Faithful Travelers Essay - Critical Essays

Faithful Travelers

John Steinbeck and Charles Kuralt traveled the highways and byways to rediscover the basis of America’s character. Steinbeck was escorted by his dog and Kuralt traveled with a CBS Television camera crew. The travels of James Dodson, in FAITHFUL TRAVELERS: A FATHER. HIS DAUGHTER. A FLY-FISHING JOURNEY OF THE HEART take their sustenance from another source altogether. Following the death of his wife Theodore Roosevelt left his newborn daughter with relatives and fled to a ranch in the Dakota Territory. Roosevelt needed time to heal while satisfying himself that life not only had purpose but attainable objectives. In the aftermath of a friendly, but nonetheless devastating divorce, James Dodson also sets his sights on the setting sun—accompanied by a daughter, a dog, and the best equipment L.L. Bean has to offer the aspiring camper.

The plan was to fish the streams and lakes from Maine to Yellowstone and return by way of Colorado and Oklahoma. Dodson hopes, in the process, to come to grips with the end of one part of his life and thus be able to assist his seven-year-old daughter to come to grips with the rest of hers.

Interestingly enough, although many a fly are cast, some of which actually find the water, neither Dodson is of a mind to retain the fruits of their labor. If this book has a guiding principle, it is that a person should strive to perfect the process and not be distracted by some transitory reward. James Dodson relates a pleasant tale remarkably free of the terror and mayhem which could easily be an essential part of a voyage as quixotic as this one. The only moment of difficulty comes when his truck breaks down during his return. Even then, however, he demonstrates that away from the mainstream of urban America an individual can rely on the kindness of strangers.