Destination: San Francisco

Meditation at Stinson Beach

Don George recently visited a favorite northern California beach.

I let the sea wash over me, let the waves fill my head and lungs, lose myself to this inconceivably old and ageless place.

I think: This is the same scene I witnessed two decades ago, quite possibly even the same rock I sat on then, scribbling in my journal as I tap into my laptop now. And if I come back in 20 years, it will almost certainly be the same still.

But of course, much has changed in those two decades. My children have grown up and moved on. My Dad and other loved ones have passed away. New jobs, new places, new books, old dreams.

And suddenly these words flow into my brain: Where does it all come together? What does it mean?


Book Passage Travel, Food & Photography Conference 2010

Travel writers and aspiring travel writers, take note: The four-day Book Passage Travel, Food & Photography Conference kicks off a week from today in Corte Madera, California, just a short drive from San Francisco.

It’s a great chance to learn the tricks of the trades from some of the best in the business, including legendary adventure writer Tim Cahill.

I’ll be teaching a class on digital travel writing and blogging with Jen Leo. We’ll cover audio slideshow production, writing travel essays, how to create and maintain a compelling travel blog, and travel-writing ethics in the digital age. Among other highlights on the schedule, World Hum contributor David Farley will teach a class on writing personal travel essays, and columnist Jeff Pflueger will be among those teaching travel photography.

The conference is always one of the highlights of the year for me. As conference chair Don George has said, it’s kind of like summer camp for travel writers.

Beyond that, “The conference’s track record is pretty amazing,” Don said in a recent interview. “Every year at least a few graduates start getting published in newspapers, magazines and web sites as a direct result of lessons learned and contacts made at the conference; in fact, a number of this year’s ‘faculty’ members started out as ‘students’ at the conference.”

We’ve published a number of alumni on World Hum.


Tourism in the Tenderloin

Is San Francisco’s “ragged, druggy and determinedly dingy domain of the city’s most down and out” ready for tourists? The New York Times explores the question and talks to those behind a push to bring travelers to the ‘loin.


76-Second Travel Show: The San Francisco-New York Showdown

New Yorker Robert Reid asks: Could San Francisco be the better city?

Watch the Video »


The Accidental Tsunami Rider

The Accidental Tsunami Rider iStockPhoto

After Chile's earthquake, Jill K. Robinson paddled her kayak into California's Half Moon Bay and felt the energy from a hemisphere away

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Interview with Bonnie Tsui: ‘American Chinatown’

Bonnie Tsui, American Chinatowns Photo by Matthew Elliott

Jenna Schnuer talks to the author of a new book about American Chinatowns and why "broken Chinese is the mark of being Chinese American"

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Book Passage Travel Writers Conference 2009

The annual Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference kicks off Thursday in lovely Corte Madera, just north of San Francisco. Given the tumult in the publishing world, this year should be interesting, to say the least. The faculty lineup is impressive, as always, including such writers and editors as Tim Cahill, Jen Leo, Rolf Potts, Spud Hilton, John Flinn, Phil Cousineau, Pauline Frommer, Larry Habegger, Michael Shapiro and Wendy Perrin.

I’ll be teaching a three-hour class each morning on Travel Writing in the Digital Age. We’ll cover everything from blogging to producing audio slideshows to writing personal essays and web-friendly articles. And we’ll dig into the business side of things. Jen Leo and Rolf Potts have promised to pop in to offer their perspective.

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Travel Song of the Day: ‘Lights’ by Journey


Moon-Gazing Around the Globe

Full moon over London Photos by cybea via Flickr (Creative Commons)

From Puebla to Paris, 12 photos by moonstruck world travelers

See the full photo slideshow »


Mapped: Literary San Francisco

The San Francisco Chronicle commissioned a beautiful map of San Francisco “composed of some of the very words—from novels, poems and essays—that animate our city.” It’s “loosely inspired” by the literary map of St. Petersburg, Russia, we linked to in February. (via @roncharles)


Samurais and Maharajas: It’s an Asian Art Summer

I’m fortunate to live in a city that’s home to one of the best Asian art museums in the world—the Smithsonian’s Freer-Sackler Gallery—but I’m not averse to traveling to see a really great museum or exhibit elsewhere. In fact, on a trip to Dublin last fall, I spent an entire afternoon immersed in the wonderful Chester Beatty Library, gazing at Persian paintings and Islamic manuscripts. I know, I know—I was supposed to be out drinking Guinness, but I couldn’t help myself.

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Playing Chicken in San Francisco

San Francisco Hen Photo of hens by bigbold via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Chickens for pets and meat? Civil Eats checks out the “urban hen” trend happening in San Francisco. Like most people, I’d have a hard time killing something I’ve been taking care of for a while, but at the same time, knowing where your meat (and eggs) are coming from is a good thing. I once got flack from animal-rights people over a story I wrote about taking part of a pig killing in the Czech hinterlands. It’s true: it wasn’t pretty, but my critics missed the main point: raising your own animal and killing it yourself seems a lot more ethical than supporting factory-farming.


The Grateful Dead: Looking Back at ‘a New World’

In the wake of the news about a new Grateful Dead tour, the good folks at Rock’s Backpages have dug up a thoughtful look back at the band’s early impact on one suburban teenager. Originally written to coincide with the 2001 release of The Golden Road, the Dead’s box set, Michael Goldberg’s essay recalls his first encounters with the band as a 14-year-old in Marin County.

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Morning Links: Lego Hotel, Strange Travel Jobs and More

Morning Links: Lego Hotel, Strange Travel Jobs and More Photo by Dawn Endico, via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Dawn Endico, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Morning Links: Mexico City’s War on Gum, South Pole Trek and More

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