U.S. Route 99 by Michael Newlon

route 99U.S. Route 99 by Michael R Newlon is yet another coffee table, travel book in his series—this one just as stunning and interesting as the rest. As always, Newlon uses photographs to set the mood of his trip and get the reader excited to begin. He begins this time with a photo of Cadillac Jacks in Sun Valley, California. Seeing the historic building puts the reader in a nostalgic mood and indicates that this trip will be one full of beauty and historical significance. And, as is his usual, he provides a photo of the vehicle that makes it all possible…this time parked beside a Historic Route 99 sign, putting the reader in the mood for a drive.

Before getting on the road, Newlon gives the reader a little backstory and some pertinent information. He starts with the Porsche. As the original owner of the 1969 Porsche 912, Newlon drove the car for a decade before storing it for almost three decades. When retirement rolled around, he decided to get the car a complete rebuild and chassis overhaul, perfect for long-distance highway cruising. Newlon then takes the time to explain highway terminology and signage. For those readers who do not know much about highways or traveling, this is a welcome little detour. A final interesting tidbit is about the maps he uses throughout the book. He explains that they are from a 1959 atlas. The reader will enjoy Newlon’s use of maps because they are augmented with information bubbles. These bubbles contain not only pertinent trip information, but also point out how the current alignment is different from the one the reader would see today. This is helpful to the reader who needs a visual aid to understand the twists, turns, and changes the highway takes.

The body of the work details Newlon’s terminus to terminus trip, starting at the Mexican border in Calexico, California and ending at the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington. U.S. Route 99 was actually decommissioned in the 1970s for reasons such as signage confusion and safety issues, but Newlon drives the “full surviving length,” which is now made up by mostly state highways. Despite this change, he finds the original 1926 alignment still mostly intact. Along the way, he reports such historic sites as former location of ancient Lake Cahuilla, Cadillac Jacks and the Pink Motel, and the town of Yreka. As can happen on any trip, alongside beautiful scenery, Newlon also runs into less than favorable weather and requires an unexpected pit stop before reaching his destination…only to turn around and begin another journey.

Once again, being a passenger in Newlon’s Porsche is an absolute pleasure. His book is both intellectually and aesthetically pleasing. Being photo-heavy and text-light, Newlon conveys a large amount of information in a small space. The reader will learn a lot about U.S. Route 99 and highways in general. The photographs are both beautiful and informative. Newlon writes an interesting travel book that is peppered with his humorous point of view about the things he sees. Because Route 99 was decommissioned, Newlon becomes a detective of sorts, searching for signs of the old route and noting how the highway and towns evolved side-by-side. This is not just a travel book, it is also a work of art, a history, and a practical guide rolled into one interesting and humorous package.

U.S. Route 99

Travel America’s “Pacific Highway” in a Classic 1969 Porsche 912

Michael R Newlon

Copyright 2010

http://www.highwaytripbooks.com/

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U.S. Route 95 by Michael Newlon

route 95U.S. Route 95 by Michael R Newlon is another in his series of coffee table, travel books. In this installment, Newlon and his 1969 Porsche 912 travel along U.S. Route 95, or as it is also called, “Desolation Highway.” Before Newlon takes the reader along for the ride, he explains his relationship with his car, which is truly the protagonist in all of his books. Being the original owner of the 1969 Porsche, he had the advantage of knowing that everything came factory-installed, which makes it easy to know inside and out. After storing the Porsche for decades, Newlon decided to modernize the vehicle for long-distance highway cruising. The first few pages of his book detail this process further, and he includes pictures that the “highway geek” will enjoy.

One thing Newlon does to prepare the reader for the trip is to explain highway terminology. For those readers who do not know much about highways or traveling, this is a welcome little detour. He also notes the High Priority Corridor system in progress, which explains all the construction he sees along Route 95. One last piece of information he shares before beginning the journey is about the maps he uses throughout the book. He explains that the maps are scanned images from a 1959 oil company road atlas. An interesting detail is that they do not contain a single Interstate Highway; if someone wanted to travel back in 1959, it had to be done on U.S. highways. The reader will enjoy Newlon’s use of maps because they are augmented with information bubbles. These bubbles contain not only pertinent trip information, but also point out how the current alignment is different from the one the reader would see today. This is helpful to the reader who needs a visual aid to understand the twists, turns, and changes the highway takes.

The body of the work details Newlon’s terminus to terminus trip on U.S. Route 95. The 1,574-mile drive begins at the U.S./Mexican border at San Luis, Arizona and continues northbound to the U.S./Canadian border at Eastport, Idaho. During the journey, Newlon shares with the reader site highlights in each state, such as the Colorado River, Wyatt Earp’s mines, and a hotel in Goldfield Nevada where President Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech. The “highway geek” will particularly enjoy this book because Newlon spends quite a bit of time detailing how the highway is changing from its original alignment. He includes many pictures showing old roads, construction zones, and places where the highway is co-signed with other roads.

U.S. Route 95 is aptly named “Desolation Highway.” A majority of the road is simply open asphalt with no car in sight. “Highway geeks” will enjoy learning about the process to rebuild Newlon’s Porsche as well as his in-depth look at how the highway evolves. The average reader will enjoy the beautiful photos of gorgeous scenery as well as the practical advice Newlon peppers throughout the piece. For example, when Newlon encounters a snowstorm on the way to Oregon, he explains the maintenance needed to make sure his car is highway ready. Even though U.S. Route 95 may not be as exciting as other U.S. routes, Newlon’s book is still enjoyable and useful to both the “highway geek” and the average reader.

U.S. Route 95

Travel America’s “Desolation Highway” in a Classic 1969 Porsche 912

Michael R Newlon

Copyright 2009

http://www.highwaytripbooks.com/

He Called Her “Hat” by Myron McDonald

He Called Her ‘Hat’…is the transcription of a memoir by Myron McDonald that he wrote about his childhood, but most importantly, his grandmother.  It begins with a foreward by the editor, Dorothy May Mercer, who explains that she left most of the manuscript as she found it because she did not want to destroy Myron’s voice.  This memoir is a first-hand account of life in a different era as well as a character description of one of the strongest women in Myron’s life.

Each chapter of the book describes a different aspect or different event in Myron’s life…all related to his grandmother.  He describes life on the farm during the harvest, the first appearance of the Model T, and even some social aspects of his grandmother’s time, the early 1900s.  His portrait of Hattie is one of deference, love, and humor.  He describes her as a woman whose second husband is twenty years her junior, and yet she has the vitality to not only keep pace with him, but surpass him a time or two.  Throughout Myron’s tale, the reader learns that his grandmother is full of strength and dedication; she is a woman who was brought up to take care of herself and those around her.

The stories that Myron relate are varied. Some are humorous tales, some are descriptions of hardships, and some are downright emotional.  Although it is a short novel, by the end, the reader is so familiar with Hattie that Myron’s last chapter provokes a strong reaction.

He Called Her ‘Hat’…is not a traditional novel.  It reads as a memoir, but the stories do not seem to be in any sort of chronological order.  It is not a narrative per se, but a character study of Myron’s grandmother and an account of her life as it intertwined with his.  As a result, the novel is choppy and sometimes hard to follow because the reader wonders what pertinent details he may have missed between years.  Also, some of the vocabulary is old-fashioned, which can be difficult to understand, but ultimately adds to the feel of the piece.  Overall, the reader will enjoy this manuscript as it is a first-hand historical account with a vivacious, strong female lead.