Travels With Vamper is a wonderful travelogue of a man, newly retired, who sets off on a cross-country tour of discovery in his RV (Vamper). The author is a retired professor of law at Gonzaga University. Upon reaching retirement, Critchlow was faced with the question "what now to do?" Or as he puts it "I did not want to wake up the day after retirement lamenting the loss of my old life. I needed to put distance between that life and whatever lay in the future. And then it hit me-a road trip!" So he purchased a used RV and set off on a tour, starting in Washington and traveling cross country thru the west, southwest, south, and midwest, ticking off 15 states.
And not just a simple tour whereby one just follows the guidebooks, ticking off the mandatory sights in each state. No, this was more a "tour of discovery", or perhaps a "listening tour". The author made a point of interacting with the locals he met along the way, in an attempt to understand their lives better. And what a great time to undertake the journey, he chose the run-up to our most recent presidential election! He has a way of conversing with people to get them to open up and share their opinions. And share they did!
While Critchlow leaves absolutely no doubt about where he stands, and what he believes, he treated everyone fairly and with respect. Given some of the people's statements, I have to wonder how he did it, as I would have openly scoffed or mocked some of them. Some of the statements are hilarious, and some are down-right head scratchers. But I found them all interesting.
The book is not just about the political opinions of the people he met. No, there is some very good self-discovery along the way. For example, one paragraph that I really liked was "I have now lived long enough to return full circle to what I knew in kindergarten. It's not about your friend's clothes, or his parent's car or house, or the food they serve for lunch; it's about having fun playing marbles on the playground, and making friends with people who make you feel good. And it's about cleaning up your messes and being nice to people-habits that had to be hammered into me with coercive force, but which made a difference in how things went".
Isn't that the truth? And wouldn't we all be better off if we just lived our lives a little more based on that? I think so!
It's not often that I find a book that I want to share as much as I do this one. I wish I had read it a bit earlier, it would have made a great Christmas gift for all my friends and relatives who are currently at each other's throats over the political situation we are currently experiencing.