A blog for people who don't want to spend all their free time in the real world. After all, we live and work there. Escape the mundane with books, travel, and writing.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

4 Books Everyone Should Read--Guest Post

Here's a guest post from Cassie, an avid reader:

Whether you’re taking the bus to work or on an amazing trip through the Czech Republic, a good book is the best companion. There’s the classics of course, but if you’re an avid reader you probably have already read through most of them. Or, if not, they’re at least on your to-do list. However, there are plenty of amazing books that might not be considered ‘classics,’ but that will absolutely keep you engaged from beginning to end and may end up being one of your favorites.

If you’re an avid traveler, you might want to consider getting these books in digital format whether as an audiobook or eBook. The best part about doing this is that you can always download these while you’re on-the-go. Just remember to use a virtual private network when using public WiFi so that hackers can’t steal your credit card info.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Set during WWII, this Pulitzer-winning book combines the world of comic books with the horrifying reality of war. It follows Joe Kavalier as he and his cousin Sammy Clay attempt to make a living for themselves creating comics. Chabon expertly weaves together reality and art until it becomes impossible to tell the two apart. Besides this, this book also blends the history and development of comic books, magic, Jewish mysticism and even a little romance.

The Phantom Tollbooth
While technically a middle reader, The Phantom Tollbooth will capture the imagination of adults and children alike. For young Milo, everything seems boring. That is until a tollbooth appears in his room. Curious, he decides to take his toy car and drives through, only to be teleported to exciting new worlds. Thus, Milo’s journey begins. What sets this book apart from other fantasy adventure stories is its focus on wordplay and the transformative power of words. At every turn there’s another surprise waiting around the corner proving that even everyday events can turn into magical occurrences.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Get ready for the wackiest interstellar journey of your life. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is pretty much a spoof of every science fiction novel you’ve ever read complete with a hapless hero, a hyper-dimensional space trace, a depressed robot and aliens who want to destroy the Earth (though it’s not personal). There are countless one-liners you likely see now in pop-culture such as the meaning of life is 42. And let’s not forget the ragtag band of characters and hilarious humor sprinkled throughout the book. This book is part of a five-book series, so if you like this one, there is plenty more adventure out there to enjoy.

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
Being Prince Charming isn’t all sunshine and roses. In fact, it’s hard and often unappreciated work. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom offers a fresh take on classic fairy tales by following the nameless princes of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel. As usual, there’s trouble afoot and it’s up to these princes to save the day from bandits, dragons and witches. It’ll have you in stitches from the humor and excellent banter between all of the characters. If you’re looking for a good way to wind down after a stressful day, this is a great choice.

While these aren’t the most challenging books to read, they’ll still stimulate your imagination and put a smile on your face. Plus, reading is good for your health, no matter the genre.

What books would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author: Cassie is a freelance tech writer and reading enthusiast. While she loves the feel of a paperback, she also loves how technology such as eReaders and tablets has made it easier for her to read anywhere.  Check out culturecoverage.com.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska--three years apart

Glaciers are always changing, always moving, even if we can't see it.  I went to Mendenhall Glacier, just outside Juneau, Alaska, in early July 2011.  Here's a picture.  Observe the cool-shaped iceberg floating in the lake.  To get a feel for the scale, look at the person in the foreground.  When we went, the lake was full of ice that had calved off the glacier.

Three years later, in late July 2014:  Same glacier, same lake, almost no icebergs.  Many, many factors are at play here.  I just hope global warming isn't the main one.

To learn more about visiting Mendenhall Glacier and other amazing Alaskan attractions, check out Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Port and Cruise Guide.  Whether you're thinking about taking a cruise or traveling on your own, you'll find useful travel tips for towns like Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka, and others.

Buy the book now on Amazon.

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Salmon in Ketchikan, Alaska

Salmon are amazing.  
They are born in fresh water.  They live most of their lives out in the sea.  Then, when their biological clock tells them, they swim upriver, sometimes many miles, to the place where they were born, only to spawn and die.  An amazing circle of life.  

Salmon trying to jump up obstacles in their way home to spawn
Ketchikan, Alaska, late August:

A traffic jam of salmon waiting to make their run up the small but challenging falls on Ketchikan Creek:

To learn more about salmon and where to see them in Alaska, read Cruising Alaska on a Budget  

Use the contact form in the right-hand column for more tips and Alaska news.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Picketpost Mountain, Arizona

A great Arizona hike--Picketpost Mountain, near Superior.

The mountain stands alone, giving great views all around from the top.  It's steep, the trail gaining more than 2100 feet (640 m) in about 2 miles (3.2 km).  It's also a bit of an adventure:  lots of rocks to climb over, lots of loose and slippery dirt, lots of places where you lose the trail and find it again after a little bushwhacking, lots of slightly scary heights.  I LOVE it.

Here's my brother, looking up at our path.  It goes through that gap in the vertical cliffs:

And here's one of those cliffs from halfway up:

My brother, climbing:

Views from the top:

Me at the famous mailbox at the top, where visitors can sign the log and read others' comments:

To get to the trailhead, turn off Highway 60 not far east of Superior, Arizona.  There are brown trail signs on the highway pointing the way.

If you go, go in spring or fall. Absolutely do not try this in 100+ temperatures (38 C+) unless you really know what you're getting into.  Even then, I don't recommend it.  Take plenty of water whenever you go.