Oregon Brew Fest

Oregon Brewers Festival

July 26-29, 2012

If you love micro-brewed or craft beer, this is your festival. Always held the last full weekend in July, 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of this iconic brewfest. The top craft beer festival in the U.S., it’s also one of the nation’s longest running. Some 80,000-beer lovers converge on this 4-day event, sampling 20 styles of award-winning craft beer poured by 80 craft breweries from across the country. The “Buzz Tent” offers another 50-plus rare and specialty beers. In addition to beer tasting, there is a line up of live music, as well as beer-related vendors, beer memorabilia displays, beer home-brewing demonstrations, and an assortment of food available.

Taps are opened at noon and shut-off at 9pm on Saturday; Sunday until 7 pm. Admission to the festival grounds is free, but if you want to taste beer, buy a souvenir mug for the current festival year ($6). Beer is purchased with wooden tokens, priced at a buck apiece. Patrons pay four tokens for a full mug of beer, or one token for a taste. Free handcrafted root beer is served in the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden for minors and designated drivers.

By the way, stay super safe and take the bus, a taxi or MAX Light Rail (located just one block west of the festival on SW Oak Street). The festival also offers free, on-site bicycle parking Contact Information.

Check out a video on the festival at http://vimeo.com/channels/behindthepint/13843567.  Read more about beer in Portland at http://beergoddess.com/.

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Where to Sleep On Maui

Maui’s Top Accommodations

Napili Kai Beach Resort 

5900 Honoapiilani Rd,

Lahaina, HI 96761

800-367-5030

www.napilikai.com

This condo and hotel complex offers one of the most authentic Hawaiian lodging experiences on Maui. Located on the oceanfront, most of the condo-style units (there are hotel rooms as well) offer sweeping ocean views with Molokai and Lanai on the horizon.  Fully-equipped kitchenettes help contain cost, allowing tight budget travelers to a splurge at the Sea Horse, where you can sip or dine in an open-air dining room at the water’s edge. The award-winning restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Check out their latest online specials, currently two nights free with a one week stay, at their website.

The Mauian

5441 Lower Honoapiilani Road

Napili, HI 96761

800-367-5034

www.mauian.com.

Here’s another nostalgic property updated with the best modern and stylish appointments. Small and laid-back, the boutique beach studios on Maui’s Napili Bay were originally built by a Hawaiian family in 1959. The two-acre, low-rise property is a closely held secret retreat for the many repeat visitors who return time and again for the retro 50s  tropics architecture, warm hospitality, and sweet island ambiance.  The Mauian gets bonus points for its Ohana Room, open to all guests and offering complimentary WiFi, and a library of books, games, and movies. You’ll also find a complimentary continental breakfast daily in this room, and a weekly poolside “Aloha Party” with live entertainment on Thursday evenings. Special rates at the Mauian this fall include:  $199 for Ocean View Studio, $179 for Pool View Studio, and $169 for Pool View Hotel Room; per night based on double occupancy and subject to applicable Hawaii taxes.

Makena Surf

4850 Makena Alanui

Kihei, 96753

800-367-5246

www.MakenaSurfCondoResort.com

Want to spend the majority of your time on the beach or in the water, but want to be as far from commerce as possible, book at Makena Surf, a Destination Hotel condo resort. Tucked into a half-mile stretch of Po’olenalena Beach (on a section called Paipu Beach) on the southern Mauian coastline, it’s noted for its oceanfront seclusion and ocean views from each of its two- or three-bedroom suites. With 107 units, two pools and hot tubs, four tennis courts, outdoor BBQs, daily room cleaning service, central A/C, and free hi-speed Internet access in rooms, and washers/dryers in each unit—well, it’s your paradise away from home.

If Paipu Beach’s (also called Chang’s Beach) gentle slope and terrific snorkeling isn’t enough, you’re very close to body surfing opportunities at Oneloa, also known as “Makena or Big Beach,” and just down the road further south is Maluaka Beach with its fine sand and excellent snorkeling among interesting coral beads in the morning, and excellent good boogie boarding in the afternoon when the swells come up with the wind.

