Armchair journeys

Yesterday I spent time in the library’s Travel Neighborhood flipping through some of the newer books full of photographs of faraway places–the kind of books that can simultaneously satisfy and frustrate those with a nagging wanderlust. Why? CNN just announced The Wonder List with Bill Weir is ending. I was searching for the sort of worldly escape this show produced and that I’m already missing.

I found The Wonder List’s approach to telling the stories of familiar and unknown landscapes to be fresh and captivating. Standout episodes featuring Patagonia, Peru and New Zealand portray the beauty and fragility of the land and attempts by residents to preserve what’s natural, meaningful and irreplaceable. In Peru, Weir took a strenuous hike up a stone trail leading to a high altitude overlook of terraced archaeological ruins. Most of us have seen the iconic photos of Machu Picchu, but Weir’s narration during this scenic walk up to the point where those famous photos are taken captures the essence and awe surrounding the ancient Inca ruins, giving the familiar photographs greater context. Weir reveals the power of photojournalism and its role in informing and altering our views of the natural world and distant cultures.

While some of the DVDs in the travel section were tempting, I was more attracted to the world travel books with profound photographs and accompanying narratives extending beyond general site descriptions. I discovered the unique armchair travel experience I was looking for.

Lonely Planet’s new Secret Marvels of the World is an off the beaten path and entertaining look at 360 unusual sites. Did you know the world’s largest maze is the Pineapple Garden Maze in Hawaii? You’ll find out how to get to the featured locations, however some are off limits to the public.

Wild Beautiful Places is what you expect from National Geographic–magnificent full-page photographs with descriptions of 50 natural landscapes spanning every continent. “Travelwise Tips” give directions to exotic places like the Bay of Fires in Tasmania with nearby overnight options.

Where to Go When is a fun month-by-month look at what’s happening around the globe, with a couple pages and many photos devoted to each site. Tips include “Dos and Don’ts” with suggested ways to spend your vacation based on how many days you plan to be there. This revised and updated guide will help you expand your travel wish list.

Explore the world by taking a trip to the Travel Neighborhood inside the library where travel memoirs, essays, foreign language phrasebooks, DVDs, popular guidebooks and travel bags may be checked out free for three weeks.

Kimberly Sain

As a Public Services Specialist, in addition to Reference work I promote the Travel, Pets, and Lawn & Garden Neighborhoods, coordinate nature-themed programs for adults and families, and serve on the Big Read planning committee. My interests include exploring new travel destinations, National Parks, Alaska, hiking trails in Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas, birding, Sandhill crane migration, Monarch waystations, Kansas native plants, citizen science activities, volunteer work as a certified Kansas Master Naturalist, and reading essays about the natural environment. Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country is my all-time favorite novel.