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To Find Out: A hitchhiker's journey around the world. Paperback – April 5, 2012
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About the Author
Steve Cavin grew up in a small town in southeast Michigan, about an hour north of Detroit. At the age of 17, he began camping out in the backyard, testing out his tent, sleeping bag, and stove. At 18, he left home with fifty-seven dollars, and began hitchhiking west around the world. Four years and 30,000 miles later he returned, with eleven dollars and a Chinese fiancée. Mr. Cavin has worked many different jobs, crewing sailboats in California, picking fruit in Australia, teaching English in Hong Kong, fishing in the Israeli desert, and packing coffee in England. He now works as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, where he lives with his wife and three sons. He practices archery, runs meditation retreats in the mountains, and hosts an open microphone in the local coffee shop, where he tells stories and reads his poetry.
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Top customer reviews
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The book covers a period of four years and a LOT of travel by land and sea with many interesting stops along the way. Cavin has a very nice and "breezy" writing style that never bogs down or slows down with unnecessary details, overwrought descriptions or pontificating philosophical or political commentary. The narrative passages, however, are interspersed with a few dozen brief "Traveler's Notes"; this is where Cavin, with admirable economy of words and a total lack of self-aggrandizing, injects his own thoughts, opinions and wisdom. I found this format and approach very suitable and enjoyable.
In addition to the fluid and profluent writing style, what gives the book character and makes it interesting is Steve Cavin himself. The way he approaches situations with a child-like curiosity turns otherwise "so what?" locations and situations into engaging and illuminating episodes. For example, I've read many accounts of travelers visiting the Dead Sea; most of them give you a history, background and scientific facts about this unique body of water, they tell you how the saline level in this sea is so high that nothing can live in it and it's so buoyant that swimming is more like floating. But Cavin, sees the Dead Sea as a playground, he tries to dive and touch the bottom and but he can't overcome the upward push of the water which "spits him" back up every time. So he loads himself with heavy rocks until he can succeed at his task. Later, he and a friend, play cards in the Dead Sea - with the cards floating on the sea as if they were on a table.
One of the main criteria by which I judge a book is the degree to which I want to keep reading on; by this criteria "To Find Out" succeeds 100%. I was looking forward to reading each successive chapter and, yes, I was disappointed when I finished the book a couple of days later.
In addition to the many stories within the story is a host of practical tips for would-be adventurers of the hardy (hitch-hiking) kind. These also seem to be unobtrusively woven together like navigation aids in a greater kind of practical philosophy for adventurers of the daily kind--those of us at home or behind a desk.
Thoroughly enjoyable and easily accessible, this book can be read in one or many sittings: Because of the many brief episodes, the book is perfect for opening to any page for a few minutes diversion, while being amply engrossing to read non-stop cover-to-cover. I recommend this both for any young one contemplating other-worldly journeys, as well as those for whom such adventures are the stuff of dreams.
One thing I would like to have seen is a map where "X" marked the spots with dates, but that's more because I like maps than because it's needed for the story. It would also be interesting to know if this sated Mr. Cavin's propensity for testing boundaries, or if and how he may have passed this penchant and its lessons along to his sons.