Family Reads: Trains and Trails

SThe Boundlessummer is finally here! Kids are out of school and vacations are under way, which means it’s a great time for kids to stock up on some great summer reads. I always love to start summer with a grand adventure, and I think many kids will as well. Kenneth Oppel’s The Boundless fits the bill perfectly. Can it get grander than a 7 mile long train equipped with a pool, lounge, billiards, dining cars and sleeping cars? Combine this with circus performers, Sasquatch attacks, and a murder mystery, and you’ve got yourself a ‘grand adventure’ on tracks. Even better, it offers a little bit of local interest. This historical fantasy brings to life the early railroads of Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and Will Everett’s escapades aboard The Boundless are sure to entertain! Continue reading “Family Reads: Trains and Trails”

Extreme outdoors

Although I’m fairly wimpy in “real life,” I enjoy the vicarious experience of reading about other peoples’ travails in harsh climates. Here are some favorite tales of true adventure and survival (with a bit of history thrown in):

Cruelest MilesThe Cruelest Miles by Gay Salisbury
When isolated Nome, Alaska, was struck by a diphtheria epidemic in 1925, the serum needed to treat the disease was 1,000 miles away. Twenty teams of sled dogs raced through minus 60-degree temperatures to transport the medicine. This gripping account describes their epic quest, a journey that later inspired the annual Iditarod race. Continue reading “Extreme outdoors”

Your Next 5 Books: Real life adventure

In this column we regularly highlight a Your Next 5 Books submission that we find interesting, funny, unique, or useful to other readers. Submit Your Next 5 Books entry now, or stop by and see us in person, and maybe you could see your (anonymous) reading habits on Shelf Talk!

Into the Unknown: Pacific Northwest Maritime and Overland Exploration

With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters.While the story of Juan de Fuca’s tale of an inland route, later known as the elusive Northwest Passage is of doubtful reliability, the later major sea explorations of the Northwest Coast during the late eighteenth century are well documented.

Noteworthy coastal explorers include Vitus Bering, Dionisio Alcala-Galiano, George Vancouver, Robert Gray. Lewis and Clark, and later David Thompson explored inland. Here are some captivating accounts of their exploits:

Bering: the Russian Discovery of America by O.W.Frost
Vitus Jonassen Bering (1681-1741) made two expeditions journeying from St. Petersburg to Siberia and ultimately to the Northwest coast of America. Frost chronicles the life of this extraordinary explorer in a riveting narrative of adventure and disaster on the high seas.

Voyage of Sutil and Mexicana 1792: the Last Spanish Exploration of the Northwest coast of America. Translated by John Kendrick, the original manuscript most likely by Dionisio Alcala-Galiano
The schooners Sutil and Mexicana sailed along the coast of the Pacific Northwest in 1792, stopping and spending time at Nootka prior to exploring in detail the coastline inside the Strait of Juan de Fuca and north of Vancouver, Canada.

With Vancouver in Inland Washington Waters: Journals of 12 Crewmen, April-June 1792
Editor Richard Blumenthal offers the reader a fascinating firsthand look at the Northwest’s earliest maritime history. The journals include Peter Puget’s observations and explorations of Puget Sound and a detailed description of William Broughton’s passage through the San Juan Islands.

Columbia’s River: the Voyages of Robert Gray, 1787-1793 by J. Richard Nokes
Robert Gray in two trading voyages between 1787 and 1793 circumnavigated the globe and entered and explored the long-sought River of the West, naming it “Columbia’s River” after his ship.

Way to the Western Sea, by David LavenderThe Way to the Western Sea: Lewis & Clark Across the Continent by David Sievert Lavender
A moving, detailed re-creation of the 1804-06 Lewis & Clark Expedition, which was a risky probe into the continent’s interior. Lavender’s narrative captures the mingled awe, courage and fear of the members of the Corps of Discovery.

Columbia Journals by David Thompson
Thompson (1770-1857), one of the most important surveyors of North America, mapped the Columbia River watershed, traveling the Columbia River from its source to its mouth. Thompson mapped and established trading posts in Northwestern Montana, Idaho and Washington for the Northwest Company.

~ Brenda, Central Library


Do you like to take a walk on the wild side?  Or would you rather read about it when you know everything turns out okay?  Check out this list of daring adventure stories by some who lived to tell the tale.

Walking the Gobi: A 1,600-Mile Trek Across a Desert of Hope and Despair by Helen Thayer

At age 50 Helen Thayer was the first woman to ski alone to the North Pole (accompanied by Charlie the dog). Thirteen years later, she and her husband started off across the Gobi Desert. Helen Thayer was named “one of the great explorers of the 20th century” by National Geographic. It’s an amazing, exciting, true adventure.

A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft and Ski by Erin McKittrick
Two people start walking from Seattle and 4,000 miles, one year and many adventures later our intrepid adventurers arrive at the end of the road in the Aleutian Islands. And it’s not even a road!  Incredible tales of bear sightings, an ingenious packraft and a good cause will astound and inspire you.

Shooting the Boh: A Woman’s Voyage Down the Wildest River in Borneo by Tracy Johnston
If a rafting company offered you a free trip to an exotic locale, you might jump at the chance. Journalist Tracy Johnston did, never imagining the treacherous rapids, foot rot, hot flashes, leeches, clouds of sweat bees and sheer hard work it would entail. The trip was bad, but this book is witty and insightful. Good reading. Continue reading “AND I ALONE SURVIVED!”