Travel Guides and Canadian Daydreams

100 Best All-Inlcusive Resorts of the World
by Jay Paris and Carmi Zona-Paris

How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies
by Darwin Wiggett

Along the Inside Passage
by Meredith Bain and Ron Woodward

Reviewed by Stephen Plocher

Imagine yourself in central Maine, just as the fall foliage is near its peak and it is starting to get cold. You sip some coffee. Not a bad life. But then you start a journey as you review three books that make you long for something more. This was my experience. The first book to blame is the 100 Best All-Inclusive Resorts of the World, by Jay Paris and Carmi Zona-Paris. This book opens with a gorgeous photo essay to captivate your imagination: rooms right on top of waterfalls, beaches with white sand and teal water, palm trees, African animals… let the fantasies begin! But the authors waste no time in getting right to detailed information. As one would assume, the book covers the hundred best all-inclusive resorts (all-inclusive meaning for one price you get accommodations, food, often drinks, sometimes spa treatments, and usually some interesting activities) found all over the world, although the book omits Europe because historic and cultural attractions tend to outweigh interest in all-inclusive vacationing.

Many of the resorts are on tropical islands, but the book also highlights luxurious lodges in the mountains and includes several places in Canada, which seemed to be the direction these books were steering me. So what do the authors include? The most immediately enticing place for me was the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, Alberta, right in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, featuring stunning views and located close to some natural hot springs. The other western Canada resort featured in the 100 Best is located in Ainsworth Hot Springs, British Columbia, and is the “world’s only self-proclaimed hiking resort.” While staying at a luxurious lodge, being served the finest cuisine, you go on hikes or bike or kayak trips in the surrounding wilderness every day. The 100 Best features a wide range of interesting places to visit, as well as a fairly wide price range. For all the destinations covered, they include descriptions of the resorts, listings of amenities and activities, costs, options, contact information, and other basics for planning real travel or for more lucid daydreaming.

While the resorts covered in the 100 Best tend to cover all aspects of your vacation, I believe one key topic that they don’t bother teaching is how to capture your destination on film. At least for the Alberta area, this void is filled by Darwin Wiggett’s How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies. This book also features gorgeous photographs to entice the reader—and the Canadian Rockies are one of those sublime places where it’s hard to imagine having a photo not come out nice, the objects are so incredible themselves. As a very amateur photographer, I know it is nonetheless hard to take photographs that might do a place any justice. This compact guidebook can help.

How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies fits in my pocket, but it is loaded with eye-catching photos and information. For the new and the advanced photographer, it contains everything from basic introductions to photography to advanced mountain photography techniques. There are illustrative photographs to aid discussions of harnessing and manipulating light, there’s some advice about what equipment you’ll need, and throughout there are many insightful tips about everything from photographing sunsets to hiking with camera gear.

Apart from the special considerations to make when taking pictures in the Canadian Rockies in any season, this book also covers where to go, in case you aren’t just staying at a resort hotel the whole time. There are sections on Kananaskis Country; Banff, Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper Natoinal Parks; and on the Icefields Parkway. Wiggett gives basic directions to the good spots, what roads to take, where you’ll need to hike. For the most part, the places singled out are easily accessible, and the book also features an overview map of all the areas it describes.

After dwelling on the Canadian Rockies, I was sent further west, to look through Along the Inside Passage, by Meredith Bain Woodward and Ron Woodward. This book is a bit like a typical coffee table book, except it wouldn’t spend much time sitting on the table. It is so full of stories, history, beautiful photographs and just so much interesting information that I want to look through it over and over again. The Inside Passage is the sea route along the Pacific Northwest Coast, running from Seattle to southeastern Alaska, passing between islands and by countless inlets, through some of the most beautiful areas of the world. This book shows and tells the stories of region—stories of Native Americans, explorers, whalers, soldiers, fishermen, animals, plants, and treacherous waterways.

We move northward through the passage, seeing current and historic photos, reading profiles of current area residents, their livelihoods, historic figures, indigenous tribes, geological history, wildlife, political history and economic information of past and present. This presentation of a coastal way of life is comprehensive while remaining thoroughly accessible and engaging, and outright pleasing to look at. The photos are stunning.

Reading through this while sitting in Maine made me a little homesick for the Pacific Northwest, where I grew up. When considered with Wigget’s book and the Parises’, I start to feel an itch to get out there. But for now, the peaks, fjords, hot springs, small towns, beaches, lakes, wildlife, and health spas can fill my dreams. Not a bad life indeed.

Paris, Jay and Carmi Zona-Paris. 100 Best All-Inlcusive Resorts of the World. 4th ed. Guilford, CT: The Globe Pequot Press, 2006.

Wiggett, Darwin. How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies. Canmore, Alberta: Altitude Publishing, 2005.

Woodward, Meredith Bain and Ron Woodward. Along the Inside Passage. Canmore, Alberta: Altitude Publishing, 2004.

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