The Buachaille: Queen of Scotland’s Mountains

If you consider yourself a mountain aficionado, then the Buachaille Etive Mor might make you forget your other loves. Poised at the entrance to Scotland’s Glen Coe, The Buachaille, as Munro-baggers refer to it, is a highlight of the West Highland Way, should the weather permit it to show off. This photo of Sue on one of our favorite treks holds a special place in my memories of 1,100 miles of backpacking in six countries. The Buachaille and the West Highland Way are among the featured characters in my second book, coming soon.

The West Highland Way: A Scottish Treasure

Scotland’s West Highland Way has become one of the world’s most popular long-distance treks. Sue and I used Charlie Loram’s guidebook to plan our 96-mile walk from Milngavie (Mul-guy) to Fort William. We started in Glasgow, adding 10 miles to the official path.

Loram’s 53 hand-drawn maps were our favorite feature and the guide goes well beyond the usual narrative with many pages of information about accommodation (including camping), food, weather, and much more.

Paul Bissett’s journal of his Highlands walk, From Milngavie to Midges, would work well as a companion to Loram’s guidebook. Bissett completed the walk in just six days and admits he should have taken longer. He offers alternative itineraries and websites that would help hikers plan their walk. His narrative is an easy and quick read.

If you are as fortunate as we were with Scotland’s unpredictable weather, the Highlands walk will unveil spectacular scenery unlike any other. And, if you want to keep going, the Great Glen Way extends the trek to Inverness along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness.

Van Life: Book Answers “Why?” and “How To?”

I congratulate Bob Wells for his practical, approachable book, How to Live in a Car, Van or RV.

At a time when van life is sweeping America as well as other parts of the world, the author presents how-to advice for those who want to live on the road. From where to park to how to install electrical power, Bob Wells’ narrative is straightforward. He covers philosophical and financial issues and van lovers will especially be drawn to the book for its practical information. He discusses life in cars and RVs, but the focus is on van life.

I prefer the comforts of my small travel trailer, but I enjoyed Wells’ story and could relate to many of the issues he covers, except, thankfully, weathering two divorces. He has gained fame through his popular YouTube channel, CheapRVLiving. Wells admits making many mistakes and taking risks he doesn’t recommend during his years living in vans.

In the past year or so, I have read three other books with the living-in-a-vehicle theme. Here are links to two of my reviews:

Walden on Wheels, by Ken Ilgunas; and Nomadland, by Jessica Bruder. I did not review Living in an RV, by Alyssa Padgett, but I recommend all three books as well as Bob Wells’ offering, which was published in 2012.

A 100-Year-Old Man Does the Unthinkable(s)

On his 100th birthday, Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of his Swedish nursing home and makes a run for it. Actually, as most people his age would do, he shuffles off to an adventure that leaves readers to decide if he is a hero or a bumbling fool.

Take a deep breath for the title: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson. Karlsson’s daring escape from his caretakers quickly becomes the least surprising of his actions in this ridiculous, but charming story. His life becomes linked with an unlikely collection of co-conspirators, shady criminals, and law enforcement officers. Millions of crowns, several killings, explosions and an elephant named Sonya all play roles.

If you are a history buff, you may be intrigued by his connections to Harry Truman, Mao Tse-tung, General Franco and Joseph Stalin. And explosives. Then there is his role in the development of nuclear weaponry.

At the beginning of the story, I turned pages as fast as I could. I got bogged down a few times in the flashbacks to his earlier exploits, told in perhaps too much detail. But if I live to be 100, I know I will share Allan Karlsson’s desire to do the unexpected, to defy those who think they have me figured out. I just hope those who follow me are as curious about my fate as I was about Allan Karlsson’s.