• Open Road

  • A Midlife Memoir of Travel Through the National Parks (Memoir Series, Book 2)
  • By: TW Neal
  • Narrated by: Sara Malia Hatfield
  • Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Fans of Cheryl Strayed's Wild, Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love will enjoy author Toby Neal's road trip travel memoir of self-discovery as she and her husband journey through the National Parks!

I had a dream to live a "normal" life and I attained it; but along the way, I lost myself. 

My story began in Freckled: A Memoir of Growing Up Wild in Hawaii, but it continued after I married the man of my dreams, completed my education with multiple degrees, had a successful career, and raised two beautiful children. 

I sacrificed to get to where I was. Though I didn't regret anything, flat on my back in the doctor's office on the cusp of my 50th birthday, my health was crumbling. 

I no longer recognized myself. 

I turned my head and saw a calendar on the wall: Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah beckoned me with its mysterious sandstone hoodoos. 

A road trip traveling through the National Parks was just what I needed to rediscover the girl I'd been. It could help me turn a corner into my new career as a writer, and my husband would enjoy a chance to photograph the natural wonders we saw.

Sometimes, a 12,000-mile road trip is also a personal quest.

©2021 Toby Neal (P)2021 Toby Neal

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What listeners say about Open Road

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Kindred spirits

As a guy and fairly adventurous photographer that has traveled through many of the US national parks, I thoroughly enjoyed the relatability of this audiobook and appreciated hearing the wife's perspective. Everything from the couple's travel planning quibbles ("We should have made reservations"), to the light chasing, and to listening to Toby's regular self-reassurance, and then hearing Toby and Mike bond back together. It's a constant ebb and flow of adventures and how they progress through travel, personal, relationship and self-challenges. I'm sure traveling couples can all relate to this book. The only reason I give the story a 4 star is because I'd prefer to be on those adventures myself.

From the performance side, Sara's narration is wonderfully paced with her usual warm tones. Having lived in Hawaii most of my life, it's nice to hear the proper pronunciation of Hawaiian words. There were some slow portions in the book that maybe could have varied in speed, but, overall a solid narration like all the other Toby Neal audiobooks.

Highly recommended, and especially if you're an avid national parks traveler.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Perfect story for those that love adventure, but especially women with an empty nest and open heart.

I listened to Toby’s earlier book, Freckled, and loved it, so I definitely wanted to see where Open Road would take me. As someone that loves hiking, our state and national parks, and am a loving mom & wife....the book gave me all the feels. With one child launched from the nest, and a graduating senior, I could relate to Toby SO much as she was beginning to navigate this stage of her life. I adore the relationship she has with her husband and I adore her love of nature. As a yoga teacher, I was surprised to hear her talk about her experiences with yoga and Ayurveda. I’m an Ayurveda coach so that was such a great surprise for me! I can’t wait to read/listen more from this author!

The narrator is the same as the one used for Freckled. If you read the reviews of that, some listeners do mention that it almost seemed the narrator has a speech impediment. But - she doesn’t. She is simply a native Hawaiian and Toby felt it very important to have that represented in her books, which she explains in Open Road. So, I get it. It would be helpful to know this going into Freckled as well. The “uhs” do not seem as pronounced in this book but the “L”s are very long and words like “cool” sound long and breathy. I totally got used to the narrator, even began to like it, and when I learned the “why” it totally all clicked. Although I have only once had the amazing opportunity to travel to Hawaii, it did not immediately register to me that this was the native dialect. I think that is to be greatly respected. But it is different, so be expecting that. 🙏🏼

An amazing book and an absolute must for women around the age of 50 that love their families and the great outdoors. ❤️ Thank you, Toby Neal, for an amazing book with perfect timing for me.

1 person found this helpful

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Not what I thought it would be

The book was not so much about the National parks but mostly about the authors personal health and emotional challenges. The narrator was VERY distracting. Her cadence was jerky and nearly every other sentence started with a sound like "uh".

1 person found this helpful