"Subliminal microwave messages are a clear indicator of The End of The Road, which seems nigh indeed when the microwave beeps three more times yet again, to remind me that I have been reflecting on Microwave Philosophy - 'I excite atoms therefore I am' and 'It is the machine itself that causes the thing inside of it to get hot and fully cooked' - for exactly two minutes."

"They will no longer contribute to the look and feel of the land, like missing buffalo and wolves on the plains, or any of a thousand other examples - the native species is made captive while the non-natives run riot."

"Fear of the ocean was so ingrained in the cultures of the coastal Indians that omens could be read in the subconscious wanderings of dreams: to dream of travel eastward - where lay the meadows of the Willamette Valley and its elk-studded (and, in those days occasionally even buffalo-studded) streams and prairies - was to dream of bounty and riches and long life. To dream of going west was to dream of impending disaster."

Camping at the Edge of American History renders the Oregon Coast and the greater Northwest in a work of creative nonfiction that melds surrealist photography with wide-ranging prose. In ten chapters and a substantial epilogue, the book seeks the dark corners and vacant meadows of the Northwest - its people and industry, wildlife & botany, myths & legends, geology, and natural and human history - and what is to be found there. The book is intended not only for tourists to the Oregon coast and locals but also anyone seeking a way to stop the nonstop noise of civilization, mitigate the effects of such noise on the psyche, and uncover (or recover) possible ways to slow down the rush of modernity.

The first four chapters (one hundred forty pages) of the book are available in PDF format on the Excerpts page.

When the consumerist lifestyle collapses as it always must, a lone traveler stumbles onto The Road to experience a life on its peripheries, next to The Edge itself: the Oregon Coast, where Lewis and Clark and The Corps of Discovery planted their flag in the sand and turned around to go Home. The flag marks the place where the story begins - or perhaps not.
Henry David Thoreau discovered the trailhead but left the trail itself unmapped. A walk in this forest will not be the same in one hundred years, the experience marred by the effects of over-harvesting and erosion, global environmental change, and locally and regionally invasive species. The stillness that soothed Thoreau is still Magic balm for the modern mind, but remains as relatively unused as the freedom it inspired. In an age of non-stop image bombardments and routine massacres, is it still possible even to relax? Is it wise? The trail turns into The Road down which drifters roam to lead our traveler to side-alleys he must follow, to sift the detritus of social dysfunction, self-medications, and mental health.

He will find cruelty and darkness, death and loneliness - and a father once lost but reclaimed through Nature - and clues to mathematical formulae too large to calculate but that seem to point to the same elemental attractions, the ones that bind the physical world and personal memory. But humor and darkness work as well together as Rock music and memories. He will look for Fun too - Pure Fun - and he will find it.

A writer and photographer wanders into Nature, metamorphoses like Kafka, and explores on shaky, new-found legs the possibilities of human and Natural history - and real and pretended geographies - following facts to legends and myths, and on to rumors and wild speculations about the future, the past, and right Now.

Natural History * Graffiti & Messages * Logging & Nurse Logs * D. B. Cooper * Slow Travel * The Tourism Industry * Birds (and more birds) * Lewis & Clark * Photography * Myths & Legends * Flash Mobs * Acoustic Waves * Cruelty * Pacific Northwest History * Extreme Weather * Rainforests * Mental Health & Suicide * Pop Culture * Invasive Species * Beaches * Tsunamis & Near-Tsunamis * Haiti * Adventure Sports * Paranoia, Fear, & Loathing * Full-Time Camping * Geology * Bigfoot * Jellyfish * Cancer & Death * Public Absurdity * Gas Stations * Exploration & Ignorance * Psychogeography * Beer & Cannabis * Cats & Dogs * Northwest Indians * Berries & Flowers * Sand & Sand Dunes * Bad Golf * Tidepools & Seastacks * Rock Music * Fun

Copyright 2013 - J.B. Elhem
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