A few years ago, my mother and I went on a genealogy romp through Oregon trying to track down the records of my family. We swung out into Eastern Oregon to one of my favorite nature parks, Painted Hills. I’ve photographed it for many years. Here are a few of the choice images from that trip to revisit this odd geological spot where the winds and rains have worn away the topsoil to reveal amazing colors of the minerals in the ground.
I love driving in the snow. Yeah, I know that most people freak out, but I’ve always been calm and cool when driving in winter conditions, even extreme. I know what I’m doing and I have total confidence in my abilities. What I don’t have confidence in are the other people.
I was thrilled when the snow started coming down in waves of great flakes on our last day at Breitenbush Hot Springs. It feel on our warm faces and into the waters of the meadow hot pools. You could see the snowflake as it sank and melted into the water. It was beautiful and amazing, and cold.
Brent wanted to leave early but I reminded him that it is always safer to drive on compact snow rather than slushy stuff. We had lunch and then headed out.
The trees bent down over the road with the weight of the snow accumulated over the past few days, creating a tunnel of white and shades of gray.
Love it. What a great way to leave our peaceful retreat and re-enter the world.
Bill Morton of Australia sent me this wonderful video link. Fascinating Aïda is a three-woman satirical cabaret act from the UK. This is video from their popular “Cheap Flights” song describing what you really get when you buy a cheap flight online. It so sums up my travel life in so many ways. With almost 5 million views, I’d say it sums up many people’s experiences. Delightful!
Hang out for the very end. It’s worth it!
I’m constantly asked which vehicle or trailer to choose when making a decision to take your camera and life on the road. My answer never varies. Here it is.
There are a lot of articles out there with one view or the other on what type of recreational vehicle you should choose for travel. I’ve found a lot of them very bias.
I take a more open approach. The key is to choose one that works for you. Seriously.If you have all the money in the world, it doesn’t matter, you can choose anything you want as long as it fits where you want to go and what you want to do. If you are pinching pennies, this still applies. No matter how much money you have or are willing to spend, it boils down to the fact that the RV must take you where you want to go and help you do what you want to do.
First, the differences. A motor home has an engine and is open from the front to the back. A Class C is a motor home open from the front to the back with a van or truck cab “combined” into the RV. A camper is carried on the back of a truck and there is rarely an access point between the truck and the camper. A trailer has no engine and is pulled by any vehicle. A fifth wheel trailer has no engine and is towed by a truck. Below those you have a variety of vans and sleep-in-the-car configurations.
If you need to travel with a lot of stuff and you like luxuries, then motor home or big trailer.
If you want to travel lightly and feel the road closely, motorcycle or bicycle with a tent.
If you are physically fit, go with trailer (5th wheel or otherwise) or truck and camper.
If you aren’t physically fit, go with Class C or A motor home.
If you want to stay high in the mountains, backwoods, BLMs, rugged terrain, and off road, then tent, small trailer, class C, anything under 26 feet in total length is the only way to go.
If you are traveling to big parks, then anything goes but if you are in big campgrounds and trailer parks, they don’t like crap vehicles. Some won’t take trailers only motor homes.
If you are staying on the road for weekends, go cheap. If you only travel during summer, go cheap.
If you wish to plant yourself somewhere and explore from there, a motor home or Class C with a toad (tow vehicle) is essential.
If you are only going to go with friends and family for short trips during good weather and not long distance, go light, small, and easy on everyone.
If you travel with animals, buy with room for them in mind.
Can you sleep and walk in it? If you are tall, a bed across the width won’t work without a slide-out. If ceiling, door frames, and lights are low, tall people will need to stoop.
How much time will you spend inside as opposed to out? The more time you spend inside, the more luxurious, roomy, and comfortable it should be.
Traveling with small children? Remember they grow up fast. Plan for them.
How many bodies will travel with you? The more the merrier and the more the larger.
If you need to make frequent “pit stops,” buy a motor home or Class C for quick pull overs to use your own pit without leaving the vehicle.
If you are going to cross the continent a few times, choose a strong heavy axle RV made for hauling, pulling, or towing. Engine and tires will matter most.
If you are living in this full-time, makes sure it is durable, weatherproof, all season, and comfortable.
