What better place to end the tour for Vagabond Song than on the same road where the book ends: the Pacific Coast Highway on the very farthest edge of that myth we call America? And what better audience than the ocean herself?
We flew into San Jose, grabbed a rental car and headed south to Pacific Grove and our postage stamp hotel room with a view of Monterey Bay and a daily alarm clock of the loudest gulls I’ve met. This was our base of operations for day trips down the coast, hiking in the redwoods, wandering cliff-fringed beaches and making a pilgrimage to the Henry Miller Memorial Library.
An enchanted courtyard filled with art and trees, a room filled with great books, free tea and the best motto: “The Henry Miller Memorial Library, where nothing happens.” Miller is one of those writers I read too long ago and need to revisit. I vaguely recall Tropic of Cancer changing my conception of what a book could be, in the same way that Ulysses and 100 Years of Solitude did. Plus, Miller introduced me to the work of Anaïs Nin, whose writing blows me away.
Eventually, we found the right cliff along the right stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway. I read the scene from Vagabond Song that happens during a hitchhiking trip down this very road. The plan was to give people a heads up that I was going to broadcast the reading to my Facebook page so they could tune in, but suddenly, we were at the right spot, didn’t know if we had a connection or not, but started recording and reading without notice. The result was shaky and marred (or enhanced) by the noise of passing cars, and the clip cuts off right before the final word of the excerpt. But it’s okay. The point was to read to the ocean, not create a lasting record of it. The point was to celebrate the completion of the Hundred Highways Tour on the same highway as the book’s final movement. The point was to toss out those words to the sea and let them fly away like the gulls and cormorants who were with us continuously on this final trip.
It’s been a fantastic voyage hitting these hundred highways, meeting great people and sharing my work with them. With you. Thanks for traveling with me. May your roads be winding, wild and filled with music. May you meet many vagabond angels, and may you be one to others.
See you on the next hundred.