Likable and funny vignettes of a mom-and-daughter team tackling a handful of outdoor adventures, from California journalist Balmain. Spurred by the inkling that she would never know herself without first knowing her mother, Balmain suggested to her märe that they take a trip sans spouses. Not a cruise or an art tour—Balmain figured an exploit in raw nature would encourage the exchange of confidences. So they went dog-sledding in northern Minnesota, got into some good rhubarbs and stony silences, experienced guilt and remorse and pity and gloom, and had such a fine old time, they decided to do it again. There follows seven more outings, women only, putting their fates in the care of experts (also women only): fly-fishing in southeastern Idaho, including the fabled Henry's Fork of the Snake (Balmain is a klutz, Mom composed as a Zen master); sea kayaking with orcas and bad weather along the British Columbia coast (not the smoothest of their journeys: " ‘If you don't stop bossing me around . . .' The rest of Mom's sentence was lost in the wind, but I distinctly heard her mutter, ‘Bitch' "); attending a calf-birthing fest in Kansas, where Balmain secretly hoped, thanks to advice from an eccentric friend, she would be inspired to procreate. They seek "the primitive woman within" on a camping and craft-making visit to Anasazi lands (Balmain's efforts at pottery result in "the first Anasazi motel ashtray"). A New Age-y spa offers a break from roughing it, though they become near-comatose from the pampering and ideals. And they do connect, often in a flurry of sparks, but genuinely, while Balmain's journalistic eye livens the account with local color and history and foibles (and mother's black-and-white illustrations add a visual touch). Balmain mines the humor, but sweet sentiment shows through. "We still don't regret a single trip," Balmain happily notes. Nor will her readers.
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