Archive for May 3rd, 2007

Never in History Has It Been Easier to Learn About Geography

May 3, 2007 @ 1:14 pm | Filed under:

There’s a new project underway here in the Lilting House, and Jane and I are very excited about it. I suppose it was natural that we should yearn for something fun to replace the happy hours we’ve been spending on the Journey North Mystery Class, now that (sob!) that project is over for another year. (Although Jane and her pal E. do plan to have one last hurrah with it, finishing off their graphs and discussing the big reveal.)

We’ve been hanging on the adventures-around-the-globe of our beloved friend Keri, who (thanks to a great wireless connection) was able to email us a long, juicy letter about her travels in China and is now in Tibet. Tibet! We flew over there on Google Earth, but she doesn’t show up on the satellite photos. Yet.

Keri’s voyage inspired us to look up a copy of early-20th-century traveler Richard Halliburton‘s book, The Royal Road to Romance. When it first arrived, we couldn’t resist jumping right to the Thailand chapter, since that’s where Keri was at the time. But this week we started it properly, from the beginning.

Halliburton is a funny guy, writing in a rather purple style to make fun of his own overblown romantic notions of adventure—and yet, though he mocks himself, he’s serious, too. For this young Princeton grad, the lands across the sea beckon with a siren song full of promise and mystery and adventure. His writing reminds me of L.M. Montgomery. By the time he and his college roommate finally land jobs as entry-level seamen (having first been forced to grow out their sharp Ivy League haircuts and lay hold of some scruffy clothes, salting their speech so as to pass for actual sailors—albeit with a "hire these kids" letter from the president of the shipping co in their pockets, just in case the disguise fails), the girls and I were hooked. This is going to be a mighty fun read.

And to pile on the fun, we discovered a nifty Google Maps feature that lets you plot a course on a map, with annotations. Thus our new project, the Romantic Journey of Richard Halliburton, a Work in Progress! Ain’t the internets swell?