Posted by: walkerswalkabout | April 13, 2013



They (the ubiquitous they) say that experience is the best teacher. Is there any other way to be taught? It is also the best bringer of wisdom…and joy.

I had two experiences in the last 24 hours. They taught me many things and brought me, yes, joy.

Money bought one of them for me; time bought me the other. We can buy things with our money, or we can buy experiences with our money (best use of money), or……we can buy things that enable a myriad of experiences.

The one that time bought:
Today I experienced something I had never before experienced—a bookstore with an escalator. A very small and narrow and cute escalator. It escalated me to the top section of the store, where children’s books and the latest titles for adults co-existed peacefully on the same floor.

I asked the nice woman at the desk about Nooks. She said, with deer in headlight eyes, she was the children’s books expert, and knew nothing about said contraption. That the Nook expert was on the first floor. His name was Jeff. Indeed he was—on the first floor, named Jeff, and a Nookish expert.

I need a Nook that does not panic and crack its screen at the first sighting of a GRIZZLY BEAR. It became unreadable the third day on the trail last summer in Glacier National Park, and I had to settle for being alone with my own thoughts in the dark night in the midst of brown bear country. I asked Jeff to prevent this occurrence. Jeff did not know for sure if he had such a resilient Nook, nor could we think of a way to test this particular resilience on the streets of Kansas City. I settled for believing that a hard case (for the Nook) might suffice. Of course, there is only one way to find out for sure.

I also noticed, as part of this same experience, that a distinctive calming influence comes over me when I am in a bookstore thumbing through the titles, reading snatches of thought. Just being with new ideas—what a peaceful joy it brings me. How empowered I feel with new world upon new world begging to be explored, standing at attention on shelf after shelf and calling out to me.

The experience that money bought:
The second experience I bought with money, or rather a kind person bought me for Christmas. A zero degree down sleeping bag. Good to zero Fahrenheit. Weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces. Amazingly light. Shiny black. Top tech gear. 900 fill goose down. Quantum Pertex shell. This is gear that can only be appreciated by those who have been out of doors and have frozen nigh to death when the temps dipped at night below the capacity of the bag they were in, enduring hour after hour of numbing cold, longing for day to dawn, with the cold turning the minutes to hours (thanks Gordon Lightfoot for the language), as I have.

I have a lot to say about sleeping bags and gear in general….but suffice to say I daresay I was the only person in our neighborhood sleeping out behind their house last night, (on the side of a cliff, really) during our freezing night. Testing the bag. Before deciding that I would trust it on multi-day backpacks (for the next 10 years, which is how long my last bag lasted). The new bag performed well. It was a damp night given a lot of rain recently. So my bag got quite wet on the outside and the damp became a frozen coating of ice by morning. But I was cozy warm as can be all night. Just my nose a little cold.


This bag will enable many experiences, and travel to many places in the next decade. It will likely be mentioned in my will, so the kids don’t fight over it.

Still deciding on the Nook. Paper is so dependable and bear-proof.




  1. Thanks for helping me understand how I can spend hours in bookstores, spend no money and come away feeling enriched. Yesterday at Barnes and Noble was such an event and all I bought was coffee.

    I use my gen 1 iPad like a Nook and it has been flawless. the sturdy case has made that possible.

  2. I think all Readers (with a capital R) find that same serenity in bookstores.

    I switched over to a Kindle about 5-6 years ago and during our last move, I donated stacks of paperbacks to the local library. As I’d collected those novels, I’d envisioned reading them in my old age, revisiting “friends” from the past. However in the end, I felt too guilty continuing to buy and store and move books in the paper form.

    My kids still enjoy and need (for English Lit notes) the paper form of books, and I love taking them to the bookstore. They browse the shelves, mostly judging the books by their covers. They’re young and haven’t learned that you can’t do that. 😉 The electronic interface of books on Amazon, iBooks and the like just can’t compare with strolling down the aisle and letting your eyes wander. I wish they could. The convenience of e-books can’t be beat but the ambiance still leaves a lot to be desired.

  3. I was there with Dad in the store. I did a doubletake when he admitted that he had never been in that Barnes and Noble before. Yet I also remembered when I made my first visit and experienced a similar sort of amazement at an escalator in a bookstore. I think you are better off with a good diamondlight and a paper book myself. Read it slow and really savor it, imagine it all out in your own little mind movie. Only if that doesn’t make you a sitting duck for bears though.

  4. You must have been in the B&N on the plaza. i can’t believe that was your first visit. My boys and I have long been fans of bookstores. The big ones are okay, but the off-beat ones with the used philosophy books and cool poetry sections are the best. We found one in SanFrancisco that was pretty great. And one in Philly, and several in DC. Kansas City has fewer of those than it used to, unfortunately. I am old-school, i like paper books.Reading a book gives you the tactile pleasure the turning page, and the sound of a cracking spine, and the smell of an old treasure (is there anything like the smell of a library book? And reading a book gives you the sense of where you’ve been and how long to the end. Imagine reading on a nook and not realizing you were on the last page, missing the savoring that comes as the last words walk across your mind…what a shame that would be. I understand the convenience of the lightweight nooks and kindles but i spend enough time looking at screens at work. Let me ask you this, if you wrote book capturing your thoughts or sharing secrets and wisdom and adventures, would you imagine your readers holding it in their hands or seeing it on a nook?

  5. Hmmm…..To Nook or not to Nook.

    I have a Kindle purchased as a gift for my numerous trips to Brazil. It went exactly once. The paperbacks in the loaner/donar of the pousada were more interesting. Sad but true. One could postulate that I had made poor choices. The truth is, I am cheap when it comes to books so I bought cheap online. No trade in section to cruise. My daughter loaned me hers for one trip…still I chose the paperbacks and left the gadget in the suitcase. Both units made the trip just fine so if you want to borrow my Kindle, I’ll dig it out and dust it off.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: