On the Road

North to Alaska – Summer, 2018

There’s no such thing as a cheap boat. The first nautical joke I ever heard was that boats are holes in the water into which you pour all your money. It’s taken me years to realize that it’s not actually a joke. And to “money” I’d add all your time, effort and dreams. In spite […]

Stevens Pass, Washington

I only got serious about packing and leaving on this road trip yesterday. A two week road trip through the American West in the depths of winter. It somehow makes sense, if only because it’s both easier and cheaper than buying a ticket to someplace warm and sunny. In an afternoon, I managed to get it […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – The Long Run

Watching the northern lights dance like green curtains on the wind above Sentry Island, I stay up past midnight before clouds began to cover the sky and extinguish the lights. In the morning, the sea is flat and calm like glass, and I decide it’s time to go. From here it’s ten miles to Arviat, […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – The Ghosts of Fullerton Harbour

The wood cabin is still there. The store house too, though a century’s worth of long winters have taken their toll. The roof’s mostly gone, the windows long broken and even the walls are begin to fall in upon themselves. The wood boards are weathered to the color the landscape and the sky, lifeless gray. […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Once is Enough

I don’t ever need to do that again. An old Inuit hunter once told me that before you cross Wager Bay, you must confess in a loud voice all your sins. I worked my way down the list through Pride, Lust, Greed and Vanity, but I must have overlooked a few. Or maybe I needed […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Turning South

It’s hard to imagine leaving.  It seems like I  just got here. But I look at the calendar and as I count the days, the calendar doesn’t lie. I have to cover more than 600 miles of coastline to get my boat back to the end of the rail line in Churchill. Family duty beckons […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – The Gift

Once in a great while the universe conspires to make me look like I know what I’m doing. Having slunk out of Repulse Bay, I fought through three days of pack ice and rough weather trying to put some miles between me and the Inuit hunting boats, I found myself right back where I started, […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – A Very Repulse Welcome

I wonder who should play me in the movie. My short visit to Repulse Bay, a remote and insular Inuit hunting village perched on the arctic circle has all the dramatic trappings of good, pulp cinema. Though I’m still trying to figure what kind of story it is, or even who are the good guys […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Bear Whispers

I wish I could say I was the Bear Whisperer, I really do. That I possessed some secret communion with the polar bears here. Some sixth sense, some special sign. Achieve zen mastery and see the bear before I even see the bear. Send a whisper upon the wind that is carried from my lips […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Latitude 65

Passing the 65th parallel, I look around and wonder where all the ice is supposed to be. Ten miles later, I can see it distorted in the distance, a white wall stretching across the horizon. Be careful what you wish for. But as I near Wager Bay, the frozen blockade resolves into narrow bands of […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Escape from Whale Point

  I guess it’s time to go. The gales have finally dropped off. Now there’s only the odd rattling gust to remind me of what has transpired. Still, I’m hesitant. It’s been a long five days. Or has it been six? You start to lose count after so much time trapped in one terrible place. […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Prisoner of the Wind

Every time you step out the front door, you put yourself at the mercy of the elements. Traffic is snarled, flights are cancelled and you can rest assured that it’s going to rain on someone’s parade. Today seems to be my turn. For a small boat out on the water, there’s a special circle of […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition – Heading North

After days of utter calm, the wind returns like a jilted lover in a country song; howling with rage, waving a pistol and busting up the furniture. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. For three days I motored north and east, making a stately five knots over glassy seas. At times, it was practically […]

Hudson Bay Expedition – Away We Go

It’s time to go. All the same, I keep finding small excuses to stay. I need more fuel. Have to edit that video. Might need some more groceries. Facebook beckons. It’s time for lunch/coffee/a nap. With the wind and fog, I had an excuse. But the easterlies have gone and the fog is only an […]

Hudson Bay Expedition – Into the Sea

This whole thing feels like it’s held together with baling wire and wishing thinking. But has it ever been otherwise? After all the running around, stringing wires and stowing cases, it comes down to this: will the boat float and can I make her go. I mention to my friend Chesley that it seems as […]

Hudson Bay Expedition – Outboard Resurrection

It’s funny how much satisfaction you can get from a day fixing problems that never should have occurred in the first place. Nearly as funny as how little time I spend thinking about photography these days, but that’s another matter. Owning a boat is an all-consuming prospect. It means either spending a lot of time […]

Hudson Bay Expedition – Flying to Nunavut

Flying north from Thompson, we leave the road system behind and head north for an hour toward Hudson Bay under skies full of promise and over miles of mosquito-plagued tundra. We land in Churchill to drop off 90% of our passengers, and pick up cargo and fuel. I study a massive polar bear carcass strung up in a […]

Hudson Bay Expedition – Thompson, Manitoba

During more than 2000 miles of driving, there are no epiphanies, just cloying little aphorisms. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” “Sitting on the couch is free, but where does that get you.” Actually, sitting on the couch, cold martini in hand, watching Mad Men re-reruns sounds pretty good right now. So far, this trip […]

On the Road Across Canada

It’s 2:45 in the morning, and I bolt awake, my brain spinning in full hamster-wheel mode. I am so not ready for this. But the sun comes up whether I’m ready or not. And soon, it’s time to go. My eyes brim with tears as I hold Janet in my arms. Despair grips me. Is […]

2015 Hudson Bay Expedition

For weeks, I’ve been packing as if my life depends on it. Because, not to be a drama queen, it kind of does. How do you prepare for six weeks alone on a boat in the Canadian arctic? Most modern explorers take the travel light and move fast approach. I’m more of a kitchen sink […]

Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico

Not every trip is an expedition. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time or money to head off into some remote corner of the wilderness for a month or two at a stretch. Sometimes it’s just enough to take a short break and see someplace new. New Meixco’s Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge is a well […]

Shanghai, China

It’s like a bomb went off. An entire neighborhood leveled. Homes reduced to brick and wood and rubble. But it’s the mighty fist of unstoppable Lord of Progress that has swung down, rendering this place a wasteland and uprooting thousands. Presumably He has big plans for the remodel. Looking at the wreckage, I imagine some […]

Shanghai, China

I thought I’d gotten away with it, the old breaking and entering thing. Up to the moment I saw the fat girl in the mini skirt. I’d just brazened my way past a bored security guard downstairs, hopped an elevator to the 22nd floor and then scurried up the dark stairwell up and onto the roof with […]

Shanghai, China

Martial Arts Group and Skyline, Shanghai, China

Another day of the new Chinese century begins. I blink awake in darkness and with scrambled time zones and dulled senses, I hit the streets. In the hours before dawn, kites dangle blinking and flashing UFO lights in the dark sky. That most Chinese of sounds, the deep throat clearing haaaaawk fills the air. It […]