FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
(and Questions That I Just Feel Like Answering)
Were there any particular parks or areas of the country that were a pleasant surprise to you, that you think are underrated?
I know there is an e-book available for the iPad, but will there be one for the Kindle, Nook, or another e-reader?
Some passages in Chapter 2 seem to be references to American culture, and I didn’t understand them. Could you explain those?
I will be off from work around Christmastime. I need to set up an out-of-office auto-reply, but I don't want something boring. Do you have any suggestions?
My current camera is the Canon PowerShot G10, and my previous one was the Fujifilm FinePix E900. The vast majority of the photos in the book and on the website were taken with those two compact digital cameras.
With the Canon, I typically carry a tele-converter lens (for additional zoom), a polarizer, and a compact tripod.
I have visited about 500 parks total (I keep track), including 43 of
the 59 national parks.
Canyon National Park in Utah. I find this wonderland of rock
infinitely interesting to look at and photograph. Hiking amongst the
hoodoos (rock columns) is fantastic. Contrast this with the
where the scale of the rock formations is so much larger that hiking 100
yards doesn’t change your view very much.
Yosemite National Park in California, especially when the waterfalls are running. While Bryce Canyon is my favorite park, not everyone loves the rock formations. With Yosemite, you get a more conventional beauty, with spectacular granite cliffs, tremendous waterfalls, and giant sequoias.
If crowds are a deterrent, nearby Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are not a bad alternative.
Many people put the
at the top of their lists of places to see. However, as I discuss in the
book, the size of the Grand Canyon makes the park relatively hard to
explore and feel a part of, which leaves you with the throngs along the
rim. In my view, that diminishes the quality of the park experience.
About 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers).
The Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. I hike to see great scenery, not to get on top of things or to test myself somehow. As such, I judge hikes by the number of photos I take—or could have taken. By that standard, this hike—or almost any hike—in Bryce Amphitheater wins.
Second place goes to the hike to Observation Point in Zion National Park, Utah, for outstanding views of Zion Canyon. Zion's more-famous hike to Angels Landing is also excellent, but the trail to Observation Point offers more scenery.
I’ll give an honorable mention to the
Cinder Cone Trail in
Volcanic National Park, California. You get great views of the
Cinder Cone and from the Cinder Cone, of the Painted Dunes, Fantastic
Lava Beds, and Lassen Peak. Pick up the brochure for the trail, and
you’ll learn something, too. Plus, for those who do derive some
satisfaction from getting on top of things, you get to reach the summit
of the Cinder Cone after some strenuous hiking.
Would you hike the
No, never. I hike to enjoy great scenery, not to escape civilization for several months or achieve arbitrary goals.
The AT is about 2,200 miles long, and if I wanted to hike that distance, there’s no way I would do that in the Appalachians or anywhere east of the Rockies. Certainly there are some scenic parts of the AT, and I have hiked small pieces, but most of it is woods, woods, woods, which I find boring.
I consider it much more efficient to go to a park, hike around it, and then go to another park, rinse, and repeat. That approach yielded the book in a small fraction of the amount of hiking required by the AT, and I got to see … the country.
For those who insist on hiking one long trail, I’d recommend considering
the Pacific Crest
Trail instead. At least with the PCT, you’re hitting some of the
Were there any particular parks or areas of the
country that were a pleasant surprise to you, that you think are
The biggest surprise for me was the parks on the shores of Lake Superior, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As a New Englander, I was completely unaware of this very scenic area. Two gems, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Minnesota’s Tettegouche State Park, appear in the book.
No, only other people's uncontrolled dogs, which have scared the bejesus out of me. I have hiked around bears, bison, elk, and alligators, keeping a safe distance, and I have had only peaceful encounters. Generally, wild animals are either afraid of humans or they don't care and just want to go about their business.
Not yet. That may be coming, however. If there is something in particular you want, feel free to contact me, and that may spur me to offer prints.
I know there is an e-book available for the
iPad, but will there be one for the Kindle, Nook, or another e-reader?
There are currently no plans to produce e-books beyond the existing iPad version. The problem is the layout of the book, which is somewhat rigidly defined as text, photo, and caption on almost every page. E-readers don’t like such inflexible formatting; they like text that can be resized and reflowed with little regard for page boundaries.
The iPad e-book was created with iBooks Author, Apple’s software that was primarily intended to support the creation of textbooks for the iPad. That software was flexible enough to accommodate the book’s layout and yield a quality e-book.
The e-book realm is still developing, so let’s hope that new tools and
capabilities emerge (e-merge?) for Kindle and its brethren.
No, only the iPad.
I have ideas but I think it’s too early to reveal any plans. I would
like to see what happens with this book first.
If I start the clock when I began writing in earnest, it would be
about six years. However, I was thinking about writing a book and
keeping notes for years prior to that.
I wrote the book primarily for an American audience and wanted to
show readers that you don’t have to go far to see great scenery. In
fact, I initially left out Alaska and Hawaii for that reason, but I
eventually thought it best to include all 50 states.
There are lots of great parks that don’t appear in the book, and no
slight is intended. I generally chose scenes that fit the text while
showing a variety of parks in all 50 states. In some cases, a park
didn’t appear because my photography skills were underdeveloped when I
went there. Montana’s
National Park, a top-notch destination, would be a prime example of
26. Of the 160 photos, 53 are from national parks. There are also 17 other parks managed by the National Park Service that appear in the book in 21 photos.
So the vast majority of the photos are not from national parks or even NPS properties. If you just focus on national parks, you can see some fantastic scenery, but you’ll miss a lot, too.
By the way, if you’re confused about the various designations used by
the NPS, and is avaliable
Some passages in Chapter 2 seem to be references
to American culture, and I didn’t understand them. Could you explain
Yes, there are a few allusions to slogans that might be unfamiliar to some readers.
“It’s ten o’clock; do you know where your galaxy is?” See here.
“As a result, if you happen to be in Vegas, you will likely stay in Vegas.” See here.
Did I watch too much TV? Perhaps.
I proposed a simple compromise in the Denali/McKinley fight. I hope it will be implemented.
Not always. Sometimes the victim deserves some blame. Here are my thoughts in the Hartford Courant.
I will be off from work around
Christmastime. I need to set up an out-of-office auto-reply, but I don't
want something boring. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes, try my Jingle Bells out-of-office auto-reply.