Book Review: One Day at a Time by Hollie Bell-Shinzing
It’s been forever since I’ve ridden my motorcycle. Between the bitterly cold, snowy weather and some minor health issues, I haven’t been on my bike since October. I’m definitely feeling the loss. I’ve had this vague sense of depression for the last month and I’ve been dreaming about riding with increasing frequency.
To fill the void I’ve been reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about motorcycles. So when the book “One Day at a Time – A husband and wife’s 87- day road trip through 22 US states on 2 Harley Softails” arrived in the mail I dove right in.
The author (and publisher), Hollie Bell-Schinzing, resides in Rochester, New York. The book doesn’t give a lot of background on her other than she has a passion for Harley Davidson’s and loves to travel which I guess is enough if you’re writing about riding across the country on a motorcycle. This also looks to be her first book which is pretty exciting!
What it Is and What it Isn’t
I had kind of a tough time categorizing this book. It’s written in the form of a journal with a chronicle of each day’s activities. I suppose it would come under the heading of a travelogue.
Although I think you would have a difficult time recreating the exact journey from just the information contained in the book. She includes the destination but not always the exact route that they took.
I wouldn’t really categorize it as a how-to, although she does include anecdotal information on packing, acquiring lodging, and getting along for 87 days.
But I don’t think it really matters.
However you categorize it, I found her writing style to be very humorous and entertaining. More importantly, I found her very easy to relate to. It might be because my husband and I are very close in age to the author and are in the very similar position of being empty nesters and approaching retirement. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman or maybe it’s just that she’s a ‘motorcycle person’. Whatever the reason I found the book to be an easy read and quite enjoyable.
The Heart of the Story
There is an introduction that explains that the author and her husband were going through a lot of changes in their lives. Children had left home, her husband had retired and their marriage was in a rut. So they decide to take a trip around the country on their motorcycles to reconnect.
The book starts with day one of their journey. That may sound like the logical place to start but despite the short intro, it feels a little like you’re dropped in the middle of their lives. It doesn’t help that in the first few entries she drops in names of people without explaining exactly who they are (I’m still not sure who Dave and Kathy are). However, as the days and weeks of their trip unfold you get to know more about the author and her husband and they start to become familiar and comfortable.
The book follows their journey across the United States, 22 states in all.
Along the way she describes the countryside, the places they stop (mostly at the suggestion of friends or locals), the meals they enjoy, and the people they meet. She also manages to work in philosophical snippets about life here and there. She is a good descriptive writer and I learned quite a bit about our history and our country, even about places I was already pretty familiar with.
In the beginning, they travel south from New York through the Smoky Mountains, battling rain and illness along the way. Despite the challenges you can feel her enthusiasm as she describes the scenery and the various places they stop. Even riding through tornados and hurricanes along the gulf coast doesn’t seem to dampen her positive attitude.
Traveling west through Texas and New Mexico they experience intense heat, mechanical difficulties and cat and mouse games with semi trucks yet her enthusiasm never flags. Turning north through Colorado on their way to Sturgis they run into rain almost every day but except for a minor meltdown when she loses her prescription goggles her sunny disposition remains intact.
In fact, it doesn’t appear that she ever meets a person she doesn’t like the entire trip (except perhaps the law enforcement officers in South Dakota). She also seems to get along with her spouse amazingly well. I’m not sure I could keep that up for 87 days. My husband and I have been married a long time but I’m pretty sure we would have been fighting after the second or third wrong turn.
Every quarter she sums up their journey thus far and examines what went well and what changes need to be made. She also totals up their expenditures to give readers an idea of how much a journey across the country costs.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
There are quite a few black and white pictures in the book. Some of the photographs of distant landscapes were quite good. I particularly like the photos of the southwest and the Badlands.
However, some of the close-up pictures are too dark to figure out exactly what you’re looking at. There are also no captions so that didn’t help. And of course, I’m a motorcycle person so I would have liked more pictures of the bikes. I think it would have helped a lot if the photos had been in color but I understand that is probably cost prohibitive.
I do have to commend her though, for being a self-published book it was very well edited. I found very few grammatical errors or typos.
One Day at a Time isn’t all that much about motorcycles.
In fact, if it weren’t for the title I wouldn’t have known what kind of bikes they have since she never once mentions the model of Harleys they’re riding. But that’s ok because it’s bigger than that.
It’s a book about this great country we live in, conquering adversity with a smile on your face, and most of all about relationships. By the end of the book I was thinking these are people I would really like to meet, and maybe take a ride across the country with.