BOOK REVIEW: 1000 Places To See Before You Die (US & Canada)




Patricia Schultz has followed up her best selling book 1000 Places to See Before You Die which took her over 12 years to research and write, with another best seller focusing on sites in the United States and Canada.

1000 Places to See Before You Die in the US and Canada has over 1100 pages that cover sites in the 50 United States and 10 provinces of Canada. Additionally there are a dozen indexes for cross referencing based on interest rather than simple geography. If you're interested in active travel and adventure, Schultz' has an index that organizes lists of sites from the book into 14 sections that include biking, fishing, dog sledding, climbing, horseback riding, ice skating, rafting, sailing, skiing, surfing, swimming and tennis. There is also a "culinary experiences" index, a "great golf" index and a "take the kids" index.

Ms. Shultz admitted in an interview on the Travel with Rick Steves radio program that it took her 4 years to complete this book. When asked why she chose the US and Canada for her second focus she replied that she could not identify such a "singularly astonishing continent in the world in terms of what it offers; the diversity and the importance of what we have here, I think is unmatched anywhere else in the world."

The core of this book was comprised of the 150 sites that Schultz included in her first book which covered the entire planet Earth. The words "1000 Places" in the title of this book is slightly misleading. Readers will be pleasantly surprised to find that several locations are frequently folded into one of the 1000 mentioned sites. For example, one of the 1000 places identified in the book is "Garrett County Maryland", but in that one entry, Shultz mentions riding rapids down the Youghiogheny, Deep Creek Lake, Wisp Ski Resort, an organic farm in Oakland, and seven state forests and parks. She begins the entry, "The far western tip of Maryland packs more outdoors options into one single county than any other in the state."

Just as I thought there was much in Maryland she didn't cover, many will say Patricia Schultz didn't get some of the best sites in their home states and territories. But it was her project, so I respect her choices. The book is a perfect resource for an individual or family taking a road trip that covers several states. If you're traveling through South Carolina and Georgia on your way to Florida, Schultz offers choices and alternatives to zooming through states without a second glance. This makes road trips far richer. Her indexes allow the traveler to focus specifically on areas of personal interest as well as geographic locations.

My husband, Dan and I are going to Maine this month. We try to get up there every two years in order to visit his large family. But this year, instead of taking 16 hours to rush through 8 states we're going to take two days and stop in Hartford CT to see the home of Mark Twain, and Salem, MA (since I just read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry) where we'll see the House of Seven Gables, go to the Peabody Essex Museum (the oldest continually operating museum in the country), and look at other things "witchy."

As far as Ms. Schultz' coverage of my home state - Maryland, I'm impressed that one of the 13 sites identified in our state was Crisfield and Smith and Tangier Islands... my home area. The islands are always worth a visit, being the only inhabited off-shore islands in both states. My only gripe was that she referred to Crisfield as "sleepy." What is it with these travel writers? Only last Sunday, Jordan Hruska writer of The Crab Houses of Maryland's Eastern Shore in the NY Times Travel section made this statement about the Hyatt Chesapeake Resort in Cambridge ... "This 400-room hotel, spa and golf resort capitalizes on its views of the Choptank River, just outside sleepy Cambridge." Actually, the hotel is in Cambridge. Secondly, what about Cambridge is sleepy?

Small does not equal sleepy. Brick sidewalks, historic facades, working waterfronts, sailboats and friendly people do not denote "sleepy". Sleepy is almost as tired and overused as quaint, charming, breathtaking, exotic and jewel. None of these cute words merit adjective status when describing Eastern Shore towns. Obviously Jordan Hruska has not read 10 Words and Phrases We Never Want to See in Travel Writing Again. Forgive my little pet peeve digression.

1000 Places to See Before You Die - US and Canada is worth every bit of the $19.95 retail price. Just the information on the Mark Twain House and Salem was double the return on the investment for me, and I expect that value will multiply over the years. The book is one of few guide books that will become a staple in the travel-bag of American tourists that have a penchant for wandering and discovering when they take to the road.