Michael Strickland's blog on all things travel: news, deals, destinations, dreams and more.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Starfish Halls: Great travel literature

The subject matter of this blog is travel, but I'm not sure that makes it "travel writing." Or, perhaps it is: you could say that writing about travel news, issues and experiences is just that, "travel writing." So maybe the distinction I'm looking for is "travel writing" vs. "travel literature."

Good travel writing can help you decide where to go and how to make the most of your trip. Good travel literature can take you on a trip without ever leaving your armchair. For that, one of my favorite travel authors has always been my friend Rick McKinney.

A few years back, Rick thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. During the hike, he blogged live from the trail with the aid of a wireless Palm and folding keyboard. The end product became the book Dead Men Hike No Trails (available from

My favorite tale of his, however, is the unfinished Starfish Halls, a gripping account of a hike along northern California's so-called "Lost Coast." Despite my less-than-favorable portrayal as "Fred," the friend who aborted the hike after the first wet night, the story shows off the talent that still makes me wonder why Rick hasn't been discovered by a mass-market audience.

Following is a brief taste; if you like what you read, follow the links below to read the entirety of what currently exists of this tale. I hope Rick will one day find the long-lost notebooks that contain the rest of the story.

I cut the engine when he doesn't show immediately. I listen to the rain dripping off leaves in the woods all about me. The drops alight on me without sound. Their silence is the silence afforded a stranger in a small town cafe, speaking as they do to the leaves and never to me. I am not offended. Nature has earned her fraternal snobbishness.

> Prologue
> Chapter One
> Chapter Two
> A final excerpt


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