1 April 2014

Lost in My Own Backyard, by Tim Cahill

Posted by Callan Bentley

cahlostOn Saturday of this past weekend, I led a field trip to Sideling Hill and Paw Paw Tunnel, and on the (1.5+.75+1.5=) 3.75 total hours of driving, I listened to the audio book version of Tim Cahill’s short book on traveling around in Yellowstone National Park. It’s a fun little book, but I wished it was longer. I was able to consume the whole book in a single day’s driving.

Cahill is terrific. I love his writing. I first read his book Jaguars Ripped My Flesh when I was in my senior year of high school, and I’ve read at least a half dozen of his other adventure travelogues since then. He has a terrific self-deprecating, humorous style that is a pleasure to read, or listen to. Cahill has built himself a funny little niche: the “every man” adventure traveler. He does the most amazing, hard-core adventurous stuff, but the angle is nearly always “I just wanted to see if I could pull it off, since I’m just like you. Son of a gun, it turns out we’re just as capable of thrilling adventure as those tough guys.” His humor pops up at least once a paragraph, and it really resonates with me – there’s a great balance between an economy of words, a bit of hyperbole, and then a legitimate sounding distraction before he unleashes a zinger of a punchline.

This volume is exclusively about Yellowstone, which is a departure from the majority of his books, which are compilations of various essays and articles that Cahill has penned for Outside, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and National Geographic Traveler. I liked having a common theme for the whole book – it works well, and I hope Cahill writes more volumes like this in the future.

His subject, of course, is wondrous. Yellowstone is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been to, and it’s not that I actually learned anything from “reading” this book, but it was a lovely little reminiscence that brought me back to this special spot on the Earth. Highly recommended.