The Art of Being Present

Since I’ll be clocking plenty of Land Cruiser­-passenger hours chasing wildlife across the sun-scorched savannas of Kenya for the next few weeks, I’ve come to Hell’s Gate National Park for a single reason: to walk.

The Rising Stars of Kenya’s Greater Mara

I’m on a night safari at Kenya’s Olare Orok Conservancy, something you can’t do in neighboring Masai Mara National Reserve. True, the 932-square-mile reserve’s big skies and open plains are stunning. But I’m finding that making the adjacent conservancy my home base in the Mara region has doubled my experience: There are more options and fewer visitors to compete with.

One True Thing About Kenya

“In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country.” That’s tongue-in-cheek advice from Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina’s brilliant satirical essay “How to Write About Africa.” I came across it because I’ll be traveling around Kenya as Nat Geo Travel’s Digital Nomad for the next month, and, if I’m being honest, I’m not yet sure how to write—as Ernest Hemingway might put it—“one true sentence” about the country.

A Literary Journey Through Monterey and Big Sur

John Steinbeck’s typewriter has left a well-known mark all over this pocket of California, where agriculture meets clear beaches and layered mountains, not to mention one of the world’s great coastal drives. What’s less known is that Steinbeck isn’t the only writer to capture it. For the last leg of this year’s Digital Nomad road…

California’s Treasure Island

“It looks like a zombie apocalypse out here.” More than one local says this of San Francisco’s Treasure Island, an often ignored artificial isle built on dredged sand. And at first sight of the mysterious island, reached halfway across the Bay Bridge, I have to agree. Around me, on wide empty streets, I see paint…

California’s Longest-Running Light

It’s got the wine, the hills, the history—and the world’s biggest laser, too. It even has an element named for it (livermorium). What Livermore, California, doesn’t have going for it, perhaps, is its name. Just the mere mention of other wine stars of the Golden State—Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles—linger on your tongue like a chocolaty,…

A Case for Corvallis, Oregon

“Make yourself at home,” says Carson, a 20-something wearing a purple bandana as a scarf at Troubadour, a music shop in downtown Corvallis. “There’s a bathroom by the banjos.” I’m at an ag school (Oregon State University) a dozen miles off the interstate. There are no museums or monuments of note to see and no…

Earning Your Boots in Eastern Oregon

Cows don’t have hangovers, but some have rough mornings. Riding a horse across a valley dotted with junipers doused in a morning drizzle, I see one poking along with two dozen porcupine quills sticking out of its face—leftovers from an overnight tangle with a wrong local. “That’s going to be a chore, getting all those…

Biking Portland’s Icons

“The coffee isn’t delicious because of anything I do.” Liam Kenna runs a small tasting station that freckles a stark warehouse space with glazed concrete floors, an artful exhibit of historic coffeemaking tools, and a table of beakers to measure coffee pours with lablike precision. “My job as a barista is just not to mess…

Going West

“People came west to get away from the government. Now they have no place else to go, so they think of new ways of doing things.” That’s Bud Clark, the colorful ex-mayor of Portland, Oregon, talking to me recently over a Reuben sandwich at his tavern, the Goose Hollow Inn. When you go west, in…