People told me to forget about seeing the Liberty Bell while in Philadelphia, that the crowds would be too much. Amateurs! They did not know that your best shot at seeing the Liberty Bell is to arrive in February in conjunction with a city paralyzing snow storm. (Ask me anything! I’m a travel expert!) I slogged through the snow to the pavilion that houses the bell, and there was no one there — it was me, two park rangers, and… that was it. 15 minutes later, a group of Chinese students appeared and did nothing to detract from my experience.
It is bad to have regrets when you travel, and yet, I regret not asking the students what they thought of this symbol of American freedom and democracy.
AOL Travel has a series of guides to spring break — I wrote the Seattle one. I haven’t had a real spring break since uh, I think I’ve done the classic “go to Mexico” spring break one time. Plus, in Seattle, spring doesn’t hit in earnest until June. Still, I know what it means to be at loose ends and pining for sunnier days in this rainy city. Here’s the whole list of cities, and here’s Spring Break Seattle style. Did I forget anything?
The 2014 Solas Best Travel Writing Awards have been announced; I took second place in the Adventure Travel category for an essay about traveling in India at the impossibly young age of 19. I’ve been trading email with a friend who thinks that the “MacBook Air dad pays my roaming charges” millennials should get off his lawn as they know, excuse me, fuck all about what it means to be on a real adventure. When I reread my story I had to concede he might have a point. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that adventure is dead, not by a long shot. But I do think that the nature of travel for Kids These Days has changed in ways that make it so much easier. The travel I wrote about for this story was — decide for yourself. The essay is called The Same River Twice — read it here.
I’m heading back to Alaska, a place that has gotten under my skin for the amazing nature and I’ll be honest, weirdos I’ve come across while visiting The Last Frontier. One of those weirdos Scott McMurren (he’s behind the Alaska Travelgram, a site with advice and deals for/about Alaska) he’s invited me to give a talk about travel, travel stories and why they matter at his Alaska Summer Showcase. I’m excited about having the podium to myself and also, I’m psyched for Scott who is making something cool happen. The event is March 29th — and hey, if you’re up thataway, I’d sure love to meet you for pizza or crab legs or beer or whatever — drop me a line.
The Book Passage Travel Writer’s and Photographer’s Conference is August 14-17 and I’m delighted to be teaching again this year. My favorite people from travel publishing will be there — Spud Hilton from the SF Chronicle, Andrew Evans from National Geographic Traveler, Jim Benning from World Hum, for starters, and I love the folks that run the place, (probably the Commander Hadfield thing has a little bit to do with that). The best thing about teaching at Book Passage is that it’s small and that means there’s time to get to know people, to have meaningful conversations about their work. I always leave inspired and with new friends. You should come, even if it’s only to hear an evening talk.
Finally, a plug for an internet friend and a question. I’ve been trading email with the nerdy and talented Marian Call. We’ve been talking about collaborating on a Seattle show — my band’s slammin’ ukulele crazy for a set, her smarty-pants song writing and gorgeous voice for a set — you get it. Got a venue you’d suggest? I’m thinking C&P Coffee not entirely unselfishly, I like those guys and it’s right there, but if you’ve got a place you like… Thanks.
There’s a pause because I couldn’t remember the next chord. It’s one take, only, the first only, no sheet music. Sing along, why doncha?
There is no need to go hunting for inspiration or the wonders of the natural universe, you can see them from everywhere, even from the uncomfortable back bench seat of a rented minivan.
I’ve got a story in the San Francisco Chronicle about visiting Sedona. I’m grateful to have visited there before their latest political idiocy went public.
I still get on the subway going the wrong way, lock myself out of my hotel room, and end up at the airport a day before I’m supposed to be there.
I was in Philly on assignment for a magazine story. This is not that story. Most, but not all, of my travel expenses were covered by Visit Philly.
On the last day of my trip to Philadelphia, the sky was gray, there was a mix of snow and rain falling, and it was windy. When I looked out my hotel window, I could see umbrellas being turned inside out, people hunched into their jackets. Higher up wet flags flapped in the wind.… continued…
11 Inspiring Stories Of People Who Left Normal Life And Embarked On An Adventure
If you follow social media and travel, you had to be hiding under a rock to miss BuzzFeed’s piece on travelers who “Left Normal Life and Embarked on an Adventure.” I managed to ignore it for the first 24 hours, then I was hammered with vitriolic commentary from friends who have Had it Up to Here with This Kind of Thing. They wanted to tell me all about it, directly or indirectly, and in some cases, had valid criticisms like:
- Where are the brown people?
The day before the winter storm warning was released, I got an email from my editor. “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry, your story has been delayed. We still need it, we’re still going to run it, but probably not until summer.” I looked at my tickets — I was leaving in the morning and thought, “What the hell. I’m going to Philly.” I packed my big parka, threw in some snow pants just in case, and off I went.… continued…