May 2, 2014toMay 4, 2014

hotel-legerJoin the ninth annual Gold Rush Writers Conference, May 2, 3, & 4, at the historic Leger Hotel in picturesque Mokelumne Hill, where writing professionals will guide you to a publishing bonanza through a series of panels, specialty talks, workshops and celebrity lectures.

Go one-on-one with successful poets, novelists, biographers, memoirists and short story writers. The conference includes a picnic supper in a Victorian garden Friday evening, Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch.

This year’s featured speaker and workshop leader is Christian Kiefer, a full-time professor at American River College. His first published novel has garnered rave reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Christian will conduct a workshop “Flaubert’s Barometer: On Setting In Fiction” on Sunday.

September 21, 2014

SolasAwardsMarch 1, from Travelers’ Tales: Winners of the Eighth Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Story of the Year were announced March 1, 2014 on by the editors of Travelers’ Tales. Grand Prize winner Bill Giebler collected $1,000 for “The Tea in Me,” his compelling story about travels in India where he sees his life revealed through the processing of tea. Lisa Alpine won the silver award and $750 for “Fish Trader Ray,” her quirky tale of Amazon adventure and the characters she met there. James Michael Dorsey and Keith Skinner shared the bronze and won $250 each, James for “From the Ashes,” his haunting tale of a Cambodian Buddhist monk who survived the Pol Pot genocide, Keith for “Inside the Tower,” his moving account of a visit to the home of the late poet Robinson Jeffers.

MokuleiaCamp Mokule`ia on O`ahu’s North Shore

Here’s an incredibly inexpensive way to experience the best of Hawaii—a room with a view, all lodging and meals, presentations by Hawaiian cultural legends, excursions to sacred sites led by local experts, awesome private beach, far away from the tourist scene, live music, yoga … plus writing workshops and readings

The retreat is led by North Shore native Constance Hale, the author of Sin and Syntax, the editor of more than two dozen books, and a journalist whose stories about Hawai`i appear on CD liner notes, as well as in publications like The Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian magazine.


What could be better than creating literature from your own experience—in Italy? Join instructor Kathryn Abajian to experience a step back in centuries and a step forward in awareness as she returns for a fifth year to the medieval hill town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio, an enchanting and unspoiled gem located in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Enjoy daily instruction, a private room, regional Abruzzese cuisine, local wines and cultural excursions with ItalyinOtherWords Memoir Writing and Cultural Retreat, June 15—21, 2014. Click the link for details, photos, endorsements and enrollment information.

March 27, 2014
12:00 pmto4:00 pm
Photo courtesy Outward Bound

Photo courtesy Outward Bound

San Francisco adventurers Molly Blaisdell, Marybeth Bond, John Hamilton and Spud Hilton will be rapelling down the SF Hyatt Regency on Thursday, March 27, between noon and 4:00.

Outward Bound California’s City Skyline Challenge is expected to be an event like no other, giving participants the chance to experience an exhilarating 230 foot rappel from the roof of the Hyatt Regency at 5 Embarcadero Center. In boldly going Over the Edge, the hope is that participants discover that they are capable of achieving more than they thought possible.
It’s a charity event, and you, too, can give it a try; read more at 7 x 7.
March 29, 2014
10:00 amto12:00 pm

Barbary-coast-trailJoin Daniel Bacon, who researched and created the Barbary Coast Walking Trail, for a walk on the wild and romantic side of old San Francisco. The March 29 tour includes:

  • The Victorian mansion of SF’s most famous madam
  • The statue of a beautiful gold-digger who struck it rich
  • A sunny street with a shady past
  • The house where young men learned to make love in the French style
  • The street where two of San Francisco’s earliest madams made a fortune

Daniel is incredibly knowledgeable about San Francisco’s history; this tour is sure to be a treat.

midnight-oilI had an interesting conversation recently with Phil Cousineau about the time of day (or night) that works best for creative productivity. For me, proximity to sleep (either first thing in the morning or late at night) has something to do with the ability to access creativity.

