Here you'll find snapshots from various travels, as well as images of me on assignment, where noted.
What’s it like to travel in Colombia as its nascent and fragile peace agreement ends the longest running war - 52 years - in the Americas? I went there on two story assignments in February 2018 to find out, concentrating first on the country's southwest corner, deep in the Andes, a pocket largely overlooked by travelers and once infamous for frequent kidnappings. Today, one finds safer roads and previoulsy off-limits archaelogical finds. In Medellín, at one time the world's deadliest city and from where Pablo Escobar ran his cocaine empire, I wrote a story for the New York Times about a resilient museum - and city - now in the midst of a renaissance. That story published in March 2018. My travelogue on southwestern Colombia will publish later in 2018.
A few days wandering aimlessly around Quito, Ecuador, was the perfect way to round out hard travel reporting and writing across Colombia in February 2018. The city reminded me of San Francisco and Lisbon, with its hilly streets, Spanish ironwork and facades, and chilly, foggy afternoons. I did little beyond observe details in perhaps the most stunning church interiors I've ever seen anywhere in the world, sip coffee and read in cafes, and take in the views from belltowers and atop steep alleyways. As I said: perfect.
In December 2017, I began an in-depth reporting project on persistent poverty in the American West. Stories will appear in spring 2018. In January 2018, I visited Taos County, in northern New Mexico, which by federal definition, is a "persistent poverty" county, meaning that 20 percent of its population has lived at or below the poverty line for three decades. I slowly made my way southward, taking detours along the way before ending up in Dona Ana County on the Mexican border. It was a lot of driving across freezing cold desert and remote mountain passes, but it also included hot springs and hot chili, and friendly locals pointing this traveler in the right direction at the right time.
In early July, I made a brief trip to the last frontier, partly on assignment, partly for some R&R. I spent time in the Copper River Basin, visited the Matanuska Glacier and the hybrid Native-Russian village of Eklutna and tooled around the edges of Wrangell-St Elias National Park, all the while promising my hosts that they'd see me back on their turf sooner rather than later. For now, though, these teasing images....
The Arizona Strip
Arguably one of the most remote regions in the contiguous United States, the Arizona Strip makes up for its emptiness with pristine natural vistas. Zion National Park is a major destination - I got there - as is Hoover Dam - I got there, too - but I was more interested in the less attempted Paria Wildnerness, Vermillion Cliffs, Pipe Spring National Monument, and Lake Powell. A hike's miscalcuated distance leading to a midnight cowboy and horseback rescue, kayaking Powell's watery canyons, and polygamous Mormon unions here and there....the story will publish in 2018.
Nevada, you say? What the....? Why? My thoughts exactly. Growing up in California, the next state over was strictly the hinterlands for me, hardly worth my time. But a story assignment for the Washington Post in spring 2017 forced me to explore this wild desert terrain. Dice and divorces, lawlessness - Reno's got a helluva a lot more to it, I learned, as does its seemingly barren environs, and it shows in my story that started with a chance reading of Walter Van Tilburg Clark's "Ox-Bow Incident."
Mexico City & Cuernavaca
I planned a Mexico tour before the U.S. 2016 elections, before the rise of Donald J Trump to the presidency and before demonstrations played out across Mexico City in early January 2017....all of which made the journey most significant and meaningful, if not challenging. Talk of building a thicker border wall, of weakening or dismantling trade agreements and future relations between the U.S. and Mexico inevitably colored my journey. Growing up in California, I'd dismissed Mexico as a travel destination, eager to get far away and see the world. My story on Cuernavaca, not long ago one of the country's most dangerous cities but now a pleasant jaunt from the capital, published in April 2018 in the Washington Post.
I'm often asked if I have a favorite travel destination, and tend to reply that whereever I find myself, there I am. However....Japan had beckoned over the years, and amid a passion for collecting woodblock prints, geisha figurines and tea sets. Two story assignments - one for the New York Times, another for the Washington Post - led me to there in November 2016, where I explored the historical and religious heart of the country, as well as a spectacular private collection of Japanese art in Hakone.
Nearly 45 years after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, what's it like to travel in Vietnam? I went there in December 2016 to find out, traversing the northern part of the country by bus, boat, bike, plane and scooter and in particular, observing efforts to preserve cultural and natural treasures amid the country's urban economic boom. This story will publish in 2018.
In September 2016, I visited Quebéc on assignment for the Washington Post - and what perfect timing, amid the tedious American election cycle. I toured Montréal to report on the city's preparations to mark its 375th birthday in 2017 and then veered northwestward to visit the quiet and pastoral Laurentians, a highlight. Quebéc City was also a part of the tour. The story published in April 2017.
Dry Tortugas National Park
In June 2016, I visited the Florida Keys and one of the U.S. National Park Service's hidden gems, Dry Tortugas National Park. This story assignment, for The New York Times, was among several received this year reflecting the Park Service's centennial. Glacier, Sequoia, Badlands, Lassen, Arches, Canyonlands, the Everglades, Crater Lake, the Channel Islands...I romped across one after the other, marveling at the varying landscapes.
In February 2016, I toured eastern Utah, visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks on story assignment for The Washington Post. This was a gamble weather-wise. But we lucked out, with generous blue skies, as you see here.
Badlands National Park
In June and October 2015 and January 2016, I journeyed to South Dakota on assignment to write about Badlands National Park, Minuteman National Historic Site and several other noteworthy destinations in the area. My story ultimately, which appeared in The New York Times, ultimately focused on unrealized plans to establish Badlands as the first tribal national park.
