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Travelling with Ben: his low points will be his high points

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Hitting the road is nothing new for Ben Olson. Throughout his musical career and other life endeavors, Ben has become a well travelled soul.

By BEN OLSON/for The Herald  —   In just a month, I will be embarking on an adventure for which I may be ill-prepared. A silly excuse for a couple more road trips, I’m going to visit the lowest point in all 50 states. Has it ever been done? That doesn’t really matter- it’s never been done by me. Visiting the highest points, as much work as that would be, has been done by lots of people. Go figure- it must be the view.


For the record, I have been to some of the high points, including Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee, all in the same day a few years ago. The driving was a lot more work than the hiking. My treks up Mt. Humphries in Arizona and Guadalupe Peak  in Texas required a little commitment.


Even years ago, though, I knew there was no way I was going to drag my tired old butt up Mounts Whitney, Rainier, Hood and Evans, let alone Denali. I have lost no sleep over my lack of ambition. 


If you are an astute observer of American geography, you are probably thinking, “Hey, wouldn’t the lowest point in all the coastal states be sea level, except California, where it gets considerably lower?” The answer is “Yes, and that makes my job a lot easier.” 


Most of the rest of the states’ low points are the shoreline of one of the Great Lakes, or where a river exits a state on its way to the ocean. So, if my calculations are correct, I’ve got 28 specific places to get to and 22 shorelines to visit, and I’ll do it at low tide, just to quiet the naysayers out there.


It will require a bunch of driving, and with the current price of gas and the lack of $25 motel rooms, it may be expensive, to a degree. To keep a little change in my pocket, I’ll be stopping at dives and gin mills along the way, playing my bass fiddle and singing for drinks and tips. Who says I haven’t thought this through?


I am also trying to bring myself up to speed on social media and the adjoining self-promotion. This will be an attempt to chronicle my travels and report to friends, acquaintances and family on how my trip is going. You’ll be able to follow my exploits on Facebook, Instagram, and, more importantly, in the Highway 58 Herald. 

     It certainly would be a lot easier to just hop in the car and go, taking lefts and rights on a whim as I meander across the country, but I have contrived a sense of purpose that will impel me. It will also give me a lot of fodder for my writing. It probably won’t inspire the great American novel, but it may produce a modern day “Travels With Charley”.  I am blessed, at this point in my life, to have the time, money and good health to make this trip, and a wife who will indulge my foolish yearning. I’ll keep you posted.

Ben Olson, musician and Oakridge Resident, with his standup bass Ben Olson photo

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