Road Dogs: Travels with Ace, The Magnificent Mutt

by Mary Haight on October 16, 2011

travels with ace Travels with Ace, “Travels with Charley” Redux?

Travels with Ace is a compelling series of posts written over nearly a year and thousands of miles (and counting) of travel across America – one man, his 130lb dog, in a 2005 Jeep. Unlike Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, however, Ace is central to the story, not an occasional aside.

John Woestendiek and his dog Ace have experienced life in a way that most of us have not, letting go of the same safe four walls and two doors that can be both a financial prison and a soul satisfying sanctuary, opting instead for four doors, a roof, and the open road. A Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, an author, and a blogger at his Ohmidog! site, Woestendiek sees an America much changed from the 60s when Steinbeck set out on the road with his dog.

There’s something about times of change that make many artists and writers itch to get out and take the pulse of their world, find the heartbeat at the center of the coming new normal. That directive seemed to fit as I began reading this collection last year. Travels with Ace takes a circuitous route, maybe unintentionally mimicking life, and the odd, crazy and wonderful things that occur along the way will make you laugh out loud, scratch your head, touch your heart and maybe even find you reaching for the kleenex.  Life is happening all around us all the time; little makes that more clear than traveling with your dog – must be the “living in the now” Zen-like state that is a dog’s perspective of life.

Losing his connection with the country and the common man was Steinbeck’s reason for the road trip with Charley. Woestendiek may have turned that on its head – by searching for what could be “home” somewhere out there on the road, he seems to be finding more of who he is through his travels with Ace, and in doing so could find that “home” is where it has always been – it’s wherever you are.

Travels with Ace – The New Website

The blog at Travels with Ace, Woestendiek’s  new website, offers a variety of daily reports of what’s happening in their world, from visiting shelters to tracking down the most pet-friendly restaurants, parks, bars, people and places along the way. Join in and become part of the journey. The writing is highly engaging – so much so you won’t want to stop reading! Don’t miss his Highway Haiku (check out the cemetery/cemetery signs, the title at the top and haiku underneath – great symmetry and one of those laugh out loud moments), or the stories of some strange, even famously quirky folks.  It’s time well spent.

Don’t miss Edie Jarolim’s fascinating interview with  John Woestendiek at Animal Cafe.

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