Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 9, 2013


Host: Ted Simons

Author Roger Naylor


  • Travel writer Roger Naylor will discuss his latest work: “Death Valley: Hottest Place on Earth.” Naylor’s guidebook is filled with information, history, facts, humor and spectacular photographs.
Guests:
  • Roger Naylor - Travel Writer
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: travel, photography,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Travel writer Roger Naylor has a new book. His latest work is "Death Valley Hottest Place on Earth." It's a guidebook filled with history, humor, and spectacular photographs. Roger Naylor is here to discuss his new book. It's good to have you here. Congratulations on the book.

Roger Naylor: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Ted Simons: This is a beautiful production here. In this day of E books and ibooks, this is a good old fashioned book.

Roger Naylor: I'm an old fashioned kind of guy. I like to hold a book in my hand, I like to see the photos, I like that weight and significance of it.

Ted Simons: I know you've described yourself as a travel writer who hates to travel.

Roger Naylor: I do.

Ted Simons: Explain.

Roger Naylor: I don't budge. I'm very fortunate. I live in Arizona, and that's % of what I write is just Arizona. And the rest of it is just our neighbors. The southwest. I don't go beyond the southwest. So I write all these travel stories for magazines and newspapers, but I'm just writing about yeah back yard.

Ted Simons: Why did you include death valley in your back yard?

Roger Naylor: I'm a desert guy. I love the desert. Is not a lifestyle I recommend. Loving the desert is like being in a relationship with someone who constantly tries to kill you. You always forgive them. But I'm just drawing to it. If you have a passion for that starkness, for that desert, you're drawn to death valley. It's the biggest and baddest of all of them.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, in terms of austerity, that's it. I can't think of a place where things just seem to separate and alone and quiet.

Roger Naylor: It is. It is the quietest place I've ever been in my life, and I spent a lot of time in the back country. I'm in a lot of distant places. So I'm accustomed to that, but I've never heard a silence like in death valley. It's not even just an absence of sound, it's like a debunking of sound. It's like sound doesn't even exist. It took me a while to think about that, because a lot of times you're in places where there are no leaves to rustle, there is no lizards, no birds flying -- There is nothing, no insects, it is just -- It's eerie, but it's stunning. It just overwhelms.

Ted Simons: You when you decided to write the book, what did you expect to find when you went there, and what did you find?

Roger Naylor: I went for the desert. I'm drawn to that. I was astonished by the diversity, because the desert is a massive, but the you also have these beautiful canyons, these soaring mountains, beautiful meadows, sand dunes, old ghost towns, beautiful wetlands. Waterfall. I just found it all. It's just amazing once you start rambling around and exploring and seeing all this that's here. Death valley is the largest national park in the lower . It's the size of Connecticut. It's a big place.

Ted Simons: When you were rambling around in this big ole place, did you go all season of the year, and that includes summer?

Roger Naylor: I went -- The first time I went was the summer. As soon as I signed the contract for the book I went middle of July. I figure you can't write a book about death valley if you're not going to be there at its peak. And I was there middle of July, and I'm doing a little hiking, which is pretty -- I'm thinking it's pretty hard core. So I was there while they were doing the most grueling foot race on the planet. It's the bad water trawl marathon, where they start lowest point in the lower states, run to the highest. miles cross death valley, middle of July. So you know, I'm thinking I'm pretty tough because I'm hiking three or four miles and I meet these ultra marathoners. Next to them I'm like Jabba the hut. These are some mean athletic people.

Ted Simons: Tough would be one word describe them. Did you see much sign of human inhabitants?

Roger Naylor: Yes. Scattered here and there, there's beautiful ghost towns. For people who like that sort of thing, who are into ghost towns, there's -- In different place, death valley has such an amazing history of mining activity, and around in the desert things endure. Things last. They get very weathered and worn, but there's some spectacular ghost towns. Even some of the ones where the remains are small, you still -- I like doing that discovery. I like finding old foundations, and then when you come out like one of the -- In Titus canyon, you're driving through this twisty canyon, and there's this little -- A few little buildings still perched on the hillside. Oh, man that's so nice.

Ted Simons: As far as the photographs, it's not a picture book, but the photographs are special. Did you take these, did you work with someone --

Roger Naylor: I wish I did. There were multiple photographers that snapped photos. My brother-in-law has a whole bunch of photos, and some other terrific professional photographers and, yeah, it really -- That's one of the things I wanted to do, is make sure that the photos jump off the page. And you need that for size. That's one of the things I liked about the large size of the book, because you want to see that immensity, you want to see that color, and that's what death valley is all about. It's all about color and texture. I've never been to a place where everything is expossed and you think there's not much here and you start watching the light change, and the textures change.

Ted Simons: I thought one of the quotes was interesting, death valley has all the advantages of hell without the inconvenience.

Roger Naylor: That was from one of the old newspapers.

Ted Simons: Did you find that to be the case?

Roger Naylor: Absolutely, yeah. It is still -- I like the fact it's still wilderness. That it's still -- You're still so far removed. Cell phones don't work for the most part, other than just in one little area or two. Your GPS is very unreliable. They warn you not to depend that because there's so many old mining roads I.T. can take you on and it gets people in trouble. So you're kind of out on your own. And I'm an old fashioned guy, I like that experience. I like being able to not being able to punch up something on the phone and figure out what this is. I've got to solve it myself. I've got to get to it and figure out what it is. I like that.

Ted Simons: I imagine you can find the north star pretty easily.

Roger Naylor: the stars are pretty stunning. If you're there during a full moon to see the full moon rise over the salt flats is something you don't forget.

Ted Simons: Last question, this is death valley, your previous book was route .

Roger Naylor: Just the Arizona portion. Arizona kicks on route .

Ted Simons: What's next?

Roger Naylor: I'm working on a third book, it's an Arizona hiking and dining guide called "Boots and Burgers." Because that's my favorite day. Hike a trail, eat a great Hamburger. Tell mow I don't have a great job. [laughter]

Ted Simons: Congratulations on a variety of fronts, but especially on a very nice book.

Roger Naylor: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," physicist Lawrence Krauss joins us For his monthly look at the latest science news, including a post mayor item on a comet that recently grazed the sun. That's Tuesday evening at and on "Arizona Horizon." Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening


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