This is the month when we begin celebrating the holidays in the traditional American way by urging you to pump up the economy by buying something for someone.
In this issue, we offer gift ideas that we think would please RVers, but since the people who travel in RVs are such a diverse bunch, that’s a really broad category. So what we wind up doing is spotlighting products that have some connection to camping or are different, or at least interesting, for one reason or another.
One of our Holiday Gift Guide products this year, for example, is a device to help you take better selfie pictures. Now, I am not sure how many RVers take selfies, and I’m not sure why people take a selfie when they could hand their smartphone or camera to a bystander to click the shutter. But since people insist on taking selfies, why not make them better?
That’s where the iStabilizer monopod comes in. It’s like a tripod you can hold in your hand and, in effect, make you arm three feet longer. So instead of taking a photo at an impossibly close angle with accompanying distortion, you can take the photo from a decent distance. Seems like a good idea to me, though not as good an idea as enlisting the aid of a passing stranger. You can read more about the iStabilizer monopod and many other gift ideas on the next page.
Art on Fire
I am old fashioned enough to think that books—real books not those words on a screen but words on paper encased with a sturdy cover—are a great gift. And for the holidays, it’s especially nice to make a present of a coffee table book with big beautiful photographs.
I have never been to the Burning Man gathering in Nevada, and it’s highly unlikely that I will ever make the trip but I feel I have experienced the event through the remarkable photographs in a coffee table book called Burning Man: Art on Fire. Author Jennifer Raiser and photographers Sidney Erthal and Scott London have brilliantly captured the bizarre art that is created when 70,000 strangers bring their creativity and passion to the harsh climate of the high desert.
The book shows us a gigantic 10-story tower that was erected in four days and was strong enough to support thousands of people who climbed to the top. We see a 35-foot tall version of a Rubik’s Cube with 684 LED lights rigged to give the illusion of a turning motion as the puzzle is solved. And we see an incredible assemblage of weird vehicles in the shapes of strange creatures and objects of fantasy. Through its photographs, this book provides an enduring record of transitory feats of artistic expression and technological innovation that have made Burning Man a cultural phenomenon. (Burning Man: Art of Fire; Race Point Publishing, $35)
The Mother Road
If Burning Man is too strange and absurd for anyone on your gift list, you might turn to one of the many books that have been written about Route 66. If the recipient is of a certain age, it is hard to go wrong with the gift of nostalgia.
The 66 Kid is a new contribution to the lore of the Mother Road, and it is more than the usual assemblage of historic photos and memorabilia. Author Bob Bose Bell grew up along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona, in the 1950s and ‘60s and he entwines Route 66 history with a memoir that brings that era vividly to life.
Bell is the publisher of True West magazine and an accomplished author and artist. He illustrates his book with his own watercolor paintings and family photos along with Route 66 photos and maps and an assortment of advertisements from the 1950s and ‘60s. He writes about his father, who ran gas stations along Route 66, his family’s connections to outlaws and a childhood that went from Little League to junior high dances to being drummer in a rock band. Cars with tailfins, girls with beehive hairdos, boys with flattops, cowboys and gas station con men all make appearances in this pit stop along Route 66. (The 66 Kid; Voyageur Press, $30)
The 66 Kid captures what it felt like to grow up in Kingman 50 years ago, but if you are looking for a more straightforward source of information on Route 66, you might turn to another author from Kingman, Jim Hinckley, whose latest work is The Illustrated Route 66 Historical Atlas.
His new book contains fold-out maps for each state along the highway and tells the story of the road’s history from its opening in 1926 as the main route from Chicago to Los Angeles until its removal from the U.S. highway system in 1985. This book has just been published and I haven’t read it yet, but I don’t hesitate to recommend it, based on Hinckley’s earlier books, including The Route 66 Encyclopedia, a compilation of everything you could possibly want to know about Route 66. (The Route 66 Encyclopedia and The Illustrated Route 66 Historical Atlas are both published by Voyageur Press at $40)
If you or the person you are buying a gift for is a golfer, there is another book option in this month’s RV Golfer column. The book tells the story of how a comparatively new golf course in Washington state landed the 2015 U.S. Open. You will find this book and other golf-related gift items described by columnist Rick Stedman on Page 24.
Write to Mike Ward, editor at RV Life magazine, 18717 76th Avenue West, Suite B, Lynnwood, WA 98037 or e-mail email@example.com. Find “First Glance” online at rvlife.com.