Our conversation was sparked by Cousineau’s new book, Burning the Midnight Oil: Illuminating Words for the Long Night’s Journey Into Day, and reminded me of this article by Alexandra Enders in Poets & Writers about when and where writers write … and why.

That’s all for now. (It’s nearly nap time.)


Photo: Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr

Photo: Gabriel Amadeus/Flickr

Not that we need it here in northern California, but if you’ve ever wondered how people living at high latitudes manage to get through all those dark winters, here’s a clue: Hygge.

Russell McLendon explains: “Hygge, originally a Norwegian word for “well-being,” first appeared in Danish near the end of the 18th century…. It has evolved into a big part of Danish life since then, absorbing connotations over time like a semantic snowball. The dark winters of Denmark helped turn hygge from a mere word into a kind of cultural panacea, manifested in various ways to buffer Danes against cold, solitude and stress.”

“Roughly 5,000 years ago, a group of people, for some reason, dragged massive stones 140 miles from Wales to Wiltshire, England, arranging them in a series of concentric circles to create Stonehenge. For years, we’ve been trying to figure out what was remarkable enough about these rocks to make the long-distance journey worth the effort—particularly the massive bluestones, which at ten feet long and weighing four tons, must have been truly special to justify bringing them all that way.”

If this question has been puzzling you, check out explanation in The stones used to create Stonehenge have unusual sonic qualities.

Photo: terra2025/Flickr

Photo: terra2025/Flickr

“OK”—in honor of its 175th birthday on March 23, Russell McLendon explains how this uniquely American acronym went viral.

From The Verge: Getty Images is dropping the watermark for the bulk of its collection, in exchange for an open-embed program that will let users drop in any image they want, as long as the service gets to append a footer at the bottom of the picture with a credit and link to the licensing page. For a small-scale WordPress blog with no photo budget, this looks an awful lot like free stock imagery.

March 24, 2014
7:00 pmto8:30 pm

weekdaywanderlustMarch’s Weekday Wanderlust will be on the 24th, at the Hotel Rex in San Francisco, as usual. Readings start promptly at 7 p.m., but you’ll find revelers in the Library Bar by 6 p.m.

This month’s readers are Bill Fink, Marcy Gordon, and Connie Hale—so I know it will be a good evening!

don-georgeLast summer, Don George spoke at the TBEX blogger gathering in Dublin, Ireland. Now National Geographic Traveler brings us the quintessential tips Don offered in his TBEX talk: “The Quality Quotient: Creating Content That Engages and Expands Your Audience.” Don shares ideas in three helpful articles: before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip.

huhIn case you missed it: Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics have determined that the expression “huh?” is practically universal. Here is The Atlantic’s article about why this finding is so fascinating to linguists.

Check out Curated Quotes for the 40 Best Travel Quotes, the 41 Funniest Travel Quotes, 42 Short Travel Quotes, 29 Quotes about Journey, and more. Here are some of my favorites:

“The journey is my home.”
—Muriel Rukeyser

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”
—Tim Cahill

“Let your memory be your travel bag.”
—Alexander Solzhenitsyn

“Travel penetrates your consciousness, but not in a rational way.”
—Milton Glaser

“To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.”
—Elizabeth Gilbert

secure-computerHere’s Lifehacker’s most recent article about keeping your laptop (computer) safe while you’re traveling. It includes ideas for both physical and software security, and even has a surprisingly effective tip for using glittery nail polish, suggested by a pair of security researchers at the Chaos Communication Congress and based on a technique astronomers use called blink comparison.

February 18, 2014
5:30 pmto8:30 pm

adventuredrinksAdventure Drinks is an informal monthly happy hour for San Francisco Bay Area & Northern California adventure travel industry folks. Part of the global AdventureDrinks movement. 5:30-8:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month, which means the next event is on February 18th. Check the Adventure Drinks San Francisco Facebook page for the venue, which changes each month.

