The Call of Haida Gwaii

The Call of Haida Gwaii

I have read two books more than once—Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne and a double feature of The Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London. Both take me to incredible places.  Both make me dream.  For this, my sixth trip to Haida Gwaii, an archipelago some 30 miles west of British Columbia, I packed the Jack London.  It seemed fitting for the long flights across Canada.

What started four years ago as no more than map dots and curiosity has turned into a personal and professional journey.  It’s taken me into the woods where black bears roam,

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The "Just go!" Manifesto

There’s the blogger girl, the travel hack genius and the wandering nomad whose life you really want, the couple who sells everything and hits the road, the fearless adventurer, and the people who know exactly what to order at that amazing restaurant in Marrakesh. 

I love these people.  They inspire me.  But I'm not them

I’m the “just go” guy. 

So, should I go to Barcelona or Beijing? 

I’m not that guy either. 

I’m the “just go” guy.

Well, then what good are you?

I think a lot of good.  Because since studying abroad and throughout a 15-year career in international education and expedition development, I’ve learned that every trip is life changing.  It's not always what you seek, but you gain something from every new adventure, near or far.  And 99% of all trips end before they even start. 

Let me reiterate: 99% of life-changing trips end before they even start.

So, while I’ll gladly recommend other people who can help you finance your trip, save money while you’re there, or tell you where to go and where to avoid, I will focus on getting you out the door.  

When I graduated college, a brutal case of mono laid me out for weeks.  I became so gripped by a post-grad depression that I couldn’t see myself doing anything.  Then a door opened—a call from a friend and the opportunity to work aboard a small cruise ship.  I wavered for a while, but eventually disregarded my disdain for The Love Boat and sudden-onset muteness when placed in front of groups.  I became obsessed with the opportunity to travel, and of seeing Bora Bora in particular. 

I went for it not knowing where I’d go, who I’d travel with and, frankly, how the hell I was going to do it.  

While the destinations themselves offered opportunities for adventure, the surprising value came from my passengers, groups of retirees who lived like it was the last trip they would ever take.  These incredible people helped me see into the future, to mine the qualities that make for a great life, which I strive for (then fail at and strive for again) every day.  They are the inspiration that helped to write my free download, 6 Ways to Find Happiness on the Horizon (Lessons from My Year at Sea with Retired America), which you receive when signing up for the monthly travel inspiration email (details below). 

See, I wouldn’t achieve my goal of visiting Bora Bora by ship until 12 years after I set out.  In that time, I worked to send college students on international internships and developed expeditions in Alaska, British Columbia and Central America for Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic.  I’ve been able to do and see so much more than Bora Bora (which is amazing, btw!) all because years ago something inside me said, “Just go!”

Now, if the only thing I ever did for you was to say the same, I’d be pretty easy to say, “Ummm, no,” to.  And it would be annoying as hell.  So, what I really want to do with this site is help produce in you a "why" so strong that going is easier than staying put.  

 I’ll do this by sharing:

-        Stories of my experiences, the lessons gleaned from those I’ve traveled with, stories of others who who've gone on a journey and returned with valuable info

-        Curated news stories of awesomeness all around

-        A podcast/blog featuring interviews with successful people from all walks of life who share how a particular trip helped to shape them into the person they are today (coming soon)

-        Reading suggestions, folks to follow, and quotes that deliver as much wisdom as a 300-page book (I will also recommend some 300-page books)

You can find it all on this site and by signing up for the monthly email.  I hope the information it contains opens up your world and provides valuable and applicable insights for your next trip, whether it's to Bora Bora or a place a town over that you always pass by.  Every day can be an adventure. 

Thank you so much for visiting my site and reading this manifesto.  I look forward to connecting. 


