Tuesday, August 3, 2010


So what do you bring to read on a roadtrip? I am now trying to sort out this particular question. I am one of those lucky people who can read in a moving car and not get sick. I cannot however listen to an audiobook while driving. I get too involved in the story and become a hazard to myself, other drivers and the vehicle; so listening while driving is out. Of course, reading while operating the car is out too, but I was thinking about time in the passenger seat and downtime when we are not moving. I think that part of the answer lies in what kind of roadtrip you are going on. So I will clarify this aspect of the trip.

At the end of this month I will be assisting in the driving of a 1993 Honda Civic, complete with bike, kayak and other worldly goods, from Fairbanks, Alaska to Moscow, Idaho. I will be accompanying my daughter, Emily and her dog, Marcy. We will travel roughly 2,200 miles out of central Alaska, south through the Yukon Territory, down the spine of British Columbia and into Alberta before crossing back to British Columbia and then reaching the American / Canadian border and driving into Idaho. At least I think that will be the route, there really aren’t a lot of choices and if I’m wrong I’m sure Em will let me know at the appropriate time.

There is a lot of reading to be done prior to this trip. I’ve already started collecting and consuming atlases, gazetteers, Google Maps, The Milepost and plain old roadmaps. When I checked Google Maps the eighth point on the directions read: “Turn left to stay on Alaska Hwy / YT-1E continue to follow the Alaskan Hwy” Which all seemed fine ‘til I read the mileage amount: 968 miles. Yikes! I guess we really want to make that left. And the bright spot is that when we do we just go straight for the next 1,000 miles or so. What are the chances we’ll get lost? Right now the decision by my wife, Beth to purchase the additional maps of Canada when originally getting the Garmin looks like a really good idea.

I’ve also started looking at border crossing information. Living where we do most of us are pretty familiar with the routine. But having the information available online makes the prep prior to the trip easier.

But what do I bring to read on the actual trip? One person suggested a Chilton’s manual. But since I’m not very good at that sort of thing my AAA card will have to do. I did think about some standard summer reading fare. Murders and mayhem set in the YT with a RCMP character as the chief investigator. I also considered some books that instruct me about the terra, fauna and flora we’ll be passing through. Or poetry inspired by landscape. Any or all of these would probably be a good choice. What I do know is that I’ll want something to read.

The areas we’ll be passing through will be some of the most magnificent on Earth and I’ll have the opportunity to see it from the ground. Not as intimately as if I was traveling by foot or paddle but pretty close. I think I can speak for many readers when I say that my need to interpret what I am seeing through another’s written word is pretty close to the mark to the way many readers feel. Whatever I bring along to read will add to the over-all trip. So the choice of deciding what to read is important. I want to add to, not detract from, the experience. What I choose to read while away will do that for me. Those books will become entwined with the events and places on the trip. So in the future when I see those covers again I’ll be spirited back to the end of the Summer of 2010 when my daughter and I drove out of Alaska and back down to the Lower 48.

See you at the Library,


  1. If you haven't taken a look at them yet, I think you'd have a great opportunity in this road trip to sit down with Robert Jordan, and the first one or two books in the Wheel of Time series. The Eye of the World, and The Great Hunt, are his first two books proper, and they remind me a lot of what it was like to read about The Lord of the Rings for the first time.

    I find that I don't often have a chance to just sit down and be absorbed into the story world (which is very easy to do with these reads), but I haven't had the opportunity to drive all over creation lately either.

    Have fun,
    Mike =)

  2. What a great idea. I should take the opportunity of the trip as a time to check out a new author.