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I am a writer, traveler, food historian, and author, but I didn't start out that way. I started my career in the world of giant, international corporations. I did well and looked to have a stellar future--except it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted to write. After 10 years climbing the corporate ladder, I finally realized that, to pursue my dream, I'd have to quit. So, in my mid-30s, I walked away from status, a solid income, and a degree of security and launched out on the pursuit of a different life.
In addition to saving enough money to support myself for a while, as I started over, I'd also built into my escape plans a six-month sojourn on the far side of the planet, to help me shake free of the corporate mindset -- and to test myself a bit. As soon as I was ready to leave, I headed for Australia.
My travels in Australia did more than I had expected. I discovered a lot about myself that I hadn't known previously, including the fact that I'm not quite as devoted to civilization as I had thought. Sure, I still loved theater and good restaurants, but I was besotted with the wilderness. I discovered that I need places that are real and natural and just a little bit difficult.
So when I returned home, I had to do two things: build a writing career and figure out how to make sure I kept a bit of wilderness in my life. It took a few years to really get my new career off the ground, but I succeeded. By now, I've published hundreds of articles, plus everything from textbooks to travel brochures. With a happy ending in place, I turned my journals from my Australia adventure into Waltzing Australia.
Equally important, I succeeded in my pursuit of those wilder places. I've taken a dugout canoe down Ecuador's Rio Napo in the Amazon rainforest. I've drunk fermented mare's milk with nomad herders in Mongolia's Gobi Desert. I've explored Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Petra in Jordan. I've been to a dozen other countries -- and I've returned three times to Australia.
Today, in addition to writing, I am a popular speaker, generally on travel-related topics and food history. (Check my website for topics, schedule, and speaker fees.) I now have two additional books to my name (and am planning more). "Midwest Maize: How Corn Shaped the U.S. Heartland" came out in 2015 and "Pigs, Pork, and Heartland Hogs: From Wild Boar to Baconfest" is due out in October 2018. (See Amazon for details.)
I try to encourage people who have dreams to carefully consider the cost, and then, if they are prepared to do whatever it takes, to go for it. Because dreams do come true, but not without a price. It took a lot of work and determination to get to where I am today -- but one learns that the journey is part of the adventure.