Friends and vagabonders,

New Year’s 2004 finds me in Peru, where I am roughly halfway through my drive across the Americas on the Land Rover-supported “Drive Around the World” expedition. Since departing from San Francisco in early November of 2003, we have traveled overland through southern California, the Baja peninsula, mainland Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, and Peru. In December, a near-live dispatch of my travels through the lesser-known countries of Central America ran in’s “Well-Traveled” section.

For other tales from the Latin American road, check out my personal weblog— or, better yet, surf to the official Drive Around the World website, where I am editing a series of daily team expedition journals. These journals will be updated regularly as we continue to make our way south through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina en route to the tip of South America. As I mentioned in my last update, this expedition is raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s Disease research, and readers are encouraged to pledge small amounts of money toward our drive-a-thon. All money received goes directly to the Parkinson’s Institute in Sunnyvale, California — and everyone who pledges $10 or more will be put in a raffle to win one of our Land Rover Discovery II expedition vehicles.

In other winter news, my story about the sport of elephant polo in Thailand appeared in the January 2004 issue of Conde Nast Traveler — and I recently found out that my July 2002 National Geographic Traveler story, “Room With a Skew”, won a Lowell Thomas Award in travel journalism, in the “Personal Comment” category. “When a budget-minded traveler ends up in a ritzy Asian hotel,” the judges write, “his experience becomes a reflection on the pleasures — and trappings — of wealth. The writer doesn’t fail to overlook the decadence and, at times, absurdity that accompanies his short-lived feast on the forbidden fruits of opulence.” Additionally, I will have a story appearing this winter in the Best Travelers’ Tales 2004 anthology, which comes out in March. New reviews and profiles of my Vagabonding book have recently appeared in Transitions Abroad, Student Traveler, the Sacramento Bee, and Intentional Traveler.

On the Travel Writers portion of my website this season, I am happy to interview and profile an old favorite of mine: Tim Cahill, who has long been America’s best-known (and funniest) adventure travel writer. In February, I will profile No Touch Monkey author Ayun Halliday, and in March I interview Harper’s correspondent Tom Bissell, whose Uzbekistan travel book Chasing the Sea came out late last year.

As for my travels after Argentina, well, I’m not sure — but magazine assignments may well take me to Brazil and/or Antarctica, so check back this spring to see what’s new. In the meantime, keep an eye on my daily weblog, which I try to update from the road whenever I get the chance.

Cheers — and happy vagabonding,