RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

The Pursuit of Successful Living in America

Chasing Lightning, by Chris Moeller
Chasing Lightning

Chasing Lightning is one of the most intriguing and satisfying books I have read this year. The motivation for the book was a six-month, 25,000 mile, coast-to-coast road trip that the author embarked upon in June 1998 with Brian Ardinger, his childhood friend. Both Moeller and Ardinger were rising stars in their corporate worlds, but both left family, employment, and friends behind to go on a quest to discover what success means to Americans. Perhaps more importantly, they wanted to find their own definition of success as they contemplated their own futures.

Moeller's prose takes the reader on the inner journey as well as the real-life adventure, and it's a testament to his talent that he's never preachy or didactic, even when he gives advice or passes judgment. His light-handed approach is as engaging as the terms he coins. Take "slight seeing," for example, which he defines as, "the get in, grab a look, and get-the-hell-out method of tourism."

On one level, the book is a success because of the skillful way Moeller reveals the inner thoughts of the people he interviewed: a variety of entrepreneurs, artists, doctors, and musicians in their 20's and 30's, each wrestling with what it means to be successful. Although these interviews were originally the focus of Moeller's journey, it is the personal transformation of the author and his travel mate that became its theme. The path the two followed across forty-eight states in their trusty Jeep is amusing, invigorating, and at times even astounding. Chasing Lightning is far more than an insular view of one young man's progression into adulthood. The book uses the apt metaphor of road trip to provide a refreshingly inspirational and original look at the choices we all face as we move forward in life.

Mark Sedenquist

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