Category Archives: Road Trip

Back to Maine with Paul Doiron

A mystery set in Maine
CD: The Bone Orchard

Destination: Maine

Book: The Bone Orchard by Paul Doiron. Reviewed from McMillan audiobook read by Henry Leyva.

Maine mystery stream
Extreme low water at Barrows falls on the Piscataquis River in Monson. From Flickr. Click for more.

Good grief.  This is torture.  Summer temps are in triple digits here in southern Arizona, and I read the bio of author of Maine mystery books, Paul Doiron, “He lives on a trout stream in coastal Maine with his wife.”

Since I’ll be meandering through Maine on my way to Nova Scotia later this year, I don’t let my envy stop me from listening to The Bone Orchard.  And I am rewarded with a delightful tour through Maine as well as a ripping good story.

I am a lot more enthusiastic about the fifth book in the Mike Bowditch Maine mystery series than I was about the fourth one, Massacre Pond, that I reviewed last year.  I suggest you take a look at that review, too, because what I had to say about the reader on the audio tape (same one for both books) and about the Maine Game Warden service still applies.

What is different about The Bone Orchard is that I care a lot more about the victims. Also, because Bowditch is no longer employed by the Warden service he is able to wander around the state instead of being confined to basically one patch of woods. It was good to get a look at Portland, Augusta, the far north of Maine in Presque Islae and the settlement of Sweden, and other glimpses of the variety of the state in addition to the woods.

Setting in Maine mystery
View from cabin in Sweden Maine. Photo from Flickr. Click for more info.

On Doiron’s website you can find a map of “Mike Bowditch’s Maine”, but unfortunately it only covers the first three Maine Mystery books.  A map showing all the wanderings in The Bone Orchard would take a lot of work, but would certainly be interesting.

I complained in that last review that I did not feel the personal aspects of Mike Bowditch’s life were well integrated into the book.  The Bone Orchard structure seemed to me to make much more sense. Still the classic troubled modern man/detective in this book, he has voluntarily left the service to become a hunting and fishing guide. While he is still a bit haunted by his mother’s death from cancer and fumbling to reconcile himself with two past love interests, these personal concerns make more sense within the context of a vicious attack on the woman who has been his mentor in the Game Warden service.

Mike Bowditch’s independent nature makes it plausible that he would delve into solving a crime even though he is no longer a officer of the law.  The story is gripping and I found myself neglecting a long queue of recorded programs on my television and turn on the CD player so I could hear what happened next in this enticing Maine mystery.

As for this book’s value to travelers…..One of the downsides of reviewing audio books is that it is a lot more difficult for me to quote passages from the author. You’ll have to take my word for it, that even if you’re living in a more temperate climate than I am, you’ll be very tempted to take a road trip through Maine after you read Paul Doiron’s descriptions.

Note: MacMillan audio provided the audiobook for review, but that does not affect what I tell you about the book.  Links here to Amazon make your shopping easier and earn a few cents for A Traveler’s Library. Thanks for shopping Amazon through my links. (It costs you no more.)

Dogtripping – An American Road Trip with 25 Rescue Dogs

Pet Travel Tuesday

Destination: California, Maine, cross-county continental United States

Book: Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure (NEW) – David Rosenfelt

By Pamela Douglas Webster

What’s crazier? Living with 25 dogs at a time? Or deciding to drive them across the United States?

Let’s hear from the man who actually did it and wrote about it in Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country Adventure—David Rosenfelt.

He wrote, anticipating the trip:

Someone once said that the difference between an ordeal and an adventure is attitude. That’s how I knew I was in for an ordeal.”

But Dogtripping is only partly about the trip across the country. It begins with Rosenfelt explaining how he started rescuing dogs.

A beautiful pound pup in need of rescue.

Rosenfelt is not the type of man most people would imagine running a dog rescue. When he and his wife, Debbie Myers, first began rescuing dogs from their local shelter, he was a film marketing executive turned mystery writer, and she was a former film executive who had moved to a high-level job with a national fast food chain.