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My Wild Life: On the Lookout for Bushtits in my Backyard and the Black-Crowned Night Heron in Maui

In separateness lies the world’s great misery; in compassion lies the world’s true strength. Buddha

It’s late: 10pm. And inky dark outside, the full moon yet having made it’s way to the west side of my home. I am sitting at the kitchen counter devouring the latest issue of National Geographic Traveler when I hear a familiar sound, like someone ratcheting a bolt or car jack.

It’s coming from the Dogwood tree and I know exactly what it is: a young Cooper’s hawk. He moved into the neighborhood a year ago, disappeared for a while and then finally returned. He terrorizes the resident backyard birds, and sadly has taken out a couple of rufus hummingbirds, chickadees and fledgling sparrows. He’s not the only wildlife I have mixed feelings about.

We also have a coyote that frequents the neighborhood. He largely snags the household cats rather than the wayward wild ones. The precision-cut remains he leaves puzzles and saddens the cats’ humans, but also leaves others imagining a much more scary alternative—a whackjob human.

Despite the neighborhood terrorists, I feel very fortunate to live in a city surrounded by wildlife. I am not sure why I feel so connected to the wild things, but I do. I was raised by a mother who loved song birds, and found a way to feed them each winter, despite having 12 in her own brood to feed. We had a rotating menagerie of pet rabbits, ducks, and even a baby squirrel and an orphaned fox kit (until it was rehabbed).  Sometimes, when my mother was napping, we would put the bunnies next to her in her bed, and she would cuddle them. It’s no wonder I became a dog rescue volunteer as an adult.

One of the obvious reasons there are so many critters and birds in my urban neighborhood is my home’s proximity to an old railroad bed that has been converted into a greenway belt extending from downtown Portland all the way out to the mountain gateway community of Boring. Called the Springwater Corridor, it’s an amazing treasure. I had the opportunity to help design and plan this greenway as an early member of Portland’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, a commitment I eventually let go of when an opportunity to live closer to the mountain  asserted itself.

Out there, I had deer in my backyard, and even a stealth cougar and bear that would occasionally wander through. I also had a pair of Pygmy owls (averaging a mere 2.4 ounces, G. c. grinnelli are found up and down the West Coast from Southeast Alaska to Southern California), and a tiny resident pine squirrel that would sit on my deck and decimate pine cones, leaving the seed husks in neat little heaps on the railings.

But eventually the pull of the city grew too strong, the lack of human contact on the mountain soul wearying, and the commute too tedious and dangerous.

I was glad to back in the city where I felt I could better manage my backyard wildlife. As a writer, I take comfort in small moments, like turning my head to see the new fledglings learning to dine on the sunflowers outside my home office window or watch a flock of bushtits land on a suet cake, or hear the chatter of my squirrel friends letting me know they are ready for their daily organic walnut treats that I pathetically feed them by hand.

I am somewhat embarrassed by this. But what is there to say? Well, that I have experienced some of the most profound and meaningful moments in my life when I was connecting with wildlife. All I can is nothing else slows me down, and brings me into the present like communing with my bird and squirrel friends.

Hearing the Cooper hawk in my yard at night is an interesting new development. I usually hear that sucker in the middle of the day as he stalks my birds and squirrels. I have never seen or heard him at night, in the dark. I sneak out the front door and tiptoe to the base of the dogwood tree and squint up toward the moon-filtered higher branches. I hear the leaves rustle, and only see the hawk as he make his escape.

Whoosh, he lifts off and is gone.

I go back inside and settle back into my chair at the counter.

Soon the steady patter of the fall rains will discourage such curiosity-borne forays, and of course, the windows will be shut so I won’t hear the song of the birds or the chatter of the squirrels for a long while. All of which gets me thinking about my next season of my life and this one involves travel. Destination: Hawaii. In November.

It may be too early to catch the first wave of Humpback whales, which typically arrive in early December, and it is also a time of year when the trade winds began to have a greater influence on the weather. The islands’ terrain differences— interior valleys, coastal plains, and mountain peaks—often make conditions highly variable across relatively small areas.

