Read Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America by Bill Geist Online


Celebrated roving correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning and bestselling author Bill Geist serves up a rollicking look at some small-town Americans and their offbeat ways of life. “In rural Kansas, I asked our motel desk clerk for the name of the best restaurant in the area. After mulling it over, he answered: ‘I'd have to say the Texaco, 'cuz the Shell don't have no miCelebrated roving correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning and bestselling author Bill Geist serves up a rollicking look at some small-town Americans and their offbeat ways of life. “In rural Kansas, I asked our motel desk clerk for the name of the best restaurant in the area. After mulling it over, he answered: ‘I'd have to say the Texaco, 'cuz the Shell don't have no microwave.’”Throughout his career, Bill Geist’s most popular stories have been about slightly odd but loveable individuals. Coming on the heels of his 5,600-mile RV trip across our fair land is Way Off the Road, a hilarious and compelling mix of stories about the folks featured in Geist’s segments, along with observations on his twenty years of life on the road. Written in the deadpan style that has endeared him to millions, Geist shares tales of eccentric individuals, such as the ninety-three-year-old pilot-paperboy who delivers to his far-flung subscribers by plane; the Arizona mailman who delivers mail via horseback down the walls of the Grand Canyon; the Muleshoe, Texas, anchorwoman who delivers the news from her bedroom (occasionally wearing her bathrobe); and the struggling Colorado entrepreneur who finds success employing a sewer vacuum to rid Western ranchers of problematic prairie dogs. Geist also takes us to events such as the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival (celebrating an inspiring bird that survived decapitation, hired an agent, and went on the road for eighteen months) and Sundown Days in Hanlontown, Iowa, where the town marks the one day a year when the sun sets directly between the railroad tracksAlong the wacky and wonderful way, Geist shows us firsthand how life in fly-over America can be odd, strangely fascinating, hysterical, and anything but boring.“To say it very simply, freezer burn may very well have set in.” —neighbor on the frozen dead guy kept on ice in a backyard shed in Nederland, Colorado.    “Everybody loves a parade; we were just geographically challenged.” —David Harrenstein, organizer of a parade in tiny Whalan, Minnesota, where viewers are in motion and the “marchers” stand still. “We haven’t lost anyone off these switchbacks in at least ten days” —Mailman Charlie Chamberlain, leading us on horseback 2,500 feet down the sheer walls of the Grand Canyon. “Ours are the finest cow chips in the world today,” —Kirk Fisher, enthusiast, in Beaver, Oklahoma, world cow-chip capital and cow- chip exporter. “We live out in the middle of the corn and bean fields, and there’s not a whole lot to get excited about, you know?” —Dan Moretz, on celebrating the day the sun sets in the middle of the railroad tracks in Hanlontown, Iowa.“It’s like drilling for oil; sometimes you come up dry.” —Gay Balfour, who sucks problematic prairie dogs out of the ground with a sewer vacuum in Cortez, Colorado.    “All you have to do is beat the flies to it,” —Michael “Roadkill” Coffman on the secrets of cooking with roadkill outside Lawrence, Kansas.    “I ain’t gonna brake ´til I see God!” —driver named “Red Dog,” taking the track at a figure-eight school bus race in Bithlo, Florida. “It’s a gift; you either got it or you don’t.” —Lee Wheelis, world watermelon-seed-spitting champion, Luling, Texas. “I am the mayor, the board, the secretary-treasurer, the librarian, the bartender —that’s my most important title —the cook, the floor sweeper, the police chief, and I have the books for the cemetery, if someone wants to buy a plot.” —Elsie Eiler, the sole citizen of Monowi, Nebraska....

Title : Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780767922722
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Way Off the Road: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small Town America Reviews

