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Ronald Kidd - September 2020

Notes from the Pandemic

Traveling Indoors

Call me a masochist. I’ve been listening to Rick Steves.

Steves, you may know, is a guru of European travel. Forty years ago, he started out writing travel books, then graduated to leading tours. These days he hires others to lead the tours, produces successful TV and radio shows about Europe, and sells travel products. His company is based in the little town of Edmonds, Washington, just outside Seattle.

My wife Yvonne and I have been on several Rick Steves tours—to Italy, Eastern Europe, and Ireland, shown below—and have found them delightful, with knowledgeable guides, well-located and welcoming hotels, and a real sense of community among tour members.

On his radio show, Steves started out the pandemic interviewing his guides, encouraging listeners to dream of travel and to plan for a time when it might resume. Lately I’ve noticed something new. He’s becoming a philosopher of travel.

Why do we travel? How do we benefit from our trips? Can we travel without leaving home?

Rick Steves appears to be turning inward, reflecting quietly on what before must have been a constant flurry of activity. I picture him sitting at home, eyes closed, thinking back on his travel and trying to figure out what it all means.

On a recent show he mentioned three categories that I like and am still pondering: tourist, traveler, pilgrim.

A tourist, I realize, is what I previously had been—seeing sights but not exploring them or learning about them. Starting with our first Rick Steves tour, I graduated to traveler—absorbing some of the history and meaning of the places we visited. I aspire to be a pilgrim—investing travel with depth and meaning, building on what I learn and, in the encounter, allowing myself to be changed.

Rick Steves has become a pilgrim. In the radio of my mind, I am walking alongside him.

Capsule Reviews

All the Devils Are Here
by Louise Penny

Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of Quebec’s police force, is one of my favorite literary characters, and this is Louise Penny’s sixteenth mystery that features him. I thought it was one of her best.

Going in, I was skeptical, for two reasons. First, in her most recent books about the detective, Penny had seemed oddly determined to give him terrible weaknesses and have his associates doubt and even hate him. Of course everyone, including fictional characters, has flaws, but her attempts seemed forced, and I simply didn’t believe them.

Second, the new book takes place in Paris, not Three Pines, Quebec, a charming town that’s almost as much a character in the series as Gamache himself. This seemed a little bit like setting a Philip Marlowe story in Butte, Montana.

However, I shouldn’t have worried. The plot is compelling, with a number of convoluted twists and turns that, in the end, fit together as neatly as a jigsaw puzzle. In addition, Gamache’s family history is fleshed out substantially, and major new character developments take place that, thankfully, are believable and moving.

Welcome back, Armand. It was great spending time with you again.

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Learn about my books, plays, and music at ronaldkidd.com.
Download a sampler of chapters from some of my latest books.

Copyright © 2020 Ronald Kidd, All rights reserved.


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