The website Atlas Obscura put together this pretty great interactive map of all the place names in a dozen American road trip books.
John Steinbeck’s epic “Travels with Charley in Search of America” is all over the place, including Maine — with dispatches from Madawaska to Deer Isle and Rumford.
Here are a few of the best lines:
“Maine is just as long coming down as it is going up, maybe longer. I could and should have gone to Baxter State Park, but I didn’t. I had dawdled too long and it was getting cold and I had visions off Napoleon at Moscow and the Germans at Stalingrad. So I retreated smartly — Brownville Junction, Milo, Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford, Bingham, Skowhegan, Mexico, Rumford, where I joined a road I had already traveled through the White Mountains.”
“I was lost almost all day, even though I found Blue Hill and Sedgwick.”
“One doesn’t have to be sensitive to feel the strangeness of Deer Isle.”
“I also got lost in Ellsworth, which I am told is impossible.”
The map also shows stops from William Least Heat-Moon’s “Blue Highways,” which includes this rumination on the maddening endlessness of U.S. Route 1.
“I knew U.S. 1, stretching from the Canadian border to Key West, was capable of putting a man in an institution of one kind or another—at least it once was—but I hoped things had changed. They hadn’t.”
And Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America” includes a little dig on Wiscasset:
“Wicasset bills itself on the signboard at the edge of town as the prettiest village in Maine, which doesn’t say a whole lot for the rest of the state.”
The author of the post gave a pretty lengthy reasoning for why he picked the books he did.
“To be included, a book needed to have a narrative arc matching the chronological and geographical arc of the trip it chronicles. It needed to be non-fictional, or, as in the case of On the Road, at least told in the first-person.”
Did he miss any books?