Zephyr Cove resident Ryan Elson delivers “Don’t Step On The Dirt,” a travelogue that takes us through several national parks and 10 states on his way to Fishers, Ind., from the west coast of California. His destination? His sister’s wedding. It isn’t your typical travelogue though since Elson has punctuated his journey with facts, figures and details one normally wouldn’t expect to encounter. For example, did you know that when making change, if you carried out all possible 99 transactions from one cent to 99 cents and added up the change you would receive, you would end up with 200 pennies, 150 quarters, 80 dimes and 40 nickels? Who knew? I bet you weren’t aware that Aspirin originated from the willow tree or that the cost to construct a parking garage is approximately $15,000 per parking space, more than some folks, he for one, pays for an entire car, his being called Clyde. Yes, his car has a name and it smiles, too. Pearls of wisdom are shared with the reader and paired with a few commentaries and personal perspectives. If you’re looking for a story of travels or a wedding, you might get lost in the details; those of hoodoos, the formation of boulders and let’s not forget the blue moons. But if you enjoy a lot of information about just about everything, including the origin of the new Gregorian calendar, you’ve got it. Elson spikes his book with sarcastic quips that allow his wit and dry humor to sparkle.
He’s not into suits but works out a suit deal with his parents in exchange for electrical work and off he goes. Friday the 13th is the date of the wedding; not exactly the wedding date or destination he expected, but at least it’s being held in the spring. Making sure to inform the cows where he’s going, he kicks off his National Park road trip with Clyde loaded down with tons of gear. Solo at first, he picks up girlfriend, Dondra, in Denver and they breathe in nature’s beauty; bears, caterpillars not to mention dirt that perhaps should not be stepped on due to its fragile crust. What? There’s also the unforgettable night storm in South Dakota that lights up the sky so brilliantly you could read the newspaper outside … well sort of.
Elson claims, “he doesn’t like people” and aspires to eventually become a hermit when it pays better. He meets some great folks, even though his sensitivity to having his picture taken and resistance to anyone touching his camera flairs up occasionally. Mostly he buys mugs for Dondra and revels in a trip that in the end turns out to be “one hell of a time.” If you’re an old person, beware. If Elson is coming from behind, walk faster. Just sayin’.
Elson’s book is well written and many will enjoy it, tangents and all. He does share useful information about national parks, parking situations, gas prices as well as advice on how many sandwiches to take on a hike.