It was 10 years ago that The Complete Walker IV by Fletcher and Rawlins came out. I’m still reading on it. It gets my hopes up. It calms my nerves. It’s like going out camping without getting your nose cold. I bet my dog wishes he could do that! When all the claustrophobia of my life collapses on top of me, I read some of that book, and imagine myself in the Sierras, or the Adirondacks, or the Porkies. Somewhere not here.
You know, it’s like those Best in Tent Camping books that I love so much!
When I was 7 or thereabouts, my dad’s brother — so he’d be my uncle — gave me a big shiny picture book about the US National Parks. This was back when there still was a Platt National Park — before the giant sinkhole swallowed it, entirely, of a sudden. ‘Way back then I planned on visiting all those National Parks.
I’m still working on it.
But there’s this guy named Michael Oswald who hails from Madison, Wisconsin. And I’m sure that we all adore him! I know that I love his new book: Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks. It came out the Summer of ought-twelve. Mike visited almost every National Park in the contiguous US. One third of the photos in the book are from his own camera. There’s maps. There’s recommendations. What I really like is the circles and arrows on the maps pointing out things not to miss.
Turns out, in some of the national parks that I have managed to visit, I missed stuff that I shouldn’t have. Missed, that is. Mike, where were you when I needed you! At least I’ve got you now.
This book really gets my hopes up. It tells you most of what you’d find at the US Park Service web sites, and it gives some history and scope. There’s plenty of background. There’s plenty of details about regulations and open seasons. There’s rated lists of hiking trips. There’s the things not to miss. There’s listings of other interesting places nearby.
And it’s not so objective that it’s empty. Mike makes those subjective leaps, telling you what he thinks is really the best parts of these different places. And, from what I’ve seen, I agree with him. And, from what I’ve not seen, I believe in him.
One of his favorites is Crater Lake. Maybe that’ll be my next trip. I’ve always wanted to go there and see the round island in the round lake in the round volcano caldera. Ever since I got this big coffee-table book for Christmas when I was just a kid. Since before the Platt succumbed.
Maybe you could give Mike’s book to some kid to dream about for a lifetime.