These are the truly epic journeys, weeks or months and thousands of miles over deserts and tundra and snow and water. They represent the quest to explore and discover, to ramble and, finally, arrive.

Golden GateIn March of 1976, I went to California on Spring Break, taking my first ride down the Pacific Coast Highway (US Route 1) from San Francisco and Big Sur to Los Angeles. With The Eagles' "Hotel California" just out and saturating the radio playlists, this was almost a mystical experience. It changed my life forever in many ways. Although I would only live in California for a mere 18 months, the feelings of that brief journey remain with me to this day, setting me on a path to travel that has never disappeared.

monvalleyAfter graduation from college I traveled cross-country, alone, in a 1970 red fastback Mustang complete with CB radio. Ten weeks, 24 states and both Canada and Mexico, from moose country in northern Maine to Montreal, Chicago, Denver, Tucson and San Diego, the Grand Canyon, mountains, deserts and backpacking along the Continental Divide. Monument Valley in the Navajo Indian Reservation illustrates the freedom one can find from living on the road for huge swaths of time. “I move with the cool sophistication of one who has been places only a few men have been, and seen things that none could.” The rush to condense continents to mere days is a unique character builder.


In 1982 I journeyed to Europe for the first time, staying several weeks in London and the UK, then Amsterdam, Paris, the Cote d'Azur and Switzerland. Spending time in a foreign country reminds me of the diversity of life in the world and the shared values we as human beings enjoy. It's also fun comparing cultural phenomena across continents. My favorite memory of this trip is an early October hike in the Swiss mountains surrounding the villages of Wengen and Lauterbrunnen — the Bernese Oberland — above the tree line, with early season snow at the higher altitudes. Oh, and beware the moors!

Tiger CountryPassages are part of life, and in 1989 I got married. Lourdes and I decided to have a Fall wedding and go skiing in the Southern Hemisphere for our honeymoon. When we arrived in Queenstown, New Zealand, all psyched for heli-skiing, we found the South Island in the midst of its worst drought in 20 years. There wasn't much snow but we skied anyway, in "Tiger Country" as this amusing sign says. We then spent two weeks caravanning around the country in a hired right-hand drive auto, without an itinerary, following the model for on-the-road journeys I had first discovered many years before in that red fastback Mustang. Ask me sometime about the aliens at night outside Auckland.

It was to be more than a decade before my next major voyage — waiting for our son Allan to grow up enough for a serious journey. That happened in 2002, with a 3,700 mile road trip from Denver and Aspen through Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and through Seattle to the Oregon coast. Along the way we spent several days in Yellowstone National Park (my second visit), something every American should experience at least once. When you do, take in the spectacle of Old Faithful erupting, as it is here, from the back side of Upper Geyser Basin, away from the massive crowds of Japanese travelers who flock to these typical tourist traps like lemmings to the sea.