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Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents    by Marty Essen Amazon.com order for
Cool Creatures, Hot Planet
by Marty Essen
Order:  USA  Can
Encante Press, 2006 (2006)
Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Marty Essen and his wife Deb launched an impressive travel goal. To visit seven continents. Using the careful traveler's guideline of taking nothing into the place they were visiting and leaving nothing behind except their footprints, Marty and Deb embraced their travel plans and embarked on adventures of which most of us would never even have dreamed.

The result is Cool Creatures, Hot Planet. The Essens love the great outdoors, and although their home state of Montana is the place they choose to live, they were sure adventure awaited beyond their front door. Marty loves snakes but is averse to heights and water, while Deb loves to scuba dive and height doesn't bother her at all. Unlikely combination? Not at all.

Marty hunted snakes, as well as other animals, with his camera in all the continents - with the exception of Antarctica - and Deb dived whenever the opportunity presented itself, including in Antarctica. They viewed all big five animals in Zimbabwe lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhinoceros. I have done the same, but comfortably from the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser. They did it more responsibly, hiked for their viewing, and deemed it a privilege to be able to do so.

The Essens are very concerned with the harm man is doing, in the name of progress, to the environment. Global warming - they've seen some of the damage it's doing and worry. Marty takes the opportunity to deliver his opinions on the U.S. president and his environment damaging policies. The Iraqi war does not meet with his approval. He's not climbing on a soapbox to expound his views, but taking the opportunity of living in a free country and being able to express himself honestly.

The couple's adventures are incredible and I'm envious. The hike in Borneo took a lot of courage for a man afraid of heights. Marty was able to handle many of the snakes they hunted. Especially on the Amazon. Been there, done that, but left the snakes alone. He's braver than I. Regarding Canada and the wolves, he regrets the baggage of prejudice that wolves carry. According to Marty, they are not the vicious creatures ranchers (who are using American government land without recompense to graze their herds) claim they are.

I surely can't recount all the wonderful things Marty and Deb witnessed and experienced. Not enough space. Fortunately Marty wrote his book and you can share the duo's thrills without any of the discomforts that go along with adventure travel. Don't miss this one.

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