But generally speaking, I am told there are two seasons, and they’re not necessarily the highs and lows that correlate with the number of visitors, although some Hawaiian travel prognosticians divide it up that way. Mostly high and low refers to dry and warm season, or rainy and warm season. The latter of which begins in November and typically lasts through March.

Unlike Portland’s predictable October through June deluges, island residents will tell you that it pretty much rains every day somewhere on the islands most of the year. Mostly, I have found, it’s more of a soft rain than a drencher, and it rarely rains over the entire island at the same time. So you just go to the other side of the island if you really want to escape it.

In any case, Maui, one of the most compelling islands in the world, is one of my favorite travel destinations pretty much anytime of the year, because no matter what, I can always submerge my snorkel mask and enjoy the underwater worldview of tropical fish and sea turtles—rain or not.

And if I am lucky, when I am paddling through an estuary, I’ll get to see my favorite native island bird, the ‘Auku‘u’ or Black-crowned Night Heron. And if I have some spare time  before my flight out, I like to stop by Kanahā Pond, a wildlife sanctuary near the Wailuku Kahului Airport. Even though it borders an industrial area and is one of the few remaining wetlands in Maui, it’s the largest, and an amazing place to experience wildlife.

Birders can tick off a life list of migratory bird species at this site, as well as four of the ‘big five’ breeding waterfowl. In addition to my favorite, the Black-crowned Night-Heron, you’ll often see the Hawaiian Coot, the Hawaiian Moorhen, and the Hawaiian Stilt. All of these are endangered. So connect, from a distance, while you can.

Maui Travel Tips: 

Dining

Here’s the best way to go with this: http://www.mauihawaii.org/restaurants.htm

Accommodations

Napili Kai Beach Resort 

5900 Honoapiilani Rd,

Lahaina, HI 96761

800-367-5030

www.napilikai.com

This condo and hotel complex offers one of the most authentic Hawaiian lodging experiences on Maui. Located on the oceanfront, most of the condo-style units (there are hotel rooms as well) offer sweeping ocean views with Molokai and Lanai on the horizon.  Fully-equipped kitchenettes help contain cost, allowing tight budget travelers to a splurge at the Sea Horse, where you can sip or dine in an open-air dining room at the water’s edge. The award-winning restaurant offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily.

Check out their latest online specials, currently two nights free with a one week stay, at their website.

The Mauian

5441 Lower Honoapiilani Road

Napili, HI 96761

800-367-5034

www.mauian.com.

Here’s another nostalgic property updated with the best modern and stylish appointments. Small and laid-back, the boutique beach studios on Maui’s Napili Bay were originally built by a Hawaiian family in 1959. The two-acre, low-rise property is a closely held secret retreat for the many repeat visitors who return time and again for the retro 50s  tropics architecture, warm hospitality, and sweet island ambiance.  The Mauian gets bonus points for its Ohana Room, open to all guests and offering complimentary WiFi, and a library of books, games, and movies. You’ll also find a complimentary continental breakfast daily in this room, and a weekly poolside “Aloha Party” with live entertainment on Thursday evenings. Special rates at the Mauian this fall include:  $199 for Ocean View Studio, $179 for Pool View Studio, and $169 for Pool View Hotel Room; per night based on double occupancy and subject to applicable Hawaii taxes.

Makena Surf

4850 Makena Alanui

Kihei, 96753

800-367-5246

www.MakenaSurfCondoResort.com

Want to spend the majority of your time on the beach or in the water, but want to be as far from commerce as possible, book at Makena Surf, a Destination Hotel condo resort. Tucked into a half-mile stretch of Po’olenalena Beach (on a section called Paipu Beach) on the southern Mauian coastline, it’s noted for its oceanfront seclusion and ocean views from each of its two- or three-bedroom suites. With 107 units, two pools and hot tubs, four tennis courts, outdoor BBQs, daily room cleaning service, central A/C, and free hi-speed Internet access in rooms, and washers/dryers in each unit—well, it’s your paradise away from home.

