Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

In light of my new camping book project, here is my list of backcountry survival tips (republished)

NEVER bring a fondue maker into the woods with you. The bread crumbs, fruit wedges, gas and molten cheese will form a white magma that will spew all over you, leaving fourth-degree burns all over your entire body.

NEVER cook a meal while sitting inside your tent, even when it’s raining outside. (Trust me. Your tent will explode.)

NEVER forget that “freeze-dried’’ and “chili’’ is a very bad combination. (Trust me. You will explode.)

NEVER try to reason with anyone riding an All-Terrain Vehicle --- especially if he or she is drunk and holding a 12-gauge Mossberg hunting rifle and wearing a knit cap that says "I Like Big Jugs.''

NEVER try to make your girlfriend, or boyfriend, hike faster by calling out a military cadence in a fake Southern accent. ("Sound off, sound off, one, two, three, foe!")

NEVER attempt to brush your teeth in total darkness. Preparation H does not fight gum recession. And it tastes fishy.

NEVER bring artisan-quality cheddar cheese into the Mojave Desert with you in mid-June. A horrid white pus will extrude from the cheese, and you will vomit.

NEVER set up your tent in the middle of a mule trail in the North Cascades. Brighty, Big Snort and Old Thunder will trample you to death in your sleep.

NEVER underestimate the amount of toilet paper you will use in the backcountry. Sticks and stones won't break your bones but they will leave nicks and abrasions on your derriere.)

NEVER camp at a suspiciously beautiful, yet strangely empty, lakeside campsite. It is probably empty for very good reasons (think “flood plain,’’ “poisoned water’’ and “spaniel-sized mosquitoes.’’)

NEVER eat the freeze-dried stroganoff. It has been mummified and sealed away for good reason.

NEVER cut the handles off the toothbrush “to save pack weight.’’ Toothbrushes weigh less than an ounce – and if you try to brush your teeth with the head of a toothbrush, it will fall down your throat and lodge in your trachea, and you will die.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Bound for the Everglades

This will be part of my new book in progress, tentatively titled Soaked to the Bone. I'll take loads of notes. Looking forward to the gators but not so much the mosquitoes. Thinking I should have seam-sealed my tent; potential rain out there. More soon.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My recipe for 'ugly latkes'

I know this blog has run its course, but Chanukah and Thanksgiving won't coincide again until about 25,000 years. By then, we'll all have four brains and gills like Kevin Costner in Waterworld. Maybe we won't even have tastebuds. Truly, it's now or never. Hope you like this recipe. And remember, cook the hell out of them!  Douse them in oil and fry them until they can take no more.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

My new book, and mothballed until further notice



I am temporarily mothballing the Cactuseaters blog as I gear up for my second book, which is now under contract with HarperCollins. The working title is Soaked to the Bone: 15,000 Years of American Camping, and should be in your hands by 2016 I hope. I will try to update this from time to time, but meanwhile, I have embedded my Twitter feed in the right hand corner of this blog so I can at least keep you up to date about new adventures, etc.


I am contemplating a new website built around the upcoming book project. And, if you are seeking information on The Cactus Eaters, here are reviews and related links, and here is the recently updated Frequently Asked Questions link.  Meanwhile, please take a look at forthcoming issues of Catamaran for my essays about -- and interviews with -- T.C. Boyle, Lawrence Weschler, Helene Wecker, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and others.

By the way, I appreciate all of your emails, and it was fun to answer some of them the other day while hanging out at Suppenkuche in SF and nursing an enormous, frosty beer. Thank you for staying in touch. It is so weird to have a book out there and have no idea what it's up to; the book never stays in contact with me, it never calls, it never writes, and I haven't done a very good job of keeping up with it, either. So thank you for letting me know its whereabouts and whether it is getting into trouble or needs a hand-out from me every once in a while. More news and updates soon.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Writers who won't quit: responses to "The Man in the Shoebox"

Hi everyone. I found a couple of lovely pieces inspired by my Poets & Writers piece from last fall. I loved reading these, and here they are, from The Heart of the Memoir and Pam Parker.

I would send you a link to my story, too, but I can't because it's behind a paywall, but perhaps at some point I'll figure out a way to put up a link here. Anyway, it was an honor to read these, and sorry to be tardy about linking to your stories on my blog. I almost never check up on online responses to anything I write (and if you have read my story in Poets & Writers, you'll know why I only look once or twice a year!!) Also, it was fun to see a mention of Annie Dillard in The Heart of the Memoir; she was one of my teachers a long time ago (though I didn't mention her in the Poets piece.) In other news, I am hard at work on a brand-new project, and I'm hoping to get that into your hands in a couple of years or so. All for now.