Archives for posts with tag: book


I recently added Four-by-four driving to my book collection. If you’re not already familiar with previous editions, they’re classics in 4×4 circles. The newly revised 3rd. edition was released this year.

The book starts by defining the basics 4×4 systems in plain, conversational language: differentials, the basic types of 4-wheel-drive systems, and then goes into detail describing the different systems used by 12 different manufacturers—including (in this edition) makers of “soft roaders,” i.e., Freelanders, Rav4s and the like. This is extremely handy for slicing through marketing jargon. What does Quadra Track or 4-matic really mean? This book tells you.

The book then goes into off-road driving techniques for various types of terrain, addresses recovery, advanced techniques, expedition basics, and finishes with how to load a truck.

It’s informative, well-photographed and well-illustrated. My only criticism is that sections of the book, and page numbers, are both numbered in a decimal format (i.e., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 for chapter 1; 2.1, 2.2 for chapter 2 and so on) and Section 7.2 isn’t on page 7.2, for example, which can get confusing because the book frequently references other parts of the text. Was that Section 7.2 or page 7.2?

That said, it looks like quite a good “do it all” book, explaining both how our rigs work and how to use them. New copies are available solely through Desert Winds Publishing.

4×4 Driving from Desert Winds Publishing
Jonathan Hanson’s full review of the 2nd. edition, on Overland Tech & Travel


We’ve been reading Finding Your Way Without a Map or Compass by Harold Gatty, first published in 1958. It’s a fascinating collection of navigation skills gleaned from the world of pre-Western and native explorers, in which one’s own five senses (and memory) are the guides, instead of compasses, maps, or GPS.

In the book, Gatty furthers the theory that early Polynesians first found their way across the Pacific by following the routes of migratory birds. Once the islands were known, they followed the stars. For example, if you hold a forked stick at arm’s length, and position the North Star in the crook of the fork, then note it’s height by marking the horizon along its length, you will travel along a constant latitude. If the North Star rises against the horizon, you’re heading north. If it falls, you’re heading south.

It’s quite an interesting read. Hat’s off to my girlfriend, Natalie, for finding this one.

We just finished reading We Took to the Woods, by Louise Dickinson Rich. She wrote it in the 1930s while living in the backwoods of western Maine with her husband, son, and a friend of theirs. It chronicles their day-to-day lives, on the shore of a river near Umbagog Lake, in a place so remote that there was no road out.

She tells stories about preparing for “freeze-up” in the fall, when the lakes (their route to the outside world) were too icy for boats but not icy enough to support vehicles, essentially cutting them off. She tells of coming across the odd bear while picking blueberries from an endless patch. She tells of log drives and hurricanes, and how to make the best baked beans. She tells of adopting a baby skunk, who made a very civilized house pet, until he grew up and took to the woods himself.

The writing is so fresh it could have been written yesterday, yet it’s so clearly a window into another time. We liked it so much we put off reading it, because we didn’t want it to end. Read the rest of this entry »

We finished this lovely little book a few weeks ago. It’s a collection of stories, told by Wylie Blanchet, of cruising the coast of British Columbia in the summers of the 1920s, with her five children (and sometimes a dog), in a 25-foot motorboat.

They traveled at a time when the BC is coast was changing from a traditional land to a modern one. They came across Indian villages abandoned for the summer, remote inlets with perhaps a single cabin and a sole occupant, and, at one point, a bear, which the children mistook for a man standing in the forest watching them.

These days you don’t often read about adventures as told from the perspective of a mother and her children but there they were cruising up the coast of Vancouver Island, a woman and her five children setting off every summer and coming back with adventures to tell.

Link: The Curve of Time

Here’s what we’re reading at the moment: a travelogue called Blue Latitudes: Boldly going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before.

The author, Tony Horowitz, follows in the footsteps, or rather the wake, of 18th-century explorer Capt. James Cook, whose voyages were pretty much responsible for taking “Thar be monsters” off the map and inserting some of the Pacific’s most popular locals: Tahiti, Hawaii, New Zealand, and Australia just to name a few. In Hawaii they had never seen then likes of a square-rigged bark and took Cook to be some sort of god. They also ended up cooking him, literally (oops — spoiler alert!) but we haven’t gotten to that part yet.

For authenticity’s sake, the author even signed up as crew on the replica of the HMS Endeavour, Cook’s ship, to get a taste of life as an 18th-century seaman. Yarg.

So far it’s been an entertaining and informative read. The author even has a Pulitzer Prize. We’re looking forward to working our way through this one.