If you have a hobby or job you are taking with you, make sure there is room enough for you and the tasks, and the RV is secure enough to protect your investments.
How long are you going to actively use it? A year, two, eight, twenty? We got sixteen years plus out of our 2-year expected usage with a lot of time spent fixing it up and maintaining it, so look long not short and buy accordingly.
NEVER under-buy or underestimate the pulling capacity or weight bearing capabilities of whatever you are considering. Buy a tow vehicle that exceeds the need to pull the trailer. Buy a trailer or motor home to carry at least double your anticipated weight needs (you always add more than you should).
That’s all you need to know. Answer those questions and you will narrow down your choices quickly.
Walking for eleven years around the world, Jean Beliveau is about to return home to Montreal.
Beliveau left Montreal on the day of his 45th birthday, August 18, 2000, after his small sign business went bankrupt. He decided to run around the world to try to escape that painful episode in his life.
Archambault and his two children from a previous marriage did not try to hold him back. “It was cool,” said his son Thomas Eric, who was 20-years-old at the time.
Beliveau ran all the way to Atlanta, Georgia before slowing his stride for what would become the longest uninterrupted walk around the world: 75,000 kilometers across 64 countries.
At one point, Archambault encouraged him to use his voyage to promote peace and non-violence for the benefit of children in support of a UNESCO proclamation. Suddenly what started as an escape from his weary life had a purpose.
Over 11 years, he traveled across deserts and mountains. He fell in love for nine days in Mexico, wore a turban and a long beard in Sudan, ate insects in Africa, dog in South Korea and snake in China, and was escorted by armed soldiers in the Philippines.
Beliveau only fell seriously ill once in Algeria, was mugged only once by two young drunks in South Africa, and was detained only once in Ethiopia for no apparent reason (he was released the next day).
It was also in Ethiopia that he was once gripped by despair, which nearly caused him to quit and go home. He said he felt very alone. Archambault back in Montreal egged him on, convincing him to persevere.
“After food and shelter, man needs to feel like he belongs,” Beliveau explained.
While few ever have the bug or the thought, many mean it when then “leave home,” traveling to physical places in the world they thought they would never see, and traveling to psychological places within themselves they thought not possible.
Unfortunately, few who leave home this way have the support and encouragement of their family and friends. Most think they are crazy, as they did Brent and I went we hit the road full-time in 1996 with only a plan for six months, never believing it would be 14 years.
Jean will have wonderful stories and lessons to share, and a life lesson about people and kindred spirits that will serve him for the rest of his life, as do we.
Congrats, Jean, on your amazing trip. If you would like learn more about Jean and his travels, check out his site at World Wide Walk.
With Southern California out with no electricity, homes burning up in Texas, tornadoes across the country, devastating heat waves, much of the Northeast under water (and more water), earthquakes, and the threat of terrorism in New York and Washington DC (which means it could happen anywhere), are you ready? Is your emergency kit been inspected, updated, and do you even know where it is?
- First Aid Kit
- Camp Stove And Fuel
- Can Opener
- Duct Tape
- Dust Mask
- Extra Batteries (Of All Sizes)
- Extra Glasses And/Or Contacts (And Prescription Information)
- Fishing Lines And Hooks (Or Simple Hunting Gear)
- Latex Gloves
- Medications For Pain, Diarrhea and Constipation
- Pet Food
- Pots/Pans/Dishes For Food Preparation
- Prescriptions (Actual And Paper Refill Permissions)
- Preserved Food
- Radio – Battery Powered and/or Crank
- Rain Gear
- Sewing Kit
- Signal Mirror
- Preservable Condiments
- Sun Lotion
- Trash Bags
- Wrench/Pliers And Basic Tools
- Writing Equipment
Sure, it’s easy to buy a ready-made kit, but don’t trust it after a year. Check it. Replace all bandages that have aged (lost their sticky), water, food, and medicines that have passed their expiration date. Make sure there is enough water for at least three days for drinking, cleaning, cooking, and personal use. Ensure it is stored in BP free, potable containers and change it every nine to twelve months.
Games and books to read out loud or alone are excellent for families and groups. There is nothing like a good book to distract and make time pass quickly. Continue reading
On Lorelle on WordPress, I just published Security and Protection: Understand the Social in a Crime Network and How to Protect Yourself, an article that shares the story of how my purse was stolen recently, and the fascinating story of how the thief was caught, my role in the catching, and what I learned about the assembly line and network build around this crime ring in our community.
