Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Armchair adventure

What I'm reading today (yeah, I'm supposed to be working, but I'm not!)--The Backbone of the World: A Portrait of the Vanishing West Along the Continental Divide, by Frank Clifford. I picked this 2002 book up at our giant Friends of the Library booksale last February and just got around to taking a look at it. It's fascinating, a sort of adventure travel narrative (a genre I love), interspersed with musings on America's romanticizing of the past while at the same time destroying any tangible trace of it, the vanishing agrarian life, the environment, the prospects for the future (scary), all kinds of things. He also sleeps outside a lot, meets all kinds of bizarre characters, and just generally wanders in the mountains being philosophical.

I sometimes wish I could be brave enough to do this sort of thing, just go walkabout somewhere and then write about it afterwards (but only if I could be as hilarious about it as Bill Bryson--In a Sunburned Country was one of the funniest books I ever read). But I felt brave and adventurous going to England without my family, and that was on a tour with friends! I'm a chicken, a chicken who needs a bathroom with a flush toilet, and clean sheets on the bed. Much as I want to be Adventure Girl, I'm just not a backpack through India, sleep on a Thai beach kind of girl. I'm a Paris Ritz, Maui Grand Wailea kind of girl (on a backpacker's budget!), and I guess there's no changing that at this late date. That's why I read so many travel books, I guess. And why I love to hear other people's vacation adventures.

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