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Preparing for the expedition

The hard part to beginning the expedition is actually removing yourself from your everyday, expected life and ... beginning. Other authors, greater and lesser, have documented their travels, and documented what they saw as meaningful about those travels. We can count Walden as one. Thoreau gives us quite an existential view of the world and, in the process, teaches us some biology and about life in America in 1850. Robert Louis Stevenson comes a bit later with "Travels with a Donkey." Steinbeck brings us to the 1960s in America with his "Travels with Charley," a great book in which he outfits a heavy-duty pickup to travel America. Much more recently, Larry McMurtry wrote about his trip along I-35 in "Roads: Driving America's Great Highways," giving us all insight into the characters he wrote about in his travels -- as they might relate to a trip down I-35 all the way from Duluth. Finally, William Least Heat-Moon gives us a colorful tour of the backroads with his photograph-filled book across America, "Blue Highways -- a Journey into America." There have been a lot of books that involved travel. Each has, to one extent or another, said a thing or two about America (in one way or another).

My trip begins in 2006 in Crookston, Minnesota, a town of 8,000 persons in Northwest Minnesota. It's a small, friendly town with a coordinate campus of the University of Minnesota. My wife and I are launching our expedition from this town on March 1, 2006. Well, I have to admit, the trip actually began eight years earlier. But, more of that later.