  • Jay
    2019-02-03 14:03

    I remember reading Charles Kuralt’s books about people he met in different places, usually small towns, across America. I remember the TV stories as well. Kuralt’s focus was on the people and the pathos of their story. He’d dig in until he found that bit of humanity to tell the story. Given Bill Geist followed in Kuralt’s CBS News human-interest story footsteps, I was expecting the same with Geist’s book “Way Off the Road”, but I didn’t get it. Instead, Geist takes a different approach – he looks for ways to find the humor in people and really how they present themselves to others. As you read through this book, you start to expect a rimshot to punctuate a punchline a couple of times a paragraph. That’s how many zingers he writes in. While I like his humor, it got to be too much. I also had my small-town-bashing radar going while I read this. It seems a lot of these books that purport to look at small town America are written by the author, often from a coastal big city, as a way to laugh at their fellow citizens from fly-over land, not to laugh with them. Although small town folk tend to be quite thick skinned when it comes to this kind of behavior, I thought I’d look out for it here. And while I found a couple of examples of the “New Yorkers are smarter than this” snobbery, for the most part this appeared harmless. You might wonder why I was looking for this… Geist says a few times early on that he’s from Champaign, Illinois so he knows small towns. To me, he was obviously trying to build his small town street cred with these statements, and frankly, Champaign is a big town, albeit in the middle of cornfields. They have a mall. Calling out Champaign seemed to be a feint, since the author's notes say he lives in New York City. To the good, Geist writes like the small town newspaper columnists I grew up with, looking for the quirkiness in situations, not getting overly complex, and at times getting a little raunchy. My favorite story is one about a prairie dog vacuuming service. Overall, this was enjoyable, but much closer to Dave Barry than to Charles Kuralt.

  • Cassandra
    2019-01-24 11:45

    Hier wird ein Amerika vorgestellt, dass anders ist, als das Amerika, dass wir durch Kino oder Reiserouten zu kennen glauben. Dieses Amerika fernab der Touristenstrecken, ist verrückt und unglaublich faszinierend. Orte, mit nur einem oder zwei Einwohnern. Eine Parade, die im Stehen abgehalten wird. Eine Kleinstadt, die die 'Tage des Toten Mannes im Eis' feiert. Ein Restaurant, dass von Aliens aufgesucht wird. Wer kennt, die Stadt Celebration in Florida, die dem Disney Konzern gehörte und sehr viel Ähnlichkeit mit Stepford hatte? Das alles und noch viel mehr, gibt es in diesem Buch zu entdecken.Ich habe, gelacht, gestaunt und hatte oft den Effekt, dass musst du jetzt unbedingt jemandem erzählen. Für mich eine sehr interessante Art, wieder einmal über den Tellerrand zu sehen und ich bin mir jetzt ganz sicher, dass frei nach Asterix, nicht nur die Römer spinnen.

  • Ben Batchelder
    2019-01-29 17:03

    “Way off the Road” is one of the worst Americana-slash-travel books I’ve read. Given it is written by a network journalist, I shouldn’t be surprised. While pretending to be a normal schmoe, by “discovering the peculiar charms of small-town America” as the subtitle promises, Geist can’t disguise his snobbery or condescension and, in the end, betrays what an empty suit and soul he is.He begins promisingly enough, by pointing that people do exist in the ‘fly-over’ American interior: “There is a world outside our own, out there and out of sight, between the coasts [...] where people live slower, closer to nature, farther apart spatially, yet somehow more attached.” That “our own” in the book’s first sentence should have given it away; for he is speaking to other bi-coastals like himself, about, and not to, the rubes in the middle who don’t even read glossy books like this one.You see, Geist, poor thing, has been “twenty years [...] on the road for CBS,” and doesn’t “mind saying that in twenty years I have gained a measure of fame.” “I didn’t know when I started that this book was going to be about small towns. I began writing about my favorite experiences and, after I’d written eight, realized they’d all occurred in very small towns. Why, I’m not really sure.” This, despite the fact he grew up in a rural Illinois town – you see, he’s originally one of them! – where his parents ran a country newspaper and, before he moved to Chicago to start his brilliant career, his “father had warned me [it] was full of all manner of evil and badness: crime, filth, immorality, Democrats...” You see, his rube parents perfectly reflected the small-mindedness of rural yolks. Oh, the challenges that face a budding CBS reporter!To not only ridicule the sensibilities of his subjects, and in the mildest tweaks to his Big City readers, he bravely declares in the Author’s Note “this book is 100 percent celebrity free.” Even though the author, you see, is a media celebrity, he doesn’t hob-nob with his equals (at least in print) and instead magnanimously mingles with the salt of the earth. Again and again, he tells tale of June bug people who recognize him from his television appearances (“‘It’s him!’ he shouted. ‘It’s the guy on TV!’”). As his cleverness knows no bounds, he told this “family that we like to get out and personally thank each viewer for watching the show.” (Oh, and the dear viewer probably believed him! Yuk-itty-yuk.)He finishes his schizophrenic introduction with “These people, places, and events are news to me,” in his one stab at humility – with a sting of superiority.While Geist also claims the book “contains no trace elements of ‘red’ or ‘blue’ states or other corrosive political toxins” (other than his father’s yahoo comment about Democrats), he can’t help but insert the safe stands that are the price of Big City sophistication, such as when quoting one yodel in Nevada: “‘We are the largest employers in this area and if you look at number two and three it’s the state prison [where an execution was scheduled that night] and Wal-Mart [which is gutting the quaint downtown].’” Oh, if only all out-of-town authors were so clever!In Bithlo, Florida, he lets his prejudices out for a walk by chapter’s end: “As I go back to watching these old yellow relics of our educational system, driven by and cheered on by products of that system, a question comes to mind: Is our educational system working?”Now to be fair to Geist, his book is meant to be humorous. And, as we all know, for humor to be hip these days, you just gotta step on a few toes, bury some lesser beings, and offend the defenseless. I am no fan of crony-capitalist US auto manufacturers, but you have to wonder if Geist ever grew out of his high school funny sheets, with riffs on car models such as “Sport Shittera,” “Chevrolet Turdelle,” “Chrysler Gran Excremente,” and “Ford Feceeze.” At least he gets his final swipe at Big Business America when he “put in for it on my CBS expense report: “$301. Whores and Windex.” Hardee-har-har. If you gotta know why, you gotta buy his roll in the Way. I may recall one chapter where he appears to admire or respect the locals.All I can say is that I’m glad I turned off network television years ago, so I had never seen or heard of Bill Geist prior to this book, and don’t expect to miss him in the future.

