Roads from the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier
By Megan Edwards
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Making Lemonade When Life Gives You Lemons
A RIVETING, HILARIOUS LOOK AT THE EARLY YEARS OF THE INTERNET WHILE ON “WALKABOUT” ALL OVER
The California wildfires destroying homes and everything in their paths conjure a familiar feeling for Megan Edwards, whose home and worldly possessions were destroyed in the wildfires of late 1993. This year marks the 20th anniversary of her memoir Roads From the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier. To mark the occasion, publisher Imbrifex Books is releasing a new e-book edition on December 1.
At its heart a story of making lemonade when life gives you lemons, Roads From the Ashes is also a riveting and at times hilarious look at the early years of the World Wide Web. With a new introduction by Edwards and a foreword by Chris Epting, the story takes readers on an armchair adventure across North America when the Internet was young. The new edition includes 22 photos from life on the open road.
When a wildfire destroyed Edwards’ home and worldly possessions in the hills above Los Angeles, it didn’t take her 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.
Edwards and her husband also thought they’d be traveling for six months or so, when, they believed, they’d settle down and get back to normal. But six and a half 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. In 1996, they started a website, RoadTripAmerica.com, to share road tripping discoveries and tips. RoadTrip America.com was one of the first travel blogs on the Web, although the word wouldn’t come into use for another decade. Slowly, their dream of being “at work, at home, and on the road, all at the same grand time” became a reality. In subsequent years they’ve added Living-Las-Vegas.com, MeganEdwards.com, BaseCampGuides.com, ScenicSideTrips.com, and TheLocalAngler.com to their lineup of websites.
“As fascinating as it was to observe the Internet hatch and grow during my years on the road, it is the travel itself I am most grateful for,” recalls Edwards. “As much as this book is about the beginning of the Internet revolution, it is equally about stuff. Everything began with a great and sudden loss of stuff and a desire to enjoy the vacuum for as long as possible. But as anyone who has ever lived in a motorhome can tell you, stuff is a big issue.”
Megan Edwards is the author of the travel memoir Roads from the Ashes, the humor book Caution: Funny Signs Ahead, two Copper Black mystery novels Getting off on Frank Sinatra and Full Service Blonde, and a romantic novel Strings. She has lived and traveled extensively in Europe and spent over six years “on the road” all over North America. Now at home in Las Vegas, Nevada, she is working on her next novel.