26th August 2020
With the US office finally back after lockdown, the team shared with us how they've been spending their time...
Eager for a change of scenery from my sofa, I was grateful to get out into the great outdoors for a number of backpacking trips in our backyard - the incredible Sierra Nevada Mountains. Fresh mountain air, invigorating alpine lakes, wide open spaces, not another soul in sight… it doesn’t get much more socially distanced than this. There’s nothing quite like carrying everything you need for three nights of survival in the wilderness on your back. Happy trails!
Greetings from Lake Tahoe!
What a crazy year it has been. So challenging, often tragic, but also full of hope. Principally that we can all get beyond this in one piece, but also that we find a new normal that is even better than before.
I hope you and family are in good health. My wife, two daughters (14 & 16) and I have been fortunate to stay healthy and as busy as possible during this time.
Beyond staying healthy, one of the biggest challenges I have faced personally is not being able to travel. For many travel is an important luxury, for others like me, a way of life.
I think many of our clients feel similar ways about getting out and exploring. It marks a pause in our lives, when time slows down and we experience changes that make our lives richer in ways nothing else could.
I had two personal trips (Peru and Nicaragua) postponed due to the crisis and even though I live on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, one of the prettiest lakes in the US, a gorgeous prison is still a prison!
Like many my solution was a family road trip. We packed up our Subaru and headed across the desolate deserts of Nevada, the mind-boggling rock formations of Utah and the majestic Rockies of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.
Longer than a drive from Madrid to Moscow, the road trip was a keen reminder of the vast spaces and sublime beauty that exist in the United States and perhaps a reminder that though we often look abroad for special experiences, some of them are just around the corner.
As you might imagine, work at Wild Frontiers had pretty much come to a grinding halt. There was much to do in terms of changing dates and sadly some cancelations, but by and large we had time to focus on special projects that had previously remained on the back burner.
As of August 1st we are back in full swing and it feels good. Although most destinations in Latin American (my area of specialization) remain closed, it is good to be chatting with our guides and trip directors in Colombia and Costa Rica. Designing future trips for Patagonia and Peru.
At Wild Frontiers we just don't plan dreams, we make them come true.
Yet with this crisis we have had to defer nearly all of those dreams until next year. It has been written that living is like reading a book and dreaming is like skimming. Travel is like skimming and reading at the same time. It is the best of all scenarios!
Anyone who is interested in looking at possibilities, even if you have no dates or plans to book at this time, we are all available to chat and with more free time than usual, we can dream about dreaming together.
I feel like I've lived about three full lives over the past few months in quarantine. It's been the weirdest combination of fear, exhaustion, hope, activism, connection, self-evaluation, family time, exploration and creativity.
Here are a few highlights-
Kids at home distance learning. All parents out there know this struggle. The kids came home in March for a 2 week school closure - If only we knew then what we know now, amirite?! I will say, I'm incredibly grateful that I have two independent kids who managed distance learning very well. I will add, I think that because they are well traveled they were able to adapt to change really well and use the independence they had learned from traveling. Distance learning this year even included a middle school graduation which took place on TV while we watched in our pj's from the living room!
Staying connected to family. One of the hardest parts about quarantine has been not being able to spend as much time with my mom. At one point about a month into quarantine, we decided we had to see the grandparents, so we set up lawn chairs and they sat on the deck so we could visit a safe 6+ feet apart.
Tiger King, Whipped Coffee, Tik Tok and Sourdough Bread. You weren't an American in quarantine if you didn't watch Tiger King and bake sourdough, right?
Lots of books! I am incredibly grateful for the extra time I had to indulge in lots and lots of reading. Favorites over the past few months include - Where the Crawdads Sing, The Mindful Millionaire and Lost City of Monkey God. Plus, my dog really loved all the reading time.
Exploring my own backyard. If there is one place in the world where you have to "shelter in place" Truckee is the place to be. Outside of my front door, distanced from any people - trails, lakes and summits of epic beauty are bountiful. We spent most days outside in some capacity, either hiking, boating, lounging lakeside or trail running.
Virtual travels. Each week my family and I have picked a place we want to visit and then we "go there". We would make food themed to our adventure and then would find video tours of the locations. I'll admit, our "trip" to Disneyland was the most fun - as we had churros and really got into pretending we were on the rollercoasters.
My favorite part about quarantine has been the extra time with my family. When my first child was born I remember someone saying the hours are long but the years are short - and I agree with that fully. As my son is entering high school this year and my daughter is in her last year of elementary school - I realize just how short the years really are. So this time with them, while not always blissful, has been precious. One particularly special thing to have come out of this time in quarantine is that almost every night my daughter and I lay outside on the trampoline, listening to a chapter of Harry Potter, watching the stars come out. I think when the years pass and we look back on this time, this will be what I remember the most.
It’s hard to believe that in January and February I was in New York, Florida, Denver and LA promoting Wild Frontiers and speaking at trade shows. We were so excited about the year ahead! Two months later I found myself at home, on sabbatical, homeschooling 6 kids! It has been a surreal experience, but I also feel immensely grateful to be able to safely quarantine and to have my family safe and healthy. With the little freedom we’ve had after the initial lockdown we’ve had some wonderful camping trips and some amazing days out on the lake. Staying close to home has given me an appreciation of the local area, but my travel memories have also gotten that much sweeter! Travel is indeed a luxury and I can't wait to be able to get back out there when it’s safe to do so. I miss Southeast Asia and my family there, but everyone has stayed healthy and we’re all getting through this and that’s all I could hope for!
What day of the week is it? Does the month of May have 365 days? Is this 2020 or 2021? Time is a blur and my computer calendar is all that stands between me and chaos.
Work and clients, who have become good friends, have kept my brain ticking and given days purpose, even if much is dealing with their cancellations or postponements.
Yes, I miss my east coast kids and grandkids. To fill the gaps, there are Zoom and Facetime calls with family smiles, meetings and webinars that can keep one busy forever, lectures by people such as Tom Friedman or George Will, virtual conversations with friends from all around the world or masked and social distanced small gatherings on the beach at Lake Tahoe.
An honor was having READ Global, the non-profit I founded to build fully sustainable rural library community centers in Nepal, Bhutan and India, receive Nepal’s highest award from the Dilli Raman Regmi Foundation. Previous winners included such people as Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Ban Ki Moon and Gandhi. The virtual ceremony was thrilling, but now I can’t wait until next year in Nepal for an in-person replay.
Joy is getting up and taking my dog Huckleberry out for his excursions or meeting friends on a Sunday morning to hike the nature trail on the top of Mt. Rose early before the tourists take over. A favorite adventure was a trip to Bristlecone National Park. Bristlecone boasts trees that date back more than 4500 years with rings depicting ancient environmental history.
A treasure has been time to read, particularly the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The book is a gem, so beautiful you never want to finish. Read it and moss, trees and even wild strawberries will never look the same.