Let’s start with a picture. The Cape of Good Hope by National Geographic. To think that in 12 weeks, this legend of seafaring lore will be at the port side of the MV Explorer!
The thought may have never entered your pretty little heads, but finishing up a semester in college while daydreaming about the mountain passes of South Africa or bypassing the 900s section of travel guides in the library, is extremely difficult. There are so many wonderful books written about traveling around the world! Blogging about them would seem to be yet another way to procrastinate, but wouldn’t you like to know how I’ve been preparing myself for such an adventure? Of course you would.
Around the World, by Matt Phelan (his blog is named Planet Ham, I love that), is a beautiful graphic novel that was just released in October. I originally spotted it at the Society of Illustrators: The Original Art show. The show is a compilation of the Society’s picks for the best children’s book illustrations of 2011. Of course I was immediately hooked by the illustration of my traveling heroin, Nellie Bly. The book follows three adventuring legends. Thomas Stevens, the wheelman with an ardent mustache who traveled around the world on a penny-farthing. Nellie Bly, girl reporter with an incredible amount of perseverance and curiosity. And Joshua Slocum, the mariner with a grizzled demeanor who was the first man to sail around the world solo.
The illustrations are wispy and ephemeral and the old-world typography fits ever so nicely. Also in the back there is a handy list of suggested readings about the three. This makes me nervously giggle when I think about how much I want to read every one and how I must channel my mind on tying up loose ends at school. Maybe you can read them all for me and then we can have tea and discuss every detail? Here’s the list:
I know that now you may have though it was impossible, yet I have managed to read one so far. Time will tell how many I can finish before I board the ship bound for my own adventures. What’s a girl to do when she has pages and pages of essays to write, paintings to paint, and books to bind?
Sailing Alone Around the World, by Captain Joshua Slocum, is unbelievable. This man is tough-as-nails and breathes hearty adventure and determination, but behind all of his factual ship-talk you can hear the comfort he found in the open seas and the solitude he searched for. (see side note) At fifty-five years old Slocum became the first man to single-handedly sail around the globe. His voyage lasted for three years and at the end of the book I could only feel that he was lucky to get home alive.
Parts that I found especially interesting: Planning to sail through the Suez Canal, Slocum had to change his route after being chased by pirates! So he headed east for Africa (the same direction across the Atlantic that I will be travelling!). He also thought swimming was useless, so he never learned. Years later, shortly after beginning his regular winter route for the Caribbean, Slocum mysteriously disappeared along with his trusty ship, The Spray. The Bermuda Triangle claimed Captain Joshua Slocum. And truthfully I think it would have been a shame for a man so full of the ocean to die in any other way.
(side note) I relish in stories about escaping. It stems from the when-I’m-in-the-city-I-want-to-be-in-Vermont-and-when-I’m-in-Vermont-I-want-to-be-in-the-city sickness. Though to deal with either feeling: Alexander Supertramp from Into the Wild exists in my dreams and this article by the New York Times, Where Home Is Really About Getting Away From It All, is one that I re-read when the city begins to infiltrate my rural core.