20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— Mark Twain

The Last Time (A Toast to Exploration)

A while ago, I was inspired to write a toast for a group traveling aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird in the San Juan Islands. We were together for only two days but in that time were able to hike, kayak and spend a sunny afternoon watching killer whales feed.  At one point during the hike I noticed a woman bending down to touch some flowers and I bent down to do the same.  I wondered, when is the last time I did this?  It got me thinking.  That night, I read this.  It received a great response, so I'm sharing it here with you: 

The Last Time (A Toast to Exploration)

When is the last time that you knelt down and felt the ground beneath your feet?  When you ran your hands over juniper roots or purple petaled wildflowers, and wondered about the world around you?  

When is the last time that you noticed a sweetness in the air, and breathed deeper to fill your lungs, purposefully, wakefully?

When is the last time you didn’t care about getting your shoes wet?  Or lying on the ground because, hey, that’s the only way to get the shot?

Or when you stopped—just stopped—and in the silence of the forest, listened to a bird’s singular song?  

When is the last time you said wow?  Or tasted something so delicious you put your fork down to really taste it.  Or when you were consumed with anticipation—for killer whales this afternoon, or, maybe, for dessert tonight?  

Did these times make you feel excited? Awake?  Alive?  For me, all of the above.  If you felt the same, we should cherish that.  But here’s the thing about last times.  We cannot let them be the last time—not for ourselves, not for others.  

This world is too interesting, too rich, too incomprehensibly magical to exist without us peeking around every corner, turning over every rock, asking every question.  In our time here, there should not be lasts, only firsts and nexts.  If we keep to that, what great discoveries we can make.  

So let’s raise a glass and toast--to exploration, to inspiring others to explore, and to the next time that we can all do it together.

~Thank you.

The Magnificent, Lone Spruce

The magnificent spruce rose like no other tree in the forest.  Its trunk stood perfectly straight, so thick that even with three of us and a guide hugging it, our fingertips couldn't meet.  Few other trees soared as high, none as perfect.  

But there was something strange about this spruce.  From its base, it took at least fifty paces in all directions to reach the nearest tree.  The ground around it was clean except for a few bare rocks, while the rest of the forest was covered in spongy mosses and brush.  

"It's like that big one moved itself away," I said, immediately feeling silly for saying it.

No one heard because they were crawling with the guide and studying the different types of moss on the forest floor.  I knelt with them, noticing that what I first saw as a green swath was actually a network of different mosses, each with a different shape and texture and shade.  Rocks covered in bright orange and red lichens dotted the green carpet.

"These lichens secrete acids that break down the rocks over time," our guide said.  "That helps create new soil.  And you know, if you dig below this moss, you'd find what's called the mycorrhizal network." 

We looked closer.

"The mycorrhizal is a web of fungus beneath the surface that connects these trees. The cells interact with the root cells and share carbon and water and nitrogen and hormones.  Even defense cells and information. You could say that they talk."

We drew closer to the ground, as if we'd be able to listen in.

"See the biggest trees around here?  Chances are they are "mother trees" and have the most connections to all of the other trees; sometimes hundreds.  They give a lot—certain times of year more than they receive—but when they need it, and they always do, they rely on that network to feed them nutrients or information and keep them healthy.  It's a complete give and take depending on conditions and seasons.  Scientists call it the "wood wide web." 

We rolled our eyes at the joke and trekked deeper into the forest, wondering what other microscopic miracles we were stepping on. 

On our way back, we stopped at the magnificent spruce.  

"How long ago do you think it died?" my friend asked the guide. 

"I can't tell," she said.  "Years.  You can see the forest has continued to grow.  In time, it will grow back around the spruce.  Something may even spring up from inside it.  You never know.  It's the forest we need to think about anyway.  Not the trees." 


If We Fail the National Parks, We Fail the Nation

If We Fail the National Parks, We Fail the Nation

US National Parks received 330 million visitors in 2017. From Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve to Acadia National Park in Maine, people chose to spend their time in natural American beauty. In doing so, they not only fed their souls, they contributed to American enterprise in a way that few if any other entities do (and which I’ll explain below). The President, the Secretary of the Interior and his department have the responsibility and privilege of managing that unique resource. According to the National Parks System Advisory Board, they haven’t.

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