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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Outdoor Memoir Delights in ‘Trip Tales’

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Trip Tales:

From Family Camping to Life as a Ranger

By: Rosanne S. McHenry

Published by: Huntley Avenue Press, 2021

Genre: Non-Fiction – Memoir/Outdoor Recreation/Wilderness Areas/Hiking/Anecdotes/Women park ranger/Humor.

Pages: 274, with Index.

Kimber: Psssst! Can you zip your lip, bub? Good. Cuz I’m gonna let you in on a little secret today: One of us has always wanted to be a park ranger.

That’s probably cuz her dad was a seasonal park ranger at Mount Rainer National Park in Washington state when she was a young’un. You know. Shortly after the earth’s crust cooled. Aka: Older than dirt. (Hi, Mom.)

So when Her Momness saw Trip Tales at the library recently, it just sort of jumped right off the shelf and into her book bag. You know how some books do that, right? I’ll let Mom tell you more (quotes from the book):

When the going gets tough, the tough take a nap.

While this bright, breezy memoir will appeal to outdoor lovers and adventurers, readers of a certain demographic will especially enjoy this lively look back at lessons learned on family camping trips throughout the West Coast and Canada in the 1960s and 1970s. They were the basis for the author’s desire to become a park ranger.

Chrisi slept like an angel, the little monster.

Two Parts

Structurally, Trip Tales is divided into two parts. Part I is a retrospective look at Family Camping and Outdoor Adventures. Part II is The Road to Ranger Land.

Always the sensible fellow.

Part I

Part One is a charming and delicious coming-of-age tale in which the author recounts the uncertain joys of family camping in a metal trailer, a canvas tent trailer, a motorhome, and with a BYO picnic table.

It chronicles big adventures – often with hilarious side trips – to state and national parks, beaches, and encounters with poison oak, voracious racoons, greedy chipmunks, curious bears, and berry picking. To name a few.

There’s also “OUCH!” and “potentially perilous journeys” that were intercepted and nipped in the bud by Dad. Ditto the effects of “progress” on the natural world. And:

The best way to prevent forest fires is by not setting your own feet on fire.

Part II

“If you choose a job you love you will never have to work a day in your life.” This observation appears on page 95 and sets the stage for Part II: The Road to Ranger Land. This part takes readers on a journey of discovery into what it’s like to be a park ranger, how to get there, and what it was like to be a female park ranger at a time when the field was dominated by men. Also lessons learned, like:

  • “Never, ever give your original work to someone else for review. Give them a copy.”
  • A skunk family and “other duties as assigned.”

Takes Off

But the story Really Takes Off around page 203. Here the author tells us about her arrival at Mount Rainier National Park as a summer seasonal ranger. (Yep. That park! One of us was turning cartwheels. Ohanapecosh! Rampart Ridge! Sunrise! White River! Paradise, Carter Falls, Cougar Rock! Btw, it’s not “the adjacent bubbling springs meadows” in Longmire. P. 205. It’s “Longmire Meadow.” Hello?)

See? Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park. September 2022.

An Unexpected Treat

What an unexpected treat to revisit some of our well-loved Mount Rainier haunts. In fact, we grabbed this book less than two weeks after returning from our latest Mount Rainier trip. How cool is that?

Saturated with joy, whimsy, and reflection, Trip Tales packs prodigious storytelling skills into colorful chapters that are brief, pithy and easy to digest. It’s a delightful read that’s warm and witty. Clever and catchy. Entertaining. Educational. Imminently engaging.

We loved it.  

One last question: Is Older Than Dirt too old to become a park ranger? “Askin’ for a friend.”

Our Rating: 4.5

4 thoughts on “Outdoor Memoir Delights in ‘Trip Tales’

  1. I used to want to be a ranger too. I used to work for the Park Service, but not as a ranger. This sounds like a wonderful book.

  2. Your review is engaging and witty, Eowyn! You have a real gift.

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