What constitutes a full day of hiking for many of us is just a warm-up for Melanie Radzicki McManus of Sun Prairie. The longtime traveler writer and first-time author hoofed the entire 1,100-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail in 36 days and five hours. That’s a record for women hikers.
You can read all about it in “Thousand-Miler: Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail” ($20, Wisconsin Historical Society Press), whose vivid, you-are-there, conversational approach takes us along the zigzag route from St. Croix Falls and Interstate State Park in northwest Wisconsin to Potawatomi State Park in Door County.
All of the Ice Age Trail is inside 31 countries of Wisconsin, and it is one of just 11 National Scenic Trails in the United States. Although we don’t have the mountains or severe rock scrambles that challenge hikers along the better-known Appalachian Trail, Melanie encounters plenty of circumstances that test her fortitude and characters who humanize the experience.
Knowing where to hike is one challenge: Signage marks only about 600 miles of the route because Ice Age Trail work is ongoing and a volunteer effort. Why walk that far? We learn the reasons, and they are as wide-ranging as the people willing to test their limits.
Upcoming author appearances include the REI store at 13100 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield, 6:30 p.m. May 6; Books and Company, 1039 Summit Ave., Oconomowoc, 7 p.m. May 9; and Graham Public Library, 1215 Main St., Union Grove, 1 p.m. May 11.
Other Wisconsin authors also are out with notable new books.
“Drink Like a Woman: Shake. Stir. Conquer. Repeat.” ($16, Seal Press) is a fun and quenching project from Jeanette Hurt in Milwaukee, a foodie and “drinkie” (her term) who shares a fascination with cocktail history. In this case, that means a dip into research about how women helped shape the choices and industry in key ways.
Don’t expect a lot of love for “girly drinks,” but do look forward to a smooth blend of feisty-woman stories, matched with recipes for 70-plus cocktails. Example: the Bra Burner, a gimlet-like drink developed by a Milwaukee bartender in honor of Marcy Skoronski, who at age 90 still tends bar at Holler House, 2042 W. Lincoln Ave., Milwaukee. That’s where many discarded bras hang from the ceiling, and in the basement is the nation’s oldest certified bowling alley, two lanes and pins are set by hand.
This is Jeanette’s ninth book. Check jeanettehurt.com for updates about author events.
“This Storied River: Legend and Lore of the Upper Mississippi” ($20, Wisconsin Historical Society Press) by Dennis McCann follows the mighty river and feeds a strong sense of place with a harmonious mix of present-day and historical tales.
I thought the author, a longtime Milwaukee travel writer, was supposed to be retired – but you don’t pursue a book like this casually. The Upper Mississippi plays a starring role in defining the Midwest as it is today; Dennis explains how and why.
A part of the book gives modern-day travelers ideas about where to stop when following the river, but the rich stories about long-ago times are what really make this gem sparkle.
Stay tuned to wisconsinhistory.org/calendar for upcoming author appearances.
I lost count long ago about how many books Jerry Apps has written, but if you’re like me, you pay attention whenever this beloved author introduces his newest work. This year, it’s “Never Curse the Rain: A Farm Boy’s Reflections on Water” ($23, Wisconsin Historical Society Press), short but poignant reminiscences about the life-giving and life-changing liquid that so many of us take for granted.
Raindrops, rivers, thunderstorms, lakes, gristmills, windmills. All make it onto Jerry’s palette, and once again we are enlightened about the gentle and rugged, heartless and miraculous nature of rural living.
Jerry talks about “Never Curse the Rain” on Wisconsin Public Television’s Create TV channel at 9 a.m. May 7.
Many unsolicited books somehow find my mailbox, and two others got my attention. Both are from Chicago Review Press and are written by Joey Green of Los Angeles, a former contributing editor to National Lampoon magazine.
His newest, “Vacation on Location Midwest: Explore the Sites Where Your Favorite Movies Were Filmed” ($17), gets specific about where to budge into settings for an eclectic range of films. “Stepping into the landscapes and cityscapes of your favorite movies really makes you feel like you’re meeting the unsung stars in the film or starring in the movie yourself,” he writes.
He breaks down shooting sites for about 40 films in 11 Midwest states. Wisconsin has one entry, and it’s not Johnny Depp’s 2009 “Public Enemies.” We get five pages of shooting locations that were a part of Rodney Dangerfield’s 1986 “Back to School.”
Joey is a prolific guy who also wrote the recently released “Last-Minute Travel Secrets: 121 Ingenious Tips to Endure Cramped Planes, Car Trouble, Awful Hotels and Other Trips From Hell” ($17). It’s an entertaining read with novel ideas, like storing valuables in a shaving cream can, cooking hot dogs in a coffemaker and recharging a dead car battery with red wine.