On the Road – Jack Kerouac

I started reading Neil Peart’s Ghost Rider right after I retired. It help me get out of a “funk.” I read several of his later books and got motivated to ride with a purpose, seeing America! This led me to join the Tour of Honor in 2018, which in turn got me even more interested in seeing America on two wheels.

I read a few articles in the motorcycle magazines which in turn led me to Robert Higdon and The Higdon Chronicles (Volumes 1 and 2). Reading these two books, he referenced three other books, John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, and Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. I started reading On the Road a few months ago. I just couldn’t get “into” it.

So, as you can see, even without a quarantine, I have a bad case of wanderlust. I spent six months grounded due to broken bones (which led to surgery) in my foot. Reading motorcycle travel books kept me motivated during the time with crutches. I finally get the doctor’s release and I am ready to start riding. Now COVID19 has me grounded.

I am not one who reads a lot of books for leisure, and even fewer of the “classics.” So, I remember The Higdon Chronicles and turn to his recommendations. I start with On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Took a week for the first 5 chapters. It really took me a while to get excited to read it. But once I did, only 2 days to finish the rest of it. Now I really want to get out on the road even more!

The setting is the late 1940’s. I think the reason it took me a while to get excited is that I knew it was fiction. Why read a travel book that is fiction. Once I tried to ignore that it was fiction and started to read it as a book about travel experiences, it was easier to read.

The traveling back and forth across the country from New York, Denver, California, then back to New York to be with friends set the reason for the travels. The experiences kept me following on the repeat trips.

I wonder if I am Dean with the dreams and spur of the moment reactions to do something. Hanging on to the past, but wanting new adventures. Or am I Sal? Who travels to explore while helping his friends, knowing what he wants and delays until his friends are set. He follows along with Dean, but Dean quickly abandons Sal when times get too tough. Yet Sal always opens his heart back to Dean.

The story ends rather abruptly. Almost as if I expected a “to be continued…” notice on the last page. But there wasn’t. You are left with questions, and only the reader can determine the answers within themselves.

So, how do I find my answers? I guess I need to get on the road myself.

But, until COVID19 releases me from house arrest, I will have to occupy my wanderlust through the writings of others. Maybe Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand should keep me occupied.

I remember 11th grade English. I am both thankful and remorseful that Ms Sykes did not offer On the Road by Jack Kerouac as a reading option, who knows where I would be today. Whether my path would have been better or worse, I am glad to be where I am today.

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