This past week was our annual camping and gold mining trip to the beautiful Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon. Our friend Mike's family has maintained claims on Eagle Creek for decades, and my partner Ed and I have been spending a week or two camping and mining with him for about 15 years. There's always a gaggle of great friends, lots of incredible wine, fantastic gourmet food and beautiful scenery. I've posted photos from this year on my flickr page.
With no cell phone or Blackberry coverage, each year presents a real opportunity for all participants to "get away." I suppose it's appropriate that Ed and I travel in the Get-Away Van. With the successful independent and corporate businesspeople in our group of campers, the vacation usually becomes an informal business incubator and therapy session as well.
The greatest pleasure of the trip for me is taking along the stack of magazines and books that have been gathering dust on my nightstand. This year I got to read four books during the week.
Having spent time around Florence, Italy on several previous vacations, the book The Monster of Florence, by Douglas Preston, was an interesting - and perhaps a bit gruesome - account of a serial killer case that baffled authorities in the region for many years. It presents a fascinating tale of how the Italian legal and investigative work and don't work. Continuing on the Italian theme, I read The Lady in the Palazzo: At Home in Umbria by Marlena de Blasi. Her graphic descriptions of Umbria took me back to 1999 when Ed, myself and eight friends rented a villa outside of Perugia for a month. The book was a great follow-up to her previous volumes 1000 Days in Venice and 1000 Days in Tuscany.
Several travel books always seem to be a major part of any of my traveling "libraries" and this trip was no exception. I found myself laughing out loud throughout J. Maarten Troost's latest book Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid. I had similar reactions to his previous efforts The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific and Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu - reads on earlier trips.
Popular mysteries or thrillers are usually part of the vacation mix as well. This time it was Executive Privilege, by Portland author Phillip Margolin. The book was enjoyable, face-paced (big print) and somewhat predictable - a really good vacation read. Margolin, an attorney, is someone I've met several times. We kept getting introduced to each other when he shared office space with my former business lawyer.
I did get a little off track there with my book mentions. Getting back to the gold mining - we did find gold. We always do on these adventures. However, we're not getting rich. I think I'll be keeping my day job.
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