Dunes – Oregon

The Oregon Sand Dunes are one of the largest expanses of coastal sand dunes in the world. They stretch for 40 miles along the Oregon coast and is designated as a National Recreation Area  or NRA (the other NRA) as a part of the Siuslaw National Forest.

Within the larger park system, there are many different road access points, usage areas, and activities. Everything from horse back riding, to off roading, fishing and hiking. There are also camp sites and some have camping cabins (my favorite way to camp).

Even without all the added recreation options the dune are impressive. Some as tall as 500 ft and ever shifting with the wind and rain. They are dotted with trees and takes, tide pools and local flowers that are brave enough to grow in shifting sand.

We went down last for our anniversary trip in March, the weather could have been better. Dry and low winds but slightly cloudy made for the prefect day of walking around. And boy is it hard walking around on them, let alone trying to race up them. I didn’t win.

In some areas there are trails but in a lot of the park you just head out straight into the dunes. It feels other worldly and rumor has it they inspired Frank Herbert to write his science fiction epic Dune.

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Book Soup – Los Angeles, California 

Book Soup is an independent book store and mainstay on the Sunset Blvd since the 1970s. Popular with tourist and celebrities alike the store specializes in hard to find and high end art books but also has a very comprehensive fiction section as well.

The store will suck you in from the street with a beautiful New York style newsstand display at the front door. Where you can then see the curved and towering bookshelves that are begging to be explored. Once in a person could spend hours (and I did) browsing the displays and finding all sorts of new books you want to read.

I found no less that 10 books immediately that I had not heard of and wanted to read. And that doesn’t include the pile of glossy art books that I would have snatched up had I not been on foot and several miles away from where I was staying. I went in more than once, spending at least an hour on my own. But I also wet in once with my family. Every time we were ready to leave we would be missing a member of our party, and in going to try to find them we would find more books that caught our attention and then again someone would be missing and the cycle would continue. Like I said it sucks you in, in the best possible way.

I sadly did not have the pleasure of being there on days with any special events or while one of the many famous locals made their way into the shop. But it is known to be a popular location for celebrity sightings and hosts a large number of events including talks on art and literate as well as book signings.

If you are a fan of books this is a Los Angeles sight not to be missed, but come with dollars because you will windup spending a lot. Even if not on their perfectly curated collection of books, their gifts and souvenirs are impossible to pass up and I wound up spending way too much money on greeting cards which I in no way regret doing.

Travel liturature 

I listen to a lot of podcasts, one of which is Gretchen Rubin’s Happier. It’s a lovely little bit of media, all positive and well, happy. A while back before heading off to Portugal there was an episode about recovering from vacation let down, those inevitable few weeks after a great trip where a person is forced to adjust back to real life. What a drag. One suggestion offered was to find books about the places you just went and read them while adjusting back to reality, in theory this lessens the blow of having to go back to work, the gym, the schedule, what ever it is that you are dreading etc.

I have pulled together a few suggestions and plan on working my way through some more as I remember them and as I read more (I read a lot).

India:

-For a fun historical fiction look for books by Indu Sundaresan these include the Taj Trilogy:

  • Twentieth Wife
  • The Feast of Roses
  • Shadow Princess

– If you have a lot of time on your hands:

  • Shantoram – By Gregory David Roberts
  • Red Earth and Pouring Rain – By Vikram Chandra
  • Sacred Games – Also by VIkram Chandra

– For a more literate heavy read try:

  • The Enchantress of Florence – By Salman Rushdie

Or for the non readers out there watch Johda Akbar a Bollywood film about the relationship between the Mughal ruler Akbar the great and his Rajput princess Johda. There is a really interesting connection between this film and the Salman Rushdie book. Two sides of a historical debate about the truth behind Akbar and his relationship with the Rajput princess. Though if you love the story in Johda Akbar you may not want to read the Rushdie book.

Switzerland and Italy:

  • Night Letters – By Robert Dessaix

It’s funny, I was gifted this book back in college and remember loving it. I remember getting a sense of riding on trains at night, and rambling through ancient streets on a path to discovery. But I cannot for the life of me remember what the book was about. When I looked it up again I had no memory of the story itself. But the impressions still haunt me, when ever I am on train or traveling through Italy I think of this book.

Spain, all books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon but in particular the three (the fourth is set to publish this year) listed below. They are a set but the first in particular was published in some editions with a walking tour of Barcelona and should not be missed.

  • The Shadow of the Wind
  • The Angels Game
  • The Prisoner of Heaven
  • The Labyrinth of Sprits

Spain, Morocco and Portugal:

  • The Time In Between – By Maria Duenas

There is also an excellent Spanish language mini series on Netflix right now of the book also titled The Time in Between. Everything was filmed on location and it is truly a work of art. I cannot recommend the show or the novel enough.

Hawaii:

Alan Brennert wrote a couple really lovely novels that take place in Hawaii.

  • Molokai
  • Honolulu

If you are looking for something a lot more serious try:

  • Hawaii –  By James A. Michener

Michener wrote 26 novels in the course of his career, each terribly comprehensive and rich in the locations they are set. He also wrote 30ish non-fiction pieces and had his very first novel adapted into the Rodger and Hammerstein’s Broadway epic South Pacific.

France:

There are so very many books I have read that take place in France but I think the most important is probably Paris by Edward Rutherford. The book is huge, not just in page number of the amount of material is covered. It follows six families starting at the Belle Epoc period but sweeps back and fourth throughout history giving one of the most singular overviews of French history I have ever read. Rutherford himself much like Michener has had a terribly successful career and has published eight epic novels about locations around the world. I was reading New York prior to loosing my Kindle (doh) and plan on tackling Dublin and Ireland Awakening prior to my 2018 trip with my mom.  Stay tuned for reviews on those.

I hope these suggestions either help motivate you to travel somewhere new or help cushion the return to post vacation reality. As I mentioned I will post more as I come across them. Read on and happy adventuring!