Posts Tagged ‘steinbeck’

 “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine

Ten of Hundreds


Lake Powell, which destroyed Glen Canyon and which wouldn’t ever have existed if Edward Abbey’s “Monkey Wrench Gang” characters had anything to say about it. — Photo by Pat Bean

I won’t say these are my 10 favorite travel books, because I could name 10 more just as easily. But these are books that influenced my decision to become rootless and make the road my home for the past eight years.

I Married Adventure, 1940, by Osa Johnson. I picked this book up at the library when I was about 10 years old. I was always sneaking into the adult section. I think I already knew I had wanderlust, and this book simply confirmed it. I, too, wanted adventure.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. My 22-foot RV, Gypsy Lee, is my version of Moon’s green van, Ghost Dancing. I loved this book so much that I’ve given dozens of copies away as gifts. The green-dotted scenic byways marked on today’s maps are my blue highways.

Road Fever, by Tim Cahill, I have loved everything this Wyoming author has written, especially this book that details a 15,000-mile trip from Tierra del Fuego to the top of Alaska. I’ve read everything this author has written that I could come across, including his many Outside magazine stories.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. This book fueled my desire to walk the Appalachian Trail, but except for a few miles on various sections it’s a to-do list item that I’ve waited too long to get around to doing. But I still have time to hike at least a few more miles on this trail whenever I come across one of its many trailheads.

One of Charles Kuralt’s more popular “On the Road” episodes wat the time he hooked up with a botanist to put names to all the wildflowers he was seeing, like this fireweed. — Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. I read this book many years ago, but reread it when I took to the road in 2004. My wordsmith friend, Charlie Trentelman, mentioned that I was the female version of Steinbeck, thus the title of my travel book, “Travels With Maggie.” Thank you Steinbeck.

On the Road with Charles Kuralt. Charles Kuralt was also influenced by Steinbeck. Kuralt, meanwhile, is actually the traveler most like me. We were both journalists, and we both prefer looking at life’s brighter side. I cried when Kuralt died, and one of my favorite travel photos is of his “On the Road” RV that’s on exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.

The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthieson. A fantastic writer who makes one think. This book brought the Himalayas to life for me. I was privileged to have once heard this author speak.

Out of Africa by Isek Dinesen. Like Osa Johnson, this book made me want to travel to Africa. Not only did I do that in 2007, I visited Dinesen’s former coffee plantation in Nairobi.

Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. While I loved this book, Abbey’s “The Monkey Wrench Gang” is my favorite of all that he has written. It, too, could be considered a travel book in that it includes awesome descriptions of Utah and Arizona’s red-rock landscape.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. No travel book collection would be complete without Theroux. This is my favorite of his many.

Book Report: Busy morning, then a four-hour lunch with a group of mostly crazy old broads, whose Bay of Pigs nickname rivals my former group of crazy old broad friends called the Murder of Crows, that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. It comes under my umbrella mantra of smelling all the flowers and grabbing all the gusto this life has to offer. While I will do some editing as part of the rewrite of my travel book late this afternoon, I doubt I will add any significant word count. It’s the story of my writing life, conflicting goals. The good thing is that I no longer flagellate myself for such lapses.

Bean’s Pat: Photos and Facets; http://tinyurl.com/ckpfxer No! It’s not the London Bridge you’ve been seeing on television.

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This was the first travel book I read. Do you remember your first. -- Photo courtesy Wikipedia

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Travels With Maggie

Osa Johnson wrote I Married Adventure the year after I was born. I think I was about 10 years old when I came across her book in the public library. It was the first travel book I ever read, and I was enthralled. From that moment on, I dreamed of having her kind of adventures.

It wasn’t until 2007 that I finally made it to Africa and went on a safari. Things had tremendously changed from Osa’s days, but at least I got to see wild lions and leopards and monkeys and elephants and all the other animals she wrote about in the book that captured my dreams. My great-grandchildren may not be so fortunate.

I’ve read hundreds of travel books since then. There’s always one by my bedside. Choosing just 10 to list here was difficult. I could easily have listed 10 different ones and been just as truthful. The ones I’ve chosen, however, have special meaning to me. I’ve just told you about the first. Here are the other nine – in no particular order.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. It was this book that was the role model for my present-day RV travels.

If your funny bone is like mine, this will tickle it.

On the Road

by Charles Kuralt. I was an upbeat journalist with a desire to travel. How could this book not be on my list?

Road Fever by Tim Cahill. I’ve read just about everything this crazy Montanan has written. I get his sense of humor.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. An author with a strong sense of conservation and the value of both the landscape and wildlife.

Dessert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. An irreverent writer who writes about the landscapes I’ve trod and who loves them as much as I do.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. One person’s account of an Everest expedition in which lives were lost, one of whom I had met and interviewed. His is not the only version of events but his writing can’t be faulted. I couldn’t stop reading.

Out of Africa by Isek Dineson. Once again my adventurous spirit is touched. I visited the home, now a museum, of Karen Blixen (alias Dineson) when I was in Africa.

John Steinbeck and Charley. Maggie and I are their counterparts but we don't follow in their wheel tracks. -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 Around the World in 80 Days

by Jules Verne. Does a fictional book count as   a travel book? I vote that this one does.

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. When I first began planning my RV travels, I reread this book after a friend said Maggie and I were the female version of Steinbeck and Charley. I even toyed with the idea of retracing this great writer’s journey, but then wisely decided I needed to find my on path on the road.

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