Travel writer Roger Naylor has infused two of his passions — burgers and hiking — to create the premise for his third book, Boots & Burgers: An Arizona Handbook for Hungry Hikers. The book is aimed at hikers and non-hikers and matches 37 hiking trails with nearby burger joints.
The goal of his book, Naylor says, is to get people to explore Arizona, and "walk off a few calories before packing them on again."
"I wanted to write a book that didn't exist," Naylor says. "This is by far my most personal book."
Prior to Boots & Burgers, Naylor wrote a book about Death Valley and another about stops along Route 66 in Arizona. The author has lived full time in Arizona for 20 years. He first came to the state in 1975 for college, where he learned he was more interested in exploring, drifting, and hitch hiking around the Southwest than in going to class.
As mentions in the book, Naylor says his love for burgers started from an early age, and his love for exploring Arizona developed in college while he attended Northern Arizona University.
"For some of us burgers were some of our first grown up food," he says. To Naylor, eating a burger symbolized one of the first times he got to make choices — "Do you want pickles on that? How about ketchup?"
Naylor's dining preferences tend to lean casual, and all of the restaurants featured in the book are local mom and pop stops. Some of the restaurants he features include Cowboy Club in Sedona, Grand Canyon Lodge, and Paradise Valley Burger Company.
"I always encourage people to eat at the local restaurants," Naylor says. "We need to support local neighborhood businesses."
Every time Naylor visits Jimmy's Hot Dog Company in Bisbee, the owner greets him warmly even though Naylor is only an annual visitor. "He's just a great Chicago guy. He cooks such simple food but he does it so well," the author says. "This is how restaurants are supposed to be."
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The hardest part for Naylor? Choosing one eatery per hiking location.
Boots & Burgers is available at Changing Hands bookstores or other independent shops throughout Arizona as well as online.