  • Michael Haydel
    2019-01-17 16:50

    If you've never seen or heard of Bill Geist, I strongly urge you to stop reading this, and click this link:, and revel in what CBS considers some of his best contributions to their news programs over the past 30 years.This is a guy who doesn't shy away from going up in the air on a newspaper delivery route with a 90+ year-old one-engine-prop-plane pilot (the oldest in the country), or on a mail route down into the Grand Canyon, on mules. Nor is he afraid of traveling to Beaver, Oklahoma to check out the source of the world's best cow chips. I could go on, but, that would ruin the fun.Way Off the Road details some of the best that small-town America has to offer, and really captures what I myself absolutely love about these small-towns: people doing what they do, without a care in the world about what anyone else thinks. Some people may want to travel the country and visit NYC, or LA, Chicago, your big cities.Not me. I wanna travel to Nederland, CO, where they have the Frozen Dead Guy Festival, or to Huntsville, TX and visit the Church of the Holy BBQ (for the 2nd time actually - the 1st time I didn't appreciate it).If you've ever been curious about that tiny town you always pass by on the highway, and just what goes on there, this is the book for you. It's a quick, light, and endearing read that really embodies both the essence of Geist, and the essence of what makes these lands great.One line at the end of the next to last chapter of the book sums it up quite nicely:"It's nice to see, in these days of self-important people doing 'relevant' things ('Fishing Not Drugs,' 'Pizza for Peace'), that some are still doing things simply for the hell of it."Amen.

  • Daniel
    2019-01-28 16:52

    I agree with Jay in his comments. The stories are interesting but he does seem to downplay what life is actually like in small town America. Champaign is a city not a town. If the author really wants to judge towns against one another he should be comparing life in towns not towns versus cities.

  • Ellen
    2019-01-26 12:02

    Bill Geist is a correspondent for CBS news who travels the country to "discover the peculiar charms of small-town America". Some of the stories make you want to jump in the car and go see it for yourself and some of them make you scratch your head and go "Huh"? I love the ingenuity of the "Stand Still Parade" of Whalan, Minnesota. The town is only 2 blocks long so a parade would be out of town before it really got going. So the parade stands still and the spectators walk around it. Monowi, Nebraska has a population of 1, Elsie Eiler. She is the mayor, the board, the secretary-treasurer, librarian, bookeeper, etc. She owns the only business, a tavern, which also makes her the entire chamber of commerce. She reads the water meter, bills herself, and pays herself. According to Elsie she "always pays on time and has never threatened to cut her water off". In Syracuse, Indiana you can go to church in your boat. The minister gives his sermon from a pontoon boat and the collection is done by an usher in a small boat with a fishing net on the end of a long pole. These are just a few of the quirky stories Mr. Geist has covered in this book.I highly recommend this book to anyone with a sense of fun.

