Leaving Portland: Am I Excited?

Today I flipped the calendar to May – quite literally a normal event, except that for me, May 2021 will be the last month I live in Portland, Oregon.

It will also be the last month I technically live anywhere. The last month, at least for a year, that I will spend in my home, surrounded by my stuff, hanging out with my friends, going to see my team play, hiking trails that I know, and basically knowing what each day is going to bring.

30 days. Then I’m gone.

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A “Stolen Day” in the Mountains of Montana

In September 1999, I rolled into Glacier National Park with a friend to do some camping and hiking. We didn’t realize the place was about to shut down, at least in the human sense.

As most of the folks cleared out, we stuck around, and had a somewhat goofy night in camp followed by a magical hike in the mountains. It felt like we had stolen a day from the encroaching winter.

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A Walk in the Snowy Woods. Or Maybe a Life Lesson.


The original plan was Ramona Falls. This time of year, that can be a challenge, with snow on the road, the trail, and an already tricky river crossing on logs. So I would need an early start, some luck, and perhaps a little bravery. I set the intention the night before, and since nobody else was going, it was all on me.

I woke up to wind thumping the windows and tossing the wind chimes. And coffee. And emails. And since I wasn’t meeting anybody or on any schedule, I decided to chill a while. I could leave by, oh, let’s say 9.

And somewhere in there I noticed a pattern of thought developing: that if I started too late and didn’t make it all the way to Ramona Falls, I will have failed.

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Travel Story: That Time I Went Sledding in Heidi Country

Sledding in Gimmelwald, Switzerland


Travel, especially when you’re young and going solo, is such a portal into other worlds. That was especially true when, from Summer 1989 to Spring 1990, I went around the world, visiting more than 20 countries along the way. I was, and am, an awfully lucky guy.

One of the best nights on that trip was in Gimmelwald, Switzerland, when several of us were called from our hotel in the snowy mountains to join some locals on a sledding trek. It was exactly as magical as you might think. Continue reading “Travel Story: That Time I Went Sledding in Heidi Country”

New Project: My Old Memphis Flyer Travel Columns


My career as a travel writer — as opposed to a traveling writer, which we’ll get to — actually had its start in the advertising business.

Not that I worked in advertising, heaven forbid. But I worked near it, and apparently under its powers, such that in one strange moment I went from “kind of a sportswriter” to “professional travel writer” because of a decision made across the hall in advertising.

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Note to Self: Planning is not Living!


I recently arrived at a significant decision in my life, one that has many layers, challenges and opportunities. It’s big, kind of scary, but very exciting. It also doesn’t really start for about seven months, and there are major factors involved which I can’t control.

In short, aside from curiosity and perhaps a few long-term elements, there’s nothing I need to be doing about it right now.

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Thoughts and Plans on my 24th Anniversary in Portland

pittock mansion portland

There’s really no significance to anniversaries, other than our tendency to take stock when they roll around. Where I “am” now versus where I “was” 24 years ago doesn’t mean a lot, but it is interesting to think about, as is seeing a photo of myself from back then and think, “Wow, I was really young!”

What did I think my life was going to be in 1996, when I arrived in Portland by Greuyhound bus, my car having finally died at an I-84 rest stop near La Grande, Oregon? (That, as they say, is “a whole nother story,” here in parts 1 and 2.) I had come to Oregon to get out of my hometown and away from that whole life, but also to explore the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t (and still don’t) orient myself around jobs or relationships, neither of which have stuck around for very long. I saw coming to Portland as going to a new area, close to many mountains, to build a new life. And I did.

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