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Armchair Venturing Down Book Lane

<i> James is a Los Angeles free-lance writer. </i>

Gerda Pantel has compiled an authoritative source of information in “The Canadian Bed and Breakfast Guide.” Accommodations are highlighted with easy-to-read symbols. With the ever-increasing Canadian hosts offering cozy escapes in friendly surroundings, this guide should help you discover a pleasant change of pace (Fitzhenry & Whiteside-Chelsea Green: $10.95).

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Here are a few of the latest guides for those who enjoy B&B; accommodations: “Country Inns of the Far West,” by Jacqueline Killeen (101 Productions: $8.95); “The Bed and Breakfast Traveler--Touring the West Coast,” by Lewis Green (Pacific Search: $10.95); “Room at the Inn--Close to the Twin Cities,” by Laura Zahn (Down to Earth: $7.95), and “Country Inns and Backroads--North America,” by Norman T. Simpson (Harper & Row: $10.95). The guides offer a tad more than the essential information and include sketches or photos of the accommodations. First-timers or aficionados will enjoy the guides.

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Dining and dancing to soft music, strolling beaches, selecting an ocean-front hotel and much more can be found in “Hidden Hawaii,” by Ray Riegert. The more adventurous can trek to a volcano, discover trails surrounded by lush foliage or enjoy views from high mountains. Sun-seekers visiting the islands will find the guide worth $12.95 (Ulysses).

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For camping or lodging “The Mobile Travel Guide--Major Cities 1987" (Prentice Hall: $8.95) furnishes quality ratings to facilities in 53 cities. These Rand McNally guides: “R.V. Park & Campground Directory--1987 for the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico” ($12.95); “Camp for Under $10 a day--Western U.S.A. and Western Canada” ($5.95), and “Camp Canada” ($4.95) are all informative, depending on the direction you may be heading.

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Consumer Report Books has two excellent guides--"Hotels, Pubs and Restaurants for London” ($13) and “Scotland and the Lake District” ($11). The text is candidly frank and locations of the places are cross-indexed on maps. The choice of expenditure covers a wide base from budget to luxury establishments and accommodations. The selections were compiled from guides published by the Consumers Assn. of Great Britain.

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A major concern after landing on the Continent is how to get from one place to another. With “Fly/Ride Europe--1987,” by Ed Perkins, one can find out how to get the best transportation values to and around Europe. The guide furnishes hundreds of tips for saving from $100 to $200 on air tickets, auto rentals, Eurailpasses and more. (Consumer Reports: $13).

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“The Enchanted Islands--The Galapagos Discovered,” by John Hickman, chronicles the history of the islands from the time of the Inca. Travelers will be more enlightened by reviewing the motivating forces the islands underwent with conquistadors, buccaneers, pirates, explorers, colonists, etc. Charles Darwin’s thought on the origin of species took shape on this archipelago (Tanager: $17.95).

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“Ride Guide to the Historic Alaska Railroad,” by Laura Zahn and Anita Williams, is perfect for those wanting to know where they are and what to look for along the way. Thumbing the pages while riding the rails on this route will enable you to check the mileposts on cross-indexed maps with text that includes bits of history and observations about the wild rivers, scenery, landmarks, etc. (Down to Earth: $3.95).

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When you’re traveling, organization is a must, and Cris Evat explains how to do it better in “How to Pack Your Suitcase . . . and Other Travel Tips.” The guide explains ways to improve upon the once-in-awhile packing experience (especially when you’re in a foreign country) and what to do with old underwear or socks to make room for purchased goodies (Fawcett Columbine: $4.95).

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“Land of the Firewood,” by Hope Morritt, is a young woman’s observations during the construction of the Alaskan Highway. Morritt lived and worked near the edge of the wilderness and its seemingly never-ending challenges. It’s inspirational, revealing and helpful, if you decide to travel the highway (Alaska North West: $7.95).

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Enjoy picking them up and laying them down? Then you will want the “Day Hiker’s Guide to Southern California” by John McKinney. From three-mile strolls to 15-mile climbs, the guide furnishes trail maps with optional paths for trekking the desert, mountains or seashore. The guide details the scenery, suggests the best time to go and much more, including some photos. If it’s not in your bookstore, send $10.95 (plus $2 handling) to Olympus Press, P.O. Box 2397, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93120.

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“China Travel Digest--Including Hong Kong,” by Charles and Babette Jacobs, is a many-faceted revelation of China today. Although the photos are somewhat bland, the tips and suggestions for shopping, seeing, doing, staying, etc., are above average. It’s a first edition and appears to contain more and better information than many other guides. Some bookstores already stock it but it may be easier to order direct for $9.95 (plus $2 handling) from Travel Digests, 25 Coachwood Terrace, Orinda, Calif. 94563.


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