Camping in the shade of my father

My father, Victor White, would have turned 90 tomorrow (July 13.) Before his health began to decline rapidly in late winter, the whole family was making plans for a rustic vacation out on Catalina Island to celebrate his big day. One of my camping heroes, Horace Kephart, wrote that he camped “in the shade of Nessmuk in the Happy Hunting Ground.” (Nessmuk was the pen name of the great outdoors writer and master-camper George Washington Sears, a great inspiration for Kephart.) In a similar sense, I am always camping in the shade of my father because he is the one who took me out into the wild country when I was a boy, and brought the family back to the High Sierra every year without fail from the year I entered kindergarten to the year I moved away. The Hudson Highlands were my father’s escape from his gritty neighborhood and impoverished…

Traveling for Under The Stars

hi everyone. My reading tour begins in just a few hours. Packing my electric toothbrush and getting ready to hit the road. I thought about camping my way from bookstore to bookstore, but couldn’t get my act together on time to make that happen so I will be sleeping indoors (though I’ve got a cabin or two on the itinerary, in rustic surroundings, so there will be a certain roofless quality to the sleep-over, even though I’ll have a roof.) Tonight: Haight Ashbury’s famous Booksmith in San Francisco. I hung out here all the time while living in the Haight for three years. In fact, I once did a live interview with Andrew Sean Greer at this bookstore, so this is a kind of homecoming. The fun begins at 730 tonight (Tuesday, July 12.) Refreshments served.   Then the schedule continues as follows: Thursday, July 14 9 a.m.,live television interview, KATU…

Remembering Grandma Gatewood: hero of camping

Dear camping friends: my book, Under The Stars, combines my own experiences in the wild with the history of outdoor recreation and the stories of the men and women who made their way into the forests of America seeking happiness and renewal.  I had to make some draconian decisions about who to include and exclude from the final line-up of “heroes of camping” in this book. I simply could not find space for all the stories I wanted to incorporate — including this tale of a fearless grandmother who conquered a long-distance footpath without any fancy gear, and with no preparation whatsoever. If you are ever tempted to go on a long camping trip, but worry that you can’t afford a carload of fancy new equipment, consider the story of Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, who hiked every inch of the Appalachian Trail for a grand total of a hundred dollars and with no…

Under The Stars in the Wall Street Journal

Under The Stars has made two appearances in one week in the Wall Street Journal. Today, the WSJ posted my history piece about camping, and last week, the newspaper ran a review of Under The Stars. I have read the WSJ all of my adult life, and have never appeared in the newspaper in any context until next week, so these are unusual circumstances. I love the layout of the history piece and the use of archival photos. (I also loved the image of s’mores that they used to accompany the book review.) Happy camping, everyone. See you up in the Pacific Northwest.        

Book tour, Portland TV, beer, trail mix, and more: Under The Stars update for July

  Hello, everyone. I hope you are taking advantage of the nice weather and having a good old time exploring the mountains, meadows, swamps, cane breaks, estuaries, dells and dales and dogwoods of America. The public lands belong to you. Take advantage. Get out those blue tarps, those panniers, and those bear kegs. And you don’t need to go far afield to experience nature. I love to explore the hinterlands of my own  town — the greenbelts, the coastal meadows, the sloughs and oak thickets. Thank you for sending me pictures of my new book, Under The Stars, hanging out in America’s campgrounds. Lately I’ve been so busy, I’ve only taken shorter camping trips to places like Napa and Big Sur. Beautiful country! Word is still getting out about this website. Until recently, the readership demographic consisted, overwhelmingly, of my mother in law at this point. Other folks have been…

Coming tomorrow: an Under The Stars interactive “camper’s page” on Facebook

Hello campers and friends and camping friends. Just wanted to let you know that my publisher (Henry Holt) is going to go live tomorrow with an Under The Stars interactive page that will allow you to send in camping photos, photos of Under The Stars in far-flung locations (or near-flung locations), camping stories and other things. They’re calling it an Under The Stars “fan page” but I’m thinking of it as a camping page or virtual campground of sorts. Thank you again for your support, by the way; I really appreciate it. .  

Beer, trail mix, and Under The Stars: July 12th at the Booksmith in San Francisco

Friends, I’ve had plenty of readings before. Readings in dive bars. Readings in the middle of the woods, where all the audience members were dehydrated and lost. But this upcoming reading at the Booksmith — marking the centennial of the National Park Service –– will be like a virtual car camping experience.   Because of fire regulations, I don’t think we’ll be able to build an actual bonfire at the Booksmith, a wonderful San Francisco bookstore, but there will be  campfire stories, trail mix, and  barley-malt drinks. Anyway, the fun will take place at July 12, 730 p.m. sharp. I will read from two sections of the book, which takes you through the wild and woolly history of American camping from the chilly heights of Whitney to the swamps of the Everglades. I will answer any questions you have, and we will hang out, and reflect on campouts past, present and future….