Posts Tagged ‘travel books’

The Sahara Desert

10 Favorite Travel Books

          I’m reading Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert by William Langewiesche. My reading is inching forward across a land the size of the United States a chapter a day – and taking notes like I do when I travel by vehicle and foot.

          It’s the way this 81-year-old non-wandering wanderer living on Covid time is mollifying her wanderlust – and constantly thanking the universe for travel writers and their books.

          Michelle Morano says that when we travel, our powers of   observation are unmoored from everyday and we pay keener attention to things around us.

           I’m following Langwiesche’s journey using the map at the book’s beginning. So far, I’ve only traveled from Algiers to Ouargla, savoring every mile. As Ursula K. Le Guin said, “It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters.”

        My love of travel books was quite evident when I recently read a list of the best 100. I had read 82 of them — and am trying to find the remaining 18, most of which are out of date.

          And I added a new one to that wanted list, Sand, Wind and War: Memories of a Desert Explorer, while reading Sahara Unveiled. Lanhwiesche mentioned the author, Ralph A. Bagnold, who studied sand “grain by grain.” I looked up Bagnold online to learn more about him, and found his story fascinating.

          Meanwhile, here are 10 of my favorite travel books

          Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. An early model for my own travels.

          Road Fever by Tim Cahill. He makes me laugh, and I thrill at his adventures.

          I Married Adventure by Osa Johnson. The first travel book I read. I was 10 years old.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. Serious nature writing.

          Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck. Another model for my own travels.

          Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. One of my very favorite, irreverent, authors. I also consider his The Monkey Wrench Gang a travel book.

          A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  Lots of hiking while laughing.

          The Man Who Walked Through Time by Collin Fletcher. A serious backpacker’s journey down the Grand Canyon.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Great, inspiring story.

Travels with Maggie by Pat Bean. Well, it is one of my favorite travel books. And I dedicated it to all of the great travel writers who inspired me.

        Perhaps you would like to share some of your favorite travel books? The wanderlust in me is itching to know.

          Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited), and is always searching for life’s silver lining.

Read Full Post »

“A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair.” – Katrina Mayer

Yosemite's Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in "High Country."

Yosemite’s Half Dome, which Nevada Barr wrote about in “High Country.” — Photo by Pat Bean

When a Travel Book is Not about Travel

As a person with wanderlust in her soul, I find that on any list – and there are many – of the best travel books, I’ve read almost every one. And if I haven’t, give me a year and I usually will have.

Sara Peretsky's Chicago. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Sara Peretsky’s Chicago. — Photo by Pat Bean

But this avid traveler has also discovered that a travel book isn’t always found on the travel book shelves. Two of my favorite authors, Nevada Barr and Sara Peretsky, write mysteries, which I love to read as much as I do travel books.

Barr’s character, Anna Pigeon, is a park ranger; and each of this author’s books increases my knowledge of one national park or another. Since I visit national parks as often as I can, reading Barr’s books has let me look at such parks as Yosemite, Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend and Isle Royal through more knowledgeable eyes.

Peretsky’s character, V. I. Warshawski, meanwhile, gives me an insider’s look at Chicago.  What Sara has written about Chicago makes other travel books about the Windy City seem dull in comparison. Thankfully I get to visit Chicago more often than not because I have a son who lives there.

Isn’t it great when you can find two passions, like mine of reading mystery books and traveling,  that fit together so perfectly?

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Canoe Communications http://tinyurl.com/n9wvdx6  I loved this blog quote because it reminded me how connected we are to every living thing on this planet.

Read Full Post »

What is Home?

            “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.” — Maya Angelou

This view from my balcony is now part of what means home to me. -- Photo by Pat Bean

This view from my bedroom balcony is now part of what means home to me. — Photo by Pat Bean

Whatever You Want It To Be

            I spent nine wonderful years living and traveling this country full-time in Gypsy Lee, my 22-foot motor home. Recently I realized that was more years than I had ever lived in one specific dwelling in my life.         

