Travels with JJ is a charming, lighthearted account, about rescuing a litter of newborn orphan puppies, raising two of them, Jenny and Jeff (JJ) and traveling with them across America, to visit old friends in fondly remembered places. They drive from California to Maine and back, while listening to the “Great Ideas of Philosophy.” Along the way, they explore the volcanoes and moss covered rainforests of the Pacific Northwest; the mountains and rivers, arid high-desert and wild-open spaces of the Mountain West; the Great Plains and Great Lakes of the Midwest; and the cities and farms and summer places of the Eastern Seaboard. They learn about the lifecycles of mayflies, lodgepole pines, horseshoe crabs, and kelp; and begin to understand the ecology, regional history and cultural landscape of this vast, imperfect, and perfectly beautiful country.
Travels with JJ is a lighthearted and entertaining travelogue that moves across the United States, two canines in tow.
Lori Stewart’s captivating travelogue Travels with JJ follows the author’s cross-country journey with her two rescue dogs, Jenny and Jeff.
The golden lab mixes are five years old when they become Stewart’s traveling companions. Their bittersweet backstory is revealed in the book’s first two chapters; Stewart recalls bottle-feeding them and their three siblings after they were orphaned.
Stewart decides to drive from California to Maine to visit friends and family and “perhaps … discover a new way of looking at things.” Her book encompasses her impressions of the locales she visits, her thoughts on those places, and memories from before the trip.
Related chronologically, the trip is easy to follow, moving north and then eastward across the Great Plains, then to Washington, DC, New York City, and Maine. A two-page map clarifies the route. Stewart also reminisces about living on the East Coast in her earlier years. These memories segue well into her current trip.
Thoughtful, introspective prose with rich language is interspersed with historical tidbits, such as about the more than fifty ponds she sees dotting the roadside along Interstate 80 in Nebraska; they were originally holes dug as part of the highway’s construction. Such information is inserted nonchalantly and smoothly; Stewart’s observations are informative and educational.
The text is also marked by Stewart’s humor and whimsy. Along the way, she covers a wide variety of topics—some gleaned from audiobooks listened to while driving; most initiated by the places she visits. Engaging and informative passages cover things such as the hops crops of Washington’s Yakima Valley, which are revealed to be used medicinally as well as for beer.
Personal information is casually and sympathetically incorporated. The people whom Stewart encounters are emphasized less than what she herself thinks and believes. The dogs are the second-best fleshed out presence; they have definite personalities that come through in their mini adventures along the way.
Nearly seventy color photos are included in this slim book; not many are Stewart’s own. Stock photos and photos from friends and family make up the bulk, with the latter being the most personal. They highlight and emphasize the majestic beauty of the mentioned places, including western mountain ranges and New England forests and lakes.
Travels with JJ is a lighthearted and entertaining travelogue that moves across the United States, two canines in tow. ROBIN FARRELL EDMUNDS (July 9, 2018)
“Delicious. I learned so much and in such a gentle, enthusiastic way… history, geology, philosophy, fauna and flora not to mention the caprices of beloved dogs. I raced through it and was bereft when the travels were over.”
–ANNE GARRELS, award winning journalist, long-time foreign correspondent for NPR, and critically-acclaimed author of Naked in Bagdad and Putin Country. She lives on a farm in Norfolk, CT.
“Not everyone has two golden retrievers and a golden chance to drive across the country with them, connecting with old friends in beautiful places along the way. But in Travels with JJ you can do just that –sharing her adventures, listening to her stories and feeling as if you’ve had the best kind of an adventure with the best kind of guide. I’d follow Lori Stewart anywhere, on or off the page.”
—PHYLLIS THEROUX, essayist, columnist, teacher and critically acclaimed author of The Journal Keeper, California and Other States of Grace and various other works
There is no more delightful or eloquent travel companion than Lori Stewart. Tag along for this happy sojourn across our great country and back. You’ll learn much from a lively narrator who loves dearly the natural wonders of this beautiful place we call home. It may even inspire you to hop in a car, find a pair of congenial golden retrievers for company and follow her trail. If so, Bon Voyage!
—MARGARET MCGIRR, Greenwich, CT.
“Sharply observed, and wittily conveyed, Lori Stewart’s Travels with JJ offers a different way of looking at the world. Funny, charming and thought-provoking, it’s a journey you will want to take. “
—SONIA ANTAKI, author of Red Dove, Listen to the Wind (2019)