I also offer some recommendations on how to protect yourself online and off at the bottom of the article.
There continue to be so many things that fascinate me about this event. I don’t feel victimized. It’s just something that happened, a nuisance really, especially as my wallet wasn’t stolen, but my checkbook and many valuables were, including my phone. I’m still trying to get all the phone numbers back into my new phone.
Two things were most important to me in telling the story of my car being broken into. First, I wanted to share the details of how the victims helped the police to break the crime ring and how the crime ring worked. Second, I really wanted to help people understand how much they are at risk in today’s world.
My research uncovered a report on cybercrime in Australia that showed how it takes only 7 pieces of personal information to create a profile complete enough to literally steal your identity – to become “you” in every legal way in order to shop online, gain access to your bank account, and who knows what other evil they could come up with.
The only private information, thankfully, that was in my purse and car were my business cards (featuring phone numbers, websites, Twitter, and email addresses), my checkbook (bank account number, address, phone number, and driver’s license numbers), and my phone (phone numbers and names). My phone wasn’t a new one, just an old fashioned cell phone, so I didn’t lose other data found on most modern phones.
When I stop to think about it, that’s a LOT of personal information. Through my websites and Twitter addresses, they could learn more about me, my activities, my location, and find connections to other data about me. It would help them find my Facebook pages and other social media accounts easily.
I’ve been paranoid my whole life having grown up with the Internet and web from the first days, so there is little really personal or private out there about me. I’ve not signed up for massive email lists or newsletters. I refuse to provide even my zip code when they ask at stores, yet I see people so willing to give even that information up without a thought. They are collecting marketing demographics information, which is fine but there are smarter ways to do that.
With Facebook consuming our private information and giving away rights to everything we say and do to businesses around the world, I’m very careful about what I click or share on Facebook that might risk my private life online or off. You do realize that they track every business you mention and “like” and that businesses consider it and can use it as an endorsement, whether or not you intended it to be that? A lot of people are furious to find out that something they tweeted or put on Facebook is now being used by a hamburger chain or gum company, and feel helpless when they are told that there isn’t anything they can do about it as they agreed to the terms of service. Bye-bye the right to own your own words.
I’ve learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way which I share in the article on how to protect yourself. It begins by being aware of all the ways you freely hand out information about yourself and your private data.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy the story as well as the information.
UPDATE: The guy and a few others in the crime ring were found guilty and are now serving time. However, the police say that because of this innovative assembly line crime network’s setup, they only got the tip of the iceberg and weren’t able to get very far, just breaking it up in our community. For now. Also, I just found How To Buy A Stolen Credit Card : Planet Money : NPR which gives a fascinating insight into how they are buying stolen credit cards right off the web.
Ye Old Curiosity Shop along the Seattle waterfront at Pier 54 has been a touch stone for me growing up. I visited often as a child and loved heading over there when I was working across the street from the Seattle Ferries. Returning to Seattle recently, I was delighted to return to a favorite landmark with my friend and business partner, Dave Moyer.
The shop used to be packed with novelties, cheap toys, and a ton of ancient artifacts from the Pacific Northwest and further abroad including Sylvester and Sylvia, two human mummies, major attractions for many years.
Estimated to have more than a million visitors every year, Ye Old Curiosity Shop was founded by J.E. “Daddy” Standley in 1899 as a shop for curios and Indian goods. Over the years, the shop has shifted from handmade objects, including baskets made by the daughter of Chief Seattle, Princess Angeline, to trinkets from China and Taiwan. At one time, you could buy a totem pole or fascinating handmade carving or beaded purse. While a few lovely handmade items are still available, most of the items for sale are dedicated to the cheap tourist.
The store wasn’t always on the waterfront. It was originally at Second and Pike, moving to the waterfront when the Washington State Ferries rebuilt much of the dock system around them. In 1963, they moved onto Pier 51 and in 1988 moved to Pier 54 next to Ivar’s Acres of Clams. According to Wikipedia, over a million objects were moved to the current location. Continue reading
I lived for many years on the north point of the Aurora Bridge in downtown Seattle, Washington. In 1990, neighborhood arts programs brought a long time childhood bedtime story – or threat – to life under the bridge.