  • Ladiibbug
    2019-01-24 11:04

    Non-Fiction - Travel/HumorCBS correspondent Bill Geist shares true stories of small town America's eccentric individuals:* The 93 y/o pilot/paperboy/publisher who delivers his news to far-flung subscribers by plane;* The Muleshoe, Texas anchorwoman who delivers the news from her bedroom (occasionally wearing her bathrobe); * The struggling Colorado entrepreneur who finds business success employing a high powered sewer vacuum to rid Western ranchers of problematic prarie dogs.LOL funny, heart-warming, refreshing as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. A truly memorable look at some of our more interesting, inspiring and unusual fellow citizens.I don't watch CBS news, so I didn't know who Bill Geist was until his son, Willie, mentioned his dad's book on MSNBC's Tucker Carlson Show (now defunct). I'm a big Willie Geist fan -- now I can see where he gets his sense of humor. Willie does the human interest-type of news with the twist/eccentricity that makes it fun. I so miss watching Willie Geist, as now he's on MSNBC's Morning Joe, which is on 3 am to 6 am PST :-(.I'll be seeking out more of Bill Geist's books!

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    2019-01-27 11:44

    One of the first books I read on my Kindle was this book. I did not see the cover at the time, but, now that I see it, I'd have to say that this book falls into the category of Cover-More-Clever-Than-the-Book.

  • Douglas Reedy
    2019-01-17 14:46

    I really enjoyed the humor the writer placed in this fun book. There is no favoritism to any certain town or event. But there is also no limit to the sarcasm in which no one is safe. Fun for all who enjoy learning about small town America.

  • Patsy
    2019-02-07 16:42

    Love the people of this country and the quirky stories they provide

  • Patti Kerr
    2019-02-13 08:44

    What a great book. I loved it.I highly recommend it. And if you have already read it, I recommend reading it again and again and again. You can never have too many smiles.

  • Ruth
    2019-02-11 12:50

    light, fast, fun read to get me through the holidays and afterholidays.

  • Thomas Gregoire
    2019-01-24 13:45

    Funniest book I have read in yeas.

  • Jocelyn L.
    2019-02-15 11:44

    “Way off the Road” by Bill Geist tells of the author’s experiences traveling to small towns across America. But these aren’t just any small towns; all of them have something unusual and bizarre that makes them stand out, whether it’s hosting cow dung chucking contests (Beaver, Oklahoma) or celebrating “Frozen Dead Guy” day (Nederland, Colorado). Some towns have only one or two residents, such as Monowi, Nebraska or Moonshine, Illinois, while others are may be larger, but are famous for something really peculiar. For example, Fruita, Colorado is the proud home of Mike the headless chicken. Although he’s now deceased, Mike once lived for 18 months without a head when a day at the chopping block when wrong. He was such an attraction during his life that the town still celebrates that as a big part of their heritage. This book was very enjoyable to read. As a non-fiction book, it didn’t have a really intriguing story line that makes you not want to put it down. However, it was still a nice, interesting book that was fun to read. The author wrote it in first person, so it seems like he’s talking to you about his trip. He tries to bring humor into the story a lot, which is sometimes successful and sometimes not. My Dad read this book as well and said that he felt as if the author was being kind of snobby and looking down on the small town people. It didn’t usually come across to me that way, but I can see how it might seem that way. Some of the humor was kind of borderline funny/insulting. For example, when describing talking to a (rather large) lady in Wilson, North about a rule that bans porch furniture, he writes, “We were unable to make visual contact with any part of the chair to evaluate its decency or lack thereof”. While most readers may get a chuckle out of that, I highly doubt that the lady will when she reads it. However, to be fair, most of the humor wasn’t this mean. Overall, I would rate this book a 3 out of 5. It kept my attention for the whole book, and it was an interesting topic to read about. I enjoyed some of the humor in the book, but not all of it. “Way off the Road” was a nice easy read that you can just sit back and enjoy. Although it was a non-fiction book, it was one that you would read more for entertainment than to learn about the culture of small towns. It served its purpose well, as it was a very entertaining read. I’ve read another book similar to this one that was about odd towns across America and some of the towns, such as Fruita, Colorado, were in both. However, I enjoyed “Way off the Road” more because it was told from the author’s point of view, so it seemed more like a story than just a list of places.