Desert sunsets from my front balcony now seem like part of my home. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Desert sunsets from my living room balcony now mean home to me.  — Photo by Pat Bean

All that time I was traveling, the road felt more like home than any of my former rooted dwellings. This wondering wanderer pondered why?

            The road, I finally decided, with its wondrous sights and beauty, was what I had longed for almost all my life. I dreamed about exploring this country, from coast to coast and border to border, ever since I can remember.

            The hundreds of travel books I read over the years — “Blue Highways” by William Least Heat Moon, “On the Road,” by Charles Kuralt, “Travels with Charley,” by John Steinbeck, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson, “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey, and many, many more – fueled those dreams.

            Then finally, at 65 years of age, I made the dream come true. I figured I had about five years before age would catch up with me, and I would have to stop living atop wheels, but I almost doubled that expectation.  

And Pepper is part of my home now. I'm a very blessed and a very thankful person. -- Photo by Pat Bean

And Pepper is part of my home now. I’m a very blessed and a very thankful person. — Photo by Pat Bean

          This year I exchanged the road for a Tucson, Arizona, third-floor apartment in the Catalina Mountain foothills. Although I find it hard to believe, it now feels like home. Of course this wondering wanderer pondered why?

            In doing so, I listed what home meant to this old-broad wandering wonderer these days. My answers included: A place with a large bathtub so that I could soak in a hot tub whenever I wanted. This, I should tell you, is the only think I missed after paring down for my RV lifestyle and the road..

            Home also means a place where I can spend a whole day in my pajamas – if I wanted and did not have my dog, Pepper, to walk, but then Pepper, herself, is home.

             Home is a place with lots of books, even if one has a Kindle. Home is my desk and computer, where I can write to my heart’s content.  Home is a place where I can keep in touch with loved ones, and occasionally travel to visit them. Home is a balcony with a view of nature and birds and mountains. Home is a place to bring friends.

            What I now also know is that home is more inside of one than outside of one, and that it can be whatever you want it to be, and make it to be.       

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

     Bean’s Pat: The Road Not Taken http://tinyurl.com/l37f994 Something to think about.

Read Full Post »

Sunflowers and books brighten all my days. -- Photos by Pat Bean

“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile through without breaking it, or explore and explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.” – Edward P. Morgan

Travels With Maggie

As this morning’s writing prompt, someone in my Story Circle Network writing group asked the following questions:

“What is your all-time favorite book … what does it say about you?.” I immediately started writing down the names of books and authors and couldn’t seem to stop.

I finally realized that I had used up all my blog writing time, especially since I have to get on the road today and drive 300 miles on vehicle-jammed California interstates that annoy my nature-loving soul.

Sadly, I had to stop writing, because when it goes to favorite authors I could ramble on for pages. And since I don’t have time to post a blog, you get this list instead.

Favorite Books:

“Your Erroneous Zones” by Dwayne Dyer, which I read in the 1970s, was the most influential book in changing my life that I ever read.

This red-rock country, which Edward Abbey described in vivid detail in his "Monkey Wrench Gang." -- Photo by Pat Bean

“Gone With the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was the most fascinating book I read as a teenager. I read it three times and each time imagined a different meaning for Scarlett’s final words “Tomorrow is Another Day.”

“Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand was the most mind-blowing book I ever read. It got me, for the first time in my life, thinking about who I was. .

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books have given me many floor-rolling laughs and I buy each new one as it comes out.

Robin Hobb’s fantasy books have given me many hours of reading delight. Her characters are vivid and vibrant, her plots surprising, and her writing superb. Start with the Assassin’s Apprentice trilogy, then on to the Liveship series, and then to the Fool’s series to begin. I love how she brings all her plots and subplots together in the end. And she’s a great writer. I read her books way too fast because I want to know what’s going to happen. Unless you’re really into the weird, however, I’d skip the Soldier’s Son trilogy.

Other fantasy writers that top my list are J.R.R. Tolkien (of course), Mercedes Lackey (especially her Valdemar series and more recently her Elemental Masters’ series), Jane  Lindskold (Through Wolf’s Eyes), David Eddings, J.K. Rowling and Marion Zimmer Bradley.

