Category Archives: Book

‘Food on Foot’: A Book that Strikes a Chord

True tales of adventurous travel and adventurous eating.

A month from now, we will be in the Himalayas, visiting Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. I’m beside myself with happy anticipation, and every book around the house that I am ready to pick up is about one of those countries.  I nibble at old guidebooks, even though this will not be an independent trip but a Road Scholar itinerary, and out-of-print Traveler’s Tales anthologies of Tibet and Nepal (none on Bhutan). Still, the upcoming publication of Food on Foot penetrated my pre-Himalayan haze. The publicist’s description intrigued me:

World traveler, mountain climbing enthusiast, and scholar Demet Güzey introduces readers to the vital connection between food and human expedition in Food on Foot , the next installment in the Food on the Go series. From pilgrims to pioneers, soldiers to explorers, the only limit to humanity’s reach is the food they can find along the way, and Güzey examines the myriad ways we have approached this problem over the centuries and across landscapes.

From tinned foods to foraging in the arctic wilderness, worm-infested hardtack to palate-dulling army rations, loss of appetite in high altitudes to champagne and caviar at base camps, Güzey gives a thoroughly researched and insightful account of how we manage food on foot, and how disaster strikes when we fail to manage it well.

Firsthand accounts, authentic artifacts and photographs, expert opinions, and recipes reveal new perspectives on lesser known as well as more famous expeditions, such as the disastrous end of the Donner Party, the stranded men of Shackleton on Elephant Island, and the first successful summit of Mount Everest. An extensive bibliography provides ample opportunities for further reading.

This culinary history book by Demet Güzey is geared to adventurous food lovers and food-loving adventurers. Publication date is April 8, the day we leave on our own trip,  but I hope to get to it after I return. Publishing  details: Rowman & Littlefield; ISBN: 978-1-4422-5506-7; Hardcover $38; 236 pages.

Lonely Planet Adds Food-Forward Guides

With food a major part of travel, publisher debuts titles.

lonelyplanet-logoLonely Planet, now the world’s largest travel guidebook publisher (and my favorite line of titles), is launching the Lonely Planet Food imprint. Food is a key way in which we experience a place when traveling. Out on October 18 is Food Trails: Plan 52 Perfect Weekends in the World’s Tastiest Destinations ($24.99), promising “a gastronomic tour of the greatest, most memorable food experiences worth planning a trip around – from barbeque in Texas to patisserie in Paris, fine dining to cooking classes.”  Also coming this fall are Food Trails (October), From the Source: Spain, and From the Source: Japan (both September). Coming in May 2017 is Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour.

The new imprint is launched with impressive ambitions. Associate publisher Robin Barton says, “We will be publishing a wide range of titles, including recipe books that feature food in its place of origin, and travel companions to food and drink trails around the world. We show chefs cooking, customers eating and ingredients being bought in markets, giving readers a true sense of place. A huge part of the food experience is the surroundings, atmosphere and people – our aim is to bring the complete package to people at home who are keen to experience world food at its most authentic.”

In Lonely Planet fashion, the publisher says that its “experts scoured the globe to create a comprehensive guide to a year’s worth of weekends in food heaven. Both practical and inspirational, Food Trails features culinary experts, reviews of restaurants, cafes and markets, and maps and information on where to go when and how to get there.” And did I mention that the food and ambiance photography promises to whet travelers’ appetites?

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.

Enter to Win a Book About Airstream

Book celebrates America’s iconic travel trailer.

Airstream-cover.j[gI’ve never taken an actual trip that involved riding in a vehicle that was towing an Airstream, but I’ve seen plenty of them on the road. A few years ago, I spent several nights at the Shooting Star Drive-In, a clever resort in Escalante, Utah. Its accommodations are in these iconic travel trailers that are celebrating their 80th anniversary this year. Click here to read my post.

Turns out that Airstream is not only America’s best known manufacturer of trailers but also the oldest. Those retro silver coaches sport an unmistakable in design with distinctive aerodynamic rounded lines and an aluminum outer skin. Airstream: 80 Years of America’s Traveler celebrates the eight decades since the first Airstream graced America’s highways.

The book chronicles the fascinating history of Airstream trailers through a detailed history, stories and of course, beautiful photography. The first Airstream-brand trailers were introduced just as America was emerging from the dark days of the Great Depression. Of the 400 travel-trailer manufacturers of that era, only Airstream has survived.

Dubbed the “Airstream Clipper” after the first trans-Atlantic seaplane, that 1936 Airstream featured a unique lightweight aluminum body that cut down on wind resistance, improved fuel efficiency, and made for easier towing. It slept four, carried its own water supply, was fitted with electric lights and cost $1,200.

Airstream: America’s World Traveler by Patrick Foster is a 192-page hardcover book featuring 300 photos and will cost $45 when it is released in June. But you might not have to buy it, if you are the winner of a Travel-Babel contest with a copy of the book going to the winner. To enter, leave a comment to this post about you and Airstream –– one you’ve traveled with, wanted to travel with, spotted on a special trip or in an unusual situation. Fiction and poetry are welcome. Free your imagination and enter.

