Northwest Books: Taking the wild out of wilderness

Northwest Books: Taking the wild out of wilderness

BACKCOUNTRY BETTY: Roughing it in Style

By Jennifer Worick

Skipstone & Mountaineers Books

Paperback, 168 pages

Spring is just around the corner and that great guy you've been dazzling with your glamorous lifestyle the last few weeks begins pulling sleeping bags, tents and fishing gear out of his closet. Or maybe your husband - the one who's been taking you to parties and plays and the opera for the last 30 years - is retiring and suddenly announces he's hankering to experience the great outdoors.

The great outdoors? Where the heck do you plug in the hairdryer? This could be the end of a beautiful friendship.

But for members of the "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em" school, this outdoor guide is made to order. According to the author, even the most citified glamour girl can adapt to the great outdoors if she knows a few tricks.

Worick mixes a basic and quite complete camping and outdoor guide with a steady diet of tips on how a woman can stay ahead of the beauty and glamour curve far from the world of spas and hairdressers. With a healthy dose of humor and frank talk, it becomes fun stuff to read - even for a clueless man. In fact, there probably are as many lessons in the book for a man as there are for a woman.

Worick covers just about everything imaginable. In the chapter on glamour gear, she points out the dual-purpose qualities of products such as lip gloss (which can double as a fire-starter) or perfume (which can sterilize a wound). In the chapter on camp food, there are easy-to-prepare recipes using basic ingredients to create gourmet dishes in the wilderness. In the chapter on sex in the wild (Oh yes, there's a chapter on sex - why else would you head into the bear-infested wilderness in the first place?), there are tips on such things as coping with the restrictions of a low-ceiling, two-person tent and foods with supposed aphrodisiac qualities to add to the trail mix.

All the fun stuff is mixed in with the important stuff, such as how to build a fire and how to stay safe. A lot of the advice is common sense that any woman probably already knows, such as avoiding a swim in the ocean during that time of the month (sharks smell blood two miles away, you know), but those kind of reminders can't do any harm. Everyone should have an idea of what to do in an encounter with animals such as bears, and there are tips here on that, too.

Worick makes it clear the key to staying ahead of the game in the wild is preparation. With a little imagination and some tips from this book, a woman should be able to keep the mystery alive even in the sponge-bath world. Sure, you're not going camping in the middle of January, but June is just around the corner and the guy in your life already may be feeling the call of the wild. It wouldn't hurt to have this pocket-size guide in your backpack.

Hmmm. "Hey honey, where did you put that little two-man tent I bought a couple of years ago?"

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Bill Andrus is book review editor for the East Oregonian.

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