I just finished the travel book Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage. I think it is one of the best travel books I have ever read and I have read quite a few. Barbara and her husband Larry decide to ride their bicycles around the world in 1978 and 1979. They begin from their home in Santa Barbara, California and head north to Victoria Island in Canada. They ride across Canada, down the east coast of the USA then leave for Europe. From Europe they head to Egypt, India, Malaysia and finally New Zealand before going home again
In the end they travelled 22,000 miles. What is so interesting about this book is that it was written 40 years ago. Long before the internet and looking everything up on google. They describe hardship, joy and weather as if the reader is right beside them experiencing everything.
They don’t shy away from their extremely difficult experiences travelling, especially in Egypt at the time. They go days with little food at times, get incredibly sick; they camp out most of the time unless it wasn’t safe. They ride through extreme heat, cold and even snow.
The fact they stayed together as a married couple and actually survived this trip was admirable. Several times they were in very dangerous circumstances. They shared their joy at travelling in New Zealand.
The reader is introduced to many people, places and the most interesting owners of accommodation and cafes.
It is a book that is hard to put down but the most moving part of this book (and this is not a spoiler as it was stated at the very beginning) is when, once home again, after all their experiences, Barbara is training for a marathon on her bicycle, is hit by a car and dies of a head injury. It is absolutely heartbreaking.
She wrote her book once home and sent it to the publisher just before 1983, then was killed and never saw it published. Her husband Larry made sure it was published and I later learned he remarried again in 1985. This couple went through so much together I couldn’t believe it once I finished and reflected on her death.
I would give this book a 5 star rating. There is enough history but not too much, enough suspense, enough joy balanced throughout. If you like travel writing I cannot recommend this book enough.