If Paipu Beach’s (also called Chang’s Beach) gentle slope and terrific snorkeling isn’t enough, you’re very close to body surfing opportunities at Oneloa, also known as “Makena or Big Beach,” and just down the road further south is Maluaka Beach with its fine sand and excellent snorkeling among interesting coral beads in the morning, and excellent good boogie boarding in the afternoon when the swells come up with the wind.

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Mojolocity: Meet, Plan, Go!

Over the years, the inspiration and motivation for many of my month-long to year-long travel adventures have come to me in quiet Ah ha! moments. I’ll be out on a long bike ride, just pedaling blissfully along, or at home mindlessly chopping veggies for dinner and hear something on the radio, and then the next thing I know this idea starts floating through my head. Suddenly, it hits me: “Holy smokes! That’s it! That’s what I need to do. That’s where I need to go.

Now, how can I make this happen?”

When it comes to travel dreams, execution isn’t my stumbling block. Money, on the other hand, now there’s the thing that has stymied me a time or two.

But I have rarely let tight funds keeping me from going where I really need to go. It’s in my genes, I think, to keep moving. I call it mojolocity—a mashup of words that describe my curiosity and the speed of which I often move on dreams: high velocity. I don’t know if I inherited this from my restless Viking relatives or from the so-called Black Irish on my mom’s side (seeing as many of them fell off a Spanish armada and mated with Irish peasant women, so surely they had wandering eyes and travel drive). I’ll admit, I don’t like itineraries much. I am more of a wing it girl, stick the pin in the map and point my imagination toward it. Things always seem to unfold exactly as they do. I’m never disappointed.

Some people need itineraries and operating instructions, especially people who have been stuck in cubical farms for too long.  If this sounds like you, someone who has no problem imagining your next adventure but gets all hung up on the details, you won’t want to miss the upcoming meet-up in your city (or a nearby one) for workerbees trying to fly the hive. It’s called “Meet, Plan, Go! Presents” A Nationwide Event to Help People Realize Their Travel Dreams.

The organizers of Meet, Plan, Go! offer travel advice and coaching for people planning a career break or sabbatical. They believe that when someone is venturing on such a life changing adventure, it’s important that they have a support community to connect with. Co-founder Sherry Ott explains the group’s mission this way: “Because we live in a society that doesn’t find value in taking time off, we wanted to create a community for people who do want to break out of the norm and travel for an extended period of time.” The details:

“Meet, Plan, Go! Presents” A Nationwide Event to Help People Realize Their Travel Dreams.

Beginning October 18, 2011, Meet, Plan, Go! will be hosting their second annual nationwide event in 17 cities to inspire people to fulfill their career break and long-term travel dreams. The event will offer participants the opportunity to MEET inspirational speakers and like-minded travelers; get motivation, contacts and resources necessary to PLAN the trip of a lifetime; and start taking concrete steps forward to GO on that global adventure.

Casual local meetups are also being held in the time leading up to the October event. “It’s about creating a peer group of people with the same dream. Whether it’s a career break, running a marathon, or earning an advanced degree; we all need people to keep us accountable, energized, and focused on our goals,” added Ott.

Every event will feature individuals who have either fulfilled their own world travel dreams or are currently in the planning stages. In addition to offering tools and resources for planning a career break, they will also address the main concerns that prevent people from taking a career break, usually centered around financial, career-related, societal, and safety concerns.

Over 2,400 people registered for last year’s inaugural event – 23% of which were in a trip planning stage pre-event. In a post-event survey, that number rose to 41%. “We want career breaks to be more acceptable in America,” says co-founder Michaela Potter. “In fact, we would love to see a career break on every resume. And with the support of our 17 inspiring hosts, their panelists, and our sponsors, including Intrepid Travel, we are making great inroads to achieving that goal.”

This year’s Meet, Plan, Go! locations include 10 returning cities and seven new ones: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington DC and Toronto, Canada.

Registration for the nationwide event is now open. For more information, visit meetplango.com.

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Pinot in France: Pinot in the City

 As much as I’m loath to admit this (it just sounds so unsophisticated) I was 25 years old before I ever tasted a Pinot noir.

