Seniors & Aging

Bellingham retiree takes 23-state pulse of America in book

Retired Bellingham attorney is the author of “Postcards From the Road,” about his 23-state, 23-day road trip in 2014. Despite visiting many stunning locations, he says he still loves Bellingham.
Retired Bellingham attorney is the author of “Postcards From the Road,” about his 23-state, 23-day road trip in 2014. Despite visiting many stunning locations, he says he still loves Bellingham. For The Bellingham Herald

If you’ve ever dreamed about driving through the so-called flyover states and crossing the country, Bellingham’s Richard and Cherie Little will be the first to tell you that such a journey is eminently doable.

The proof is Richard’s amusing and informative new book, “Postcards From the Road.”

The book both startles and informs readers about locales and people they may not know exist

For example, there is Little’s tale - the self-published volume is made up of 15 stories - about finding a two-vehicle ferry to cross the Mississippi River from the Missouri Bootheel, in southeast Missouri, to western Kentucky, an out-of-the-way area that few folks explore. Crossing on the ferry led them to Pokey’s Café, run by a friendly fellow named Larry who insisted the only way he could serve eggs was scrambled, yet the same proprietor ran an adjacent bait shop with every fishing item imaginable.

I tell people to stay off the interstates and try to give yourself more than three weeks.

Richard Little, author of “Postcards From the Road”

Little was 70 in May 2014 when he drove some 7,000 miles on the 23-state, 23-day round-trip odyssey. His wife flew back home after they visited their two sons in New York City. They traveled in their comfortable 2009 Audi sedan, and to ensure a good night’s rest for each new experience, they stayed in motels.

Little moved to Bellingham a few days after Mount St. Helens exploded in 1980. A graduate of the University of California-Berkeley and Hastings Law School, he served 12 years as an attorney for the City of Bellingham and 14 years as the city’s legislative lobbyist in Olympia and Washington, D.C.

Earlier, he served as a judge advocate general for the U.S. Navy for four years and as a congressional liaison during the Carter administration. He retired in 2012.

Little had never published a book before, but he has done legal writing and written essays for The Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Santa Fe Writers Project. He maintains a blog at http://pepys2000.blogspot.com.

With all of his worldly experience, Little still had not seen much of the country outside of the East Coast, the Far West and several Rocky Mountain states.

Humanity and history mix well in his book, which is written in an informal lingo that fits many of the locales they discovered.

“I tell people to stay off the interstates and try to give yourself more than three weeks,” says Little, who hopes to find new adventures in the future on other routes.

He recounts filling a near-empty gas tank in tiny Snowville, Utah, just south of the Idaho border, and discovering a wonderful place called “Mollie’s Café” with a delightful waitress named Fiona, much beloved by the local populace.

On the way back, he discovers that South Dakota is anything but dull, with modern Sioux Falls, the unique Corn Palace in Mitchell, and the historic beauty of the Missouri River and the Badlands.

Little also endured the frustration of learning that Mount Rushmore, in western South Dakota, would not accept his National Park Senior Lifetime Pass. Instead, an $11 “concessionaire fee” was mandated, so he could not even turn around without paying. He paid what he describes as “extortion” after learning Rushmore is technically a “national memorial,” and thus more heavily commercialized.

Perhaps the funniest chapter deals with his close encounter in Minnesota with a colorful turkey that blocked his path on the highway and would not give up until the obstinate fowl was good and ready.

Richard Little

Little’s book, “Postcards From the Road,” is available for $11.95 at Village Books.

His bog is http://pepys2000.blogspot.com/

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