Web Log

Our Camper Van




Amy's Cakes

Outboard Hydroplane Racing

Radio Controlled Toys

Useful Books

While on the road we found a number of useful books for the type of travel that we do. Here we will try to list the ones of the most use and explain how they helped out.

4x4 Trails

After some time on the road we decided to start taking more advantage of our 4x4 system in the van to get further away from the beaten path. These books proved useful references for locating good trails for interesting sights, driving challenges, as well as good locations to look for a camping spot in the evenings.

Back Country Adventures: This series of books by Massey & Wilson proved invaluable in our trip. The volumes are fairly large, and take a bit of room, but the content make it well worthwhile. Each book starts with a bit of history of the area, some notes on common florae and fauna, and then devotes the bulk of the book to trails with some history and good maps for each. Each book has a good selection of trails from graded county dirt roads to moderately difficult 4x4 tracks. Backcountry Adventures


We did not spend all of our time on trails, and in fact spent most of our time on highways and rural roads seeking interesting places. To accomplish this we needed good maps for an overview of the area we were in, and ideas of interesting sights.

Delorme Gazetteers: We picked up a copy for each state that we traveled through. They served as a good overview of the state, and a nice intermediate level of maps between the normal state highway map and the 4x4 trail type books. There are other publishers of similar volumes, but we did not find them as compelling, and decided to stick with the Delorme version once we started collecting them. Each one has a state overview map that works as a highway map, a list of "sights of interest" which led us to many unique features (often in out-of-the-way places), and fairly details road/terrain maps.


Topo USA National Edition : While not exactly a book, this software package was our most used map while running on the laptop we mounted to the dash (with a GPS antenna plugged into the USB port). Now with more Canada.

This was the best package we could find at the time for what we did as it has a lot of 4x4 trails, hiking trails, Forest-Serivce, and BLM roads. The other ones we tried (Microsoft Streets & Trips, Delorme Street Atlas) were sadly lacking once we got off the paved roads.

The topographic data was also a very useful and nice feature, allowing us to find places to camp with good views, secluded areas, and such.

Delorme Topo USA


The books in this section are not geared toward overland vehicle travel specifically, but proved to be very useful in general for ideas on camping, gear, safety, and general useful education.

The Complete Walker IV : This book contains a lot of very practical advise on hiking and camping. What gear is necessary, what is not, how to improvise what you need, etc. It is a very thick tomb, and we used it largely as a reference book. Complete Walker
Beyond Backpacking: Ray Jardines Guide to Lightweight Hiking : A huge advocate of taking only the minimal necessary, this book goes a bit extreme, but provides a lot of very useful practical advise. There are a number of designs for minimal home-made camping equipment which we adapted to our needs in the van and our shorter day-hikes. Beyond Backpacking
Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide : The bible of overland vehicle travel... also very rare and (currently) extremely expensive. There is a tremendous amount of useful information in here on planning, preparing, and participating in a vehicle based expedition. Much attention is paid to vehicle preparation, driving techniques in all sorts of conditions, navigation, and anything else remotely related. Vehicle Dependent Expedition Guide

Vehicle and Gear

2005 Ford E-Series Workshop Manuals (Econoline, E-150 to E-550, 2 Volume Set) : The factory service manuals for the Ford van that our Sportsmobile was based on. These manuals have been worth their weight in gold for diagnosing problems, repairing breakage, and modifying the van. We cary a copy in the van at all times. E350 Service Manual


As mentioned in our web-log, we spent a month in New Zealand practicing for our van travels, and three months in France during out travels. We tried different modes of travel in these locations and found a few useful tomes among the chaff in the travel section.


The books in this section are ones that we have found very useful in motorcycle riding skills, safety, and enjoyment.

Proficient Motorcycling