Globetrotting travel writer Lori Erickson has long searched for the sacred in locations and cultures far from home as well as in her beloved Iowa. But when the pandemic put both air travel and in-person worship off-limits, Lori and her husband hit the road with a camper in tow to discover spiritual sites and experiences in their own home country.
From the Serpent Mound of Ohio to the Redwoods of California—and, ultimately, by air to see natural wonders in Alaska and Hawaii—Erickson uncovers deep connections both to the lands that now make up the United States and to the elements that have had sacred meaning to people throughout history and across the globe. Through her profound, informative, and witty reflections on the power of stone, water, light, fire, and more, readers will discover new destinations in North America while deepening their own connection to spirit. Whether exploring national parks or visiting holy sites, this book makes for the perfect spiritual companion and guide.
Growing up in a passionately Norwegian-American Iowa town, Lori Erickson rolled her eyes at traditions like Nordic Fest and steaming pots of rømmegrøt. But like many Americans, she eventually felt drawn to genealogy, the “quintessential hobby of middle age.” Her quest to know more about the Vikings and immigrants who perch in her family tree led her to visit Norse settlements and reenactments, medieval villages and modern museums, her picturesque hometown and her ancestor’s farm on the fjords.
Along the way, Erickson discovers how her soul has been shaped by her ancestors and finds unexpected spiritual guides among the seafaring Vikings and her hardscrabble immigrant forebears. Erickson’s far-ranging journeys and spiritual musings show us how researching family history can be a powerful tool for inner growth. Travel with Erickson to learn how the spirits of your ancestral past can guide you today.
After her brother died unexpectedly and her mother moved into a dementia-care facility, spiritual travel writer and Episcopal deacon Lori Erickson felt called to a new quest: to face death head on, with the eye of a tourist and the heart of a pastor. Blending memoir, spirituality, and travel, Near the Exit examines how cultures confront and have confronted death, from Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and Mayan temples, to a Colorado cremation pyre and Day of the Dead celebrations, to Maori settlements and tourist-destination graveyards.
Erickson reflects on mortality: the ways we avoid it, the ways we cope with it, and the ways life is made more precious by accepting it, in places as far away as New Zealand and as close as the nursing home up the street. Throughout her personal journey and her travels, Erickson helps us to see that one of the most life-affirming things we can do is to invite death along for the ride.
From her childhood on an Iowa farm, Lori Erickson grew up to travel the world as a writer specializing in holy sites—journeys that led her on an ever-deepening spiritual quest. In Holy Rover, she weaves her personal narrative with descriptions of a dozen pilgrimages.
Her trips give Erickson the chance to reflect on her Lutheran upbringing, her flirtation with Wicca, and her admiration for Tibetan Buddhism. A trip to the healing shrine of Lourdes is intertwined with the story of her son’s serious illness as a baby, while visiting Thoreau’s Walden Pond blends with ruminations on being a writer.
Along the way, Erickson encounters spiritual leaders who include the chief priest of the Icelandic pagan religion of Asatru, a Trappist monk at Thomas Merton’s Gethsemani Abbey, and a Lakota retreat director at South Dakota’s Bear Butte.
Erickson is an engaging guide for pilgrims eager to take a spiritual journey. Her book describes travels that changed her life—and can change yours, too.
Additional Travel Books
Iowa: Off the Beaten Path
A journey along the highways and byways of Lori’s home state.
The Joy of Pilgrimage
A reflection on spiritual travels.
Sweet Corn & Sushi
This bilingual book in English and Japanese was chosen as the 2004 Iowa Children’s Book of the Year and given to 40,000 children.
The Mighty Mississippi: A Traveler’s Guide
A guide to the attractions, lore and history of America’s greatest river.