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Roads From the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier

Roads From the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier

Paperback(2nd ed.)

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When a wildfire destroyed her home and worldly possessions in the hills above Los Angeles, it didn’t take Megan Edwards long to recognize an opportunity. It took her husband a little longer (“Give me five minutes to grieve!”), but they were both soon planning to make the most of their sudden “stufflessness” and hit the road. They did so a few months later in a freshly built four-wheel-drive motorhome that was even more unusual because of the office in the back instead of a bedroom. This all happened back when “Internet” had not yet entered the lexicon but “email” had. The mobile office would allow Edwards to file stories with the newspapers she wrote for by cell phone. That was the idea, at least. At the beginning of 1994, cell service was patchy, unreliable, and expensive.

They also thought they’d be traveling for six months or so, when, they believed, they’d settle down and get back to normal. But five years and thousands of miles later, they were still on the road. In that time, they’d watched the Internet grow from a mysterious fad prized by people in remote locales into an unstoppable universal phenomenon. They started a website, RoadTripAmerica.com, to share road tripping tips and ideas. Slowly, their dream of being “at work, at home, and on the road, all at the same grand time” became a reality.

This edition marks the twentieth anniversary of Edwards’s memoir, which was first released in 1999. At its heart a story of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, this memoir is also a riveting and at times hilarious look at the early years of the World Wide Web. With a new introduction by the author and a foreword by Chris Epting, enjoy an armchair adventure across North America when the Internet was young. This edition also includes 22 photos dating from when the author lived on the road.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781945501401
Publisher: Imbrifex Books
Publication date: 03/09/2020
Edition description: 2nd ed.
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 10 - 18 Years

About the Author

Megan Edwards is the award-winning author of FULL SERVICE BLONDE, GETTING OFF ON FRANK SINATRA, and STRINGS: A LOVE STORY. All three novels were first-place winners of Benjamin Franklin book awards in 2018. She also won the Silver 2019 IPPY Award for FULL SERVICE BLONDE. Edwards is also the author of ROADS FROM THE ASHES: AN ODYSSEY IN REAL LIFE ON THE VIRTUAL FRONTIER, a memoir of her five-year adventure living and working on the road during the dawn of the Internet. At home in Las Vegas, Nevada, where there's never a shortage of fascinating material and inspiration, Edwards is working on her next novel.

Read an Excerpt

A Suitcase, An Arrowhead, and A Set of Red Underwear

You don’t keep extra clothes when you live in 200 square feet. It’s a question of being able to put your plate down when you eat dinner or owning an evening purse. I haven’t owned an evening purse since 1993, and the one time I needed one since then, I found a perfectly good pearled specimen at a thrift store in New York. It cost a dollar, and I gave it to a bag lady in Grand Central Station after a dinner party at the Knicker- bocker Club.

Okay, I confess. If you were to find yourself looking through my underwear box (yes, box— there aren’t many drawers in motor homes), you’d find a red bra and pair of red panties at the bottom. They never move. I haven’t worn them since before I owned an evening purse, but there they are. I can’t throw them away. They’re survivors.

That red underwear, one suitcase, one husband and one dog are the only things I have that antedate the fire that ended Phase One of my life. It arrived with perfect timing. I was 40 years old, and I’d just been wondering if this—a nice house in a nice neighborhood full of nice stuff— was all there was. Just like a jillion baby boomers on the exact cusp of middle age, I was sick of exercise videos and women’s magazines and nylon stockings. I was having a hard time believing that the road to serenity lay in losing ten pounds, highlighting my hair, or giving my kitchen a country look.

And then, only a couple of months before I turned 41, Los Angeles caught on fire and didn’t stop burning for seventeen days. My house was one of the first to go. One day, I had an answering machine and high heels and an eyelash curler. The next day, well, the next day things were different.

The fires were headline news for weeks, as Altadena, Lagu¬na, and Malibu each hosted a conflagration bigger than the last. In dollars, a billion went up in smoke. Over 1,100 houses burned to the ground, and 4 people died. My loss seems minuscule in comparison: just one average middle class woman’s stuff.

Yes, just stuff. That’s all it was: high school yearbooks, photographs, wedding presents, diplomas, my grandmother’s piano. I’d had ten minutes to pack ahead of the firestorm. I’d grabbed a suitcase. I’d grabbed—only God knows why— my red underwear.

I did take one other thing as I left the house. I paused in front of a cabinet filled with silver and wedding china and keep¬sakes. I opened the door and took out an Indian arrowhead I’d found in Wyoming on Mark’s family’s ranch.

I guess that’s how you pack when you’re off on a new life. You get ten minutes, and there’s no second chance. I can’t tell you why, as the flames roared nearer, I chose red underwear and an arrowhead that would have survived the fire anyway. I can only say this. Where I was headed, I was overpacked.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the 20th Anniversary Edition | 13

Introduction to the 20th Anniversary Edition | 15

Chapter 1: Life’s Ballast Lost | 19

Chapter 2: A Phoenix Hatches | 33

Chapter 3: The Epicenter of Burning Desire | 45

Chapter 4: Already Gone | 59

Chapter 5: A State of Amazing Grace | 71

Chapter 6: It Makes You Wonder Whom to Believe | 87

Chapter 7: Closed Until The Verdict Comes In | 101

Chapter 8: “To Fight No More Forever” | 113

Chapter 9: A Sharp Stick in the Eye | 123

Chapter 10: Eastern Winter, Western Thaw | 131

Chapter 11: A Perfect Juncture of Time and Space | 137

Chapter 12: Life Among the Peccaries | 151

Chapter 13: Location, Location, and Gnats | 163

Chapter 14: Run for the Roses | 179

Chapter 15: On the Road and Online | 195

Chapter 16: In League with the Fame Brokers | 209

Chapter 17: Quantum Leap to New Horizons | 219

Chapter 18: Dashboard Dreams | 233

Photographs | 239

Postscript | 253

Acknowledgments | 255

About the Author | 256

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