PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The day after leaving office following an eight-year stint as Maine's governor, Angus King hit the road.
For the next 5 1/2 months, King, his wife and their two children lived together in a 40-foot RV, driving 15,000 miles and traveling through 33 states.
The journey was King's way of making the shift from being "The Man" with a staff, constant press attention and 24-hour-a-day police protection to being "simply a man," he writes in his new book, "Governor's Travels: How I Left Politics, Learned to Back Up a Bus, and Found America." The book will be on bookstore shelves in mid-July.
"The trip turned out to be the perfect transition from a job like governor because it was utterly different from what I had been doing, but it was still engaging," King told The Associated Press. "I didn't go from the intensity of being governor to sitting in a rocking chair and reading a newspaper. I went to something that was very engaging. But instead of worrying about the Legislature, I was worrying about whether the next RV park had a dump station."
King was elected governor as an independent in 1994, his first run for public office, and was re-elected in a landslide in 1998. Prohibited by law from running for a third term, he left office in January 2003.
He and his wife decided to buy a motor home equipped with all the comforts of home, take 12-year-old Ben and 9-year-old Molly out of school and embark on an extended, leisurely trip with no specific itinerary. King kept a log during their travels, which he then took to Down East Books.
The result is a 160-page book that chronicles the voyage, which took them from Maine to Florida, then west through the southern states to California, north to the Pacific Northwest and back east through the northern states and Canada.
The book drives home the themes of transition, family and travel, King said, while encouraging people to live their dream.
"It's amazing the number of people I talk to who get kind of misty about the idea of traveling across the county with their family," King said. "Either they did it as a kid, they knew someone who had done it or they always want to do it. It seems to be a fantasy many Americans have, and part of the purpose of the books is to encourage people to do it. If I can learn to back up a bus, believe me, anybody can."
The book will be distributed nationally, said editor Michael Steere.
King, 67, said he's also going to the Family Motor Coach Association's annual convention in August in Madison, Wis., where he'll present a slideshow and try to sell a few books.
"It's a fun book," he said. "This isn't going to replace "Look Homeward, Angel' in high school literature classes, but I hope people will enjoy it from the perspective of travel and RV-ing."