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Homelands Kayaking The Inside Passage [Paperback]

Byron Ricks
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 1 2019

"For five months in the spring and summer of 1996, Maren and I traveled the Inside Passage...It was a long and beautiful journey, a season of bright sun and dark cloud, above-average rainfall, and broad shoulders...It was a time before home ownership, before children, an open window and all we had to do was leap through. And we did...The very name, Inside Passage, seemed to carry an intimacy, a knowing. It would be a personal voyage. As much as anything, it would be a journey home."

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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From Amazon

In an era of testosterone-charged adventure tales, Byron Ricks's Homelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage is a wonderfully introspective adventure-travel memoir. In 1996 Ricks and his wife, Maren van Nostrand, came close to making an offer on their first house, but instead decided to undertake an adventure of a different kind together--kayaking from Alaska's Glacier Bay down the coast of Western Canada to southern Puget Sound, near their Seattle home. They had no set schedule to keep and for five months lived by nautical charts and the rhythms of the tides, wind, and weather. Their plan was to paddle from the glaciers to the city, exploring a coast in flux and the ways of native peoples such as the Tlinglit, Tsimshian, and Haida--whose ancestors paddled the passage for centuries. The driving question of Homelands is this: how does the act of making a very long journey home, in this case by paddle--at an average velocity of a mere three knots--affect one's concept of home? This ocean-size question is fed by smaller tributaries: Do overcoming peril and danger make the rewards of coming home greater? How do native inhabitants encountered along the way relate to their homeland? What do you do when you're camped in a bear's back yard? And what are the issues facing a husband and wife setting out across vast expanses of open water to confront--in the most literal sense--what lies beyond?

A journalist with a background in history and anthropology, Ricks is gifted with both a keen eye and a poetic ear. The tale is written in diary form, and its voice originates in the pace of the kayak: tranquil, steady, respectful. An easygoing and astute companion, Ricks is clearly an old soul--with questions well worth asking and some lovely observations to share. --Kimberly Brown --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In a book that is sometimes invigorating and sometimes maddeningly attenuated, Ricks recounts the five-month journey from Alaska's Glacier Bay to Washington's Puget Sound that he and his wife made by sea kayak. Ricks is obviously as well studied in the geology and the ecology of the terrain as he is blithely realistic about his ability to impose his plans upon it, bandying terms like "bathymetry" and "isostatic rebound" as freely as "ibuprofen." But while Ricks, an outdoors writer who lives in the Northwest, occasionally shows descriptive power worthy of John McPhee, the book's diary-entry structure limits his creativity, prevents inventive shifts in scene and leaves the narrative leaden in spots. Through his talks with people along the route, Ricks comes to an understanding of the term "homeland" not as something static but as a word that "speaks to the kind of relationship a people have with their place." With this interpretation, Ricks tries to find a connection to his own country even as he spends his voyage's last day paddling through a scum of oily water and past an island prison with high walls and razor wire. The book truly conveys the experiences of a long journey through remarkable terrain. Readers will share some of Ricks's elation over natural beauty and hard-won insight. But they will also be frustrated by a narrative that is as unnecessarily arduous as the journey it recounts was inevitably so. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
At 7 A.M. Maren and I join Peter, our skipper, and David, a photographer and avid paddler. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks for sharing the journey - Great book. Nov. 3 2000
Format:Paperback
I've read many journey tales over the years, perhaps spurred on by my reading Marco Polo and trips to Venice and across Turkey while in the Army. Having just completed law school and returned home to start a career, I wanted some information about kayaking to inform a trip I wanted to take down the Des Moines river from the source in Minnesota to the confluence with the Mississippi.
Byron Rick's book pleasantly surprised me, because it was exactly the kind of adventure I was looking for and I can so clearly understand where he is coming from at this life stage. Since my wife and I are also preparing to purchase our first home and raise a family, the book was all the more enjoyable.
The history of the people and development along the Inside Passage is well researched and adds a great deal of context to our understanding of the trip, while the language used to describe the sights along the way clearly conveys the sense of awe and wonder Byron and Maren experienced.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Like a Very Well-written Diary July 5 2000
Format:Paperback
Daily accounts of experiences while kayaking the inside passage. I found the entire book engaging and interesting. However, it does not offer deep or wide coverage of kayaking or the cultures or natural history of the inside passage (fine by me). Little tastes of these topics throughout the book. This surprised me given the length of the bibliography. Many interesting interactions with people living in these areas. I highly recommend this book for those interested in travel/adventure non-fiction. As mentioned by previous reviewers, much text is devoted to descriptions of travel from point A to point B but we have no map.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful trip through the inside passage... June 6 2000
By Pete
Format:Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy not only an exciting kayaking trip down the inside passage from Alaska to Washington, but also a fine piece of writing that was colorful and relaxing. Fellow armchair adventurers will appreciate this close look at the history, ecology, and landscape of this rugged coast. The author does not weigh down the landscape with excessive introspection yet his commentary personalizes the journey just enough to enjoy the couple's companionship through the experience. A great way to enjoy some time in a far-away place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Spritual and thought provoking April 3 2000
Format:Paperback
Byron did an excellent job of taking the reader along on his paddle....spiritually, mentally, and physically. He appreciation for the land and it's people was quite evident and gives the reader a new perspective and greater understanding of each. I appreciated Byron's honesty about spirituality and his insights. Very thought provoking!
Would suggest having a map of the Inside Passage handy to follow their travels as you read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It wasn't what I expected March 12 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Byron and Maren sound like wonderful people, and I admire thier spirit of adventure and commitment and respect of the land. I think I expected a lot more action in the story. I would have liked this more had they included pictures of the landscape, themselves, some of the people they had met, and a larger map. I understand their desire to protect the places they stopped, but, being an east coaster who "day kayaks" for four or five hours at a time, I wanted a bigger and better glimpse of such a worthy adventure.
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Format:Paperback
I have sailed and paddled the Inside Passage from time to time over the last 24 years. I am an avid reader of true outdoor adventures. I usually judge a book by its ability to hold my interest and ultimately to motivate me to leave the comforts of home and to take a stoll down "the road less traveled." I have been eyeing my kayak and checking my gear since finishing Homelands. When the ski season is over, I'm packing my kayak and heading north. My only regret is that I do not have the luxury of duplicating the entire trip.
The author provides an engaging and captivating description of this courageous undertaking in a journal format. This format serves the book and pace of the adventure well. The poetic language used to describe characters, places and events is excellent and conjures memories that parallel my own experiences along the British Columbia coast. The author has done an excellent job of capturing the flow, feeling and character of this region. This is not a Fodor's on kayaking the Inside Passage but rather an adventure of the soul and mind, at water level, along one of the most rustic, beautiful and inhospitable coastlines in America.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not consuming Jan. 26 2000
Format:Paperback
An interesting book, but I wanted more detail about the writer's daily life while on the sea. I found it frustrating to be brought to the edge of what appeared to be an exciting passage, only to be let-down by a single non-desriptive paragraph. I may have missed the explanation as to why there were no pictures of the trip, or even a reliable map -- also found this frustrating and confusing as I'm not familiar with the area. A better model for how to write and include the reader rather than only document a journey is Alvah Simon's *North to the Night*.
All in all, if one is familiar with the area and concerned with the socio-economic and evironmental issues of such an area, they will find this book an interesting read. But, unfortunately, one that will not keep you enthralled nor stay with you long once finished.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightfully written piece about a beautiful region
Having sailed the Inside Passage a number of times, including the summer of 1996 when I encountered Byron and Maren while aboard "Cecilie" and then reading... Read more
Published on Oct. 6 1999 by James B. Quarles
5.0 out of 5 stars The essence of sea kayaking.
There are many "how to books" on all aspects of sea kayaking. Byron's book captures the why of this mode of travel. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars great narrative of a landscape disappearing
I enjoyed this journey both as an excape from work and an reminder that you take take the wild landscape for granted. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 1999 by M. Childs
3.0 out of 5 stars A well-written book, but deficient in kayaking content.
This book is well written and interesting to read, but for a book claiming to be about "Kayaking the Inside Passage" there is remarkably little content on kayaking,... Read more
Published on Sept. 15 1999 by mikedlc@gte.net
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a how-to book, rather a story of the heart and spirit.
I found Byron Ricks book to be a captivating tale of kayak travel through the Inside Passage. No, it doesn't tell us exactly how they did things or where they went but that was... Read more
Published on Sept. 6 1999 by Mark Whitesell
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting reviews
I have not kayaked and bumped into this looking for something else. Every time a less than 5 star review is written a 5 star review follows. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 1999
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