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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.


Old School

Grayton State Park, Florida, U.S. Kids minding their own business, grownups who fail to do the same and spending all day in the sun, like you used to before the world got scared of the sun.

Stone Crabs

Topsail State Park, Florida, U.S. After enjoying such a nice slice of wilderness (for Florida anyway), we were bound to be a little disappointed returning to the crowds. As we headed back to the coastline we found ourselves among two peculiar breeds of American tourist, spring break partygoers in rented convertibles and snow birds in massive RVs.

Green Sea Days

East Bay, Pensacola, Florida, U.S. People say there's no free camping in Florida, but there is, you just have to know where to look. That said, the campground at East Bay is unique. It's a little slice of wild Florida that doesn't seem like it's changed much since the Choctaw were living here a few hundred years ago.

Island in the Sun

Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida, U.S. The danger with reminiscing from afar is that you tend to forget the negative things, but at Gulf Islands National Seashore the only downside is the campground, which is little more than a parking lot. I can live with that when the beaches look like this.

Trapped Inside the Song

New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. We limped into New Orleans on a Sunday afternoon. I parked the bus in a camp site at Bayou Segnette, jumped in the car and we headed into the city. No one used the word "brakes". It was a perfect day.

Mardi Gras Deux Façons

Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S. When we were first plotting out a route for the spring it didn't occur to us that we'd be in Louisiana for Mardi Gras. Like most of the nation, for us Mardi Gras was just another Tuesday. Once we realized that our timing would put us there though we knew we had to go, preferably out deep in the Cajun/Acadian region from which Mardi Gras originates.

On Avery Island

Avery Island, Louisiana, U.S. Avery Island is best known to me as the title of a Neutral Milk Hotel album, but for most people it's probably better known as the home of Tabasco.

On the Beach

Rutherford Beach, Louisiana, U.S. Soft sand? Ten thousand pound vehicle? What could go wrong?

Hugging the Coast

Holly Beach, Louisiana, U.S. Our plan for the remainder of winter was to chase the weather along the Gulf Coast, working our way up into Louisiana in time for Mardi Gras. After a week on Padre Island we headed north, hugging the coastline

Almost Warm

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, U.S. On the Gulf Coast again at last. It's not all that warm, but at least we have sun and sand.

Eastbound & Down

Kerrville, Texas, U.S. Next year we'll winter in Mexico, but for now we're headed back to one of our favorite places -- the Gulf Coast. Naturally we didn't just drive straight there, we detoured up to Carlsbad Caverns before making a mad dash across Texas to the coast.

The Ghost of Cochise

Dragoon Mountains, Arizona, U.S. Every time I've been here odd things have happened. I have seen strange shapes in the shadows, heard whispers whipping through the wind, and found some downright hard to explain things.

A Long Errand

Catalina State Park, Arizona, U.S. While we were in Tucson Corrinne and the kids stayed with the bus while I grabbed a flight up to Reno where I met my uncle and we drove back down to his house to pick up our new dinghy -- a 1983 Volvo 240 wagon. It's the best car we've ever owned.

You’re All I Need to Get By

Catalina State Park, Arizona, U.S. It was good to get back into the desert, into wide open wild spaces. It's worth remembering that Nature is everywhere, even downtown Manhattan, there is in fact nothing but Nature. That said, it's undeniably nicer for those of us who enjoy them, to be in less inhabited, vast tracts of wild, which is exactly what we had outside of Gila Bend, AZ.

Escaping California

Painted Rocks Petroglyph Area, Arizona, U.S. There might have been a good bit of cheering in the bus as we crossed over the Colorado River, out of California and into Arizona. California wore us down. It's not a place we like. As my daughter put it, "everything is dead in California, there's no flowers or butterflies, I love flowers and butterflies."

Funland at the Beach

Newport Beach, California, U.S. I suck at waiting. We all suck at waiting actually, which is why after four days waiting around in the desert left us feeling a little stir crazy. We thought, screw the calendar, let's do Christmas now.

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Palm Springs, California, U.S. Sometimes things do not go as planned. I came down with a sinus infection that gave me a fever of 104 and took three rounds of antibiotics to put down and forced us to spend a few days in Bakersfield. We we left I was pretty doped up on cold medicine, but we really wanted to get out of Bakerfield so we went for it. About half way up Tehachapi pass oil was spraying out the right side of the engine and that was that. I pulled over and called AAA.

Aquarium Kings

King City, California, U.S. After so much time away from the bus it was good to be on the road again. We headed down to Monterey to visit some friends and take the kids to aquarium. From there we continued south and inland, making an unscheduled, but thoroughly enjoyable stop in the lovely King City, CA.

The City

San Francisco, California, U.S. Visiting the city on our way to Thanksgiving.

The Absence of Glass Beach

Mendocino Coast, California, U.S. After Halloween we made our way south, ducking inland and around the Lost Coast, down to Fort Bragg where we finally, for a few days at least got some sunshine. Glass beach though? That's long gone thanks to good old American greed.

Halloween and the Big Trees

Patrick’s Point, California, U.S. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It's got all the good elements of ritual to it, costumes, masks, sounds, night, and obliquely somewhere in there, veneration of the dead. For one moment, one evening, everyone is something they're not and somehow more themselves for it. The masks of everyday life get replaced with masks of our choosing, if only for one night. Plus, candy.


Patrick’s Point, California, U.S. Good or bad you have to go through, not around. This is easy when life is good. When there are problems it gets more difficult. But still. The only way out is through.

Pacific Sense

Patrick’s Point, California, U.S. We made it all the way to the Pacific ocean, but when we arrived we couldn't see it. As is typical up this way, the ocean was wrapped in a blanket of thick fog. We hiked down into the gloom of fog and spent the evening on the beach. The one place that will always feel like home to me.