Are You Ready to Ramble?

The days are getting longer, temperatures are warming, and I even spotted some little green buds on the trees in my yard this past weekend. To some of you, this means one thing—summer road trip season is nearly upon us! Many Americans venture out on the roads each summer by piling the family into the minivan or wagon à la Clark Griswold and exploring our nation’s treasures, from beaches and forests to national monuments and national parks. There’s a whole world out there and plenty to see, but sometimes it can be difficult to pick your route and narrow down the sites to visit. And sometimes you are looking for a different kind of road trip…

Eric Peterson and his Ramble books, including Ramble: A Field Guide to the U.S.A .(978-1-933108-08-8), Ramble Colorado (978-1-933108-19-3), Ramble Texas (978-1-933108-28-5), and Ramble California (978-1-933108-20-9), could be just the resources to turn to as you start planning your next offbeat rolling adventure. In these “wanderer’s guides to the offbeat, overlooked, and outrageous,” Peterson leads readers to the wild and wacky road stops, restaurants, motels, and cafés that one might miss using a standard travel book. Peterson, a Denver-based seasoned and highly entertaining travel writer, captures the must-sees across the US and shares quirky tales that will make you feel different when you take trips in the future. Fulcrum recently caught up with Eric, and he shared memories of his first road trip, his process for writing the Ramble series books, and advice for newbie road-trippers.

You say that you’ve been traveling since you were first born—what is your first or most humorous road trip memory from childhood?


Eric: My family took a lot of Chevy Chase–style cross-country vacations when I was a kid. The first road trip memory I have is a grappling with Paul Bunyan’s boots a toddler in Bemidji, Minnesota. I came up to his big toe. My most humorous road trip memory involved an April Fool’s Day joke: my sister Arin roused me from bed in New York City by announcing the presence of a frog in the shower. I was about eight at the time, and nothing got me going quite like a frog.

How did the idea come about for the Ramble series?


Eric: I was working for a mass-market guidebook, inspecting hotels and motels in the Pacific Northwest, when it struck me that I never stayed at the places I inspected, but of course I was attracted to the nearest roadside oddities that weren’t covered in that particular guidebook. The lack of a point of view in some travel books also struck me as backward, because traveling is such a personal—and definitively human—experience. So I cobbled together a concept of a first-person guidebook focused on the bizarre and unusual. That was about a decade before Ramble: A Field Guide to the U.S.A. was published.

What kind of research did you have to do for the books, and how did you happen to find all these wacky places across the US?


Eric: I always start out with as many library books on the state in question as I can carry home, a state map, and a bunch of little circular stickers so I can mark places I want to check out. Next comes thousands and thousands of miles of driving, biking, walking, and stumbling to all manner of offbeat attractions. But the best research always happens unexpectedly on the road, when I accidentally discover something I had no idea even existed.

What is the most outrageous place you have rambled to?


Eric: That’s a tough one. Places that come to mind include (but are not limited to) the top of High Dune in the Great Sand Dunes (Colorado), the bottom of Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley (California), a barstool at the Meet Rack (Tucson, Arizona), and Gibsonton, Florida, long a winter haven for sideshow performers and carnies. The whole town is just a little off.

As someone who has road-tripped and traveled professionally for many years, what advice do you have for families or individuals looking to embark on their first road trip?


Eric: Exit the interstate and explore the back roads. Park the car and lace up your boots. And take your time getting home.

Do you have a dream state or geographic area that you’d like to write about for a next book in the Ramble series?

Eric: I’d love to cover New York, then maybe Minnesota and Tennessee. Or Europe. Europe would be a lot of fun.

Staff Picks: Our Favorite Fulcrum Outdoor Titles

Canine Colorado: Where to Go and What to Do with Your Dog, Third Edition

By Cindy Hirschfeld

Have you ever been at the park and seen a large dog running free only to be quickly leashed when the owner realizes that he is not alone? Owners can save themselves the fine and embarrassment of being caught by picking up a copy of Canine Colorado. It has hundreds of recommendations across the state for pet-friendly activities and will even let you know where naked pups are given a green light.

Jack Lenzo is the designer at Fulcrum. He appreciates looking out his window and seeing mountains instead of cornfields and bumper stickers that are thoughtful enough to say Naive instead of Native. Some of his favorite projects have been ones that have overlapped with and informed his own experiences in the West.

Roadside Bicycle Repair: A Pocket Manifesto

By Sam Tracy

I sure do love Roadside Bicycle Repair: A Pocket Manifesto by Sam Tracy. I tool around on a sweet cherry red 21-speed Giant that I call Madam Chomp (named after her hunger for my pant legs), and this little guide is a great resource to keep her (and your bike!) on the road and out of the bike shop. Particularly for those hard cycling days, when the fate of the world rests on your wheels, and you’ve zombies and robotic wolves on your tail, you’re gonna want these quick and handy instructions by your side to fix that flat tire or wonky brake pad.

