Back in July, when we were complaining about the heat instead of the cold, I set off on a long road trip across North America in a van that's a little home. It was a dream I'd cherished for three years, and I was full of that tingling restlessness the Swedish call resfeber .
Man, I wish I'd had a copy of Lonely Planet's "Epic Drives of the World" when I was planning my itinerary.
This enticingly illustrated book offers 200 trip ideas across the world. There's a journey for everyone: Route 66 for the nostalgic nomad, a trek through Bhutan and the Himalayas for the more intrepid, a wine-tasting mosey through Argentina, and even a motorcycle cruise from Abu Dhabi to Jebel Hafeet on "what many have called the world's best motorcycle (and driving) road."
There are weekend trips, week-long sojourns and months-long, soul-cleansing, odysseys. And the pictures are ravishing: a Massachusetts lighthouse on a grassy sward under an azure sky; a winding two-lane road through New Zealand's Southern Alps that disappears into the snow-dusted hulk of Mt. Cook; the Blue Ridge Parkway in autumn under trees turbaned in oranges, reds and yellows.
Fifty vivid essaysby a stable of Lonely Planet writers recount journeys across Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. The book abounds with advice, such as this for a safari through South Luangwa National Park in Zambia: "When attempting a three-point turn on a riverbank, you should check the rear-view mirror for oncoming hippos." Good to know.
At the end of each essay, Lonely Planet offers three s"more like this" trips, including escapes from the city, mountain drives and watery routes.
"The most important role of these tales from the road is to inspire you to pack an overnight bag and hop behind the wheel to explore something new," the editors note in their introduction. It's a modern riff on John Muir 's clarion call to wanderers: "Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence?"
Timothy R. Smith is a former editorial aide for Book World.
By the editors of Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet. 328 pp. $35