Outside Magazine, May 2012
HOME AND AWAY
The author packed up his house and family and moved to northeastern Brazil for a year. Fantasy or struggle? It’s complicated.
I WAS OUT FOR A Sunday-afternoon run along the big river, lost in tropical reveries. My family and I had just begun a year abroad in the old Portuguese-era town of Penedo, in northeastern Brazil, with hopes of shedding the overscheduled regimen of contemporary American life and sinking into the region’s slow pace. The graceful, sweeping Rio São Francisco was part of what had drawn us here, and two weeks in, Penedo, population 30,000 or so, had held true to its laid-back promise.
That, however, was all about to change.
“Pi-tah!” a man shouted as I jogged back into town across the riverfront plaza.
He ran toward me with arms raised…
Outside Magazine, August 2005
The Tree Slayer
What does a naive environmentalist discover when he buys his own forest? He’s got to log it to save it.
It was never my intention to own a forest. I blame it on my mother-in-law. Sixteen years ago, my wife, Amy, and I, at her mother’s urging, searched for a small house to buy instead of dumping more money into the extortionate rents in our Montana university town. Paging through a Missoula real estate shopper one day, my eye involuntarily skipped over the 1930s bungalows on Cherry Street and was seized by a small ad billed “Rattlesnake Wilderness Land.”
Outside Magazine, March 2003
A Trip Is Born
The dream is a brand-new river route through a vast, primordial, wildlife-rich wonderland on the verge of environmental salvation. The reality is what happens when a small band of marginally prepared adventurers attempts the 400-mile first descent of Mozambique’s mighty Lugenda—a journey past kayak-eating crocs, out-of-nowhere waterfalls, and a multitude of fresh reminders that a mad dash across paradise is probably gonna hurt.
Day 1, The Put-in
The bridge’s fractured pilings had been cleared of land mines since the civil war. Or so the locals, who’d materialized from out of the bush, told us. There were about a hundred of them, wearing ragged T-shirts and leaning over the railing near our Land Rover. Below us, the Lugenda River of northern Mozambique—only 60 feet wide here, near its source in the swamps of Lake Amaramba—wound placidly between grassy banks and patches of forest.
Outside Magazine October, 2001 to January, 2001
The Sting Of The Assassin
When a hunter finds your body several years later the bones of your fingers will still be wrapped around the phone’s weathered plastic casing.
Outside Magazine, October 2003
Last Time Around
The author’s father traveled the world, shipped out on the last commercial sailing voyage around Cape Horn, and handed down a legacy of adventure. But his risk-taking spirit had a dark side—and its shadow fell across a final winter rendezvous in Aspen.
Outside Magazine, June 2000
Really Tough Love
We were just short of 15,000 feet when I decided that marrying Amy maybe wasn’t the right choice after all. Red-cheeked and panting in the thin air, she was slogging up a grassy mountainside in eastern Tibet, fuming at me while coaxing along a small white horse that carried our baggage. Would this be my life—the shouting matches, the angry tears, the all-day silences along the trail? Her eyes blazed angrily as she trudged past. “Screw you!” she hissed. Except she didn’t put it quite so politely.
Outside Magazine, January 1997
As Freezing Persons Recollect the Snow–First Chill–Then Stupor–Then the Letting Go
The cold hard facts of freezing to death
When your Jeep spins lazily off the mountain road and slams backward into a snowbank, you don’t worry immediately about the cold. Your first thought is that you’ve just dented your bumper. Your second is that you’ve failed to bring a shovel. Your third is that you’ll be late for dinner. Friends are expecting you at their cabin around eight for a moonlight ski, a late dinner, a sauna. Nothing can keep you from that.