After 900 miles on the PCT, 10 lessons I’ve learned

After 900 miles on the PCT, 10 lessons I’ve learned

As a Pacific Crest Trail section hiker, I don’t deserve — nor would I want — to wash the sweat-soaked socks of the “thru hikers” who go 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada each year. They’re major leaguers; I’m the kid in the Prince Puckler baseball toss at Ems games who misses the entire board with my throw. But having just ­finished another section — 217 miles from just north of the Columbia River to ­Snoqualmie Pass east of...

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Living a Yahtzee life

Living a Yahtzee life

They say if you want to make money in the writing business you find a niche and go to that place again and again. In other words, if the crowd loved your trumpet solo don’t come back on stage with a guitar or xylophone. Play that trumpet, baby! Again and again and again. I get that. And I don’t begrudge any writer who subscribes to that theory. To each his or her own. But here’s to those who’ve gone the other way, who’ve followed their...

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The spirit of Seneca Falls

The spirit of Seneca Falls

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. — Here’s what it’s like to spend a weekend at the Wonderful Life Festival in Seneca Falls, N.Y. You’re waiting for a table at Parker’s Grille and Taphouse when a stranger leans over to you and says: “What I don’t get is how Mary manages to have bought a house in the hour between George and she getting married and when he shows up for dinner that night. And , sure Uncle Billy wasn’t...

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Back to the woods and rivers

Back to the woods and rivers

On August 20, 1905, Oregon wilderness wanderer John Waldo wrote a journal entry from the east slope of Mount Jefferson. In it, he quoted one of his two favorite authors, Ralph Waldo Emerson (the other being Thoreau): “In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life, is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth.” After last summer’s hike of the Oregon’s...

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New book came easier than ‘Nightingale’

Some books come hard. American Nightingale had a longer gestation period than a camel. Information only came grudgingly. In my third day of trying to get Frances Slanger’s 1930s school records, I got transferred to a janitor in the Boston School District’s boiler room. In all, I spent nearly two years researching Nightingale. Ah, but some books come more easily. Last spring, in my post-Beachside Writers recovery week in Yachats, I read Laura...

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A pirate’s life for me: burying skeletons from the past

It was going to be the highlight of the summer of 2010: an elaborate beachside treasure hunt for my 5-year-old grandson Cade, whose trip through Disneyland’s “pirates of carrots and beans” — as he calls it — had enthralled him with all things skull-and-crossbones. “Remember to wrap the plastic around the candy before you bury the treasure,” my first mate suggested as, shovel in hand, I prepared to head into the thick shore pine...

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