book – Marley and Me

On Dana’s recommendation, I got the huge best seller on MP3. I’ve been listening to it as I bike about Calgary.

It is sweet, funny, touching and sad. Any dog owner would like it.

Actually, any dog owner could have written it! The story of every dog could fill a book.

Life and Love with the World\'s Worst Dog
(click on the book for details)

The Career Break Book

Lonely Planet Career Break Book (General Reference Series)

Live your dream. … ditch the nine to five, say ciao to the rat race.

They call it a “gap” year in the UK.

Greg and Lori Chartier took off with two teenage boys through New Zealand and Australia. And loved it.

I thought the book would be filled with dream travel itineraries. The Lonely Planet Planet Earth that I have long been anticipating.

Actually, most of it deals with practicalities: house, pets, finances, vehicle, job. Where to kennel the kids.

book – The Dolphin’s Tooth, Bruce Kirkby

A Decade In Search of AdventureInspired by Chris Bonnington’s Quest for Adventure, a regular Canadian kid became an Adventurer.

  • cycling the Karakoram Highway
  • hiking the CANOL trail
  • paddling the Blue Nile
  • guiding paddling tours in the Arctic
  • kayaking in Belize
  • Kirkby hooked up with Jamie Clarke, Calgary’s most famous adventurer for:

  • Mt. Everest 1997 (Kirkby was communications man)
  • Empty Quarter of Arabia
  • His greatest claim to fame (or greatest sufferfest) was what he called The Grande Cirque — the first circumnavigation of British Columbia’s southern Coast Range.

    His best destination so far — the Mergui Archipelago of Burma, off-limits to everyone for the past 50 years.
    kayaks on a beach


    barbecue cookbook – Planking Secrets

    book coverRockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk’s second cookbook is available from and will hit Canadian bookshops soon.

    Amazon – Planking Secrets: How to Grill With Wooden Planks for Unbeatable Barbecue Flavor

    Everything you could possibly want to know about the art of grilling on a plank.

    The self-proclaimed BBQ evangelist just launched his 10th year as a grilling and barbecue instructor. His competition barbecue team had their best finish ever at the Jack Daniels World Championships in October.

    Details on his books, newsletter, podcasts and upcoming events are on Rockin’s Barbecue Secrets blog.

    travel – Lonely Planet

    Guatemala guidebook Lonely Planet guidebooks revolutionized travel & reinvented the guidebook genre in the same way that Cirque du Soleil reinvented the circus.

    Starting on a kitchen table in 1972, the Australian company grew quickly to dominate the industry overcoming many long-established competitors.

    What did Lonely Planet do right?

  • The best maps
  • No advertising
  • No endorsements
  • Focus on good value at all price ranges
  • Support of ecologically sensitive vendors
  • Support of indigenous vendors over outsiders
  • Highlights maps
  • Top 10 lists
  • Recommended itineraries
  • Lonely Planet holds people to account. If vendors cheat or misrepresent to travellers, they do so at their peril. In some cases businesses close after LP gives a bad review or even drops a listing.

    And brutally accurate write-ups. While they have gotten softer over the years, my current Central America on a Shoestring still includes:


    … Those who have wrecked havoc on Central America. A Hall of Shame:

    1) Pedro Arias de Avila – bishop-murdering Spanish founder of Panama City

    2) Pedro de Alvarado – Spaniard whose burning of captives in the 1520s disturbed even Cortes

    3) Alonso de Caceres – Spaniard who called fake truce in 1537 to murder Honduran indigenous leader Lempira

    4) William Walker – bully American in 1850s who tried to take over Central America

    5) Ronald Reagan – US president of 1980s who broke records for outside intervention

    Other travel guidebooks were inferior. I recall the horrible Lets Go Europe we carried in 1976. And the stupendously useless Rough Guide China (1st edition) I foolishly did not throw in the dumpster in 1998.

    Now in a very few regions there are good competitors; the best example being the South American Handbook (now Footprint guides).

    Thence I was shocked (as you might imagine) to stumble on to Moon Handbooks Baja — a better guidebook than Lonely Planet! Why so? For one thing it is authored by Joe Cummings, the legendary lead writer for Lonely Planet in the early years. When Mick Jagger wanted a guide for his entourage in Thailand, he phoned Joe.

    I’ve started to browse other travel guidebooks recently and been very pleasantly surprised. They have improved. Most by copying LPs format and style.

    It reminds me how Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL search engines exactly copied Google and, as a result, are starting to improve. Have you seen the prettiest Google imitator?

    I may finally (faintly) consider alternative guidebooks in future.

    new books by Ron Shewchuk

    book cover Congratulations to my buddy Ron Shewchuk on the publication of his latest book, Writing and Editing the Internal Publication.

    He’s posted a new blog in conjunction with the release.

    Ron’s new corporate communications blog, For Your Approval

    Ron has a best selling cookbook still on the shelves and a second cookbook ready for publication. Cookbook details on Ron’s homepage.

    Unforgettable Things To Do Before You Die – kayak Baja


    The highlight of my 4-day trip was snorkeling with sea lions at Los Islotes. They hugged & kissed us. Wow!

    I wasn’t too worried when one took a love bite at my knee cap. (Rangers told us they have only had to evacuate one bleeding tourist back to La Paz, so far.)

    White sand beach camps, desert canyons adorned with hanging fig trees, snorkelling with tropical fish, towering rock cliffs, sea caves, ringtail cats, leaping manta rays. That’s what I’m talking about.

    Writing the travel adventure book Unforgettable Things To Do Before You Die (2005) authors Steve Watkins & Clare Jones were personally guided by Manuel — also my guide in 2006. I should write a book too! Or at least post a website on how to kayak Isla Espiritu Santo. …

    Rick\'s shadow

    For the full travelogue in 60 annotated photos jump to the permanent webpage in Rick’s travelogue archive. OPEN icon

    Next travelogue on this trip >> La Paz, Baja

    book – Mosquito Coast, Paul Theroux

    I have read all of Theroux’s travel books & most of his novels.

    Finally got around to his 1982 novel which was made into a movie starring Harrison Ford.

    Great book! Good movie!

    The extreme philosophy of Ford’s character — a man who so hates American life that he moves his family to the jungles of Central America — is still fascinating today.

    It reminds me of another terrific case study: Elizabeth Gilbert’s biography of Eustace Conway, The Last American Man.

    Amazon reviews of Mosquito Coast.