Tag Archives: travel writting

Don’t Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip by Richard Ratay

Don’t Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip by Richard Ratay

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Part pop history and part whimsical memoir in the spirit of National Lampoon’s VacationDon’t Make Me Pull Over!is a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips—a halcyon era that culminated in the latter part of the twentieth century, before portable DVD players, iPods, and Google Maps.

In the days before cheap air travel, families didn’t so much take vacations as survive them. Between home and destination lay thousands of miles and dozens of annoyances, and with his family Richard Ratay experienced all of them—from being crowded into the backseat with noogie-happy older brothers, to picking out a souvenir only to find that a better one might have been had at the next attraction, to dealing with a dad who didn’t believe in bathroom breaks.

The birth of America’s first interstate highways in the 1950s hit the gas pedal on the road trip phenomenon and families were soon streaming—sans seatbelts!—to a range of sometimes stirring, sometimes wacky locations. Frequently, what was remembered the longest wasn’t Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, or Disney World, but such roadside attractions as “The Thing” in Texas Canyon, Arizona, or “The Mystery Spot” in Santa Cruz, California. In this road tourism-crazy era that stretched through the 1970’s, national parks attendance swelled to 165 million, and a whopping 2.2 million people visited Gettysburg each year, thirteen times the number of soldiers who fought in the battle.

Now, decades later, Ratay offers a paean to what was lost, showing how family togetherness was eventually sacrificed to electronic distractions and the urge to “get there now.” In hundreds of amusing ways, he reminds us of what once made the Great American Family Road Trip so great, including twenty-foot “land yachts,” oasis-like Holiday Inn “Holidomes,” “Smokey”-spotting Fuzzbusters, 28 glorious flavors of Howard Johnson’s ice cream, and the thrill of finding a “good buddy” on the CB radio.

A rousing Ratay family ride-along, Don’t Make Me Pull Over! reveals how the family road trip came to be, how its evolution mirrored the country’s, and why those magical journeys that once brought families together—for better and worse—have largely disappeared.

Richard Ratay was the last of four kids raised by two mostly attentive parents in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism and has worked as an award-winning advertising copywriter for twenty-five years. Ratay lives in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, with his wife, Terri, their two sons, and two very excitable rescue dogs.

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Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club: And Other Unlikely Travel Tales by Paul Gogarty

Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club: And Other Unlikely Travel Tales by Paul Gogarty

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VIGNETTES OF TRAVEL WRITING FROM AROUND THE GLOBE IN TWENTY SIX  A – Z  STORIES, PEOPLED WITH ECCENTRIC CHARACTERS–In Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club acclaimed travel writer Paul Gogarty shares his life on the road in 26 A-Z stories recording his very particular engagement with some highly eccentric characters. An eclectic range of destinations sees Gogarty skiing in Algeria, deep sea fishing in Kenya and attending a George Formby ukulele convention in Blackpool. Often hilarious, these tales range from an end-of-the-line bachelor auction in Alaska to attending the Henley-on-Todd Regatta in the parched dustbowl of Alice Springs. A passion for music is a thread running through several of the stories. In “Caister Soul Weekender” Gogarty checks into an East Anglian static caravan site for three days of dance, Red Bull and camaraderie. After hanging out with country wannabes in Nashville and attending the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville his car breaks down at the very crossroads where bluesman Robert Johnson reputedly sold his soul to the devil in return for guitar mastery. Nor is Gogarty afraid to sign up for the bizarre, whether visiting a homemade Stonehenge, taking an Arctic plunge protected only by swimming trunks, or learning the arcane art of healing and dowsing for hereditary diseases in Basingstoke. This collection showcases the diversity and possibilities of travel writing. More than anything else these tales underline a fascination with people and an openness to experience the world in all its diversity.

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A Land Without Borders: My Journey Around East Jerusalem and the West Bank

A Land without BordersA Land Without Borders: My Journey Around East Jerusalem and the West Bank

by Nir Baram, Jessica Cohen (Translator)

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From horror to fatigue to indifference, an important look forward and back that provides a grass-roots sense… An honest and troubling snapshot of Israel–both Palestinian and Israeli–that reveals the creeping realization that a two-state solution may no longer be possible.— Kirkus (starred review)

Throughout their youth Nir Baram’s generation were bombarded with news about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–the injustices, the wrongdoings, the killings. Over the decades, the horror and despair had become habit–he noticed people had begun to give up on the possibility of resolution. Yet, as Baram notes, ‘the vast majority of Israelis–as well as international onlookers– know next to nothing about life on the West Bank, the area at the heart of the conflict they have spent their adult lives dissecting’. Most have never visited the occupied territories, and thus ‘the debate revolves around a theoretical, ill-defined area sketched out in our political imagination.’

This book of reportage emerged from the author’s realization that Israel is separated from the West Bank not only by checkpoints but also, more significantly, by a cognitive barrier. And so began his quest to understand the occupation from both sides. The result is an essential and nuanced journey through places and experiences that receive little coverage.

Baram, widely considered one of the most important intellectual voices in Israel today, faces painful challenges to his personal political views and his hopes for a more peaceful future.

Nir Baram has worked as a journalist, editor, and advocate for Palestinian rights. He is the author of five novels in Hebrew. In 2010 he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Hebrew Literature.

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Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time

Population 485Population: 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry

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Welcome to New Auburn, Wisconsin, where the local vigilante is a farmer’s wife armed with a pistol and a Bible, the most senior member of the volunteer fire department is a cross-eyed butcher with one kidney and two ex-wives (both of whom work at the only gas station in town), and the back roads are haunted by the ghosts of children and farmers. Against a backdrop of fires and tangled wrecks, bar fights and smelt feeds, Population: 485 is a comic and sometimes heartbreaking true tale leavened with quieter meditations on an overlooked America.

Swells with unadorned heroism. He s the real thing . –USA Today”

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