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Friends of a Long Year is a private mailing list bringing stories to your inbox like it's still 1995. It's written in the spirit of Mary Austin. It was originally called Place Without a Postcard, which does a better job of summarizing what I like to write about. Friends is delivered roughly twice a month.


Keeps on A-Rainin’

Huntsville State Park, Texas, U.S. A while back someone asked what we do when it rains. At the time I didn't know because, despite having some big storms come through in various places, it still hadn't really rained during the day. In Huntsville it rained most of the day so now I know. When it rains, we put on raincoats and play in the rain.

Little Black Train

DeQuincy, Louisiana, U.S. We travel the back roads, the county roads, the bumpy, twisting, slow roads. Occasionally it's a nerve wracking pain the butt and you get lost sometimes, but then we're not in a hurry and we have nowhere to go so we're never really lost.

Palmetto Island State Park

Near Abbeville, Louisiana, U.S. From New Orleans we headed west through the bayou country, crossing from the Mississippi basin to the Atchafalaya river delta area where the Atchafalaya River meets the Gulf of Mexico. It's a land of rice paddies, blue crab traps, great flocks of snowy egrets and duckweed-filled cypress swamps.

New Orleans Instrumental Number 2

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. We couldn't leave New Orleans without doing something that's become a pilgrimage of sorts for me -- visiting Marie Laveau's grave.

New Orleans Instrumental Number 1

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. New Orleans is the last living city in the United States. Every time I return here I am amazed that it is allowed to continue existing, that something so contrary to the rest of America has not been destroyed, locked up and disneyfied. But it hasn’t.

Davis Bayou

Davis Bayou, Mississippi, U.S. There is something very relaxing about marshes, or bayous as they call them down here. There's a rhythm to life. The tide goes out, the tide goes in. The periwinkles go up the cordgrass, they go back down. You almost get the feeling that life is predictable. And then you watch a heron wading in the mud, like herons always do, when suddenly it trips and falls face first in the water and you remember that nothing is totally predictable, just rhythmic, one foot in front of the other.

Dauphin Island

Dauphin Island, Alabama, U.S. From Fort Pickens we headed inland, through Pensacola and up around Mobile Bay before heading back down to the coast and out to Dauphin Island.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida, U.S. Gulf Island National Seashore might be the prettiest beach I've been to in the U.S. It's downright stunning. If you plunked me here I might guess I was in Thailand, except for the dunes, the dunes are unmistakably Gulf coast barrier island dunes.

Coming Home

St. George Island, Florida, U.S. I haven't accurately tallied it, but my guess is that we've spent nearly two months on St. George Island over the years. Enough time anyway, to make it feel a little like coming home when we get here.


Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia, U.S. From Edisto we took a few back roads through the low country, headed south and west. We were headed for the middle of nowhere, but it was further than we wanted to go in a day. So we spent a night at the mouth of the Altamaha River before heading on to the middle of nowhere. Or the edge of the Okefenokee swamp. Same thing really.


Edisto Island, South Carolina, U.S. We woke up on our third day to cloudy skies and predictions of a massive storm. Seemed like a good day to head up to Charleston, do some laundry, run errands and check out the city.

The Edge of the Continent

Edisto Island, South Carolina, U.S. We avoid interstates and even divided highways for the most part, sticking to the county roads, the thin gray lines on the map known only by local names, no number at all. We follow the river, more or less, down out of the red Georgia mud into the Carolina coastal plain.

April Fools

Raysville, Georgia, U.S. Our original plan called for us to hit the road on the first day of spring. In reality we finally got going, fittingly enough, on April 1st. Not that we went far, but hey, the road is the road.

Watson Mill Bridge

Watson Mill State Park, Georgia, U.S. In which we get fancy RV stuff, like propane and running water. The new carburetor I ordered is nowhere to be found, but hey, new wheels and new tires. Plus, did I mention we can cook indoors now? Luxury living.

The Mooring of Starting Out

Watson Mill State Park, Georgia, U.S. starting out is like being in that weird moment where Wily E Coyote has merrily run past the edge of the cliff and managed to keep going out of sheer blissful ignorance -- until he looks down. Starting out is that moment when you look down and realize the edge of the cliff is well behind you now -- you're on your way down.

The Wilds of Winder

Fort Yargo State Park, Georgia, U.S. A couple weeks back we thought we had a buyer for the house but it fell through last minute. It was enough, however, to get everyone excited at the prospect of actually hitting the road. And then that hope was yanked away. To make up for that we decided it was time to do something of an exploratory trip, to test out life in the bus with a two night trip to Fort Yargo State Park

1969 Dodge Travco Before

Athens, Georgia, U.S. To close out the year I thought I'd post some images from all the work that I've done on the bus over the last 12 months. It's not finished yet, but here's some pictures of what she used to look like, along with some of the damage I uncovered and repaired.

Happy Birthday, Sun

Athens, Georgia, U.S. I've always found it a little curious that so many people, myself included, who don’t otherwise practice the Christian faith, choose to celebrate Christmas. Winter solstice makes far more sense as a holiday to latch onto if you want an excuse to celebrate this time of year.

Waiting for the Sun

Athens, Georgia, U.S. November came and went. The ginko down the street buried the still green grass in a blanket of brilliant yellow. The maples at the park had a banner year of blood red leaves. Even the oaks seemed brighter than usual.

Nothing is Finished, Nothing is Perfect

Athens, Georgia, U.S. A dozen years ago this week I was at an Iraqi restaurant in Paris. It was a tiny place near the cross roads of two very forgettable avenues, an unassuming door, a small menu board of the kind you see dozens of on nearly every block. I have no recollection of what drew us in, maybe just hunger. The only other people in it were the owner and his wife. To this day I would call it the best meal of my life.


Athens, Georgia, U.S. Every Halloween I complain about how hot it is. I'm not sure where I got the idea that it was cold in Georgia come Halloween, but reviewing some pictures from the last half decade or so very clearly shows me wrong. It's often quite hot on Halloween and probably always will be from here on out.

Useless Stuff

Athens, Georgia, U.S. Normally when you move you just shove all that stuff you don't really acknowledge that you've been dragging around for years without using into a box and truck it on to the next place you'll live where you can happily shove it in the back of a new closet. When you're moving into a 1969 Dodge Travco with four other people and less than 100 square feet of usable space that's not an option.


Athens, Georgia, U.S. I have a thing for solar cycles. I was born a few hours before the winter solstice. My wife and I were married on the summer solstice. My son was born a few hours before the winter solstice. None of that was planned. It's all synchronicity. Coincidence some would say, though I don't believe that synchronicities like that are coincidence.

Cloudland Canyon

Cloudland Canyon, Georgia, U.S. I have a terrible habit of never going to obvious places that are right around me. For example I lived within 100 miles or so of Death Valley for 26 years and never once went. Then I moved thousands of miles across the country and finally arranged a trip to Death Valley. Except that it appears I'm getting better about these things. Maybe.