Note: First posted on Blogger on June 3, 2006
Unfolding the Map
Welcome Littourati! At right is the latest screenshot of Sal Paradise's journey map, in which two new points have been added. Click the map to go to it. A couple of changes have been made to the map that you should be aware of. First, the map has changed. I have made the switch from the Google Maps API version 1 to version 2. This means a couple of things. First, the map should work now in earlier versions of Firefox, however, it may not work properly in Safari as version 2 does not fully integrate with that browser. The other thing that will happen is that as I learn version 2 more completely, the markers will change -- I hope to color code them to indicate various things, like whether Sal stopped or just passed through, and if he stopped for a longer time. That's right, as I learn I'm taking you along for the ride!
"If you drop a rose in the Hudson River at its mysterious source in the Adirondacks, think of all the places it journeys by as it goes out to sea forever - think of that wonderful Hudson Valley. I started hitchiking up the thing."
On the Road: Chapter 2
End of Yonkers Trolley line
At some point when we travel, we reach a point where when we look behind us, all is familiar, but in front of us is wilderness that is unknown and frightening. I am reminded of the scene in the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring when Sam, following Frodo, stops in the middle of a cornfield. When Frodo turns and asks him what's the matter, Sam says (and I paraphrase) "If I take one step, I will have gone farther from home than I've ever been before." For me, that point came when I stepped onto a United flight to head to the Midwest after I graduated from college, and has been repeated in various ways since, especially when I've settled in one place only to move to another. I believe that Sal may have been at such a point as he stepped off the trolley, a tangible piece of his former life, and began to hitchhike into the unknown up the Hudson.
Of course, the Hudson is a river, and as Sal says, it too makes a long journey from the Adirondacks to the sea, passing by wonderful places. To me, it's the bodies of water that ground me to the places I've been. In Northern California, where I grew up, it was the Pacific Ocean that connected me to other places. In Milwaukee, Lake Michigan and the entire Great Lakes System draining through the Midwest and Northeast washed my feet as they washed countless of feet along their shores. In San Antonio, the San Antonio River washed into other watersheds that made their way one way or another to the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico was ever present, and ready to assert its power as we all observed this past year. And now, in Albuquerque, I am connected through the Rio Grande not only to other Albuquerqueans but also to every village and settlement along its path through New Mexico and Texas. Hitching along the highway, Sal is like that rose he imagines, drifting along the highways of America, connected through those asphalt rivers to all the places he will journey by, as he will soon discover.
If you want to learn more about the Hudson River and the Hudson River Valley