Growing up as a native of Washington, specifically Seattle, parents threatened their children with punishment from the troll living under the Aurora Bridge. It’s real name is The George Washington Memorial Bridge, but this famous bridge built in 1932 was part of the long Pacific Highway – US Route 99 that ran from Mexico to Canada, later replaced by Interstate 5. The bridge was named for the first president of the United States as it was opened on his bicentennial anniversary of the president’s birth, part of a huge nationwide celebration.
Transients lived under the two ends of the bridge for many years. Building the giant cement troll called the Fremont Troll, grasping a VW Bug in one hand, brought a lot of attention and no room for the homeless under the north end of the bridge.
The first time I encountered the troll, I’d heard about it and was out driving at night to find it. I drove up from the road under the bridge from the canal waterfront and my headlights reflected in a huge reflective headlight at the top of the hill which turned out to be the single visible eye of the troll. It loomed up at the top of the hill in the dark recess of where the bridge connected with land, an intimidating and frightening sight.
Fodors offers “8 Ways Travelers Waste Money on the Road”, which offers some good basic tips:
- Not reading the fine print on the credit card for foreign transaction fees.
- Avoiding hotel websites – online prices can be cheaper.
- Travel only during high seasons – off season can save you money.
- Renting cars – use your feet, trains, buses, and other methods of travel.
- Not considering alternative to hotels – hostels, tents, renting a house, RVs…
- Eating in fancy (and expensive) restaurants – check the menu prices before you eat, and look for fun off-the-beaten path spots where the locals hang out.
- Ignoring budget restraints – be smart about your spending.
- Not knowing your destination – planning can save you money.
Here are a few more from us, the two world traveling fools.
- Go where you are told not to go: During the five years of the Intifada in Israel was the time to head to Israel. No tourists, no lines at all the popular places, and red carpet treatment because they were desperate for tourists. You can save money and have a better time avoiding the crowds by going places the media says you shouldn’t go to.
- Eat out in the market: Who said you always have to eat in a restaurant. Our best meals were found scrounging around in farmer’s markets buying fresh fruits and vegetables, along with sandwiches, meats, cheeses, and breads. Sit in a park or on a bench and enjoy a lovely outdoor picnic.
- Drive pre-dawn or late night to the next location: Whether with your own car or renting a car, if you drive early in the morning or late in the night, away from rush hour and heavy traffic times, you will save gas and money with less stop-and-go driving.
- Buy daily or weekly rate metro tickets: You might only be in a large city for five days, but the week metro ticket pass might save you money instead of paying for each day. Some cities offer a day rate which is cheaper than paying for three trips. Do some quick calculations on where you have to go while there, and you might save some pennies by going with daily or weekly rates.
- Walk: It’s difficult to walk from one side of Madrid to another, but a good 10 or 15 block walk won’t hurt you. It will save cab fare and you’ll get to see more of the area. Put some walking into your schedule and save money and get more exercise as you travel.
- Don’t bring a big purse: If you are a shopper, don’t carry a big purse with you when exploring the shops. This means you have to hand carry whatever you buy through the rest of the day. If you have a big purse or backpack you are more likely to buy things to fill it up. Limit the size and limit the stuff you spend money on.
- Don’t buy a travel wardrobe: I’ve seen people spend more on travel clothes for a trip than they spent on the trip. Don’t. Travel in simple clothes, solid colors with a color theme for mix and match. Simple dress t-shirts, slacks, a skirt, sweatshirt or sweater, and a scarf (for men and women) and one to two pairs of shoes is all you need. The days of making a fashion impression when you travel are gone. Wear comfortable. Wear what you already own, or buy cheap stuff at WalMart, Kmart or Target. Then leave it behind so there is more room in your suitcase for all your tourist shopping goodies.
- Get lots of cash at once: When hitting the ATM/Cash Machine, get as much as you can at one time. If you are charged foreign transaction or conversion feeds, it is usually a flat fee rather than a percentage, so you save money by taking out what you need for three days instead of only what you need for each day.
Do you have any tips to help travelers save money, or avoid spending money, on the road?
