Books

Road Trip Through America With These Two Books


I am taking a break from exploring Europe this summer and heading out on a road trip through America with these two books.

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Hotel on Shadow Lake by Daniela Tully takes us through upstate New York.

Hotel of Shadow Lake

My first stop on my American road trip is in upstate New York, home of the Montgomery Resort, the location where Maya, the main character, flies to after the body of her grandmother, who went missing 27 years earlier, was recently discovered. Martha had no connection to the United States, and certainly not to the Montgomery Resort, situated in the middle of a nature preserve and on what sounds like the beautiful Shadow Lake.

“Maya followed the map and turned right at a sign that proclaimed MONTGOMERY RESORT AND PRESERVE, 12 MILES. The woods along the steadily ascending road became denser but suddenly opened up when the road cured hairpin-style. A kingdom of colors unfolded before her, with the Catskill Mountains and their rolling hills in the background, stretching as far as the eye could see.”

The story flipped between Maya’s story, set in 2017, and her grandmother’s beginning in 1990, but eventually going back to Germany in 1938.

While Maya searches for answers, she also explores the area surrounded the Montgomery Resort.

“She (Maya) was the only one out at that time of day and was rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise…This part of the high plateau, with its unusual rock formations, wildflowers and thick woods had a soothing effect on her, and she almost felt at peace up here, far away from Germany for the first time in decades.”

Hotel on Shadow Lake is by Daniela Tully ($37.99, Raincoast Books, St. Martins Press)

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Yosemite Fall shows the beauty of this national park.

Yosemite Fall

We do some serious mountain climbing in Yosemite Fall set in the Yosemite Valley within Yosemite National Park where Chuck Bender, his wife, Janelle, and their daughters arrive in the valley to study a pair of 150-year-old murders. Chuck spent his 20s climbing the mountains and his love of the sport and the location is evident in the book.

“You’re right that there’s no obvious value in rock climbing per se. But what Caldwell and Jorgeson were attempting on the Dawn Wall is what the valley is all about. Places like Yosemite let people challenge themselves in the outdoors to whatever degree they want. Caldwell and Jorgeson did exactly what Jimmy and Thorpe and the rest of us did 20 years ago, and what climbers and hikers and backpackers have been doing here in the park for more than a century – they challenged themselves to the furthest extent of their abilities. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, in my opinion.”

He also sees Yosemite from the eyes of Jimmy, who progressed from rock climbing to base jumping.

“The sun rested just above the hunchbacked dome of granite in the dusty, brown-streaked sky, bathing the topmost reaches of El Capitan, opposite him, in orange and red. His eyes tracked to the shadowed base of El Cap’s three-thousand-foot face…”

The book also describes the beauty of the national park, which was once home to the Yosemite tribe of First Nations people.

“He set her down and together they surveyed the valley floor, visible through breaks in the trees. The Merced River described a winding S across the meadow in the center of the valley. An open area half a mile to the east, where the meadow ended at a thick stretch of forest next to the river..”

The book begins with this Ansel Adams, a renowned Yosemite photographer:

“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise of glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

Yosemite Fall is by Scott Graham ($22.95, Publishers Group Canada Books, Torrey House Press).

A copy of these books was provided by Raincoast Books and PCG Books. The opinions are my own.

France
Beautiful Dreamers in St.-Guilhem-le-Désert
Europe
A Letter from St. Fréchoux: A Drive to St. Guilhem-le-Desert
California
Good Friends in Laguna Niquel

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