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 mÃ©re 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.