Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Guest Blogger: Beth Smith, Author of Water Water All Around

“Water Water All Around” is a series of adventures by a lone senior woman kayaker. Each of the nine European countries that sport waterways across their surface from sea to sea is incorporated here as individual challenges. Very little is left out of the daily entries so that the kayaker or cyclist or the walker can easily follow the dialog or the maps at the chapter heads to find their way across the chosen country. But this is not a travel guide. It is a true adventure fraught with difficulties apart from actual paddling and not excluding equipment failure. It is about endurance and dogged determination—about fear, frustration, and fatigue and about wrong turns and wrong decisions. It’s all here candidly presented and mixed with a glimpse of the countryside.

The Story Behind Water Water All Around
by Beth Smith

I never really intended to write "Water Water All Around," even though I did keep a daily log of the journeys with my kayak across the nine European countries. The log was mainly for me to relax in the evenings and try and remember what I had just been through. Sometimes that was meant to avoid mistakes. Sometimes just to revisualize the countryside I had passed through. What motivated me to finally sit down and put my trials and tribulations on paper was the persistent questions of friends and acquaintances about the mechanics of the whole process from planning to execution. They also wanted to know if I had a blog or if my trips were written up somewhere. I couldn’t answer yes to even the questions of what the reporters I encountered along the way said about what I was doing.

When asked, “Which was the best country?” How could I answer? Each of the nine countries had its own character. I explained that England and Ireland gave me history lessons. The shortest, and therefore, supposedly the easiest was Scotland, even though I went in the peak of summer and had trouble finding lodgings. Denmark didn’t cooperate with good weather. Sweden, I should have started in the opposite direction, as I had to try and paddle upstream for some time before reaching the first lake; but the scenery from any direction was magnificent. Germany was long and grueling. Greece and Turkey gave me a cultural lesson, and France, a lesson in gastronomy.

Since we’re on the subject of lessons, I learned I wasn’t really ready to take on such arduous tasks… not because I was not physically fit for a senior citizen, but maybe more planning would have been a help. Even though I had a canal guide for most of the countries I still got lost and turned around, so as I wrote the book I tried to lay down the course and as much of the incidentals, like where to stop to find food or lodgings that I could. Even though the book is not a travel guide this, I thought, would make it easier for anyone to follow.

My goal was really to inspire other seniors and the recreational kayaker to try and enjoy a foreign trip even if they didn’t make it all across a country. In this respect all the journeys would be worth it. Traveling is enlightening no matter how it’s done, but kayaking is slow motion touring that affords one the opportunity to meet the locals.

Born and raised in California, Beth Smith still makes her home near the water of San Francisco Bay. Visit her online at http://bethsmithbooks.com/

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