Monday, March 26, 2018

Travel's With Chesky, by Heather Phelps

I love the vicarious pleasure of reading travel books, especially by women. True to Heather's oft stated conviction that women need to step up and overcome their fear or ignorance about how to resolve a challenge, she describes how she prepared for the journey and how she solved obstacles as they presented themselves. She whitewashed nothing. I was convinced that I would never have the patience or fortitude to take a dog along on such a journey! And as a matter of fact I recently watched a wonderful documentary, “Expedition Happiness” about a young German couple that took a dog along on a major road trip across Canada, down the West Coast of the U.S. and into Mexico, but before they could complete their journey into South America their dog just couldn’t handle it anymore!

I visited the original blog that prepared the ground for this book and enjoyed the photographs and brief journal entries as she went along. These would prompt her to write this book, and explains the short, episodic entries which make up the text. I thought that worked well.

I finished the book in two days and had no trouble going back to it. It was a great thing to take to bed with me and I would recommend the book to any and all.

There were only two things that I felt might have improved the book. First, a bit less judgment, lecturing and opinion on entire States (including states of mind) and certain types of people she met along the road. A little moralizing goes a long way in a travel book! Second, I would have like to see more personal vulnerability, a key who this woman was and how her journey changed her. Having demonstrated that she was a decent and upstanding woman at the beginning of the book, I didn’t feel I knew her an iota better by the end of the book. The raison d’ĂȘtre of the journey seemed entirely outside of herself, and in the end could have been written by anyone of her general class, social background, geographic origins, and education. I speculated this that lack of personal forthcomingness was perhaps a result of her background in the CIA.

But if you’re in the mood for a road trip around the dog parks of the United States and their fascinating and sometimes shady denizens, this is the book you’ll want to take along! 

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