Dani Perea is the marketing and sales associate at Fulcrum Publishing. Ever since working in a comic shop as a young sprout, she has enjoyed selling fantastic books to wonderful people. When she’s not wearing her sales and marketing top hat, she enjoys punk rock, a rousing game of tumbleweed chasin’, and gazing at vast desert skies filled with stars, preferably all at once.

Brothers on the Bashkaus: A Siberian Paddling Adventure  

By Eugene Buchanan

Outdoor adventure is relative. To one person, a bicycle ride on groomed trails with his four-year-old child is an adventure. To another, adventure is a five-day hike in the desert with trails fading away between strategically placed cairns. For me, adventure is rafting white water in America’s West.  I’ve done multiday trips on the Yampa, the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Green, and the Colorado. In my favorite outdoor book published by Fulcrum, Brothers on the Bashkaus, adventure is raised to a level few people will ever experience.
In 1993, four Americans ran the Bashkaus River, one of the hardest white-water runs in all Siberia. Their story is told in Eugene Buchanan’s Brothers on the Bashkaus: A Siberian Paddling Adventure. Class V rapids, isolation, food shortages, and equipment improvisations were all part of the amazing journey made by the Americans and their ten Latvian companions. From rafts made from old germ-warfare suits to lifejackets stitched together from soccer balls and wine bladders, river running in the former Soviet Union was not for the timid. Along the way, they dealt with everything from language barriers to armed horsemen and rapids lined with memorials to those who perished before them. They soon found that the river creates a common bond regardless of race, religion, or nationality—a bond in which a group of strangers truly come together as brothers.

Ingrid Estell is Fulcrum’s special sales manager and places Fulcrum’s titles with museums, state and national park stores, and many others. In her time away from the office, she enjoys skiing, hiking, and white-water rafting. And, unlike the Bashkaus rafters, has yet to eat pork fat to survive on a river trip.

Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway: An Epoch Tale of a Scientist and an Artist on the Ultimate 5,000-Mile Paleo Road Trip

By Kirk Johnson
Illustrated by Ray Troll

Not only is it an informative and fascinating read, the colorful illustrations are wonderful. I find it helpful to refer to after my trips to Dinosaur Ridge fossil trail, near Morrison, Colorado. There’s a lot of information for fossil lovers in this book.

Patty Maher has been with Fulcrum for twenty years and has seen in progress or worked on many of the Fulcrum titles. Having worked in many capacities, including production manager, book designer, and website designer, she is currently working with special projects that Fulcrum is involved in or has launched. She enjoys the West and living in Colorado.

Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink

By Mitch Tobin

Because I grew up in the Southwest, issues like water use, urban sprawl, and species vulnerability are just a part of my lexicon. They also turned into white noise for me for several years, until I read Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink. Award-winning journalist Mitch Tobin spent nearly seven years writing about and crisscrossing this region, searching for wildlife driven to the brink of extinction and solutions to the crisis, and using firsthand accounts to show why so many species are at risk of extinction. This book is not only important, it is incredibly well written, engaging, and hopeful. I think anyone who lives in or has an interest in the environment and the Southwest will gain much from this book.

Katie O’Neill is the marketing manager at Fulcrum. She believes her interest in marketing dates back to childhood: her mom would hold neighborhood garage sales and Katie was responsible for “signage and mingling.” She is happy, though, to now be marketing books and not her old clothes, Barbie dolls, and the O’Neill family’s furniture.

Ramble: A Field Guide to the U.S.A.

By Eric Peterson

Ramble California: A Wanderer’s Guide to the Offbeat, Overlooked, and Outrageous

By Eric Peterson

Ramble Texas: A Wanderer’s Guide to the Offbeat, Overlooked, and Outrageous

By Eric Peterson

Ramble Colorado: A Wanderer’s Guide to the Offbeat, Overlooked, and Outrageous

By Eric Peterson

I love Eric Peterson’s Ramble series, comprising Ramble U.S.A., Ramble California, Ramble Texas, and Ramble Colorado. My husband and I have taken some really fun and memorable road trips over the years, and I’ve found it’s not as easy as you would think to find those off-the-beaten-path stops that Peterson has such a knack for discovering. Reading the Ramble guides sparks my desire to get out on the road and explore new territory again. Peterson’s voice is honest, engaging, and hilarious, and his books will lead you to places you never would have found. If you are looking to take a road trip or if you just want to hop in the car and explore a new corner of your state over the weekend, I recommend picking up a Ramble guide. Filled with color photos, stats and facts, and suggestions for restaurants, hotels, beautiful spots, and attractions in each city, these books are highly entertaining and very useful. Ramble on…

Brynn Flaherty recently joined Fulcrum as the marketing assistant.  She is excited to start a new career in publishing after attending the Denver Publishing Institute in 2009 and, for the past year, working as an events manager at a wonderful independent bookstore in Aspen, Colorado.  In her spare time, Brynn loves to snowboard, hike, travel, cook, drink good beer and cheap wine, and keep her two rambunctious pups exercised in some way.