5 Books to Help Survive Long-Haul Flying

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I’m convinced that I’m one of the few people on the planet who enjoys long-haul flying. It’s nice to settle in and make a plane my home for 15 hours, especially if I’m headed someplace cool. While aloft, nobody can text me. I’m immune from telemarketers. That means I have a great sanctuary to enjoy some reading.

If you’re planning a long-haul flight, let me give you five suggestions for books that can make the flight a lot better.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal (Christopher Moore)
– This is a masterwork of speculative historical fiction. It’s funny. It’s moving. It’s creative. You’ll follow Biff, the Robin to Jesus’ Batman, through the childhood, missing years and eventual death of the Son of God. The first time I read this book, I laughed so hard that people at coffee shops thought I was going into convulsions.

The Underdog (Joshua Davis) – The author of this great non-fiction piece has mommy issues. He’s spent most of his life trying to please his former beauty queen mother. This leads him on a quest to be the best at something … anything! He takes up backward running, bullfighting, extreme sauna and more as he struggles to be more than a bespectacled data entry clerk.

Bad Monkeys (Matt Ruff) – This is a twisting, turning mash-up of cyber-spy thriller with the very real possibility that the protagonist is simply off her rocker. Jane gets arrested and claims she is part of a super-secret group that aims to rid the world of incorrigible evil. But is she actually that evil? A crazy and unpredictable book.

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (Mary Roach) – Roach is one of my favorite authors for non-fiction ponderings of life’s mysteries. Her latest tackles sex, and how researchers have poked and prodded the world’s oldest deed through human history. Any author willing to shag her husband in an MRI tube for a book deserves my props.

Slam (Nick Hornby) – Hornby is one of the few authors who’s both ubiquitous and genuinely deserving of his success. In Slam, he writes about the perils of teenage relationships and pregnancy without sounding preachy. He also presents a neat plot device involving 16-year-old protagonist Sam and a Tony Hawk poster. Hornby is also a master at writing in the perfect voice of his characters.

Count on these five to get you through a transcontinental flight with your sanity intact.

Destination: Franz Josef Glacier

UPDATE – See what my Franz Josef Glacier hike was like and get some tips.
From blog photos

Well, score one for my wife. She uncovered a very first-rate adventure someplace I didn’t even notice. During my New Zealand planning, I’d completely ignored Franz Josef Glacier. Big mistake! Fortunately, she was there to bail me out with a great discovery.

So, what’s so cool about it? I mean, glaciers aren’t exactly the speed demons of the geological world. Well, how do blue ice, ice caves, crevasses and stunning views sound to you? Yeah, they sound pretty awesome to me.

I booked us a tour with Franz Josef Glacier Guides. The question was … which one? They have a lot of tours available, everywhere from two hours and up.

“If you’re gonna hike a glacier,” Sarah said, “hike a glacier.”

In other words, don’t do it halfway. Get out on the ice, and stay awhile. Get high up there and see the blue ice caves! Right on, then. I’d bet on this to be one of the high points of the trip.

Stand by for a full review upon my return!

From blog photos

Photos courtesy of Motorhomeforhire.

The world’s coolest hotel … and one of the coldest!

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coolest hotel
Superman’s bedroom? Nope, it\’s the ICEHOTEL!

About a year ago, I talked to a teenager who stayed in the world’s coolest hotel. He made an awesome visit to Sweden to stay at the ICEHOTEL, up in the very far north part of the country.

He was a very clever guy who works part time as an architectural draftsman, so he was really fascinated about the idea of a hotel carved each year from ice and snow.  A documentary about the ICEHOTEL on The Discovery Channel put it on his wish list.

Also, it was also his first time traveling out of the country. So I have to give him a lot of credit for being bold enough to spend the better part of 24 straight hours in the air. And even better … from the airport, it was something like 30 miles by dogsled to get to the ICEHOTEL!

About the Coolest Hotel in the World

It has some permanent, heated rooms. But the really awesome rooms are cold rooms, which workers build each year using blocks of ice from the nearby River Torne. The rooms stay at temperatures from 28 to 40 degrees F.

Each room, according to my source, had a “serene blue glow” from LEDs in the icy walls; the hotel’s silence added to the serenity. He slept on a bed made from ice covered in reindeer fur. The staff wakes guests up each day with a steaming cup of lingonberry juice, which is supposed to do wonders for keeping you warm.

Beyond the Ice

There are some expeditions you can arrange from the coolest hotel in the world. Jukkasjärvi is pretty cold, though, so you really have to bundle up. I heard about some pretty awesome back-country dogsled trips. The food sounds tasty, too … I really want to try reindeer brisket!

And the cold rooms don’t have their own bathrooms. You have to get bundled up, tromp outside and go into the heated area. Can you imagine having to get up in the middle of the night for that? (Shivers)

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