Road Trips for Readers
Road Trips for Readers
No matter where I travel, I carry a book. Once, when I looked up from a novel I was reading, in which Munich was being bombed into blackened, skeletal remains, I saw a road sign that read, “Willkommen in München.“ I was shocked. Green trees, living people and fully erect buildings stood in direct contrast to the city I had been visiting in the paperback pages in my hand. The pure confusion of being simultaneously lost in a tale and seeing reality made me swoon.
I was in love with the concept of traveling to see places in books, so I started a list of travel spots made famous by books. Chincoteague Island, the Stanley Hotel, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little town on the prairie – their names all went down in my notebook. Willa Cather’s Nebraska, Hemmingway’s Keys, King’s cemeteries – the list grew.
On a travel writers’ tour through southeast South Dakota, I met an online travel editor who owned a series of websites about travel, including Road Trips for Families, Road Trips for Couples, Road Trips for Beer, Road Trips for Foodies and others. By the end of our journey together, I was reading their online magazines with every Wi-Fi hookup I could find in rural South Dakota. As we parted, I said, “Let me know if you ever want to do Road Trips for Readers.”
A couple weeks later, the editor called me and one of my writing dreams got crossed off my list. I began the online travel magazine, Road Trips for Readers, right away. No, I don’t get to visit every location or city I write about, but I do get to some of the places, crossing them off my “dream list.”
Yes, the Stanley Hotel really did make me shiver and the prairie in DeSmet, South Dakota, home of the Little Town on the Prairie books, made me weep with awe. I’ve met authors, talked to publishers, and the best part – people mail me their books! No, it’s not all book heaven. I also deal with scam emails, pfishing and all kinds of crazies who want me to “exchange links.” (Sure, I want to “exchange links” with your site promoting your tire cleaning solution.)
It’s the thrill of the next trip, the next interview with the curator of an author’s home and the next novel I get to live inside, that keep me writing.
Thea Miller Ryan is the online editor of Road Trips for Readers at www.roadtripsforreaders.com. She spends her days as the director of The Outdoor Campus, a nature center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where kids can get dirty outdoors and learn to fish, camp, hunt, kayak and canoe. She enjoys writing, reading anything she can get her hands on, and volunteering with the South Dakota Festival of Books and The Big Read.