Emma Rowena Caldwell was an intelligent, attractive young woman and a hard worker. Growing up in rural Ohio in the very early 1900s, there wasn’t much opportunity for someone in her circumstances. Born into a poor family with 15 brothers and sisters, she grew up to know farm work, but she also loved to read. At 19, she married 27-year-old, college-educated P.C. Gatewood. It wasn’t very long before the beatings started. And continued.
In 1940, having borne him eleven children and endured near constant torment, she left him. Few outside her community knew the part of her story she left behind her. But everyone across America came to know “Grandma Gatewood,” the first woman to walk the entire Appalachian Trail—more than 2,000 miles—from Georgia to Maine. By herself.
If your idea of a great day or weekend trip is more about the lay of the land than condition of the asphalt, you will enjoy looking through the Virginia Atlas & Gazetteer. This is one of those big, old-school map books of many pages. Unlike navigating exclusively with GPS, which doles out your instructions bit by relevant bit, the Atlas and Gazetteer gives you the bigger picture to ponder.
Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way • Predict the Weather • Locate Water • Track Animals—and Other Forgotten Skills
Tristan Gooley, the only living person to have both flown and sailed solo across the Atlantic, has set down a fascinating, discursive discussion of the many ways a person might learn to find his way in the wild.
Actor and travel writer Andrew McCarthy eventually discovered his family roots in Ireland and added on more family besides when he wed a Dublin girl.
His several-page story of a reunion across generations is part of Journeys Home, a collection of more than two dozen tales of seekers who found out more about themselves by finding where they came from: Cuba, Africa (and then to Virginia), Peru, Prague, India, Taiwan, and England, among others. Journeys Home is replete with glorious photographs, old and new, that are typical of the quality a reader would expect from its publisher, National Geographic.
Nature programs on TV can only go into so much detail about the fascinating history that underlies our beautiful world. After all, there are commercial breaks to consider and trying to produce a show for the most casual channel surfer. So viewers come away with an idea of what a place looks like—and maybe a few facts about it—but for the truly curious, there is a dearth of content.
Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians, by Scott Weidensaul, has been a go-to classic for around 20 years. Written in a casual and fascinating yet scientifically accurate way, the narrative draws in readers who do not want to crack academic tomes on the subject but who do wish to learn more about the region’s alpine tundra and the still-living remnants of mighty chestnut trees.
After graduating with honors from Emory University, Christopher Johnson McCandless left his suburban home in Annandale, Virginia, behind to pursue an odyssey to the Stampede Trail in Alaska.
McCandless gave up his $25,000 college grant to charity and began traveling across the Western United States. To the disappointment of his family back home, he ceased all communication with them and abandoned his 1982 Datsun after a flash flood somewhere in the Midwest.
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Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. (catalog summary)
There have been some wonderful books with the theme of self-discovery through travel, as in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Their journeys have been life-changing for them and perhaps also for the reader.
If you liked Eat, Pray, Love, then you may also like these titles:
Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez
Set amidst the shimmering seas of Northern ice, Arctic Dreams leads readers on a journey of the mind and heart into a place that grips the imagination and invigorates the soul. Part adventure tale and part meditation on the art of exploration, this magical book dazzles with the wonder of the aurora borealis; the awesome power of polar bears and killer whales; the monumental grandeur of migrating icebergs; and the beauty and nobility of the Arctic's indigenous people. Evocative and everlasting, Arctic Dreams is a classic. (catalog summary)
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
In an exhilarating tale of historic adventure, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Confederates in the Attic retraces the voyages of Captain James Cook, the Yorkshire farm boy who drew the map of the modern world. Captain James Cook's three epic journeys in the 18th century were the last great voyages of discovery. His ships sailed 150,000 miles, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Tasmania to Oregon, from Easter Island to Siberia. When Cook set off for the Pacific in 1768, a third of the globe remained blank. By the time he died in Hawaii in 1779, the map of the world was substantially complete.Tony Horwitz vividly recounts Cook's voyages and the exotic scenes the captain encountered: tropical orgies, taboo rituals, cannibal feasts, human sacrifice. He also relives Cook's adventures by following in the captain's wake to places such as Tahiti, Savage Island, and the Great Barrier Reef to discover Cook's embattled legacy in the present day. Signing on as a working crewman aboard a replica of Cook's vessel, Horwitz experiences the thrill and terror of sailing a tall ship. (catalog summary)
I’ve got a severe case of wanderlust. Often I can get a healthy fix as an armchair traveler—exploring the world by reading books of others’ exotic expeditions. But NOTHING compares to globetrotting in person to locales both near and far.
The National Park Service turns 100 years old on August 25, 2016, and is celebrating their Centennial throughout the year. You are invited to Find Your Park and discover the recreational, historical, and cultural riches available locally and throughout the country. In June, the library hosts National Park Service historian Becky Oakes, who will discuss the development, history, and features of our national parks. Join her for Find Your Park: All About National Parks at the Headquarters Library on Thursday, June 23, 6:30-8:00, or at the Salem Church Branch on Monday, June 27, 7:00-8:30. Read up on our parks by checking out these books:
The Atlas of Mysterious Places is filled with wonder, adventure, and amazing photographs. A perfect book for an armchair explorer and dreamer, especially during these winter nights, it conjures landscapes of civilizations waiting to be rediscovered.