As I was drawing up my general plans for an epic 10,000- kilometer bike tour abroad, a friend passed along the phone number and address (OK, this is way before cell phones and email) of her American cousin who lived outside Beaune in an area of France known as the Burgundy region, or the Côte-d’Or. This area happens to be Pinot noir’s homeland.

Alain and Kathleen and their five children lived in the tiny village of Bourguignon, in an ancient pig barn they had refurbished. An organic garden, some fruit trees and an endless horizon of vineyards surrounded the place. Their rustic stone and post beam home had seven bedrooms, four baths and a chapel smack dab in the middle of it (Alain is a minister of the New Church). After traveling by bike down from Dijon that day, two months into my travels, I experienced my Pinot baptism.

Before lunch (or was it dinner?), Alain invited me to crawl under the front steps with him—and I mean duck and scoot in a crouched position through dirt and cobwebs—to select some bottles from his wine cellar. Upon entering the subterranean cavity of this cavernous building, I gasped. I had never seen so many wine bottles—very dusty wine bottles—in one space in my life.

Soon we were sitting down for a meal that commenced at 1:30pm with an aperitif of Kir—white wine with cassis—and did not wrap up until nearly 5pm. Kathleen had prepared a traditional French meal with a veggie twist (I was thrilled to discover they were vegetarians like me after months of staring down meat at meals offered by new friends we had met along the way). This included: l’entrée (a garden salad and a plate of grilled but cold green beans) served with a glass of Pinot; followed by le plat principal (a main course that I later learned was a French version of ratatouille) served with a home-baked bread and a glass of Pinot. We then moved on to the le fromage (a plate filled with small bite size wedges of camembert, Roquefort and brie) served with a glass of Pinot. Le dessert (an apple tart) and finally, a digestive, Armagnac, put the exclamation point on this fabulous meal.  Alain explained that we had been drinking vin de garde—Pinot that would likely improve with further aging. But it could have just as well been vin de pays, table Pinot, because at that point I was clearly bombed, totally unaccustomed as I was to drinking that much wine in one sitting.

Fully anticipating a raging hangover the next morning, I weaved and bobbed my way through the table clearing and dish washing before staggering out to my tent near the garden. By 7pm, I was dead to the world. A bomb could have dropped and I wouldn’t have heard it.

Early the next morning, I awoke to birds chirping and Alain yelling out the door that the crepes were getting cold, and urging me to hurry: We had a full day of wine tasting ahead of us, he said, in celebration of my 26th birthday that day.

As I scrubbed my eyes awake, I was stunned to discover I had no hangover or headache.

That day, we visited a winery outside Beaune, where Alain introduced me as a journalist to the propriétaire de cave (the winery owner), who disappeared for about 10 minutes before reappearing with what he declared to be “une bouteille de vin très special,” a very special bottle of wine”—a Pinot with a 100-year vintage. Was he being straight with us? Who knows, but never before or after have I ever tasted such a perfect glass of wine (an unfortunately that one glass of wine has spoiled me for life, and remains the standard by which I judge all wines).

The winery owner effusively explained his enthusiastic offering this way: Business was way down—the usual onslaught of American oneophiles visiting his établissement vinicole had thus far that year never materialized. And, besides, he said, he really liked Americans, and he hoped if he shared his best with us, we’d go back home and tell all our friends to buy French wine and come visit France.

Just the day before, Jonathan, my cycling partner and boyfriend, had remarked as we were pedaling down from Dijon that the French were far friendlier than he had anticipated. I had noticed it too, but not just France. The welcome mat was, well, overwhelmingly positive everywhere we had recently thus far traveled: Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. Was it because we were cyclists or because there were very few Americans traveling abroad at the time?

No doubt, it was a crazy scary time. February that year saw the assassination of Olof Palme, Sweden’s Prime Minister, in the streets of usually peaceful Stockholm. Just before we set off on our journey, a bomb exploded on a TWA jet over Greece, blowing a hole in the aircraft and driving four passengers out into the ethers of finality. Then Chernobyl melted down (leading to warnings from Danish and Norwegian friends not to eat berries or dairy products while we traveled). Around the same time in West Berlin, Libyan agents bombed a nightclub, killing three innocent people. Also escalating the fear level of American travelers: the MS Achille Lauro had been hijacked the year before. Palestinian Liberation Front hijackers killed a disabled Jewish-American passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, and then threw his body overboard. Travel agents attributed the scads of cancellations they got for travel the following summer primarily to this incident.