  • Tony
    2019-01-19 14:36

    Geist, Bill. WAY OFF THE ROAD: Discovering the Peculiar Charms of Small-Town America. (2007). ****. I didn’t know who Bill Geist was until a friend of mine, after reading a book by Bill Bryson that I sent to him, said: “He writes a lot like Bill Geist.” For all I knew, Bill Geist was somebody we used to hang out with at bars and maybe shoot the occasional game of pool with. Turns out that Geist is a TV correspondent and appears regularly on CBS Sunday Morning and other talk shows. I wouldn’t know because I don’t watch much television, especially on Sunday morning. This collection represents a culling from several of his talk pieces where he travelled to small towns to take note of their individual claims to fame. Most of the claims aren’t earthshaking, but they are certainly different. For example, there was Whalen, MN (Pop. 62) that held the world’s first Stand-Still Parade, or Nederland, CO, home of the Frozen Dead Guy, or Rachel, NV (Pop. 98), situated on the center of what is known as The Alien Highway. It’s the center of the most numerous UFO sightings in the U.S., in addition to being right next to the closed-to-the-public Groom Lake government test facility, aka Area 51. Area 51 was featured in the film “MEN IN BLACK” and was where the stealth bomber was stealthily devloped. People in Rachel think that the government is hiding out a bunch of aliens there who are helping our country get ahead in the world of technology. There’s also the story of McAlester, OK, where practically all the bombs in the world are made. It’s the town’s largest industry, and they’re proud of their part in whatever conflict is going on at the time. Some of the workers do wish they were making toys for Santa Claus, instead – if the pay was as good. Ever wonder where all your lost luggage ends up? After the airlines from around the world do their best (Ha!) to find out who the owners were, the remains are sold to an outfit in Scottsboro, AL (Pop. 14,762), who puts all the contents on sale at their outlet store. You can get some mighty fine bargains there, as the goods also include lost articles from FedX, DHL, and UPS. This is a fun collection of articles about what you might encounter if you ever get off the interstates on your trips around the country. Recommended.

  • Andrea Thorpe
    2019-01-21 10:02 an original. Well, most of the chapters anyway. I found myself skipping a few, because I just wasn't interested in cow chips or some place that sells "moon" burgers. However, there were some real gems of information in this book. When my husband and I hiked the Grand Canyon back in 2005, we past a mule train heading to the rim. I remember squeezing against the switchback to let the mules by and wondering what they were doing down there without passengers. This book, of all books, answered that question. Apparently, there is a town called Supai, AZ located at the bottom of the canyon. This town is totally isolated from the world and has mail, food and even appliances delivered (in pieces) to the Havasupai Indians daily. I mean, what! So, talk about a slice of history. I was entertained when I saw Celebration, FL, come up as a chapter. I've actually been there in my early 20's. I remember my friend and I pulled into town and thought we were on a movie set. It turns out the town is owned and run by Disney itself and there are strict "rules" as to what goes on both in and out of doors.So, if you're looking for a quirky bunch of tidbits about the good ole' USofA, this is certainly it!Where else can you hear about where lost luggage goes, a town run by one person or a towing museum....come on!

  • Whymsy Likes Books
    2019-01-18 14:47

    A delightful mini vacation for your brain!Bill had me from the authors note on through till the end. Taking me on a tour of places I probably would never visit physically, he found the heart of the people he spoke with and the places he visited. From the 92-year-old flying paper boy to the groundhog sucking business (which totally brought to mind Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit thus rendering everyone into Claymation form) to the cow photographer and her arsenal of unusual beauty products you could share not only in Bill’s humor, but his connection to them.I particularly enjoyed the Celebration Town, Flamingo story (that is the nondestructive kind of vandalism I can appreciate). Also, I have never seen a live demolition derby or school bus race, but Dude sign me up, because that sounds awesome! Nascar has nothing on them.I would say if you are need a vacation from your everyday life or have to believe there is somewhere weirder than where you live curl up with Bill for the afternoon and let him take you on an unusual sort of vacation!For the full review and others visit

  • Kim
    2019-02-09 14:48

    I only gave this book 3 stars because it doesn't feel like much of an accomplishment to have read it, but it was very fun reading. It is a book that compiles tales of a long time reporter, who has visited many, many small towns in American and become acquainted with their kookiness. For instance, one town's main business is a store that sells items lost or abandoned on airlines -- now with post 9-11 security, this entails plenty of knives, packages of mace, and exacto knives, but there are plenty of wedding dresses, Egyptian mummies (who would lose that on a plane?), and even large appliances (I'd like a seat for my washing machine . . ) Or another town where the main form of entertainment is figure 8 school bus demolition derby, with special nights where Winnebagos go at it. This book is full of funny vignettes to tell your new-found friend sharing a seat on a 10 hour train trip. Or if you're reaching a midlife crisis and feeling that you should re-explore those literary classics you still have on your to-read list, this book would provide very light reading in between chapters of, let's say, the great Russian novelists.

