Having traveled a quarter of a million miles by the age of nineteen, L. Ron Hubbard knew a thing or two about adventure. Indeed, long before transcontinental flight was even a tangible dream, he had twice crossed the Pacific, weathering typhoons and worse, to explore genuinely exotic lands. As a first word on such adventures, we open with his 1943 retrospective of life on the road at the dawn of this twentieth century. Written during a brief respite from grueling service through the Second World War, Ron described this journal a “sketchbook more than a diary,” and began it with memories of early journeys from his home in Helena, Montana. If his overriding theme seems somewhat wistful, “adventure as I know it, is done,” let us bear in mind what would soon follow — namely, the grandest adventure of all into “that vast and hitherto unknown realm half an inch back of our foreheads.” But either case, here is the mature LRH glancing back to the young LRH, and so providing us an overview of all far-flung travel as he once knew it.
By way of a few ancillary notes, let us understand Ron had been son to a United States naval officer, and if travel was untypical of the day it was not so for the military family. Hence, his allusions to the crossing of limitless deserts (principally the Mojave) en route from the family seat in Helena, Montana to notoriously drab naval installations along the Southern California coast. Hence, also, his longing for “what I called my HOME. Where I KNEW somebody, where I BELONGED.”
As further remarked upon through these pages, however, not all roads were necessarily tedious, not all destinations unwelcoming. For at the age of seven, he explains, “my grandfather took me on an automotive adventure to Portland.” To what appears here, let us add: the grandfather in question was Lafayette Owen Waterbury, a wonderfully adventurous spirit in his own right. The Uncle Bob of Tacoma was husband to a Waterbury daughter, late of Portland, Oregon. The trails across the Rockies had been cut by early pioneers, the tires of that Model T Ford tended to blow out every thirty or so miles and Ron occasionally slept in a polar bear rug his father had brought back from a tour with the Great White Fleet.
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