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Travel books

We are departing for Ft De Soto today, where we’ll meet a few other Airstreamers before we start heading further south. Eleanor is rushing to get a load of laundry done while we pack up. Yesterday we did the car maintenance, which was limited to an oil change and a wash.

Tampa car wash.jpg

I’ve been reading more travel books. It’s becoming a compulsion. A few weeks back I re-read the lively story by Anthony Bourdain called “A Cook’s Tour.” Bourdain is a hilarious writer with the gritty realistic viewpoint of someone who has spent his career in the modern equivalent of a 16th century ship’s belowdecks: a restaurant kitchen. In the kitchen, it’s a strict authoritarian system, where if the chef says “Fall on your sword,” you fall on your sword and then get up and make a perfect grilled seafood medley.

His book is about his travels around the world on behalf of the Food Network, for a TV show he hosted. It’s not politically correct (his rants about vegetarianism are particular brutal), it’s not G-rated, and it’s not predictable. If you can deal with those things, it is a lot of fun to read.

My current book is “Blue Highways,” by William Least Heat Moon, which is considered a classic by many travel readers. The book feels aimless at first, as the author takes off in his “basic plumber’s van” in the aftermath of his marriage, and seeks out the smallest and most oddly-named towns he can find. Then you realize it’s meant to be aimless — reflecting the author’s voyage and purpose. Along the way, he meets a cast of characters who are too diverse and honest to be anything but real. It’s Kerouc, mellowed out and slowed down, in the late 1970s.

You might have guessed that I’ve been reading travel books to inspire myself to write up our story in a book format. I took a crack at it last August, but threw out 80+ pages of draft in October because it wasn’t what I was hoping for. With an appreciation of the various styles of people like Capt Joshua Slocum and William Least Heat Moon, and the stories of Magellan and Wally Byam, I hope to eventually strike upon the style that will work for our extended trip.

We are neither Magellan nor Byam, not sailing the world like Slocum, or interviewing locals like Least Heat Moon. We are not in search of the perfect meal like Bourdain — nor any form of perfection. When I can adequately answer the question of why we are out here, I think then I’ll be ready to write the book.

3 Responses to “Travel books”

  1. Dirk Brinkman Says:

    Great reads especially Blue Highways. One of our favorites is Stephen Ambrose’s “Undaunted Courage: Lewis & Clark and the American West.” Just incredible what they accomplished without CB radio, GPS or Airstreams! Fun to read all about your journeys. Hope you do write that book about your experiences. Dirk

  2. Bill Doyle Says:

    Reading while waiting for my Safari, “…the next course was a searingly hot tagine of mutton and onion with green pea sauce. It tasted terrific – dark, spicy, hearty, with big hunks of now-tender mutton shoulder nearly falling off the bone into screaming hot sauce.” p. 105, A Cook’s Tour, by Anthony Bourdain. So I’ll eat and read while I wait!

  3. Adam Maffei Says:

    This is exciting! I look forward to reading your words.

    I agree with your feelings about Blue Highways. I also look forward to reading the Ambrose book Dirk mentions.