Off The Map
2

Roughing It On An Indie Theater Tour

The conclusion of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was 1996, and I was still imagining myself to be some sort of actor. I had acted in a play written by a charismatic young playwright and directed by my best friend and roommate the summer previous, a four-hander, as they say. The playwright, also the star of the piece, decided that he was going to take the show on the road. For three weeks. And, on top of that, one of the roles would be recast with my girlfriend at the time, "Erin." [...]

3

The 2006 World Cup With No Game Plan

Part of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

When we were planning a trip to the 2006 World Cup—and, as you'll see, I use "planned" in the loosest sense of the word—I did not picture a friend and me sleeping in a ball pit at the base of a slide in a kid's play area on an overnight ferry steaming from northern Germany to southern Sweden. There were four, sometimes five, of us on the trip. We were a year out of college and more or less broke, so we decided to save money by not paying to sleep anywhere. I expected some strange [...]

8

Fly Fishing The Universe

Part of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

11

The Slave Who Circumnavigated The World

Part of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

Here are some geographic and economic realities, as any educated European of the late 1400s would have understood them: The European diet was monotonous and people were willing to pay good money for spices to liven up their meals. Those spices for the most part came from places to the east, lumped together in the European mind as "the Indies." The easy and obvious routes there were blocked by Muslim states that were hostile to Christendom, and that made good money on the spice trade and weren't interested in sharing the profits with Europeans. And [...]

13

Hiking The Grand Canyon In A Day

Signs posted at the rim of the Grand Canyon warn you not to attempt to hike to the river and back in one day: it's too strenuous, and you need to be prepared with food and a gallon of water per person. Apparently, there are several deaths (especially in the summer months) and 250 rescues made each year, so the National Park Service is serious about this. Typical warnings exhort: "DO NOT attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day, especially May to September."

I arrived at the Grand Canyon in late March. It was Spring Break, 1990.

17

Portraits From A Cross-Country Road Trip

The first in a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

In March, I quit my job in advertising to pursue a career in photography. With no money coming in and gas prices at an all-time high, I decided the timing was perfect for a soul-searching cross-country road trip. For three months I traveled in my FJ Cruiser (a great rig for all the elements, not so great for gas mileage). After a trip to Austin to cover SXSW, my route became a nonsensical zigzag pattern around the western half of the country, the points based on wherever I had a friend to stay with, [...]

11

The Castaway's Guide To Making A Home

Part of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

Two weeks after getting shipwrecked, Robinson Crusoe decided to move out of his tent and into something more substantial. After a short search, he found himself a nice cliff side with a west-facing grotto and a sea view. He salvaged planks from the shipwreck, split them into stakes, and used them to build his palisade. Using sails and cables from the ship, he set up a double tent to keep all his provisions out of the rain. Then he hollowed out the grotto until it was a proper cave, gave up his hammock, and moved in: [...]

13

A Chat With A Person Who Has Been To Disney Parks 40 Times

Part of a month-long series on terrible trips, great journeys and getting lost.

Last fall, I had dinner with my cousin, his wife and their two teenage sons, none of whom I get to see that often since they live in northern California while I'm in Chicago. My cousin mentioned that the family would be heading to Disneyland after they returned home. "That sounds like fun!" I said, but the two boys just rolled their eyes. "We go all the time," one of them said. "Our mom is obsessed." I was intrigued: I'd known my cousin's wife, Kris, for almost 20 years, but never knew about her dedication to [...]