Sunday, May 25, 2008

Solo Right and Solo Wrong

Yesterday I had the opportunity to peruse the tomes in my sanctuary. Well, they weren't exactly tomes. And the sanctuary I write of is really the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Regardless of description, I spent an enjoyable hour or so looking through books.

Typically when I shop for much of anything I make a list or know what I want, go to the store, buy it, or an acceptable substitute, then return. A bookstore is different. I could browse in a bookstore until they throw me out!

First stop: US Travel. Here I looked through dry travelogues, opinionated travel idea books and a few interesting book about 'places to go.' One that caught my eye was a book about traveling in Illinois. As I thumbed through it, the dryness seemed to fall out of the pages. It seemed to be lists of itineraries with phone numbers, written by someone who searched the web for interesting things about a particular area and wrote a few things down.

The place listed in the book, nearest where I grew up was The Slammer ( in Aledo, Illinois. Nifty place. I still remember it as the county jail. But I wonder. Are lists of places what travel is all about? Going from point x to point y to point z? I hope readers of these books understand that the places listed therein are guidelines. Go ahead. Ride or drive off the beaten path.

I then looked for books about solo travel and was struck by two things. Firstly, Why do some of these read like a recipe book?

Buy ticket A in advance.
Let friends and family know where you are going.
Pack light and smart.
Don't trust the locals.
Stay in your hotel overnight.
call your mommie in the morning and night.

ACH!!! Traveling alone, whether it be by motorcycle, car, bus or plane is not primarily about the trip. It is about the journey of an individual soul. It's about the adventure.

Secondly, why are so many of these books about women solo traveling? I just searched Amazon with the keywords solo and travel. The first page results gives 8 out of 16 books that are specifically for women only. I find that interesting. If anyone can explain that, please let me know, ok?

Well, I'm off to tune up my bike...


Stephen said...

I've never found travel books very helpful, like you said, they are often dry and written out like a Recipe book. Often times the point of interests that they contain aren't interesting to me at all; perhaps they're written for those poor souls trapped in their sterile cages as they drone along the interstates in a semi-comatose state, watching DVD's and listening to their Ipod's .

It's the subtle things that often go undetected by the masses as they migrate in their interstate caravans to the destinations in these "Recipe books" that I appreciate so much. For me, the destination is the ride. I rarely carry maps, and if I do, they are usually stowed in my bags. Nobody knows where I am or where I am headed, simply because I don't know myself. I better stop myself now before my comment becomes longer than your post....Sorry!

Travel tips by Earl Thomas

RazorsEdge2112 said...

YES! Those insipid "mobile entertainment systems." That is what the annoying automotive peddlers are calling them. Multi-disk DVD and CD, MP3 capable, iPod ready and BlueTooth enabled. What's wrong with an AM radio and some books for the kids?

I am not sure this sort of thing can be passed down through genetics, but I rarely get lost. My grandfather was the same. He didn't need a map for the most part. If he had gone somewhere, he could get there again without thinking.

Without thinking, or a map for that matter, I could drive to the doorstep of my daughter's ex-boyfriend's house in Los Angeles. I could head east and drive or ride to my favorite fishing hole in Minnesota or to the farm in Illinois where I grew up.

I am an admitted carto-geek. I LOVE maps. Road maps, aeronautical charts, hydrological maps... all of them. I can't accurately say how many hours of sleep I have lost since Google Earth came out!

Back in the Midwest, it is difficult to ride much more than fifty miles or so without running through a small town with a gas station. It's a different here. Riding in one direction could yield hundreds of miles of asphalt without a single place to stop.

So, I do tend to plan my rides as a simple practice of safety. Once I get out of this place, back to the Midwest perhaps, there will definitely be some unplanned rides.

Oh, BTW, comments as long or short as you please are always welcome.