeck as he attempted to reconnect with an America from which he had grown detached. Steinbeck embarks on a massive roadtrip across the country accompanied by his dog Charley, in search of not only America (as the subtitle states), but also to some degree his masculine vitality and independence—from which he had also grown distant through conventional and comfortable living. Outfitting a trailer christened Rocinante after Don Quixote’s trusty steed, Steinbeck tilts at giants and windmills from sea to shining sea, and records his exploits and impressions in a brilliant account of one man’s trek across the U.S.
Segue: I’m writing this paragraph from a campsite in Moab on Day 1 of Russ’ Epic Adventure (Bogus Journey?). Having recently graduated from the BYU MBA program—and with ten solid weeks of unencumbered vacation before starting work—I’ve decided and undecided and redecided to take a roadtrip of my own. Unlike Steinbeck, I’m not exactly sure of what I’m in search of (other than really good food and really good stories) or if I’m even looking for something or avoiding something or what, but I trust that I’ll know a lot better several thousand miles from now.
And who knows? I may even come back with a dog.
Coincidentally, like many places in Utah, Moab gets its name from the Old Testament. The Moabites were like COBRA to the Israelites’ G.I.Joe, always losing battles and swearing revenge. (I’ll get you, Israel, next time!) My favorite episode is about a more-than-plump Moabite king who survived an assassination attempt because his assailant’s dagger gut stuck in his layers of fat (a whole cubit!). Or the story about the angel and the talking donkey. That’s a good one too.