Highway to heck: Travel books for Father’s Day

With Father’s Day coming up (it’s Sunday, slacker), it’s interesting to take note of how the construct of “dad” is getting a general airing this year in pop culture. It’s a good time for dads; we wouldn’t be throwing around “dad bod” and “dad rock,” back-handed compliments that they may be, at all if dads weren’t having a cultural moment.

And we know that sweeping generalizations are bad, but we’re gonna make some anyway. In our experience, dads (or in the cultural hivemind, “dads”) like:

1. Road trips (when they’re the ones driving)
2. Cooking (especially stuff that requires lots of ingredients, tools and prep work)
3. Nature
4. Being an expert at any/all of the above

And dads don’t like:

1. A “fuss” being made over them
2. Being forgotten
3. Ties

So what to do for Father’s Day? People with fathers who are alive and part of their lives need to find a gift that says “I know you” without saying “I spent too much money on something you won’t like anyway.” This may be personal bias speaking, but we think books, especially nonfiction, are the perfect solution. And since dads like roadtrips, and you (probably) like shopping local, here’s a short list of Florida travel books. Buy one before Sunday for him.

Probably the best of the bunch (and the easiest to obtain in time) is Jason Ferguson’s Moon Florida Road Trip (Moon Handbooks, 448 pages). It dissects the state into easily doable road trips, with meticulously planned itineraries of attractions both natural and man-made, restaurants and places to stay, complete with maps and mileage. Truly comprehensive. And you can meet the author (who, full disclosure, was Orlando Weekly’s music editor roughly a decade ago) and buy your copy at Bookmark It’s Wine & Sign Friday: Discover Florida with Jason Ferguson, 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 19.

Another couple of Florida-centric travel books: A Paddler’s Guide to Everglades National Park (by Johnny Molloy, University Press of Florida, 288 pages) is an extremely thorough manual for navigating the waterways and campsites of the Everglades, the largest roadless land mass in the contiguous 48 states. And Walking St. Augustine (by Elsbeth “Buff” Gordon, University Press of Florida, 214 pages) is an illustrated guide to the history and the architecture of America’s oldest city, offering four self-guided walking tours of the historic city center for those Dads who like to break their own path rather than pay to join a group tour.

Finally, not so much a travel guide as a travel memoir, we have Cooney World Adventures (cooneyworldadventures.com) a bumptious recollection of a family’s backpacking trip through Latin America, beginning on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and winding up in Brazil. Michael Cooney, his wife, and his three teenage sons sold everything and embarked on a 109-day journey – a journey that is, in fact, just the first leg of their plan to see the world. This is pure dad stuff here, from the tribulations of planning for and protecting your tribe to the sentimental realization that your kids are all right (and your wife is a saint).


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Jessica Bryce Young

Jessica Bryce Young has been working with Orlando Weekly since 2003, serving as copy editor, dining editor and arts editor before becoming editor in chief in 2016.
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