February 24, 2014
6:00 pmto9:00 pm

WeekdayWanderlustFebruary’s Weekday Wanderlust will be on the 24th, as usual at the Hotel Rex in San Francisco. Readings start promptly at 7 p.m., but you’ll find revelers in the Library Bar by 6 p.m.

Weekday Wanderlust has already posted info about one of the readers, “the charming and talented Dr. Marianne Rogoff. She is the author of the memoir “Silvie’s Life” and numerous travel stories, short fictions, essays, and book reviews. She teaches Writing & Literature at California College of the Arts and Dominican University. During winter and summer, Marianne leads weeklong Studio-Workshop trips for writers to exotic locales, including two awesome collaborations with Lavinia Spalding, co -founder of WW and the series editor of Best Women’s Travel Writing, in which many of Marianne’s stories have appeared. Please come give Marianne a warm Weekday Wanderlust welcome.”

suitcase-artWhat’s practical, clever, and makes good use of all your old suitcases? Suitcase-Art Chests of Drawers, of course. I found these from design studio JamesPlumb at

If you happen to belong to a pet who likes to sleep in your suitcase, can help you out there, too, with the upcycled Suitcase Cat Bed by Atomic Attic:



And for travelers who cannot pass up fun with a pun, well, there’s an app for that: the Sandwich Suitcase from thisiswhyimbroke. (Suitcase jam packed? Heading for the Sandwich Islands? Spent all your bread on your vacation?) Added benefit: You don’t knead to be a detective to find it on the luggage carousel. (Couldn’t help myself.)


And speaking of used suitcases, if you’re flying on a small airline (Vim Airlines? Malmo Aviation? Sata Air? Anyone?) and need to check on missing baggage, you’ll probably find the appropriate link on this Airline Baggage Links site from Travelport.

February 13, 2014toFebruary 16, 2014

SFWritersConfIt’s coming to the Mark Hopkins Hotel, February 13-16, 2014.  And here’s why they think you’ll want to be there:

Top Ten Reasons for Writers to Attend the 2014 San Francisco Writers Conference

  • Launch your writing career–or take it to a more professional level–with direction from bestselling authors and publishing experts.
  • Choose from a schedule of workshops, panels and sessions that fit your specific writing needs and goals.
  • Get your questions answered at the Ask-a-Pro session featuring New York and California editors…included in your registration fee.

SwickStoryBucks recently published a Q&A with Thomas Swick, author of two books, a collection of travel essays entitled A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler, and a travel memoir, Unquiet Days: At Home in Poland. Swick talks about the best writing advice he has received—and given, common misperceptions about travel writers, the prospects for career travel writers these days, and more.




I [your humble editor, Laurie McAndish King] am obsessed with packing lists, and also with how-to-pack videos. I have marveled at the professional traveling women who swore they could get along for two weeks with two pairs of pants, one skirt, two blouses and a sweater. Oh, and just a scarf or two, “to transform your outfit.” But I had always scoffed at scarves—those confusing over-promisers—until I came upon this darling video showing 25 different ways to wear a scarf. The production of the video is so clever that you’ll want to watch it even if you are not sartorially challenged.

LKEA-cover-mediumI’m [Laurie McAndish King, your still-humble editor] thrilled that the first blurbs are coming in for my collection of true travel stories, Lost Kidnapped, Eaten Alive. It’s my first book, and it you’ll all be invited to the launch party. In the meantime, here’s a peek:

“Whether she’s working to help save lemurs in Madagascar or communing with a one-legged toucan in Costa Rica, Laurie McAndish King brings uncommon heart and soul to her travel stories. And she’s always on the lookout for adventure, chasing an eclipse while on the Black Sea or trying to discern whether she’s being kidnapped or rescued in Tunisia. From start to finish, Lost, Kidnapped, Eaten Alive is a rollicking ride.”

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