Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Books I've Read: Lois on the Loose

If you've ever thought about riding a motorcycle from Alaska down to Argentina, you might want to read Lois on the Loose: One Woman, One Motorcycle, 20,000 Miles Across the Americas by Lois Pryce. Her incredible story is filled with adventure from the very beginning, and will either make you start planning your own trip, or cross that crazy idea off your list of things to do.

Early in the book Lois writes, "A road trip isn't about being somewhere... it's about going somewhere." I liked the sound of that, but as I read the book, I wondered if her focus on "going" was at the expense of enjoying the places she passed through.

She admits to having White Line Fever, "that old gnawing obsession with what lies ahead, and an inability to simply be in the time and place." That focus helps Lois keep going during some of the more unfortunate parts of her trip, but it also means fewer descriptions of the places she stayed during her travels.

Her best writing is in the descriptions of her adventures on the road and her interactions with other people. Her experience with a police officer in Vancouver, British Columbia, and her reaction to the backpackers in Vilcabamba, Peru are two examples that made me laugh, even as I knew (hoped) they weren't typical.

The most vivid descriptions are about one of her companions, Amalia. As I read about her, I couldn't help but think that Lois should have had TravMonkey's list of ways to ditch your travel mate. Of course, as soon as I think Lois can't possibly take any more of Amalia, something horrible happens, and I'm left feeling awful for my uncharitable thoughts.

As if to prove her philosophy that a road trip isn't about being somewhere, after 286 pages describing her journey, Lois writes one paragraph about being in Ushuaia. If you are looking for a great story of adventure on the road, I recommend this book. If you want to read about the places on Lois' route, I'd look elsewhere.

From other travel blogs:
Vagablogging has another review of Lois on the Loose, and Justin Glow has an interview with Lois on Gadling.