Nevertheless, despite busy schedules that caused both of them to travel, the couple felt a burning mission to save golden retrievers, golden mixes, and many special needs dogs on death row in the Los Angeles shelter system.

Why? Because of Tara, the beautiful golden retriever living with Debbie when the pair met. Rosenfelt called Tara the best dog ever. She even inspired a recurring character in his Andy Carpenter mystery series. But a soft heart for all dogs, not only goldens, meant that their home was also filled with a variety of dogs who just needed a good home.

The couple matched adoptable dogs with forever homes, meeting and screening every potential adopter. Dogs that had recently been slated for death in a shelter found good homes. Dogs whose age or infirmities made them unlikely to find a home became permanent members of the Rosenfelt/Myers family.

After struggling with the challenges of keeping a large pack of dogs from disturbing their near neighbors, the pair bought acreage in rural Maine and supervised, long-distance, the renovation of a house to meet their animals’ unique needs. When Debbie retired, they would move to their new home.

But how would they transport all the dogs?

Rosenfelt reached out to his readers for help. Some suggested he ask John Travolta or Oprah Winfrey to lend their planes. When the celebrities did not make the offer, Rosenfelt considered commercial airlines. The cost of flying 25 dogs was prohibitive.

Finally, they rented three large RVs to make the trip. Eleven volunteers—some of whom were fans of his mysteries that he had never personally met—stepped up to assist him and Debbie in transporting the dogs.

Team Woofabago, the name one volunteer gave their vehicles on social media, planned the route, drove the 3 RVs, and cared for the dogs along the way. At every stop, the volunteers set up an instant dog park with 200 feet of light fencing. Even a short rest break took close to an hour. Staying on schedule so that the volunteers could make their flights home from Maine at the end was a major challenge.

A dog waits in an RV.

Rosenfelt attempts to bring his reader into his world. The book is arranged in alternating chapters with one describing the individual dogs and what it’s like to live with them and the next describing the planning, logistics, and the drive. The daily life chapters used roman type while the trip chapters were set in italic.

At first, I found his choice confusing and irritating. Especially since, in the planning stages, there wasn’t much to distinguish the italicized “trip” chapters from the daily life chapters. As the story went on, however, I adjusted to the device and it stopped bothering me.

As for the stresses Rosenfelt experienced on the road, I can personally relate. As much as I love dogs, I’d rather be buried in an ant hill and smeared with honey than to spend endless miles on a highway in an RV with a barking band.

A Traveler’s Library exists to share books that inspire travel. While Dogtripping is a light, somewhat comical read, it won’t inspire me to road trip with 25 dogs any time soon. But I left the book feeling inspired by Rosenfelt’s and Myers’ compassion and dedication. And it’s hard not to enjoy a story about former death row dogs and their people ending their travels in a place they could all call home.

Photo Credits: Pound pup and RV Dog are images found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons licenses. Learn more about the photographers by clicking the pictures. To see photos taken on the trip, visit David Rosenfelt’s website and on the Woofabago Facebook page.

Disclosures: The link to Amazon from the book covers gives you an easy way to buy Rosenfelt’s books. When you shop through my links at Amazon, I earn a few cents. Thanks for your support!

Autumn Road Trip with Edwin Way Teale

Destination: United States

Book: Autumn Across America: A Naturalist’s Record of a 20,000 Mile Journey through the North American Autumn (1956) by Edwin Way Teale

Way back in 2010, Kerry Dexter and I launched a road trip across America, writing each week about a different state–starting in New England, and ending in Hawaii.  As I was asking people for recommendations for different books representing the states, one reader suggested that I should read the four books by Edwin Way Teale about that naturalists’ journeys across the United States in four different seasons. So far I have only read his autumn road trip book, but it is an enticement to seek out the rest. He is a skillful writer and a delightful guide to nature.

