A Kayak Pilgrimage

by Dan Dworkin

To travel solo for days in a kayak is to be not on or in but of the water. It loves you, rocks you like your mother did, speaks to you with many voices, supports your meandering, bathes you, feeds you, tells you when to travel and when to stay still on the island of the moment. On every trip there is a time of storm, of being wind-bound when the judicious kayaker stays put, writes, rests, wanders, constructs stone sculptures and listens for the still, small voice.

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Leaving It All Behind

by Susanna Starr


To the outside world we had a beautiful life. There we were, living happily with our children in our lovely suburban home. We had interesting friends. What would possess us to leave it all and hit the road? But that’s what we did, launching ourselves into points unknown in the big red truck we bought to replace the suburban station wagon. It also replaced the 4 bedroom 2-1/2 bath home with a cab-over camper that provided just enough space for five people to sleep. Only one person, even if it was a child, was able to walk about at a time.

What we had in mind was simply to begin our personal odyssey with the ultimate destination unknown. Anyone can do it. Despite prevailing opinion, it doesn’t take much, just the initial decision to find another way. That’s how the travel plan began. Leaving all the details open allowed us to experience adventures that we never could have conceived of. That’s how the travel plan unfolds, if you make the space. Our previous lives were now lost and gone forever and we had embarked on a new one.

This one ultimately took us from suburban south shore of Long Island to the sparsely populated area of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Not one of us spoke Spanish, but we ended up living there for several months, most of it on an isolated beach, on what was later to develop as Playa del Carmen.

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An Existential Backpack Trip on the Olympic Peninsula

words + photos by Don Mankin

The sun was shining as I passed by the town of Sequim (pronounced “Squim” like some kind of squishy, low tide cephalopod) on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula (OP). I was on my way to Olympic National Park, one of “America’s Ultimate Parks,” according to National Geographic.

Times are tough and money is short; that is why I vacationed last summer in the OP, home to one of the most diverse and accessible wilderness areas in the United States. The Peninsula is just an hour or so drive and a 30 minute ferry ride from Seattle, and its varied attractions -- a rugged coastline, empty beaches, glacier-capped mountains, alpine meadows, pristine lakes, and thick rain forests – are a relatively short drive from each another.

There was another reason for this trip, to see if I, at the advanced age of 67, could still haul a fully loaded backpack into the wilderness and survive a few days on my own. From my 30s to my 50s, I used to do a solo backpacking trip almost every year, several of them on the OP. It was always a deeply satisfying experience – a meditative, reflective, man-alone-with-nature, listening-to-your-inner-voice, getting-in-touch-with-your-primal-self, city-boy-alone-in-the-wild kind of thing. I loved it.

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Virtual vs Real: Out There In The Real World

by Eric Lucas

Hurricanes prowl the Atlantic. Stocks are down—so is consumer spending. Battles rage over health care. Michael Jackson’s burial is set. Bombs blow in Russia and Iraq.


Scritter scree scree scrabble thunk.

photo by Jeff Henshaw via FlickrThe commotion 30 feet away in an old fir pulls my gaze up from the computer to a branch at a high angle just over my wife’s drying beach towel. It’s a Douglas squirrel, harvesting late summer cones to fatten up for winter. This consists of sawing them off the branch and pitching them to the ground 50 feet below, where they land like golf balls hitting the green after a good approach shot. I watch for a while—the commotion represents intermittent squabbling with another squirrel which is, I guess, trying to perpetrate the rodentian felony of unauthorized downloading.

Back online, I check the overnight baseball scores. Yep, another loss, 11-3 to the Yankees. Surprise.

S&P’s off 1.7 percent. There goes the new Prius.

I’m on vacation and, I admit, I am using the guest ranch’s WiFi at our cabin in the pines to stay in touch. It’s 7am. The rest of my family snoozes away. It’s not work if no one knows, right?

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