In September 2015, I visited Kosovo on assignment for The Washington Post. My story centers on traveling in the country despite - or perhaps, better, because of - its recent tragic history. I found some surprising vistas in Europe's newest nation, including well-preserved (albeit well-guarded) Serbian Orthodox monasteries, sometimes alongside mosques, and a vibrant, hospitable and youthful population. The story was my first cover story for the Post's travel section.
In September 2015, I visited Macedonia to work on a New York Times story about the capital Skopje's facelift, and on the country's nascent ecotourism industry. I hiked in the serene and stunning Mavrovo National Park, toured ancient monasteries and took one wild jeep ride across the hills overlooking Lake Ohrid while buzzed on some potent moonshine....
I'd vowed to friends for years that I would get to Cuba before Castro dies. I did that, in May 2014, but found the country more developed (read not as adventurous) as I'd expected. I saw no other American tourists, but plenty of Europeans. I traveled throughout the western region, and totally enjoyed La Habana. And got the coveted illicit stamp in my passport to boot. Viva la Revolucion!
U.S. Rocky Mountain States
In early 2015, I traveled throughout much of the American West meeting with women farmers and ranchers to learn about their lives and work. It was a spectacular experience, allowing me first-hand knowledge of who they are, but also it was a chance to see so much varied landscape. I returned to northern Montana in spring 2016, and visited the Flathead Indian Reservation and Glacier National Park. These images are from those tours across Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado.
I went to Nicaragua in January 2015 to write about what it's like to travel in the country ahead of plans by a Chinese investor to build a canal from the Caribbean to the Pacific. I hadn't been in Latin America in nearly two decades, and found myself intoxicated by the volcanic landscape and history. The highlight of the trip was touring Isla de Ometepe, swimming in its lagoons and motoring across Lake Nicaragua. My story was published in April in the New York Times, and serves as my first cover story for the paper's travel section.
I visited the Danube River Delta in September 2013 on assignment for The New York Times travel section. The story was some years in the making after I'd heard about an Indian investment broker who'd become enthralled with the region in the late 1990s and built a resort there. The story led me not only along the picturesque waters, but back to Diwaker Singh who proved most helpful in enriching the story with economic and social context.
I visited Armenia in September 2013 to report on a story about the culture revolution and renaissance happening in Yerevan, for the International Herald Tribune. It was a thrilling visit, in part because I was hard-pressed to gather so much detail on Armenia's complex history, culture and politics in a limited amount of time. I was especially grateful for all of the hospitality and generosity I met with there.
Republic of Georgia
I visited Georgia en route to Armenia to work on a story for the International Herald Tribune. And I'm glad I did! I was especially taken with Tbilisi, which appears as a Eurasian New Orleans, with the same rustic and bustling appeal. I met with great hospitality and numerous photo opportunities, too, as you see here.
I wrote a travel story on Malta for the San Jose Mercury News in 2012, but stayed on Gozo, the smaller island to the north. It was a good choice, quieter and more intimate, which I recommended to readers.
I visited Estonia in the spring of 2013 and wrote a travel feature on the capital, Tallinn, for the San Jose Mercury News. The story was published on 8 September 2013 and can be accessed on the My Articles page. Tallinn is a lovely city, almost like a fairy tale, but it was downright cold during my tour, so I look forward to returning some day during the summer....
I traveled this searing, mind-bending territory in the late summer of 2014, on assignment for the NY Times and also the Rural Community Assistance Corporation. You'll find my story listed on the My Articles page, and find that it's a travel narrative but one that also examines Big Oil, "corporate personhood" and fracking....
I was in Moscow in the spring of 2012 to work on a story for the International Herald Tribune on art collectors - those who got their start, remarkably, during the Soviet years and those belonging to Russia's Nouveau Riche. I loved the city, the whole boom-boom-bombastics of the place...and even the cat-and-mouse Kabuki theatre involved with getting a visa to enter the country....
As my grandmother used to say, "After Spain, the only thing left to see is Heaven." Indeed! Spain rocks! This gallery illustrates my great affection for the country that holds my maternal roots, and my travels there to work on a story about Salvador Dali for the International Herald Tribune, as well as a travel story for the New York Times.
I've filed three stories out of Germany - one on Bauhaus in Dessau, one out of Chemnitz (formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt), and one out of the lake country north of Berlin. Along with images from those assignments are snapshots from around the country.
I've been to Hungary dozens of times over the past few decades, to visit family and friends and also to enjoy the country, as I always do. In September 2015, I had the good opportunity to work on a story for The Washington Post about Hungary's vast eastern plains, near the Romanian border. My story, while chronicling travel in this rather remote area, is also a rumination on my Hungarian father and our heritage.
Fourteen years living in Berlin, and I'd yet to truly explore Vienna. The opportunity presented itself when I was assigned a travel story for Selamta Magazine, the inflight publication of Ethiopian Airlines, on the legendary Spanish Riding School. Berlin's got its proletarian feel...but, alas, Vienna is luxury and decadence through and through....
I've chronicled that part of paradise we mere mortals call California for the past few years and for various publications, including a timely story for the New York Times on California's drought and how it has affected tourism to the state. That story took me to Catalina Island and Disneyland, among other popular destinations.
Despite forewarning from some Croatian acquaintances, I drove into Montenegro to check out the Bay of Kotor. The Balkan wars have left suspicion between the two groups, but I had only good impressions of the landscape, with its fjords and turquoise waters and lonely monasteries. I also stumbled upon a Michelin-starred restaurant and paid pennies to eat there!
The country has attracted German travelers for a few decades now as a cheaper alternative to other south European destinations. I'd avoided it for that reason, but at Easter 2014, flew in to see what all the fuss was about. The coastline drew me in, as did very lovely Dubrovnik.