  • Kathy
    2019-01-24 15:49

    Never before have I found myself hurrying to the computer so many times to hit "google" and find out if the purportedly "nonfiction" book I was reading was telling the truth. It was. Every time. Even the chapter about the fellow who has found a way to make money by sucking prairie dogs out of their holes in Cortez, Colorado with a huge vacuum machine. Bill Geist has the enviable job of traveling the US looking for the most stimulating people and the most interesting small towns. The bovine photographer (do you mean COW photographer? Yes, I do) in New Glarus, Wisconsin left me with my jaw hanging open--after I picked myself off the floor, laughing myself silly. Mr. Geist has the delightful gift of portraying people and places with both humor and an admiration for small town Americans who have no particular attraction to big cities and have no desire to leave their small town while cheerfully admitting that even though their lives are "kinda quiet", they like it that way. I completely enjoyed this book!

  • Carolin
    2019-02-03 09:57

    Ein sehr amüsantes Buch über die Kuriositäten amerikanischer Kleinstädte fernab des Touristenrummels. Ich habe mir das Buch letztes Jahr zur Einstimmung auf einen USA-Urlaub gekauft und es hat wirklich sehr viel Spaß gemacht, es zu lesen. Einen meiner Meinung nach sehr passenden Einblick gibt die Zusammenfassung auf der Rückseite des Buches: "New York, Chicago, L.A. - wer kennt sie nicht, die Millionenstädte der USA. Aber wussten Sie, dass Whalan in Minnesota jährlich eine >>Standstill-Parade<< veranstaltet, weil der Ort zu klein für eine marschierende Kapelle ist? Oder die Einwohner der Ortschaft Supai im - ja, im - Grand Canyon nur dank schwindelfreier Maultiere versorgt werden können?"Ich würde es allen USA-, Roadtrip- und Kleinstadtabenteuerurlaubfans empfehlen ;) Es macht wirklich Lust darauf, loszuziehen und abseits der ausgetretenen Tourismuspfade Land und Leute zu entdecken...und dazu muss man ja nicht erst nach Amerika fliegen. Deutschland hat sicher auch so seine eigenartigen Dörfer und Städtchen :)

  • Mikey B.
    2019-02-13 12:02

    A travel book on some of the more esoteric people in small town U.S.A. It ranges from the eclectic (lost luggage city, delivering mail in the Grand Canyon) to the banal (spitting water melon seeds, tossing cow chips – a euphemism for cow dung, feces,sh..). And then there is the macabre from headless chickens and iced over dead bodies. Sometimes I thought I was reading the “Guinness Book of World Records”. The author ingests humour in most and tries hard not to pass judgement, although one feels a certain impatience in Rachel, Nevada on UFOs. This is not a narrative travelogue in the sense of one journey. It is a collection of vignettes taken over a period of time. The author is readable and entertaining, but sometimes one wishes for a little more literary elevation – but I confess a weakness for the story on the crashing school buses!

  • Donald
    2019-01-23 16:06

    This is a perfect audiobook for commuting. Short segments highlight some of the odd allure of small town middle-America.There is a town so small that their parade stands still and the viewers walk around it.A ninety-plus year old guy delivers his newspaper over a six hundred square mile route with a single engine airplane.Cow chip throwing contests that are finger licking good.An entrepreneur has started a business with a sewer vac truck, sucking prairie dogs from their holes.Bill Geist could go on and on about people in these United States and I’d probably listen for much longer than the seven hours this audiobook held my attention. Patrick Lawlor narrates this collection of offbeat Americans doing whatever it is they do.It is very entertaining and some of it will stick with you long after the listening is over.

