The best travel stories are really stories about life, with lessons for the writer and reader about ourselves and the people and places in our still magical world. We don’t have to travel far to explore both the outer and inner worlds. Some of us love to roam the world, close to the ground, under
Chill wind ruffled the flags atop the pier fronts as I skated toward my South of Market office. The broad walkway of the Embarcadero led past joints that had been here for decades, reminding us that San Francisco was first and foremost a port city: The Boondocks, Red’s Java House, Java House. These places are relics, but they’re lively ones, and they give the San Francisco waterfront its personality.
Just past Java House the chill forced my head down when I heard the rending of something large, the shriek of splintering wood. I snapped toward the bay and my breath caught.
The sight was a stab to the heart. A giant back-hoe, its huge maw crashing ...
The other day I wrote an essay about the demolition of a 19th century sailing ship on the San Francisco waterfront that I had witnessed by chance on the way to work. I was appalled, and moved to write about it because it represented to me how San Francisco is losing touch with its heritage. I got it just the way I wanted it, then showed it to a friend. "This would make a perfect Op-Ed piece in the Chronicle," he said, and I thought, hey, he’s right. It’s been years since I’ve sent any Op-Ed pieces around, so I called to see what the procedure was. "The essay has to be 650 words or less," the friendly editor said. Mine was more than 1,200. So I set about the exercise of cutting it down by almost half. I’m a firm believer that a story can always be tightened, and here I was presented with a challenge. Could I cut away half the essay and still make it work? I had to abandon a lot of stuff I liked, but I was able to keep the essence, and if I allow myself to admit it I might say that the shorter piece is better ...
The boat blazed through salt spray, the skipper piloting the craft from the starboard deck, squinting into darkness. He reached into the sea with a hook on the end of a long pole to grab the buoy and heft it aboard. With the swift, sure moves of an
I first saw Mount Everest from a 12,000-foot ridge on a trek near Darjeeling, India. From ninety miles away it was just a bump on the snow-capped Himalayan horizon, but it was a siren that drew me, by agonizing overnight bus, to Nepal. Many people I know who have traveled extensively throughout the world have had a reaction similar to the one I had when I tumbled off that bus at dawn not far from Kathmandu's Durbar Square: I was never the same. Added on January 13, 2003