Afterthoughts & Shameless Pitches

Tuesday, 09 November 2010 08:49 PM Written by 
EIGHTY-FOUR, Pa. -- My house

I'm slowly decompressing, slowly becoming less insane. 

 But I keep thinking I need to be driving somewhere far away -- Maine, Montana, Seattle. 

I'm amazed at all the places I went and the wonderful people I met only because I'm a journalist and get to drop into their lives and interrogate them.

I keep remembering people I met but had forgotten about or have never written anything about yet -- like the wonderful German, Rolf Kurandt, of Camp Douglas, Wisc.


Rolf owns a German roadside restaurant, the Target Bluff German Haus, on US 12 in the dark hills of central Wisconsin.

I sat with him for an hour and in his heavy German accent he told me stories about how as an 11-year-old he watched Allied bombs fall on his hometown of Frankfurt.

His father, who owned a restaurant in Frankfurt, was drafted into the Germany army as a food worker. He was captured by the Russians in 1944 and declared dead by the Germans.

Rolf's mother refused to believe it. She was still insisting he would come home a year after the war ended. The people in Rolf's village thought his mother was nuts. But then in the summer of 1946 she got a phone call.

 "Your husband will be getting off the bus in a hour," she was told.

The Russians had decided to let him out of a POW work camp because they had worked him almost to death and he was of no further use to them. Rolf's father lived to see old age.

I'm also sending out shameless, begging email pitches to Toyota, the great car company, and Keen, the great shoe company, to see if they'd like to boost their profits or enhance their reputations by exploiting my daring circumnavigation of America in a marketing campaign.

 How could Toyota not want to pay me millions for my testimonials about how perfectly their gas pedal worked or how soundly I slept in the back of a RAV4 in 10 Walmart parking lots from Bangor to Salinas?DSC_1889_2_copy_copy_copy

As for Keen, how could they not be impressed  -- honored, even -- to know that I wore their fine eco-friendly and comfortable shoes for my entire trip?

 I didn't plan it that way.

I packed five pairs of shoes -- hiking, dress and running. 

I never even touched them.

I only wore my Keens.

For 41 straight days and 11, 276 miles on the Steinbeck Highway.

On the beach, on the mountain tops, in the lobby of the Albuquerque Hyatt Regency.

With no socks.



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