Backroads of Southern California: Your Guide to Southern California's Most Scenic Backroad Adventures, by David M. Wyman
It's all too easy to call photographs "stunning," but in this case the adjective is truly warranted. From wildflowers in the Antelope Valley to apple pies in Julian, every image is a work of art. Even weathered oil pipelines and abandoned pickup trucks become romantic through Wyman's lens, and when his subjects are mountain springs, wind-sculpted sand dunes, and monarch butterflies, the result is irresistibly riveting.
Wyman's photography tells enough of a story by itself that words are almost optional, but here's the great thing -- his words are just as good. For each of the routes he covers, Wyman weaves history, geology, flora, fauna, local events, and landmarks into a narrative that serves well both as a guide and as an armchair journey. These are remarkable journeys, too. The area he covers includes the highest point in the continental United States -- Mount Whitney at 14,495 feet -- to the lowest -- Badwater in Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level.
Well-drawn maps, historic photographs, and colorful quotations from other travel works and primary sources enhance Wyman's text and images. After reading Backroads of Southern California, I was left with a renewed appreciation for the region and a nagging desire to go get a few more kicks on Route 66 as well as all the other roads so beautifully portrayed in this excellent book.