Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mini Book Review: Into Thick Air

Into Thick Air by Jim Malusa

Instead of climbing the high point (thin air) of planet earth, Malusa bicycles to the low points of six continents. Hence the title of the book -- Into Thick Air. These low points are deserts and the lowest of the six is the Dead Sea at 1388 feet below sea level. Starting at some distance from the low points, the author traveled via bicycle and camped on the way to the low spots.

Malusa wrote a good book because he knows that adventure travel is only interesting because of people met, the unexpected, misadventures or facing Nature's usual indifference to humans -- or anything else.

Several quotes from the book:

"The spaces between tourist stops are not empty -- they just seem that way if you're in a car. Although we can move between points quicker than ever, the places between still exist, so the world is not shrinking after all."

Regarding planning of a journey: "Travel without surprise was merely an agenda."

"A lifeline is also a leash. Even when turned off, the presence of the phone blunts the tingle of self-reliance -- the feeling that if I screw up bad enough, the show is over."

Considering Malusa's remote travels in desert terrain, the author quotes John Van Dyke's 1901 book The Desert. "The joy of mere animal existence, the feeling that it is good to be alive and face to face with Nature's self, drives everything else into the background."

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