Dinner by the Dashboard Light

Death Valley is a self-described land of extremes. Surrounded by snowy peaks, it’s home to the lowest point in the United States, and characterized by steady drought and record heat. History tells us that the name came courtesy of a group of gold rushers who took a shortcut from Salt Lake City to Sutter’s Mill, California. Four months later, as they crested the west side of the Panamint Mountains, someone is said to have proclaimed ‘Goodbye, Death Valley’. It was knowing none of this that ...

F*cking Gary

Gary. From the Old English, meaning spear of battle. I didn’t know that when we picked it. The name just, fit.  He was standing a hundred feet off and scanning the horizon. He’d come in search of water. A daily pilgrimage to one of a handful of spots where it either bubbles up from the ground or arrives via man-made plumbing, a necessity during the dry season. It seems straightforward enough, but for the African artiodactyl, the only species characterized by a long neck, stubby antlers and ...

Lost and Found

Have you ever lost something while travelling? I have. My grad ring in a hotel room. Pearl earrings on the shelf of a houseboat. A raincoat and favourite hat after diving with great whites. My stuff. Inconveniencing no one. The day I lost the basket to the coffee pot while sailing into Anegada…that was a little different. I’d committed a party foul and I needed to fix it. Not a huge deal. But what would have been an uneventful errand at home became a charming side-step into the ...

Empire State of Mind

They were sitting cross-legged on the ground, palms pressed against a mosaic of black and white tiles set into the concrete. The design was circular, littered with wilting rose petals. Pennies arranged along the inner ring. At its heart, a single word. Imagine. I wanted to get my camera out. Photograph them. But I desperately needed to sit down. I’d seen Soho, the Flatiron Building and half of Central Park before arriving here at John Lennon’s monument, but I’d made a huge mistake. I’d ...

I’ve Seen Dead People…

If you’ve never rolled over in bed, opened your eyes and looked directly into the face of a stranger, you’re lucky. And to be clear, I’m not talking a one-night stand. My family has a thing. We see dead people. I mean, I assume they’re dead. Ghosts, hanging around our bedrooms in the wee hours of the morning. It’s only happened to me once. She was just, there. Standing to the left of my dresser. I blinked. And she was gone. So when I found myself in an Australian hotel known for unusual ...

This is Why We’re Friends

I looked down, unlocked my phone and made a selection. Van Morrison. Into the Mystic. It starts with a few strums of the guitar… ‘We were born before the wind. Also younger than the sun’. I’d been at it for hours. Thumbing through playlists for the right songs. The ones that slide down your spine. Make you breathe deep, roll your shoulders back and relax. I looked around. They dug it. Everyone was smiling, eyes closed, heads swaying. It was a perfect night. When I started writing ...

Fake Plastic Trees

It was like that opening scene from Forrest Gump. A white plastic bag fluttering by. Turning over on itself. Somersaulting. The only difference. This one was underwater. Part of a parade of juice bottles, styrofoam food containers and foil packages caught in the current.

Hell or High Water

The sound was deafening. The whitest of noise. I was at it’s mercy, unable to touch the bottom. A strong current clawed at my legs, pulling me as I kicked and spiralled my arms. Nothing slowed the motion. I could see the place where the water fell away, mist beyond obscuring the chasm.