According to the International News Tribune, the health chief of the EU recommends a smoking ban for the European Union countries.
The European Union’s health chief urged all countries in the bloc Tuesday to prohibit smoking in public places, following bans in Ireland, Italy and Sweden.
Banning smoking in places like bars, restaurants and the workplace is the preferred option of the EU health commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, according to a discussion paper on smoke-free environments.
Such a ban would be a dream come true for us travelers who suffer from cigarette allergies. A smoke-free Europe. Wow! Makes me want to visit, don’t you?
BBC News reports an air tax increase for all flights from the UK.
Laws doubling the amount of passenger duty people pay when taking flights from the UK have come into force.
The increase was announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown last December. He said airlines should pay more for damaging the environment.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been asked to pay the extra, despite buying tickets before the announcement.
Airlines said they were not expecting major problems in collecting the higher rates of air passenger duty.
Those who have not paid so far will have to do so at airports before flying.
I hope there were a lot of complaints, but when you are standing there and told you can’t use the ticket you just paid for until you pay more money, you’re pretty screwed.
I’m not clear on this, but why should an air tax be levied against passengers? Shouldn’t it be hit against the airlines, factories, car owners and manufacturers, and other industries who are polluting the environment? The cost would then trickle down to the consumer, sure, but the money would be an incentive for big business to get on the clean up band wagon.
Where is the tax money collected really going? And what is really going to do be done with that money?
This is a strange one, but you are warned. Flying out of the UK, bring extra cash.
Your next vacation destination? Why not choose space as your next destination?
Not just “get some space” but really get into space with the space tourism program with Virgin Group:
The Spaceship Company, a joint venture of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group of London and Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites of Mojave, Calif., plans to begin test flights of its first suborbital passenger ship this year. The vehicle is based on Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, which made three piloted flights to suborbital space in 2004.
…The flights captivated Branson. He hired Rutan to design a fleet of ships for commercial suborbital spaceflights and began taking reservations and deposits through a Virgin Atlantic Airways offshoot, Virgin Galactic.
So far, the company has taken more than $20 million in deposits from customers willing to pay $200,000 to experience a few moments of weightlessness and take in the view from 360,000 feet, or 68 miles…
…Virgin expects its first commercial spaceflights will take place from Mojave, where SpaceShipOne flew, in late 2008 or early 2009. Operations will transfer to New Mexico when spaceport construction is finished. The firm also is looking at sites in other countries.
Why not make space your next vacation destination. After all, Stephen Hawking has space on his vacation schedule. Other competitors are starting to get into the action, so expect the next race to space to be tourist driven – literally.
There is a lot of confusion over the new high threat risk advisory and recent arrests in Britain of terrorists. Let’s look at the specifics.
- Expect Long Delays and Multiple Security Inspections
- No matter where you are traveling, but especially at international hubs, expect double to triple waiting times as you are processed through security. Two hours minimum, four to six average.
- Expect Hand Searches:
- Anticipate being hand searched. This involves one or more security agents doing a pat-down search of your body, all shoes, coats, belts, hats, scarfs, and other outerwear must be removed for inspection. Be prepared and wear as few of these as possible.
- Checked Luggage Limited to Two Bags:
- You are still limited to two pieces of luggage, so all carry-ons unacceptable to security and not allowed on the plane must be put in those two pieces of luggage to go into the cargo compartment.
- All Carry-ons Banned:
- All carry-ons are banned on some flights except for “wallet-sized items”. No purses, briefcases, laptops, laptop cases, or other bags permitted. All items are requested to be inside clear plastic bags. Everything will be inspected and pass through xrays.
A summary of the instructions from the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Threat Level Change for Aviation Sector (8/10/2006) and British Home Office – Advice to Travellers – Increased Security Measures (10 Aug 2006) is:
- No Liquids or Gels: All liquids and gels of any kind will not be allowed in carry-on luggage. All beverages must be consumed and discarded before boarding. Even those purchased within the airport are not allowed on the plane. All liquids must go into your checked luggage. This includes all beverages, shampoo, alcohol, liquor, suntan lotion, creams, tooth paste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency.