For two cyclists traveling on the cheap, the glimmer of light in all of this fear, however, was that transatlantic flights were practically empty (which allowed me to stretch out over four empty seats to sleep). I suspect it wasn’t just the new smoking ban that when into effect that year, either, because we found the backroads of Europe equally deserted. After hearing for years about how American travelers we’re considered “ugly,” we literally got the red carpet treatment nearly every where we traveled in Europe (Italy being the one exception, but that’s another story).

In addition to sharing his prized stash of Pinot noir, the winery owner was eager to share his technical insights. He spent the better part of the morning educating us in his eloquent albeit truncated English about the difficulty of cultivating and transforming the black wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera into wine. We learned that the Pinot grape is very intolerant of harsh growing conditions: wind, heat, cold or draught—these all lead to epic failures in the vineyard. He also advised us that there were more to these grapes than still red wine. They were also used in the production of sparkling wines, rosé still wines and vin gris white wines.

After finishing our rotund glassfuls of the priceless Pinot, we headed off to visit more wineries, where Alain, who grew up in the area, seem to know everyone on a first-named basis. We sampled wines at Corton, Pommard, Bourgogne Chanson, Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot and Musigny. After a full day of wine tasting, I was feeling a lot like someone who had been sucked out an airplane window and was now floating in the ethers.

Back home at Chateau Nicolier, Kathleen had prepared a birthday cake. I started to nod off at the table as soon as I’d blown out the candles. Jonathan helped me make a swift albeit wobbly retreat to the tent. I fell asleep with more than a hint of regret, anticipating awakening the next day to the mother of all hangovers.

Surprisingly, in the morning I felt perfectly fine, again (although I am sure my liver was quaking from the sugar and alcohol overload). I rejoiced in my official indoctrination into the Church of Pinot noir.

If you have yet had a chance to sample the full range of this grape, you don’t need to go to France. Get thee to Pinot in the City in Portland, Oregon.

The Mother of All Urban Wine Events: Pinot in the City

Portlanders and Portland visitors will soon have an amazing opportunity to sample the next best thing next to really fine French Pinot. Taste Pinots from the Willamette Valley right here in the city. In what certainly promises to be an annual event (like Portland’s famous beer festival), more than 100 of Willamette Valley’s top wineries will soon converge on a downtown city block. Think about this: You don’t have to drive to the Willamette Valley to get your Pinot fix or taste. Besides tasting fabulous wines, you get to also nibble on quintessential Oregon bites.

Besides wine tasting, this is a terrific opportunity to meet the people who have helped put Oregon Pinot noir on the wine map. Winemakers and owners will showcase new and current releases of the Valley’s iconic Pinot noir along with a variety of other wines.

Participating restaurants include 1910 Main: An American Bistro, Community Plate, Crooked House Bistro, Dundee Bistro, JORY (at the Allison Inn & Spa), La Rambla, Red Hills Provincial Dining and Subterra. Local food purveyors include Briar Rose Creamery, Oregon Hazelnuts, Oregon Olive Mill, Oregon Truffle Oil, Red Fox Bakery, Republic of Jam, and Willamette Valley Confectionery

Tickets for Pinot in the City

Saturday & Sunday, September 10-11, 2011

2-6pm

Location: NW 9th and Marshall in the heart of the Pearl

One day ticket:  $60

Two day ticket:  $90

At the Door:  $70

All tickets include event wine glass, tasting booklet, touring map, unlimited pours from all wineries as well as samplings from local food purveyors.

Ticket holders must be 21 years or older. ID will be checked at entrance.

Register for Pinot in the City in Portland, OR on Eventbrite: http://pinotinthecity.eventbrite.com/

Photo: The chapel at Chateau Nicolier

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About Me

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.

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