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Word of Mouth: Music, Words, Gear


A few of my favorite things for summer ….

I’ve been listening to Brazilian Café, the latest release by Putumayo. It's a compilation of samba, jazz and bossa nova by artists such as Djavan, Marcia Salomon and Ana Costa, among others. Perfect mellow mood music for the last road trip of the summer…


The Coast of Maine
by Carl Heilman II (Rizzoli; $17.95) is filled with several hundred full-page color photographs of the coastline of my favorite state. The kicker is the definition of “full page” – the book measures just 7 X 5 inches. This gives fresh meaning to the term "coffee table book." How about “night stand book?" Call it whatever you want, the size is perfect, as are most of the photos. The book will get you jazzed about a late summer trip up old Route 1. But it would also be the ideal house gift, should you be lucky enough to be invited to someone's Bar Harbor home in August …

Timex As much as I love the lines of rugged sports watches made by a couple of well-known companies in Switzerland, I find a lot to admire in Timex Expedition watches. This company, long associated with simple, budget-minded timepieces, has expanded and offers a large range of expedition-style watches. And you can't beat the prices, which are at least 50 to 75 percent lower than their Euro competitors. That alone makes me feel less guilty about banging them up (and yes, they still keep ticking). My personal favorite is the Expedition Camper, which retails for $42. Hey, if it's good enough for mountaineer Conrad Anker, it works for me…                     

Bighorn I recently discovered Ecogear, which makes a stylish yet rugged line of daypacks. They're also Planet friendly ones (toxic-free, PVC-free, Chlorine-free and free of dioxin, phthalates and heavy metals). I’m always eager to find a bag that fits all my stuff (computer, notebooks, books, headphones, camera, tape recorder, and the dozen or so cords, chargers and jacks that make a plugged-in life on the road possible) and rarely happy with what I find. So I decided to use Ecogear’s Bighorn pack and dragged it around Nepal for three weeks. It survived Yeti Air flights and severe thrashings in beaten-down buses and taxis. It allowed me to cram if full with an ever-expanding collection of rocks, water bottles, granola bar wrappers and souvenir puppets for my daughter. Thumbs up, it's a great bag and at a great price (now $49.95), the kind of tough gear you could expect to use for years. If you're not going to Nepal, it would work just as well on the F train to Brooklyn or the Alaska state ferry system.

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