GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - What if you were able to capture all your favorite days on the pages of a book and share them in a humorous, witty, and tasteful way?
Roger Naylor did just that in the pages of his newest book, "Boots and Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers."
"Boots and Burgers" is more than just another hiking guide. It leaves the readers weary from a good hike and ready to bite into the best burger of their lives. In "Boots and Burgers," Naylor captivates readers with a book that is more of a suggestion manual for those who love road trips, the outdoors and those in pursuit of good food. Naylor's insightful and creative use of words leaves your mouth watering for more.
"Imagine this," Naylor said. "In the morning, hiking in wild country, enjoy some solitude, wildlife, soak up the scenery, you walk for miles and miles, work up a sweat, work up an appetite. Then on the drive home you find a little diner or café where the burgers leap off the grill like trout from a stream. You bite into that tender, juicy, salty, beefy patty and feel like a kid again. That's my favorite day, I'll take that day anytime I can get it."
Naylor knows just how to wear you out and make your nostrils twitch, a trait he has perfected over the last 40 years spent exploring Arizona. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Naylor discovered his love for the west coast and as a boy watching the big screens of television and theaters.
"Growing up, I always loved watching westerns and so many of them that may have been set in Texas or Utah or Colorado but could have been filmed in Arizona," Naylor said, "I didn't realize until I first came to Arizona forty years ago as a college student that the scenery was real."
Naylor said all audiences can appreciate "Boots and Burgers." The fact that it's not aimed directly at hikers or diners is one of its biggest appeals.
"I hope the book goes across all the spectrums," Naylor said. "There's a bunch of hiking guides out there and they're just a sense of directions. This is actually my love letter to Arizona. It's a literary hiking guide, where I give you all the information about the trails and a lot of goofy sidebars. There's a lot of humor, a lot of rambling thoughts and historic tidbits. Then I tie in additional attractions around the area. I've tried to make it more of an adventure."
With 170 pages of photographs, "Boots and Burgers" allows readers to picture themselves sliding into a booth at Twister's Diner in Williams or hiking down a quiet trail in the wilds of the White Mountains.
"I wanted the book to appeal to hikers, to people who just like to eat, to people who want to take road trips around this gorgeous state or to couch potatoes who just want to enjoy the beautiful photos and kind of get a feeling for it," Naylor explained. "Not everybody is going to want to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, but I think they at least want to know what it's like."
"Boots and Burgers" covers every corner of the state showing no prejudice when it comes to food.
"(The book) talks about hot dog stands. I've got a couple of Mexican restaurants, pizza parlors, bar-b-que joints, and ice cream parlors. My wife's a vegetarian and most of these places, she has no problem finding something she enjoys," Naylor said.
Over the last forty years, Naylor has averaged 20,000 miles under his shoes. He has covered his share of trails and has discovered a love for both the mountains and the deserts of Arizona. While researching Boots and Burgers, Naylor visited one of his favorite hiking trails in the Dragoon Mountains in southern Arizona.
"I've got a trail down there where you hike to Cochise Stronghold and that might have been one of my favorite days when I was putting this book together," Naylor shared, "I had hiked it many times before, but it had been a few years. I had forgotten how spectacular it was and how peaceful. The scenery is just so gorgeous. I gladly took the trail and had a wonderful burger afterwards."
"Boots and Burgers" is compatible enough to take with you on the road or to be waiting for you when you return. Naylor said he hopes readers will get as much enjoyment out of the experience as he had researching and writing it.
"I just love that stuff," Naylor said. "You walk off a few calories and you pack them back on and I admire the zen like simplicity of that. It tastes so much better at the end of a hike. You earn the burger."
"Boots and Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers" is available in stores across the state, locally in Williams, Arizona and online through Amazon. Roger Naylor is currently traveling Arizona for special appearances and book signings. A complete list of his itinerary can be found on his website at rogernaylor.com