Ah, March! Spring is almost here and spring/summer travel along with it. With that in mind, I thought I would write about places for the literary-minded traveler. I stuck to US locations for the moment (although there are so many great places to visit around the world) and I’ve broken the destinations down by the authors that inspired them. Enjoy!
1. Ernest Hemingway – Sun Valley, Idaho
Hemingway had a good plan – winter on an island, summer in the mountains. He wrote much of For Whom the Bell Tolls while staying in room 206 at the Sun Valley Lodge and later owned a home in nearby Ketchum (where he ended his life). Today Sun Valley is the go-to celebrity ski resort, but Hemingway loved the area for its summer/fall natural beauty and the hunting. The Hemingways left the care of their home to The Nature Conservancy and at this time it is not open for tours; however, you can visit the Silver Creek Preserve, also under the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy, where you will find more than 850 acres of outdoorsy awesomeness along this high-desert creek. Popular activities include fly fishing, canoeing, hunting, and hiking on the self-guided nature trail in the same area that drew Hemingway back time and again. The preserve is home to 150 species of birds and the kind of light photographers dream of. In downtown Ketchum, you can visit the Ketchum/Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum which features an exhibit on Hemingway, and a memorial is dedicated to him on Trail Creek Road one mile east of the Sun Valley Lodge. He is also buried in the Ketchum Cemetery.
2. Edgar Allan Poe – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Poe spent six of the most productive years of his life in Philly, and it was where he wrote The Tell-Tale Heart (one of my favorites). There is so much to see here: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the steps from Rocky. However, I would start with a ghost tour (mostly because I love ghost tours) and then go visit the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site housed within one of his homes. Please note that it is only open Friday-Sunday and is closed from noon to 1 pm. Philly is also home to the Mutter Museum. Originally opened in 1863 (and in its current location since 1908), the Mutter houses around 20,000 strange, bizarre, and incredible medical artifacts. I would finish with a trip to the Penn Museum (have I mentioned that I love museums?) because who doesn’t want to see a sphinx and some examples of Sumerian cuneiform, one of the earliest forms of writing.
3. Jean Craighead George – Barrow, Alaska
George never lived in Barrow, but she visited her son Craig there on multiple occasions and it was in Barrow that she was first inspired to write Julie of the Wolves (a favorite of Julie’s and mine). Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States and while it may have the look of a temporary town (all the buildings are on pylons and there are no paved roads due to the permafrost), it is actually one of the oldest permanent settlements in the United States. Near the beach you can see the remains of sod houses that date back to 800 A.D. To get to Barrow, you will have to fly from Fairbanks or Anchorage and I would suggest going in July when the temperatures are the warmest (30-50 degrees Fahrenheit) and the sun is up 24hrs a day. However, the best time to see polar bears is in September. Barrow is also home to Snowy Owls, Arctic Foxes, and Bowhead Whales and there are guides and tours that can take you out on the tundra. Not to be missed is the Inupiat Hertitage Center where you can learn about the native people’s culture and take in some traditional dances. And if taking the polar plunge is on your bucket list, Barrow is a great place to don your swim suit and dive into the Arctic Ocean.
I hope this gives you some ideas to travel (in real life or through a book)!
A/N: Unfortantely, I have never visited any of these places but I hope to very soon! Please be sure to research any travel destinations.