On her after-breakfast walks along West Cliff Drive in Santa Cruz, California, during our August vacations there, my wife, Terry, wears a daisy-yellow gardening hat she says she would be embarrassed to be seen in anyplace else, including a mirror. She bought the hat in a store across from the Santa Cruz boardwalk a few years ago; it has an exaggerated front brim and a girlish bow on the back whose daintiness she defeats by undoing the cotton ribbons and knotting them under her chin, Annie Oakley—style. She wears the hat because it's the only one she's found that effectively shades her face from the sun here on the coast, which even on breezy days can be searing once it burns away the morning fog and begins to reflect off the Monterey Bay.
Except for those mornings when I surprise her by walking with her as far as the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum (a shrine to the sport and the lifestyle squeezed into the ground floor of a lighthouse about three quarters of a mile from our hotel), I protect myself from sunburn by hiding indoors, lying in bed with the remote control and hoping to catch a Perry Mason rerun or an episode of VHl's Behind the Music. If nothing on television amuses me, or when I become embarrassed for the people on Jerry Springer or Jenny Jones, I take a book out to the balcony.
One of these years I'll get around to reading a few of the minor contemporaries of D. H. Lawrence whose work Paul Fussell discusses in Abroad, his 1980 book on British travel writing between the world wars. "Travel books are a sub-species of memoir," Fussell argues, and then goes on to quote a writer named Norman Douglas that "'the ideal book of this