Book About Travel Opposites

MIT linguist wrote a fine travel memoir.

TravelJunkie-coverI Married a Travel Junkie has been on my “to read” list for too long. I finally picked it up and found it so delightful that I raced through it. Being an MIT professor emeritus of linguistics, author Samuel Jay Keyser (known as Jay) not surprisingly has a way with words.  I identified with his and his wife’s different travel styles — that is, she is passionate about travel and he would just as soon stay home. My husband and I are similar.

Jay wrote with humor and insight about the reality that Nancy is more passionate about travel than Jay is. Similarly, I love to travel much more than my husband does. I have a taste for the exotic and am willing to wade into unfamiliar cultures. He prefers traveling to uncrowded places where English is widely spoken and the food isn’t too weird. We both love beautiful natural places, plus the occasional beautiful man-made environment.

But one Jay Keyser observation rang especially true for us. My husband  can identify with: “Being married to a strong-minded, travel-committed woman can be a real trial or travail. ‘Travel’ and ‘travail’ are  originally the same word…toil; exertion; hardship; suffering….I have become, in spite of myself, what most people would consider a world traveler. This is not out of choice. My world-traveler status is a epiphenomenon–the cost of being married to Nancy.”

I enjoyed the book — a lot — and felt a distant kinship with Jay and Nancy.

Marvelous Memoir of Extended Honeymoon

Newlyweds’ epic adventures chronicled in new book.

CrocodleLove-coverI met Josh Berman at some writers’ event a number of years ago. We went through the usual “what do you write about?”, “where are you from?”, “where do you live?” pleasantries. I learned that he had written a couple of guidebooks to Nicaragua and Belize, that he was wrapping a up a gig as a book editor and, most interestingly, that he and his wife Sutay had traveled around the world for something like two years under the auspices of the Peace Corps and American Jewish World Service. He was planning to write a book about their adventures and experiences.

Then came a few gigs as a fixer for Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain filming in Nicaragua, a book about the Maya calendar that “predicted” the end of the world in 2012 and a transition to teaching Spanish — and he and Sutay, a nurse, childbirth educator and doula, had three little girls. Hop ahead to the end of 2014, when the book came out. It is called Crocodile Love: Travel Tales from an Extended Honeymoon, and it is a very good and lively read about the couple’s experiences in Asia and Africa.

Highlights include Sutay’s unique family legacy in Pakistan that opened many strange and unexpected doors, experiencing the world’s great religions through a traveler’s lens, three months of volunteering on a tea plantation in India, two months with the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana and most poignantly, their unannounced arrival in the mud-hut Gambian village where Sutay had lived as a Peace Corps Volunteer ten years earlier.

I couldn’t wait to read it, so I wove it into the busy holiday period, but it is also the kind of book I like to read when traveling.  The short chapters are further divided into sections, which means it is easy to start, put down and restart without losing the thread. The inspiration for the unusual title doesn’t come until the end, and it’s worth waiting for. I hope you read the book, so I won’t spoil it for you.

Book Recommendation for Peru

Adams followed Bingham’s footsteps to Machu Picchu and wrote about it.

MacchuPichu-coverMark Adams is a non-fiction travel and adventure writer and editor. He got it in his head and his heart to follow the route that Hiram Bingham — thought by many to be the model for Indiana Jones — took to discover the great Inca site of Machu Picchu. When Bingham undertook to find the lost city, or at least a lost city, roughly century earlier, he did a lot of reading and research and enlisted the services of an Aussie-born guide and Inca expert named John Leivers. He also has a lot of Indiana Jones in him.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is the travel book that Adams about this epic trek. He writes with insights, information, humor and the right amount of self-effacement to make the reader — well, a reader like me — briefly and fleetingly think, “I could do that.” Or at least, “I could have done that when I was much younger.” Truth of the matter is that even the tourist version of Peru’s Inca Trail would bee though for me now. I did hike a section of Ecuador’s Inca Trail between Achupallas and Ingprirca some years ago. It was remote and exhilarating — and uncrowded.

I am leaving for Peru on Tuesday, but there will be no trekking. This trip, an adjunct to the Society of American Travel Writers’ Freelance Council meeting, will be by plane, train and bus. No step-by-step journey as undertaken by Bingham in the early 20th century and by Adams and Leivers. Still, I had to read the book to walk with them vicariously. And I enjoyed the book — a lot.

New Book on Old Ski Areas

Lost Colorado ski areas in words and pictures.

LostSkiAreas-doverI have a framed “Colorado’s Lost Resorts” poster on my office wall. I enjoy looking at this Colorado Ski Country USA promotional item, because I do love ski trivia. There are 117 spots on the map, starting with Inspiration Point in Arvada and a couple of others that operated for a single winter before World War I to some that existed into the 1980s. Curiously missing are Berthoud Pass, Ski Broadmoor or Ski Hidden Valley/Ski Estes in Rocky Mountain National Park, which was still operating when I moved here in 1988.

