Episode 113: Outdoor

Me and my dad, having breakfast at a campground!

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Welcome, everyone, to Books and Beverages! This week we are discussing one our favorite genres: Outdoors!


We are the Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange, and we support all types of libraries. This is our book group podcast, where we discuss different genres of books each week, while we all sit in our comfy chairs and drink our beverages. And you are, of course, an important part of this book group. So if you do not already have a nice beverage please go get one, so you can join the experience.

Who is joining our reading group this week? This week we have two special guests joining us: Jean and Joe Wilkins. Joe has been backpacking around remote areas of Alaska for several years, volunteering for the National Park Service, and photographing the amazing beauty of the state. Now he has written a book about his experiences and photographs, and Jean edited the work. The title is Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration You can go to Amazon now to pre-order this book; it comes out January 23, 2018.

This week’s episode will be a little different than most. First: this is our first author interview! The chance to talk with an author and editor about the process of assembling a book was very cool; and it was interesting to hear about it.

Our campground at Lake Marion. Coldfoot, Alaska: Population 13 people; and a great truck-stop! Last place to buy gas until you reach the Arctic Ocean.

Second: these are my parents! And I’m really excited about this book, and the chance to hear more about such a great area of the country.  I’m sharing a few photos I took when my dad and I drove and camped all along the Dalton Highway in Alaska, then down to Valdez, through the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. (You will like the photos he took for the book better!) Check out this article from Smithsonian.com about the book.

Alaska is an amazing place; and this book is really the first time someone has taken such a detailed photographic look at the unbelievably remote Gates of the Arctic park. You can not drive there, there are no roads, no campgrounds, and no trails. So when he was there, over several summers, with the NPS, some these photographs are probably showing things that literally no other humans have ever seen.

This was north of the Atigun Pass – the highest point on the Dalton Highway. It’s impossible to convey how very big and very open it all is up there!


We have guests, we have our genre. We just need our beverages. Fortunately, we all came prepared with something to sip while we talk about our books. Each week we like to connect the theme of our books with our beverages. Each beverage will have a recipe or a link on our episode page, so you can try them yourself!  Obviously, feel free to sip whatever makes you happy right now. Just join us in celebrating books, and discussing books!

Apple Pie Moonshine


  •     1 750ml bottle of 190 proof Everclear – If you can’t get Everclear in your state, high proof vodka can work also.
  •     About 1 cup of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum – Two cups tastes pretty good also… just saying.
  •     1 Gallon Apple Cider
  •     1 Quart Apple Juice
  •     3 Cups of Brown Sugar
  •     1 Cup of White Sugar
  •     10 Cinnamon Sticks
  •     1 Large Stock Pot
  •     6 Mason Jars (Quart-sized)

This recipe comes together very quickly. Simply combine the cinnamon sticks, apple cider, and apple juice in the large stock pot. Bring it all to a mild simmer and add in the sugars.


Simple Hot Cocoa for One

  •         2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  •         1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
  •         Pinch of salt
  •         1 cup milk or any combination of milk, half-and-half, or cream
  •         1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Add marshmallows and whipped cream!


Blackberry Smash

  • 4 blackberries
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce honey
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey


  • Add all ingredients to your mixing glass and muddle. Fill your mixing tin with ice. Shake well.

Maple Leaf Cocktail

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. To make the maple leaf cocktail, combine the bourbon, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.


Genre Suggestions

As with all the genres we have discussed this season, there are tons of different kinds of books that are classified as Outdoor – both fiction and nonfiction. If you need an adventure of any sort, this is your genre!

My dad, near our campground at Galbraith Lake – north of the Arctic Circle.

Here are a few types of books in this genre you might enjoy:

  • exploration
  • adventure
  • mountain
  • nature/environment
  • survival sailing
  • hiking
  • geocaching
  • canoe/kayak
  • cycling
  • travel
I forget which glacier this is, but my dad is standing on land where the glacier has retreated, while leaning over to touch the glacier. It was HUGE!

Books Discussed

These books are adventures for your mind. ““Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” Pat Conroy, author of Prince of Tides, Lords of Discipline, and other best sellers.

It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields. Have you seen Ice Road Truckers? It’s this highway!

There are a few standards that people read in this genre; see which ones you have read – or add them to your TBR list!

  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed (also a great movie starring Reese Witherspoon)
  • Into the Wild and also Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
This was our campground at Blueberry Lake, north of Valdez

Here are a few other suggestions you might to check out:

  • Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr (each one set in a different National Park)
  • French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France and The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail  by Tim Moore
  • Jill Horner books Into the North Wind: A thousand-mile bicycle adventure across frozen Alaska, Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Christine Byl
  • Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout, by Philip Connors
This is a very popular place to take pictures on the Dalton Hwy. It’s exciting to be north of this spot! And it was August; so we were wearing warm coats, but I could read books in my tent without lights at 11pm.

Here are a few suggestion lists of some other books you might enjoy:


Thank you so much for joining us for this discussion! There are links to books you might like in this genre on our website; so go check that out.

Do you have books to suggest? Leave them in our comment section! One random commenter will receive a copy of our featured book from this episode: Gates of the Arctic National Park: Twelve Years of Wilderness Exploration. Everyone else can click the Amazon link . It’s cold and snowy outside here in Minnesota – just the right time to enjoy looking at photos of the beautiful scenery of Alaska.

We will be back next Tuesday with another genre, more book group hosts, and all kinds of books to share and discuss. Be sure to subscribe to our podcast so you don’t miss a single episode!

Bring your book ideas, bring your beverages, and join us back here for more book discussion next Tuesday!

We support libraries!