The books, North With the Spring, Journey Into Summer, Autumn Across America, and Wandering Through Winter were originally published between 1951 and 1965 and were republished in 1990, but  are now out of print. You can still find used copies on the Internet, or in used book stores.  The bonus of used books is that they sometimes bear some marks of their former owners. I love the inscription in the early paperback edition I bought:

For Dad, I hope that you and Mom will enjoy this book together–you’ve shared many autumns together, in many places just as these two do in this book. With all my love,________

Autumn Road Trip
Aspens glory

I found Autumn Across America in a used book store, and plopped it on my shelf with dozens of other “read when I get around to it” books. Because it is not about one individual state, it did not fit into the format of our Great American Road Trip, but I knew I’d want to talk about it some time. It seems following Kerry’s Monday post about music for Autumn is a perfect time to think about an Autumn road trip. And since you have Kerry’s post about autumn music, we are, in a sense, bringing back our 2010-2011 road trip partnership!

On their leisurely, 20,000-mile journey that took them to twenty-six states, they observed nature changing gears from summer to winter.  The colored and falling leaves of the northeast and the migrating birds, butterflies and even beetles, the mysteries of hibernation, the geology, the human history–nothing escaped their keen curiosity and careful observation.  Back home in New England, when the trip was complete, Teale expanded on his observations with research into the why of things.

I found myself mesmerized by such intellectual explorations as the one in Oregon about why salmon return to the same stream in which they hatch. Teale reports on scientific experiments that involved transporting salmon eggs from one place to another before they hatched, transporting fingerlings from one stream to another, and testing salmon’s ability to smell.  They inevitably came back to the water that smelled the same as that where they hatched. And every stream has a different chemical makeup because of the different plants that grow in greater or lesser profusion.


Autumn Road Trip
The ducks of evening

Bird watchers will find many pages filled with poetic descriptions and scientific facts about all kinds of birds. Those that are migrating, and those that are settling in. Common or rare, they all are fascinating.

Autumn road trip
Still life with weeds and grass

In Indiana he talks about why ragweed is such a bother for the hay-fever prone. and even common dust gets its due.  He asks people what scent brings to mind Autumn, and among many choices, he is surprised to find the dust of drying weeds in a vacant lot meant autumn to many people.

“If it were possible to banish dust from the earth, the vote probably would be overwhelmingly in favor of it.  Yet subtract dust from the 5,633,000,000,000,000-ton atmosphere that surrounds the globe and you would subtract infinitely more.  You would drain blue from the sky and the lake. For fine dust, as well as the molecules of vapor and the air itself, scatters the blue rays and contributes color to the heavens above and reflected color to the waters below….every minute droplet of moisture in fog and cloud forms about a nucleus of dust…You would remove the glory of the sunrise from the world and wipe all the flaming beauty of the sunset form the sky.”

Over and over again, this book reminded me to travel slowing and observantly. Whether he was traversing land I was familiar with (the coasts of Oregon) or land I’d like to get to know (the forests where ferns are harvested), I learned new things.

At one point, he dislodges a pebble that rolls down an incline.  He ponders the long history of that pebble and how much life has passed by–glaciers, birds, insects and humans have all been here.

“Yet surely, better a single moment of awareness to enjoy the glory of the senses, a moment of knowing, of feeling, of living intensely, a moment to appreciate the sunshine and the dry smell of autumn and the dust-born clouds above–better a thousand times even a swiftly fading, ephemeral moment of life than the epoch-long unconsciousness of the stone.”

I don’t know a better way to warn a traveler not to become simply a rolling stone.

What does autumn look like, sound like and smell like to you?

Note: I took these photographs around the White Mountains of Arizona in the fall.  Please do not reuse without permission. Thanks.  The link to Amazon from the cover of the book provides you with one way to purchase the book. When you shop through my links at Amazon, I earn a few cents to pay the rent for A Traveler’s Library. Thanks!