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As I've mentioned before, I'm always more than willing to empty our book drop and see what treasures may have arrived in the overnight returns. Last week I struck gold! Here was Simon Winchester's latest book and there weren't any holds on it. The Men Who United the States: America’s Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics, and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation Indivisible is the latest offering by one of the United States' newest citizens.
Water, Rail, Road
Winchester uses the elements of water, fire, earth, and air to tell the story of the people whose efforts combined to unite this continent. We are all fairly familiar with efforts to cross this continent by rail, but years before people used the waterways to make the transportation of goods and people possible. Chief among those was the Erie Canal. A century later, we started crossing the country by highway.
I read George Stewart's classic U.S. 40: Cross Section of the United States of America when I was a kid. Later, while in the Air Force, I was sent from Virginia to Illinois on temporary duty (TDY) and talked my commander into letting me follow Stewart's route rather than just hopping a commercial airline flight to and from. "Wow! You're having an adventure. Go ahead." It was still pretty much as he had described it. You might want to try it today. Grab a copy of the book and follow the route as best you can.
Get Your Kicks...
Of course, if you want your own piece of your own cross country adventure then Route 66 is a must. The Route 66 Adventure Handbook has an eBook you can take along with you.
So read Winchester's latest and dream some dreams of this vast continent and those who brought it together and strike out and see something of it.
Joe Toschik is a Public Services Librarian at Half Moon Bay Library whose latest adventure was getting from El Granada to Half Moon Bay on a Wednesday morning in under 30 minutes. "Hang on, boys! Watch our dust!"