- No Carry-on Luggage or Purses on Some Flights: Overseas and flights originating to and from the UK current ban all carry-on luggage. You may carry pocket-size wallets and pocket-size purses plus contents (for example money, credit cards, identity cards, etc.) and if necessary, put these in clear plastic bags. Handbags, carry-on luggage, laptop cases, briefcases, shopping bags, and all other carry-ons are not permitted. Exceptions may be made for clear plastic bags with diapers and other essential child care items if traveling with a child.
The specific rules on what can be carried on the plane are:
- Spectacles and sunglasses without cases.
- Contact lens holders without bottles of solution or eye drops.
- Female sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight, unboxed and inside clear plastic bags.
- Baby formulas:The only liquid exception is baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling. The liquid will be tested by the security agents using chemical testing procedures or by the passenger by drinking it.
- Prescription Medications May Be Permitted: Medicines must be clearly labeled with a pharmacy label and the name must match the passenger’s ticket an identification. Insulin and essential other non-prescription medicines may be permitted, but only in an amount appropriate for the duration of the flight, not the trip.
- Tissues (unboxed) and/or handkerchiefs
- Keys with safe or non-electrical key fobs.
- Travel Documents Permitted: All travel documents essential for travel, including tickets and passports) are permitted to carry onto the plane. The name on the documents must match the identification and person.
- Purchases Within the Airport Not Allowed as Carry-Ons: All purchases within the airport, including duty-free purchases, are not allowed on board the plane. They will be checked at the gate to be carried in the cargo.
- No IPods or Music: While not on the list, expect that all MP3 players, video and CD players, handheld computers, electronic games, and radios will not be allowed. You’ll have to listen to plane music.
- Be Patient, No Jokes, But Complain If Necessary:
- Passing through security inspections, do not say anything unless asked. Be patient. Make no jokes. Make no complaints. If you feel you were improperly treated during the security checks, do report it, in writing, after your flight.
Do not feel obliged to tolerate unnecessary abuse or privacy violations just because “it’s for everyone’s safety”. Immediate responses to security issues are usually over-zealous and violations happen. Comments and complaints are reviewed in the administration offices and help make such security techniques more well-rounded and professional if the problems are reported. We all benefit in the long run.
Traveling With Camera Gear
While these new temporary security cautions, photographers are really stressed. No excuses are acceptable for carrying laptops, computers, or camera equipment on board the plane. Luckily, much of today’s camera gear and laptops are much more durable than they used to be.
If you are still traveling with print or slide film, consider now as time to switch to digital or a chance to test-drive digital equipment. If you are, consider mailing it or buying new film upon arrival. If you insist or are particular about your film, call the specific airlines and airports you will be traveling through to check on what their current policy is on film. The current rule allows film as described in “Know Before You Go: Myth – Airport Security X-rays Won’t Hurt Film” and “Know Before You Go: Airport Security and Traveling Photographers”, but current events change things.
Buy a suitcase as light as possible to save weight, but as sturdy as possible. It’s a trade off on weight versus compression and protection. With lowered weights for checked luggage, every ounce counts.
Wrap all equipment in thick bubble wrap and then with clothing. Do not put hard sides against hard sides. They scratch, rub, and press against each other, potentially cracking their cases. Use padding.
Keep all cables, connectors, and power cords, as well as small electrical items such as digital recorders, USB hubs, and such inside of sturdy clear plastic bags. I recommend heavy duty freezer zip lock bags. All checked luggage may be hand searched and this keeps parts and pieces together.
Carry as few clothing items as possible. Just about everywhere you travel, you can buy clothing and shoes upon arrival. Same with toiletries. Toothpaste, deodorant, sun lotion, and shampoo, though not your brand, is available generally everywhere. Buy it there.
If you will be at your destination for some time, then mail gear, clothing, and other items you will need. If you mail them in advance, they will be there when you arrive. This won’t work for all destination, but if it will, take advantage of it.
Consider renting camera equipment upon arrival. Through the web, you can often find services and make arrangements before you arrive. These may include long lenses, flash units, tripods, and even camera bodies. Such rental services are available only in the largest metropolitan towns, unfortunately.
Hopefully, most of these restrictions are temporary. Over-caution and over-zealous steps are being taken, and things will get back to a little more normal and tolerate in time.
Amelia Hits the Road, by Marissa Moss (and YEEHAW – Amelia!), is a fantastic book for children, introducing them to travel and life on the road.