And what fan of Harry Potter doesn't know about Track 9 3/4? -- Photo by Pat Bean

Osa Johnson, Tim Cahill, Charles Kuralt, John Steinbeck, Peter Matthiessen, Edward Abbey, Bill Bryson, Beryll Markham and William Least Heat Moon’s books have fed my love of nature and travel.

Agatha Christie, John D. MacDonald, Blaise Clement, Susan Wittig Albert, Rhys Bowen (my latest great discovery), Lillian Jackson Braun, Anne George, Mary Stewart, Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh and Nevada Barr have all intrigued my mystery-loving soul. I find it interesting, since I just jotted these down off the top of my head, that all but one of these are women, the lone exception being John. D, but I read every single Travis McGee book and actually cried when MacDonald died.

Irving Stone, Carl Sagan, Margaret Mead, Shirley Maclaine, Dr. Seuss, and Charles Darwin have all fascinated and educated me.

I’m stopping here only because I’ve run out of time. I know I’ve left out at least a hundred more books and authors. The ones above, meanwhile, have done everything from simply giving me pleasure to changing my life.

What do my choices says about me?

Simply that I love to read, I think.

Read Full Post »

A yellow-headed blackbird seen on my morning walk with Maggie makes me go "Awww!" -- Photo by Pat Bean

 “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the muddle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’” – Jack Kerouac

Travels With Maggie

Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” is listed in almost every version of the 100 Best Travel Books. And on all of the various lists I’ve come across in recent years, I’ve read well over 50 percent of the selections.

But I haven’t read “On the Road.” That is I’ve never finished it. I’ve started the book several times but have never gotten beyond a few pages before laying it down and forgetting about it.

While there are quite a few of Kerouac’s quotes in my journal, such as the one above that I absolutely love, I can’t connect with this author like I do with say Tim Cahill, who has me rolling on the floor with laughter, or Charles Kuralt, whom I consider my travel soul mate, or John Steinbeck, whose down to earth writing draws me into his circle, especially since he writes about traveling with his poodle, Charley, and I write about traveling with my cocker spaniel, Maggie.

But I don’t, except for an occasional quote, get Jack. I keep thinking I will if I just read more than a few pages of “On the Road.”

Perhaps one day I will. Perhaps I’ll even find that copy of his book I bought a few years back to give it a fifth or sixth try. It was at least the third copy of “On the Road” that I’ve bought over the years, and I honestly have no idea where it is now.

And a patch of colorful pansies lights up my eyes as well as a fireworks display. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I recently read a book in which needful books kept turning up magically for one of the characters. I wonder what it means when books disappear. Or how come I can’t get into a book that so many other people think is a great classic.

Perplexing questions to which I have no answer. But I do love Kerouac’s above quote. It’s a whole book in itself.

Read Full Post »


Birds, like this great egret that flew into Sea World in Orlando for a closer look, are what this traveler seeks. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“When you are strong enough to love yourself one-hundred percent – good and bad – you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.” Stacy Charter.

Travels With Maggie

 Many of today’s travel books seem to be written by young women in search of love. One reason this old broad enjoys reading them is because they show me travel in a way I’ve never experienced.

I didn’t get on the road until I was in my 60s, and I spend my days in search of new life birds, like the elegant trogon that  I saw for the first time my third day on the road in my RV, or the golden-cheeked warbler I finally saw last year after five years of searching for one.

Once upon a time, I could probably have been like the women who write about the wonderful or not-so-wonderful men they meet in their exotic travels. I certainly spent many a night after I was divorced dreaming that I would find my perfect soul mate, or crying into my pillow because I didn’t think I would ever find him.

Take time in your journey to smell the flowers and watch the butterflies. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Fortunately I spent my days in a job I enjoyed and my time off in getting on with my life. I finally woke up one morning realizing, man or no man, what a great life I had.

It seems even more perfect since my dog, Maggie, and I got on the road. She, my friends and family, give me all the love I need these days.

I don’t envy my younger, female comrades, and truly hope they find what they are looking for – or have the sense to get on with life if they don’t.

I’m just grateful the journey itself is enough for me.

Read Full Post »