I spent a summer crossing the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa in northern Spain, sacrificing sleep and stripping my rental car’s clutch all in the name of improving Let’s Go’s travel guidebooks.
It was a summer of pastoral mountain scenery, hitchhiking with hippies and undercover police, and yes, the Sanfermines in Pamplona.
I didn’t know it then, but my summer jobs researching and writing budget travel guidebooks would morph into my full-time career as a freelance writer.
My rental car’s brakes failed, stray dogs chased me up a hill, and dozens of mosquitoes greeted me in my hostel shower–all in one day. The other 48 days of my Puerto Rican adventures were a breeze in comparison.
I sat through flash rainstorms in Puerto Rico’s Cordillera Central and swam with bioluminescent microbes and radio astronomers–but only the microbes lit up. I visited lost Spanish colonial towns and the remnants of a Cold War American Air Force base.
The results are in the second edition of Let’s Go: Puerto Rico, researched in the summer of 2005 and published in 2006.
My first writing gig was researching and writing for the Let’s Go Southwest USA: Adventure Guide. I put over 5,000 hot desert miles on my parents’ trusty and eventually very dusty Corolla. The marks from my mountain bike still grace the back seat.
I covered parts of California and central and southern Arizona. I slept under the stars and cooked breakfast while the sun woke the desert. People took me into their homes from Tucson to Winslow and I fell under the spell of Flagstaff, beneath the slopes of Humphreys Peak.
I learned how to get answers from strangers, how to write from the road, and how to hit deadlines before they could hit me.