I experienced my first whiff of adventure travel when I ran away from home at the age of 7 (unfortunately, one of many prison escapes). After an argument (yep, I was given to those as a child) with my dad over who had raided a cookie jar (not me!) I had enough. I stealthily sneaked into the kitchen and packed a peanut butter sandwich into a little brown paper bag and then bolted, running lickety split down the alley (barefoot mind you) between the neighborhood yards and gardens, and barking dogs toward the playground at the elementary school a block away. I wasn’t sure where I was going when I got there, but it was a place I knew to be filled with fun pieces of good old dangerous playground equipment and a slide so tall it would take today’s mothers’ breath away just looking at it. Where I was headed…I figured I’d figure it out when I got there.
Later as a teen (OK mom put your fingers in your ears now!), my friend Terry Pfeilsticker and I use to hitch-hike to Minneapolis and run around the airport or take the elevator to the observation platform of the Foshay Tower, a skyscrapper in downtown Minneapolis modeled after the Washington Monument (I loved this place as a kid, but later was disappointed to learn it was built with Indiana limestone, instead of Kasota limestone from the prairie near where I grew up—I mean, really, the Getty in Los Angeles is built from Kasota Limestone after all). Winona was another favorite destination (I seem to recall a really swell guy, not a building, being the draw there). In retrospect, Terry and I were just practicing for when we got older. Dream it; do it. Terry is even better at this then I am.
I still prefer to travel that way. You won’t find me following any strict itinerary. Itineraries give me the hibbie jibbies, literally bringing down the house that is me. That doesn’t mean I am an OCD-kind of traveler; I love maps and destinations. I love having a place to stick a pin and call it good. But I also love the unexpected, the unknown, the adventure.
Whether you’re an armchair traveler looking for a good story or a traveler searching for a kernel of insight about a place you’re headed, or merely someone seeking adventure in the largest sense of the world (see above), you’ve landed in the right place.
I have a bachelor of fine arts in art, a bachelor of science in advertising and marketing, and a graduate degree in magazine journalism (acquired after working as a writer and editor for 10 years). I also have a doctorate in travel, having ridden my bike half away around the globe, and taking planes, trains and automobiles the rest of the way. I have rap-jumped off a skyscraper in Auckland, New Zealand and shared mint tea with Berbers in the Moroccan desert. I have backpacked into the Grand Canyon literally dozens of times and cycled through the gas-choked tunnels of urban Italy. I have picked beans and tomatoes in France and quaffed pints of beer with members of the Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland. I have hitch-hiked the length of Spain and cross-country skied around lakes on full moon nights in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. And I have been telling stories and writing about my adventures for regional magazines and travel guides for decades.
Now, about that playground and that impossibly high slide I was running for the top of…sadly that trip ended with my dad breaking a fat twig off a lilac bush and taking chase. When I got to the first ascending stair on that slide, I felt the searing bite of the switch on the back of my legs but I kept moving up.
At the end of the day, I have rarely found adventure to be completely painless, but I am convinced that the inevitable way it refines and defines you is priceless.