  • Mayda
    2019-01-24 16:41

    Small towns are often thought of as charming and quaint. Bill Geist has the knack for finding the strange and the weird. This audio book is highly entertaining as well as informative. You will discover that it is possible to make a good living photographing cows – if you can highlight their good points. In one town, you may get a visit from the police for having illegal porch furniture. Always good to know the laws of your town. If you don’t like just standing to watch a parade, you may want to visit the town where the parade stands still while the viewers walk around the stationary parade. So before you plan your next vacation, you might want to listen to this book. It might entice you to put in a detour or two to visit the huge butter chicken or take part in the pie chip throwing contest or watermelon seed spitting contest. Or not.

  • Eshusdaughter
    2019-02-10 16:45

    Way Off The Road is a series of short ancedotes by Bil Geist about his travels all over the country to tiny communities and odd places. It's an interesting travel logue with some fun characters, interesting places and a few funny moments. It's not a cohesive book and jumps around a lot. The top-10 lists scattered throughout were annoying and rarely funny - they felt forced as did much of the humor. If you like travel stories, are planning a road-trip to small towns or just want a bit of light reading, this is the book for you. If your looking for anything more than superficial, surface reporting, anything deeper about these communities and people, this isn't the book for you. It's the sweet glaze on the top of the cake, not the rich yummy treasure trove of stories I was hoping for.

  • Danielle
    2019-01-23 09:54

    I'd never heard of Bill Geist before reading this book, but he is certainly an entertaining guide as we meet all sorts of characters of rural America. He's not demeaning, but we all enjoy a good laugh at/with people who fill their time with quaint recreations (watermelon spitting, celebrating a frozen dead guy, a headless chicken, and the sun setting behind the railroad tracks, to name a few) as well as other unique realities of life away from the big city. I grew up in a small town (and visited my grandparents at an even smaller one) so I could relate to some of the little things that resulted in big excitement for rural townsfolk. A fun and quick read.

  • John Orman
    2019-02-05 12:55

    Frozen Dead Guy--he's in here! Or, at least a story about him--guess that is the peculiar charm of Nederland, CO!World Cow Chip Capital--Beaver, OK! OK!Cooking with roadkill near Lawrence, KS!A visit to the world champion watermelon-seed spitter in Luling, TX!Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, CO!I especially liked the essay "The Alien Highway" about Rachel, NV--I may stop by Rachel pretty soon!The holy grail of roadside attractions has 3 contenders--Cawker City, KS, Darwin, MN, and Branson, MO. Geist checked them all out and seems to be leaning toward the Cawker City version, at over 12 feet in diameter.Peculiar indeed--and kind of weird too!

  • Kari
    2019-01-29 11:47

    A fun read, Way Off the Road is a matter-of-fact exploration of life in small-town America. Geist seeks out the towns that have made a name for themselves and achieved some renown. He shares the experiences of his 5600-mile RV trip in a lighthearted way. Geist travels like I want to travel... off the beaten path and sampling the local culture, flavors and personalities. Read this, not Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent, which sees small-town America through the lens of one inexpensive motel and diner after another. Geist fuels the curiosity and wander lust.

  • Lori
    2019-02-06 08:47

    Ozzie's, our airport-cum-diner, makes the book. As does Beaver's cow-chip-tossing contest and McAlester's bomb factory.And that barely, barely scratches the surface of Oklahoma's small-town wonders.In fact, that's a good description of the whole book. Based on a broadcast journalist "news of the weird" style segments, Way Off the Road gives you a glimpse -- about what you might see if you slowed down to not get caught in the speed trap or to grab a cup of coffee and a slice of pie.I'm intrigued by a lot of the citizens therein, but I'd have liked to get to know them some.

  • Dawn (& Ron)
    2019-01-30 10:04

    Read by Ron in 2009.Geist, a commentator for CBS Sunday Morning, mentioned this during one of his segments on the show and I thought why not give it a try. I was able to learn of unique, interesting things about America and its people, that made me laugh, wonder, shake my head and some that I just had to mention to Dawn, and some even to co-workers. If you like Bill Bryson, and learning of those odd, off-beat, unknown tales of Americana, then this quick and entertaining read will work for you.

  • Virginia Brace
    2019-02-08 11:39

    Fun light read for all ages. Audio version would be great to play on a road trip with the family. Author is a TV personality who travels all over the US visiting small towns and reporting anecdotes in a deadpan humorous way. Great memorable stories about Mike the Headless Chicken from Fruita, CO and the Silver Surfer guy and his family in southern CA. There's a great roadkill story from outside Kansas and others of that ilk.