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In 'Travels with Hafa', Nathan Pettijohn gives us, on the face of it, an uplifting account of a month long road trip he took last October in a hired RV with his dog, Raphael, Hafa for short, a nine-month old Alsatian.
In 'Travels with Hafa', Nathan Pettijohn gives us, on the face of it, an uplifting account of a month long road trip he took last October in a hired RV with his dog, Raphael, Hafa for short, a nine-month old Alsatian. Leaving from his house in L.A, by driving vast distances at a time, he managed to see something of Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, before returning to his home state of California. Not bad going in a month.
Much of this side of the book resonated completely with me. I have travelled extensively around Europe, with a dog, and could totally relate to what he says about driving a sizeable rig in high winds, heavy rain and snow, what can go wrong with the rig going wrong, the pitfalls of campsite regulations and etiquette, even finding the site in the first place. Also, like most of us, he treats his dog as another human being, talking to it and ascribing it human emotions. Although on his own for most of the trip, the author does meet up with friends and family along the way and it is in these encounters that we learn most about him.
Most writing of this kind tells the reader more about the author than about the National Parks, off the beaten track towns and beauty spots that he visits. From his music and film choices, his relationship with his brother, his inability to talk on record about his father, his seeming incapability of maintaining a long-term relationship with someone of the opposite sex and his willingness to take a much younger girl he has only just met along 'for the ride' for a few days, we end up caring more about him than the scenery he drives through.
In the epilogue to the book, written during lockdown, the author states quite categorically what he believes to be wrong with America and Americans, especially Californians, at the moment. This account, which starts out so positive and optimistic, ends up as almost the opposite, like the Ugly Duckling story in reverse. I'm convinced that there are many amazing places to visit in the States but, even if I could travel there, I would not want to be going right now. However, in his parting words, he resets the tone somewhat with his philosophy for life borrowed from Osho, the Indian mystic...live each day as if it were your last but also as if you will live forever.