Lawrence Winkler – Orion’s Cartwheel

coverTitle: Orion’s Cartwheel

Author: Lawrence Winkler

ISBN:    978-0-9916941-1-2


Page count: 340

Genre: Travel adventure

Price: 9.99


Author Bio: 

Lawrence Winkler is an ancient physician and phenomenologist, traveler, mushroom forager, and amateur naturalist. As a young man, he hitchhiked around the world, for five transformative years.

His middle age is morphing from medicine to manuscript. He has a passion for habitat protection, including the (hopefully) final repairs on a leaky roof. Westwood Lake Chronicles was his first book.

He lives on Vancouver Island with Robyn and Shiva, tending their garden and vineyard, and dreams.



Tell us about your book:

In the summer of 1980, a maverick young doctor gave it all up, to hitchhike around the world.

The first arc he carved with his thumb stopped a little red pickup that took him over the horizon. Like his mythical hunter companion, Orion, he was on a vision quest, propelled toward the dawn to have his sight restored.

This is the story of that five-year odyssey to discover his Destiny.


How long did it take to write the book?

One year


What inspired you to write the book?

Five year hitchhiking odyssey around the world


Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?

Whenever I get a spare moment and my writing moccasins are near


What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?



Where can we go to buy your book?

Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble


Any other links or info you’d like to share?


Excerpt from book:

Orion’s Cartwheel

is an inaccurate name for this story, of course. Orion doesn’t do cartwheels. As you cross the equator from the northern to the southern hemisphere, he does a handstand, but he never turns all the way over in a complete circle. As you travel north again Orion ‘rights himself,’ something my parents were hoping would happen to me, as I followed a sinusoidal summer of the five years I was on the road. The problem is that you can’t call such an epic journey ‘Orion’s Handstand.’ There is no progress and no cachet. With cartwheels you get commitment, completion, and closure. You get the odyssey you signed up for. Push on through to the other side. Orion’s Cartwheel, it is.



“Aim for knowledge. If you become poor it will be wealth for you.

If you become rich it will adorn you.”

El-Zubeir, son of Abu-Bakr


“Paging Dr. Winkler. Paging Dr. Winkler”.

They were always paging Dr. Winkler. Like I didn’t have anything else to do.

It was my intern training year in Straight Medicine, and I was experiencing all the joys of the ultimate sensory deprivation trip- no sleep, no natural light, no decent food, no time to eat it in, no regular forms of intercourse (social and otherwise) and, whatever self esteem I might have had going into this tunnel, hell, the Senior Residents would take that as well. I was one of the lucky ones, however. My route had been incubating for over two years. I was going over the top.

It’s not that I wasn’t enjoying my apprenticeship. I adored my patients, especially the old natives and the new immigrants. I loved the thrill of the diagnostic chase, the intellectual chess games at morning rounds, the midnight save (can you dance with the devil in the Pale moonlight), and the Spartan dedication to a Calling, bigger and older than I would ever become. Medicine ran in my veins, and I was good at it. Numerous Department Heads courted me, with promises of Fellowships and my own special clinical unit, ‘when I returned.’ But they had no idea where I would be coming from.

They found out from my Program Director, near the end of my year’s indenturedness. It was customary to meet with him to sign next year’s contract, and so he could refamiliarize himself with your face, in case you did.

“I don’t think I’m going to sign this, Bob.” I said, pushing the forms back in his direction.

“Huh. How come?” This had never happened to him before.

“I’ve been planning a little sabbatical.”

“But you just got here, Wink.” Now intrigued.

“I’ve been planning it for awhile.” I said.

“Where are you going?” We both waited for it.

“I was thinking of hitchhiking around the World”.

He didn’t even blink. “How long do you think you’ll need for that?”

“About five years, give or take”.

Then he paused, and played a bit with his beard.

“Call me from Bangkok. We’ll see what we can do.”


*         *        *


“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”




I was doing my internship in Manitoba. For my sins. On one fine day back East, in my old medical school the previous year, just before we were all due to be matched to new geographies for our internships, the Dean of Medicine happened to walk into the pool shower room, on his way to what he thought would be a quiet noon hour swim. My best buddy, Hawkeye, and I were coming out. The Dean was going in. We had our swimsuits on. He didn’t. It would be fair to say that we enjoyed something of a reputation. Hawkeye gave me one of those looks that I knew was trouble.

“No”, I said, already too late. Hawkeye had his arms. I grabbed his feet and, as we heave-hoed him into the coeducational water, I swear I saw the Canadian prairies materialize outside the windows. Hawkeye did just as well. He was exiled to Saskatchewan. Both of us were going to have a very flat, very dark, and very cold year. I kept telling myself that there would be no distractions to learning.

There was one. She was a nurse I had met in Boston, during an elective the previous year. After two months on an Intensive Care Rotation in the middle of winter, I got my one-month holiday and flew down to be with her. Back at her apartment, she broke the news about the new cardiologist boyfriend, and I caught the next flight back to the deep freeze. I borrowed three hundred dollars from my parents and flew to Mexico. Yo quiero sol. Torrid and Stupid both end with the Id.  I was my own damn fault for expecting her to wait until ‘after I got back.’

Every morning I would awake at 4:30, and run to one of the two teaching hospitals, through the snowdrifts and forty below zero darkness. Every night I wasn’t on call, I would run back to my tenement apartment and, with luck, arrive by 8 pm. I would wolf down whatever easy food I could find in my kitchen, and then fall asleep at my desk, while planning. And dreaming. Of Greek temples and Turkish caravanserai and Incan ruins and Indian Ocean beaches. Of Italian cathedrals and African wildlife close encounters. Of mountains conquered and friends made. I studied tents and sleeping bags and portable stoves and immigration formalities. I collected travelogues and, out of the Penguin Guide to the World’s Places, wrote out the hundreds I needed to visit, before returning home. If I even knew where that would be after five years. My brother, Jay, warned me that he didn’t want to have to spend 35 cents on a stamp, just because I might decide to marry a girl from New Zealand. Those few hours every few nights sustained me and, as the year progressed, began to shine light into the dark recesses of my solitary existence.

“How long do you think you’ll need for that?”

“About five years, give or take”.

It was just simple orbital mechanics.