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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Blue highways of America

August 04, 2010|By Joe Puglia

We are a product of our many experiences. Even our genetic chemistry has much to do with how we see the world. I've driven myself to drink trying to figure out what makes me tick. What I've learned along the way is that — coupled with a quixotic nature — I am a product of what I have read.

Subsequently, I've read every adventure/travel book written from Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" to Least Heat Moon's "Blue Highway." However, the epitome of all adventure/travel stories has to be the adventures of Odysseus in Homer's "The Odyssey."

Consequently, I hitchhiked the length and breadth of the country, rode freight trains and rafted lazy rivers. Those activities seldom exist anymore. What exists now is a very mechanized, technocratic world in which there are rules and regulations at every stop. The adventure of the open road builds a certain character that you don't get in Little League.

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Since 1969 I have had 15 road trips traveling the blue highways of America. For me, wandering re-establishes the original harmony that once existed between the universe and us. Travel is the antithesis to narrow-mindedness. Broad wholesome views of people, places and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in front of a computer or a television. While on the road, one is closer to the wild heart of life; thus, instead of thinking how things may be, we see them as they are.

Wanna know a secret? Don't tell anyone, but Kaitzer has had this eerie compulsion to go to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. I'm as baffled as you are. Why would such a sophisticated, intelligent lady aspire to go to Dollywood? I know what you're thinking: If she's so darn smart, why the heck did she marry you? Good question, grasshopper!

Well, in conjunction with Kaitzer's vision of a day in Dollywood, my brother Fred announced that this year's Decatur Celebration in Decatur, Ill., would be his last. He is the director/producer of the event, and after 30 years he was finally retiring. So Kaitzer and I decided to kill three birds with one stone. We'd visit Dollywood, take in the Decatur Celebration, and take the girls on a road trip across America.

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