This is my new travel notebook. Mom bought it for me so I wouldn’t be bored on the long driving part of this trip. She said if I’m busy writing, I won’t be busy fighting with Clea. I don’t fight with Cleo. She fights with me.
…Mom says we should enjoy this togetherness. It seems like TOO much togetherness, if you ask me. Especially when Cleo gets carsick. Then the last thing in the world I want is to be together with her!
….We sand every song we could think of – “Found a Peanut”, “On Top of Old Smoky”, “Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky”, “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”, “Goofy Grimy Gopher Guts” – until Mom screamed at us to STOP!
Then Cleo started reading every sign we passed until I hit her to shut her up and she him me back so I hit her again and Mom yelled at us some more.
I asked Mom is she was enjoying all this togetherness. She just glared at me.
Amelia Hits the Road, by Marissa Moss (and YEEHAW – Amelia!)
Does this sound like every road trip you ever took as a child! FINALLY, someone is telling the truth about travel as a child and travel with a child.
The book is a delight. It is colorful, filled with activities and suggestions for things to do. It isn’t a “things to do on a trip” book, but more of a guide which inspires the child or children towards activity, such as the list of songs to sing shown as an example of what Amelia and her sister did. Notice that it also shows the consequences of when it gets out of control.
The graphics and pictures are wonderful, designed to amuse the young and the old. It’s an adventure and practical guide for a traveling children, helping them to understand that, yes, long drives suck and are boring, so expect it and get over it, and that there are still many things to do to amuse yourself on long travel days.
One unexpected aspect of Amelia Hits the Road is the journaling. The book is written as if it is a real journal, with hand drawn pictures, doodles, graphics, and even notes in the margin. Pictures replace words sometimes, and postcards and pictures appear to be stuck onto the pages alongside stamps and other memorabilia traditionally collected as you travel.
By setting the book in journal form, the child is encouraged to create their own journal of the trip, copying the techniques and preserving memories of the family trip. They are encouraged to write, learning how to write and express an idea and concept, as well as storytelling techniques.
I can see the child, 30 years from now, coming across their journal and a copy of the book in some dusty box and being instantly transported back in time to when their brother kept hitting her in the backseat and calling her names, and the glory and delight when he got carsick and puked up all over the door before the window could be opened. As gory as it is, for a child now grown up, it’s a brilliant example of the cosmic forces of the universe exacting a precious moment of revenge.
The book’s journal goes from California to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, and then back through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park, one of the most popular travel routes for many Americans, as well as international travelers. Amelia is introduced to a diverse range of educational information, but it isn’t hammered in, it’s experienced.
Highlights of her adventures include understanding tourist gimmicks (“The truly mysterious place was the gift shop, where there was an astonishing display of junk. I couldn’t believe anyone would buy that stuff.”), geology (“Mom says the Grand Canyon is the Earth’s old age wrinkles, like the lines on her forehead.”), astronomy (“I love to think that people saw and named those same stars thousands of years ago!”), discovery and exploration (“I can’t imagine being the first person who saw all this.”), international and cultural exchange (“I met a boy. His name is Mako. We hiked together the whole way. Mako is from Japan, and he’s really nice.”), change and evolution and differences in generation values and experiences (“Mom says sometimes when things change, they get worse, not better. But she’s not always right. She only likes old music.”), archeology (“I thought I would find some treasure or old coins, but I didn’t. Cleo found a bone. She said it was from a dead miner. Mom said it was a chicken bone…”), and the unpleasant business of war (“…we were in a place called Manaznar, where 10,000 Japanese-Americans lived during World War II…”).
For the family traveling through the California-Arizona triangle tour, this is a wonderful guide to what the family and children will be experiencing along the way, with some well-thought out and expressed perspectives.
For the parent, there is enough in this book to keep any child amused on road trip. There are things to do, games to play, assignments, and examples. At the least, the parent could ask the kid to write down everything they want to do on the trip from suggestions in the book. And then check them off each time the family or child does them.
If you are traveling with a child on a driving trip across the country or even across the state, I highly recommend Amelia Hits the Road as a wonderful aid to your traveling family adventures.
Impressed with this book on Amelia’s adventures, I also recommend the whole creative series of Amelia books.