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May 21, 2009


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I think a memoir of this trip would include all of the above! I think I am speaking for many of your readers when I say the commraderie of the two humans, the two beagles, and the readers makes for a totally unique experience. We are all (relatively) normal people just doing our thing, but FHMA has brought us all together. Like when Fred hurt his paw-I was in suspense a whole weekend worrying about what was going on with him! You left us hanging there. This experience is what has made FHMA so great. I think you have said it best on a few of your posts: unexpected events that arise out of the blue are what makes trips like this so wonderful.

The best part of it is that you didn't set out intending the blog to be necessarily humorous, but in the end it is. Very much! But it is also serious in the moments when it should be - you visit national shrines & beautiful vistas, muse on various topics, have thoughtful encounters with strangers, etc. And it is informative on so many levels (travel techniques, technology, bargaining tips, food tips, dieting theory).

That being said, Fred and Hank are really really cute and as you know, beagles can really sell themselves. So make sure they are on the cover.

I agree--everything. But in a weird way, and I hope you're not insulted, reading this often reminded me of Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation, a pastiche of history, fun, food, personal stuff, and car trouble. But she didn't have beagles.

And just picture this: imagine what movie offers a book could bring! You would get your OWN MOVIE SOUNDTRACK!!!!!

For me, I love the anecdotal history items. We all know about the "Mount Rushmore" sites, but learning about the "Our Lady of Exxon church" sites is something unexpected. The road scraps are the things that I find the most interesting.

Hey Jim,

To me, the best part of the blog are the funny stories and our knowledge of you personally. What I would want to see in book version, though, is some sort of change or growth, from the beginning of the trip to the end. For example, what did you learn about yourselves, or the country, or the dogs? That would make me care about you, if I didn't know you already. I think that change is currently lacking from the blog, but perhaps there's something you have that you'll be able to add.

Then again, I'm about to root for a team led by Eric Mangini, so what do I know?

Hi, I agree that a book should include all the elements. Unlike Joshua and other comments above, I have never met you and though I know Joan, it has been a long, long time since I have seen her. Even so, I was just as pulled in as those who do know you and cliche or not, I feel like you are an old friend after following your blog. I too was very worried about Fred with his paw or if we didn't hear from you for a couple of days I had that uh oh feeling like something must have happened to you all. I also love the quirky history lessons and the road scraps - they make this more of a slice of life experience than a history lesson.

It would be great if you could find a way to include some of the comments because many of them were very entertaining as well.

And last but not least of course, the beagles are the stars of the story, you and Joan are just enablers! Put me down for a copy of your book!

I don't know either of you, and started reading this because I saw the link on Andrew Sullivan's blog. (And I'm a sucker for dog or cat stories!)It has been a pleasure to sit down and read your blog after a day at work.
I agree with the others that the book should contain some of all the elements you mention. The interplay between you, Joan, and your dogs, as well as their relationship with each other; the historical tidbits about the places you're visiting or passing through; both your commentaries and Joan's comments that you've relayed about people, places, things you see happening along the way. The highs and lows of dining and living on the road for both humans and dogs leavened by your sense of humor. Maybe a best of the iPod tunes for the road list somewhere in the book, or as background to each chapter. And it has to have Joan's great photos (some were from you, too). A road trip book that would be what Travels with Charley would have been if Steinbeck had a spouse and two dogs instead of one!

The book is a great idea, and I plan to do the same, after I retire in a couple of years. I think that all of your criteria is worthwhile, although all the i-pod music and blog mentions are a bit much for me. I've got a few years on you guys, and so there's a " generation gap " there. But I guess, driving all those miles, music is a must. The restaurant and hotel reviews add a lot, and of course the photography and dog stories are the best. I have a shortcut to the " Meltdown in Little Rock " so I can go right to Fred attacking the wiper blades. That still cracks me up, totally. Also, after stating an earlier preference for Fred, I've come to realise that Hank, although somewhat less volatile and nutty than Fred, is one handsome fellow with quite a mellow personality. I like them equally now.

Someone above me mentioned growth. I think this could go one of two ways. Either this is a coffee table/travel book with cute dog pictures (in which case you don't have to change much), or it's a more personal narrative about the experience (which I don't see all that much of here...). I think your best bet is to focus on the dogs and the road scraps and shoot for the former. Put your pups on the cover, and you've got a bestseller!


Just want to echo many thoughts and say "all of the above" is a heck of a selling point. I also want to compliment your friends whose comments on this blog have added to the entertainment value, so if there is any way to add their voices to your already distinct voice, that would provide something other "look-at-me-travel-everywhere" books don't have.

The travel part of the blog is interesting, but isn't unique. That is, you can get sightseeing tips and varied intineraries from lots of places.

However, the study of human nature that underlies the blog, what the beagles added to the trip (and your lives), and your most excellent humor, probably have wider appeal and provide an intimate look at Jim and Joan as people.

People love a good human interest story, so give 'em what the people want :-)

PS Not to sound self-serving, but I agree re: including some of your reader comments -- those have been terrific.

I think it's a combination of everything...I don't read many blogs, but I was a faithful reader of yours, and it wasn't just because you have beagles--though that was the hook that got me reading in the first place. The combination of the funny stories, the adventures, the photos, and learning some of the off-the-wall pieces of trivia...and even the music list...

I'd certainly buy the book and recommend it to my friends. Then you'd have to go on a book tour--all four of you!

I'm another hitchhiker from Andrew Sullivan's blog and it has been some ride. I am now experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Please do a book with all the elements - beagle pics, historic and funky monument pics, humor filled stories about your travels, road scraps, and tips on getting the best room rates. You could put the music lists into an appendix or make a cd of clips so readers could listen to their favorite "Rush" trak as they read. (That is probably impractical because of copyright laws.) I'm not "into" ipods yet, and usually listen to "Talking Books" when traveling, so the music and artists were not a major draw to me - generation gap.

Getting to know all of you - Fred, Hank, Joan, and Jim as you traveled the country was very special. When you do a book signing tour you can plan another trip so we can get paw and pen autographs. Oh, a map would be important, too, to show where all the marks were put. I'm looking forward to the mad dash around the northeast. You have made Spring '09 more memorable with your blog. Thanks.

I agree with Danielle about the choice between coffee-table book and something more substantive. Other "road" genre books (Blue Highways, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) had an undercurrent of a personal journey that made them successful. Travels with Charley didn't have that, and never would have been published except that it was written by Steinbeck.

Your writing style reminds me more of Paul Theroux, who manages to find the dark cloud in any blue sky. His wise-ass travelogues are typically more social commentary, though. And he travels alone.

You've got some advantages over all of those authors, however. You've got cute pictures. You had near real-time interaction with your audience. And perhaps most important, you have the appeal of a common person -- it was easy for people to live vicariously through you and Joan and the pups.

You just need a hook -- the need for a mental recharge and time to reflect on a career change being the most obvious. (Jim and Joan's economic stimulus effort being a little less obvious.)

Good luck!

My favorite parts have been the hotel reviews, travel tips and your very special wit, factoids and humor woven throughout each entry.

I've never read a blog on a daily basis before, but this blog has been so much fun! I'm sad it's coming to an end but glad y'all made it home safe.

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