Twenty-five years after that first trip, Brookes found that he was not exactly living the dream that he saw for himself back in 1973. He looked in the mirror and saw a twice-divorced middle-aged man who had been working hard for more than a decade to be a good husband and father in his third try at marriage. He was “trudging grimly through the valley of the shadow of debt,” had a mortgage and credit card debt, was paying child support, and was working 50-60 hours every week just to stay even. In other words, he was living an existence that typifies the one that most of us know only too well.
Brookes, even in the days prior to September 11, 2001, had the feeling that
Brookes did make it all the way to the West Coast and back to his
But A Hell of a Place to Lose a Cow is not quite the adventure that I expected to read when I first picked it up because, for his second trip across the U.S. as a hitchhiker, Brookes makes so many concessions to his age and financial backing that the trip more resembles a controlled experiment than it does a trip left to chance. He travels with a cell phone by which he can almost always contact his photographer to meet him when he has the urge to cover ground more quickly for a day or two. And he has enough cash or credit this time to pamper himself with a motel when his body demands a break or to ride the bus when spots the right connections.
Despite that type of thing (and Brookes, to his credit, makes the concessions an integral part of his story), I did enjoy learning about the people and places that Brookes came to know while crossing the country. And, frankly, being of a similar age, I can sympathize with the knee problems that he described and am impressed that he had the courage to tackle the trip at all.
Rated at: 3.0