I went to Sochi for the Olympics last week. Had I listened to all the warnings and naysayers beforehand, I would have missed out on a magical experience. To visit Russia alone was a thrill but to also get to attend the Olympic Games, especially the Winter Games, was a lifelong dream. Sure, I take issue with some of Russia’s policies and politics. But I’m in the camp of people that thinks the athletes and the people of Sochi aren’t to blame and to go and support those who put in the hard work to compete is to honor the true Olympic spirit. I wrote up a couple of articles on the Olympics for Gear Patrol, including some impressions from my days there.
In other news, we published our British Watch Issue on Gear Patrol which was not without its challenges but is the direction we want to go more often — themed “issues”. I’m quite proud of what we put together.
I continue to write watch blurbs for Men’s Journal and my quarterly dive watch reviews for Revolution. Altogether, it’s a nice mix of web and print, watches and travel, with a dash of gear reviews to remind me where it all began. There are some big things afoot this year so watch this space…
Summit of Mt. Garfield. Photo by Gishani.
2013 was the year I made freelance writing my full-time job. At first it was scary but once the momentum of traveling, writing, chasing gigs (and payments), deadlines and more travel took over, I was able to ride the wave and actually enjoy it. Sometimes I can’t believe that my work involves things like researching New Zealand birds, packing underwater camera gear or pricing biathlon rifles. But it also involves the frustrations of unresponsive editors and the arcane rules of Quickbooks accounting software.
This was the first year I have achieved any sort of medallion status on an airline, though I’m not sure it’s necessarily something to be proud of. 88,000 miles flown and counting before the end of the year (yes, I’m squeezing in one more trip before the ball drops, though this one is purely for vacation). This was a year of mountains and sharks, of helicopters and caves. I made it into the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, learned how to use an ice axe, jumped in the water with a tiger shark and drove a 500-horsepower Ferrari AND a 17-ton tank. I also learned how precious free weekends at home are, just sitting by the fire or binge-watching an entire season of a British detective series in one go. I also learned how much any travel is better if I can share it with my wife.
When I returned from a trip recently, someone texted me and said, “welcome back to reality” and it occurred to me that it’s actually ALL part of my reality, both the excitement and new experiences and the (sometimes) mundane work of sitting at my desk at home writing about it. A wise boss of mine told me once years ago, “it’s all one life” and I have clung to that belief ever since. If you’re trying to compartmentalize your job from your home from your work from your play, something is wrong. Find something you love to do and there is no separation.
As I mentioned earlier, this was a year of mountain adventures, starting way back in June with my climb of Mount Rainier. By my count, I visited five mountain ranges between June and October: the Cascades, the Rockies, the Alps, the Appalachians and the Southern Alps. All have their own beauty and challenges.
I wrote three features for Gear Patrol that were packaged together as “The Mountain Series” and laid out in such a way that they really showed off the photography. While I took the photos for the Bugaboos trip, my wife, Gishani, was along for the Alps and White Mountains hikes and her photos really take it to the next level.
I can’t say that 2014 will bring as many mountain adventures as this year did–that would be nearly impossible to do. But after a few years of doing mostly underwater exploring, it was nice to vary things a little and get in to the high country.
Posted in adventure, Gear Patrol, mountains, travel, writing
Tagged Alps, Bugaboos, Cascades, hiking, mountaineering, mountains, photography, Rainier, writing
A summer that began on the solstice with an ascent of Mount Rainier ended with a rainy hike in the Alps. In between these mountain excursions, I dove with a tiger shark in the Bahamas, was a grinder on a 12-meter former America’s Cup boat and went heli-hiking in the Bugaboo mountains of British Columbia. While normally autumn is a time to hunker down by the hearth, further adventures await: a three-day hut-to-hut hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, a trip to trek the famed Milford Track in New Zealand and exploring the jungle and reefs of Belize. All before Christmas. And I just got word that I’ll be going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Not to compete, mind you.
While it may all sound like fun and games, these trips are work, always having to look for the right photos to take, experiences to note and contacts to make, in the service of writing and career development. In between the trips, there’s the matter of staying fit and not getting injured, since making a living writing about adventures requires one to be able to do the adventures in the first place. Not that I’m complaining. 2013 has been a truly epic year (yes, that word is overused) and one I’ll always remember.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged but I’ve got a good excuse. I’ve been too busy adventuring and writing about adventuring! The high point (sorry) of my spring was a climb of Mount Rainier, which appropriately culminated with reaching the summit on the first day of summer. It was one of the most difficult physical challenges I’ve done, right up there with my Alcatraz swim, but very rewarding. I wrote up the climb for Gear Patrol, along with a couple of companion articles about gear and other American peaks to climb. Here’s the feature article:
Climbing the Volcano
The photos really make that article, most of which were taken by my guide, Brent Okita, who was carrying my Sony RX100 pocket camera. Mountain photography is predictably awesome, given the thinner atmosphere, bright sun and contrasts of snow and blue skies.
Speaking of apexes, I also just returned from a trip to the Bahamas, where we shadowed a shark research team for a week, catching, taking samples from, and tagging, a variety of these amazing and endangered animals. Despite some bug bites, sunburn and a cracked rib (hoisting myself over the gunwale of a pitching boat), it was a great trip and one I’ll be writing about very soon.
Epic summer, and it’s only half over! I’ve got trips to the Bugaboos in Canada, sailing off of Marblehead, and a trip to the Swiss Alps all ahead in the next few months. But first, a few precious weeks at home to rest up, refuel and write!
Having been in this freelance game full-time for six months now, I feel like I’ve reached a good position. I’m running about half and half between writing for print and writing for Web and have winnowed down my clientele to three or four regular outlets which has greatly simplified the administrative side of the business.
I’m now officially a Contributing Editor at Revolution magazine, a quarterly whose work requirements ebb and flow and usually require a bit more in terms of research, word count and technical depth. This is in addition to my more full-time gig as Section Editor of the Timekeeping series at Gear Patrol. The latter job also allows me the flexibility to write articles on topics other than watches, for which I’m grateful. I also write the odd piece for Men’s Journal, AskMen and Motor Trend, which are great occasional assignments.
The first issue of Revolution came out and I have no less than seven articles in it, ranging from new watch write-ups to longer pieces on watches in space, a dive watch review and the tale of an historic Lange & Sohne grand complication pocketwatch that was lost and then found. Meanwhile, at Gear Patrol, I’ve done a couple of interviews with famous adventurers, a listing of great summer adventures and a roundup of seven great dive watches. This summer should be diverse, fun and challenging, with a climb of Mount Rainier, a trip to the Bahamas to film a shark research project and a trip to Switzerland for a photography workshop and some Alpine hiking. All will be duly documented, as one might expect. Watch this space!
I put together a roundup of “space” watches for Motor Trend Classic, a special quarterly book published by the automobile magazine. The cover of the book features Apollo astronaut, Alan Bean’s, 1960s Corvette so they wanted a space-themed watch selection. Inexplicably, the IWC Ingenieur featured in the main spread is not a space watch but at least it has an automotive tie-in. Here’s a PDF file of the article: