Road Trip!

Is it just me or is summer flying by? It seems like only yesterday I was skipping through puddles and waiting for my rhododendrons to bloom. Now my lawn is a lovely crispy beige and the rhodies already have their blooms poised for next year. If you’re equally puzzled as to how we’re already in August, I’ve got a challenge for you: let’s get out of here and take a road trip! Sound good? Great! Here are the books we need to get us where we want to go.

If you don’t have the time or budget or love of road food, staying close to home probably appeals the most. That’s where Discovering Seattle Parks: a Local’s Guide by Linnea Westerlind steps in to help, taking you neighborhood by neighborhood through all the Seattle parks, big and small. Packed with maps and full-color photographs, this handy little book is full of detailed information to help you plan your day trip to one of Seattle’s parks. Whether you’re looking for trails or where to let your dog run free, you’ll find it here. There are also special call-outs for accessible access, which is so important when exploring an unknown locale. And if you’re looking for public art, gardens, or even spots of historical significance, you’ll be able to see just which parks best suit your needs.

Got the time and cash to go further? You’ll want to pick up The Road Trip Book: 1001 Drives of a Lifetime. With glossy full-color pages and covering over 100 countries, it’s quite a hefty book. But if you want to explore somewhere you’ve never been before this is your go-to resource for trip planning. It’s not all international roads, however. In Washington alone, you can discover Chuckanut Drive from Burlington to Bellingham, Mountains to Sound from Ellensburg to Seattle, a loop around Mt. Rainier that starts and ends in Enumclaw, the Chinook Scenic Byway from Enumclaw to Naches, Lake Washington Shoreline Drive from Seward Park to Washington Park Arboretum (use in tandem with Discovering Seattle’s Parks for bonus points!), Spirit Lake Memorial Highway from Castle Rock to Johnston Ridge Observatory, and the Lewis and Clark Trial Highway from Clarkston to Cape Disappointment. If you really want to stay as close to home as possible, you’ll want to try the Cascade Loop that starts and ends right here in familiar yet beautiful Everett.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Carol! What about food? Isn’t one of the best things about road trips getting to cheat on your diet and explore local cuisines?” To which I say: you look perfect the way you are, and absolutely YES. Let Daym Drops in Eating Across America be your guide to deliciousness in every state. This book goes past where other American food books end. The first half of the book completely sells you on why you should give these small eateries a try. Food carts, food trucks (yes there’s a difference!), cheap eats, hole in the wall restaurants, and learning to trust your taste buds are all given due consideration. The second half maps and reviews the hell out of these tasty food stops and also gives you one dish to look for in each state; so you know you’re going to get an authentic local experience at every stop on your journey. For Washington it’s cedar plank salmon, which should really come as no surprise to locals. But if you weren’t from Washington would you know that this is the dish to try?

Of course, no road trip would be complete without something to keep you occupied between stops on your expedition. I’ve found that music can be extremely polarizing, and the more people you have in your vehicle the more difficult it is to agree on music. Books and podcasts, however, tend to bring everyone together. Your library creates podcasts regularly and I think everyone should at least try one episode of each: The Lone Reader, Mr. Neutron’s Record Closet, and The Treatment Film Reviews. On the second floor of the downtown library and on shelf at the Evergreen Branch you’ll find audiobooks on CD as well as Playways. And did you know that the fastest-growing format in popularity in the country is downloadable audiobooks? What’s more, you have access to literally thousands with your library card via OverDrive/Libby and cloudLibrary.

One really awesome local thing happening this summer you should have on your radar: the Washington Center for the Book is running A Passport to Washington Libraries. Once you register on the site, visit 5 Washington libraries, 2 of which must be 50+ miles from your home. Each visit you post a photo and put it on their map. This challenge runs through September 15th, after which they’ll draw winners for bookstore gift cards. I have only visited one non-EPL library so far (shout out to the awesome writing workshop I took at Mountlake Terrace Library last month!) but I plan to visit more. I’ve seen some really cool photos on the map from EPL, so I know some of you are already hip to this, but we could always use more passport photos!

So who’s with me? Let’s have one last hurrah before school starts, the weather cools, and we forget what it’s like to feel like a human baked potato roasting slowly in the heat.

Armchair Road Trip

I’ve only ever made one cross-country road trip, from Washington, D.C. to Washington State.  I got to see the country and catch up with friends and family scattered across four time zones. More importantly, I added the Corn Palace to the list of wacky tourist attractions I’ve visited.

Alas, my car and I aren’t going anywhere for awhile. But if you’re like me, a road trip enthusiast stuck in an armchair, you may enjoy these books:

book coverAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Child prodigy Colin graduates from high school and gets dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine. His best friend proposes a pick-me up road trip, and Colin uses this as a chance to develop a mathematical model of relationships. They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they get a summer job recording oral histories with a local girl named Lindsey. This witty YA romp may or may not make you yearn to be a teen again.

book cover The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
Recently dumped 28-year-old Hattie returns to Canada from France to take care of her niece and nephew. Her sister, Min, has entered the psych ward and Logan and Thebes need Hattie’s help. The three soon set off on a road trip to the United States in search of the kids’ long-lost father. If you liked the movie Little Miss Sunshine you’ll love The Flying Troutmans.

book cover Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
An average middle-aged, middle-class couple drives to Pennsylvania for a funeral and make a few side trips, some planned, some accidental. The trip gives Maggie and Ira the opportunity to reflect on their long mismatched marriage. If you haven’t read anything by Anne Tyler, this Pulitzer Prize winning novel is a good place to start.

book coverThe Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian
An elderly Detroit couple set out on one last journey in their R.V., much to the chagrin of their adult children and doctors.  (She’s terminally ill, and he has Alzheimer’s.) Destination: Disneyland. It’s a sad, funny, sweet, romantic, and poignant meditation on end-of-life decisions.
Enjoy the ride!