I like travel writing in general, but my favorite is a certain kind of book. A book where usually the author travels around and makes comments about whatever they run into, sometimes with a companion. Usually there is some overarching theme that ties it together, like just having broken up with your wife or looking for traces of the Civil War. Included are interesting historical asides about whatever they come across. Think a short Moby Dick without the symbolism. My favorites are Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon and Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. A Walk in the Woods is just this kind of book.
I hadn’t run into this particular author before, but if this book is any indication I’ll be sure to look for more titles as soon as the pile of books by my bed starts to shrink. 😉 Another reason I like him is that he is from Des Moines, Iowa (our state capitol) and any in state author who’s good deserves to be encouraged.
The overarching event setting off our travelers in this book was Bryson moving his family back to the United States and into a small town on the Appalachian Trail. This trail is a hiking trail, one of the first long distance hiking trails, and it was constructed back into the 1920s. Bryson decides this will make a great adventure and sets out to walk the trail. He had hiking experience in England, but as he soon discovers England was never like this. At the last minute, he gets an old friend he had traveled with years ago to go with him. They start out at the southern end of the trail and initially think they will hike the whole thing. A few weeks into the adventure a look at a map is a reality check and after that they only hike portions of the trail, still getting more than enough experience to share with us what it’s like to hike the trail. This is a great armchair trip and I highly recommend it.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.