Now I have another source that is more comprehensive than a poster could possibly be. A new book called Lost ski Areas of Colorado’s Front Range and Northern Mountains by Caryn and Peter Boddie, both enthusiasts for Colorado skiing and Colorado ski history too. Printed on quality paper, it includes historic photos (both black and white and four-color), it is organized by county, with as much information as the authors could assemble about each ski venue. Sources include not only printed and online material, but also E-mail correspondence, personal interviews and reminiscences. When possible, they included GPS coordinates which help anyone who wants to locate a particular lost ski area. Some are easy to spot if you know where to look either for ghost trails or even building remains. Others are overgrown and exist primarily as dim memories.

The book is $19.99 and can be ordered online. The authors plan an additional volume covering the rest of the state. I’m already looking forward.

Reading My Way Into the Spirit of Greece

Travelers’ Tales taking me to ancient the ancient land before the plane does.

TT-GreeceIn June, my husband and I are going to Greece, which has been on my to-visit list forever. We snared a GroupOn  bargain that includes air out of New York, two nights each in Athens and on Mykonos and Santorini, and ferry transport between mainland and islands. It will be a quick trip to the touristic highlights — no time for leisurely travel or in-depth exploration. I have a couple of guidebooks, but since it’s a scheduled itinerary with prebooked lodging and ferries, we don’t need to do any research about such nitty-gritty. We just have decide where to eat and what to see and do in each place.

To get in the mood, I wanted a copy of Travelers’ Tales: Greece, published most recently in 2003 and now out of print. Though I really prefer to shop at the Boulder Book Store, I found used copies online and ordered one in excellent condition. When it arrived, the condition had not been exaggerated. The book showed no evidence that it had been read. The spine of this anthology was uncracked, and there were no dog-eared pages.  I think it was only been opened when someone wrote on the title page:

To Val & Ed
From Jean & Neil
Have a wonderful trip!

Did they ever go? Did they have a wonderful trip? I wonder about them, even as I know that we will, and I’m dipping into this anthology one essay at a time to get in the spirit for a short modern-day visit to this ancient land.

Grueling Long-Distance Hike Becomes a Good Read

Step-by-step travel from Mexico to Canada

IIPromiseNotToSuffer-cover.jpm Promise Not to Suffer: A Fool for Love Hikes the Pacific Crest Trail is three books in one. It’s an experiential travel book, a memoir and a love story. Author Gail D. Storey weaves these three threads into one immensely readable book.

Since this blog is about travel, bear with me if I don’t write about anything other than travel part. This epic hike on the demanding, commanding Pacific Crest Trail involves 2,663 often grueling miles from the border with Mexico to the border with Canada. Gail writes eloquently and often with humor about the ups and downs — literally and figuratively.

Gail hiked with her husband Porter, a multi-talented physician with much more outdoor experience than she had, who also made their trail gear, cooked meals on the trail, navigated and encouraged his wife whose skill and confidence grew en route. Gail’s tales of the trail (poetic, huh?) recount how challenging, frustrating and rewarding such an endeavor can be. Think of it like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods but on the other side of the country and with estrogen.

The logistics for the hike are complicated — obtaining a permit; planning, purchasing, packing and shipping supplies; figuring out what will be needed when, given the distances, changing weather and varied terrain. There are deserts to cross, mountains to climb and descend, rivers to ford, snow to navigate and encounters with wildlife from annoying gnats to a mountain lion that turned out to not be as menacing as she had feared. Plus the temperatures ranged from well below freezing to baking. Their goal was to cover 20 or more miles a day. Did I mention that they were not youngsters?

The Storeys planned to be through-hikers, accomplishing the entire trail in one season. Gail hiked nearly 900 hundred miles before exhaustion and the need to be with her terminally ill mother took their toll. Porter completed the hike, but Gail managed much more mileage than many other hikers. Some are segment hikers, clicking off trail sections over the years. Others finally quit — in the case of one Austrian who managed just four days before deciding to take a sightseeing trip through the US instead.

In case a reader is inspired to tackle a long-distance trail or just learn what goes into the prepartion, Gail includes several resource appendices — not enough to get anyone through a hike, but a good start in learning what needs to be done. If Gail were not a friend, I might not have bought this book*, but she is and I did and I’m glad. And I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading narrative travel, memoirs or love stories.

*Signed for me by both Gail and Porter.

Planning My VicariousTravels

With spine surgery scheduled, I’m planning weeks of vicarious travel.

BestAmericcanTravel2012Despite two years of escalating back pain, I’ve tried everything except Rolfing and narcotic painkillers to avoid surgery. I kept going with the help of Salonpas patches and Bayer Back and Body. But now, I’ve finally resigned myself and have minimally invasive spine surgery scheduled for January 29.

Despite my misery, I traveled when I could during most of the last two years, thinking if I’m in pain, I might as well be someplace new. But now the surgery is planned, and I know that I’ll be house-bound for a while. I will probably wistfully watch The Travel Channel and have bought a couple of books. The first one I plan to crack is The Best American Travel Writing 2012, where my vicarious companions will be some of the best travel writers around today.