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America One Step at a Time

Author: Daniel Rogers
Genre: Travel Memoir
Reviewed by Kevin R. Tipple

10110401There are mornings when the rising sun lights the Texas horizon fiery gold, the air is crisp and pure, and I really wish I was off hiking somewhere. Growing up with a love of the outdoors, hiking was a major part of my life for many years. For a variety of reasons, those days have passed and hiking isn't possible anymore.

But for Dan Rodgers it still is and he did something that many of us wish we had done. Sitting at his desk at Colgate-Palmolive he realized that while he liked his job, it wasn't the answer for him. He wanted to be back on the trail and exploring again. While he appreciated the job and the financial security it gave him, he wanted something more. As many of us have thought and Dan wrote on page 2 of his book:

"It made even less sense to me to live only for the purpose of going to work each day and return home to rest up for another day at the office. I debated the dilemma and decided that while the cost of chasing dreams was very high-the cost being failure, for we will never achieve all we set out to do-the reward was even greater. The reward was life as opposed to mere existence, and I was tired of existing. I wanted to live again. "

With the support of friends, including his soon to be hiking companion Dodger, Dan quit his job, emptied his apartment and took what he wanted to keep to his Mom's in Ohio.

"After months of preparation, the time to walk out the door had finally arrived. I had prepared at length, studying maps and reading everything I could find about the many trails cross America. Six years, forty-eight states and twenty-four thousand miles lay ahead of me. America was waiting." (Page 7)

They head out, moving southeastward and the resulting book chronicles the hiking adventures of Dan with his buddy Dodger as they travel together. Sometimes they travel together and as the trip progresses, various events happen to cause Dan to travel alone or with others as he hikes the trails and roadways of America. As he crosses each state, he explains the local or regional history of the area he hiked as well as his own personal experiences. Part travel guide, part history book, the resulting memoir of an amazing 3400-mile walk recounts a journey that began before the devastating tragedy of September 11, 2004 and ended long after.

As he travels America, state by state, the author shifts from past tense to present tense and back again, often in the same sentence. This, along with the occasional typo and grammar problem, makes for a disconcerting read at times. However, these errors are relatively minor in the scope of the work and can be for the most part ignored as the reader follows his journey affected by missing signage, incorrect maps, weather and bodily injury. Through it all, Dan survives the elements and everything else with his goal in mind.

This is an interesting and enjoyable read about an amazing adventure. In a nation besieged by terror concerns and negative politics, it is nice to read how one man literally gave up the everyday working world to chase his dream. That willingness to do it and for so many folks to support it along the way is a reminder of how great people are despite the constant media reports to the contrary.


October 28, 2004 in Memoir | Permalink


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