Friedman’s memoir is wonderful. She describes her transition from a terrified-let’s-just-stay-in-the-hostel-instead-of-exploring sort of traveler to a sure-let’s-go-bungee-jumping-why-not sort of traveler in such a humble and engaging way. And amusing. This book was nothing if not funny. She constantly steps outside of her comfort zone and challenges herself. She grows into the sort of traveler I want to be (minus the death-defying bus trips through mountains in South America). This book perfectly embodies Thoreau’s quote: “Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” Friedman discovered herself through her travels. By following along with her, we can maybe discover something about ourselves, too.
I’m looking forward to visiting Yellowstone again someday, which was why I was excited to pick up Jack Turner’s travelogue about the National Park and the area surrounding it. He lives in a cabin there, and has spent many days and hours exploring and communing with nature.
The parts of this book that simply described his surroundings were wonderful. I found myself on Google Images several times searching for flowers that he mentioned (pink elephant head flowers are the coolest flowers ever). I’m not a fishing sort of person, but I even enjoyed his descriptions of angling (what a complicated sport). What I got tired of, however, were his diatribes on the lack of proper conservation and wildness. I don’t fault his enthusiasm, nor do I disagree with his position. I just wish he didn’t feel the need to elaborate (or rant) on it eighteen times (or more) in a 250-page book. If you’re more of an ardent environmentalist than I am, you may not find this quite so tiresome and therefore enjoy the book better overall. As for me, I’ll take my travelogue without excessive soapbox lecturing, please.