‘I almost received eaten by coyotes whereas rock-climbing in California’

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The last time I was more than five miles from my home was in December 2019, before the pandemic, when I went to New York and Connecticut, where I grew up.

I try to plan my east coast trips in early November because Central Park is then the most beautiful place in the world. The leaves are turning and the air is cool. I am just amazed at the spectacle.

I stay as far away from cities as possible

I am looking for physical beauty and emptiness. In Los Angeles, I can get into my RV and two hours later I’m in an area that looks like it was 500,000 years ago. I love a good cafe and vegan restaurant, and I’m glad people write books and do TV shows, but being in an environment where there are no signs, no people, and no buildings is so comforting. People think of Southern California as beaches and palm trees, but that’s just a tiny bark that touches the Pacific Ocean. The rest is rugged and utterly unforgiving, with mountains and inhospitable deserts.

Part of the thrill of the American Southwest …

… is that there are so many things that can harm you: rattlesnakes, coyotes, spiders, mountain lions and bears. I was alone once climbing what I thought was a rock face in Bronson Canyon, California, but it turned out to be just compressed earth that kept falling apart in my hands. There was a moment when I couldn’t go up or down so I had to walk sideways by holding onto tufts of grass. I looked up to see six coyotes. There was an instant atavistic understanding that they were waiting to see if I would die. If it were me, they’d eat me up. It was weirdly terrifying. But the grass held.

When it comes to beauty, New Zealand is nowhere near

I’m half-jokingly looking for someone in New Zealand to adopt or marry me because the combination of climate change and attacks on democracy is making the United States an increasingly unprofitable place to live. I like diversity. The North Island is a subtropical, absurdly beautiful paradise with endless empty black beaches. One who amazed me was Whatipu. The South Island is splendid in the Alps. Whenever I go somewhere I look at Google Maps and look for the green spaces where there are no people. I go and dive in.

A part of Prague that keeps impressing me is the Charles Bridge, which is covered with statues

It was described to me as the philosopher’s bridge. Before you cross, you walk along a winding street and pass apartments that were once inhabited by alchemists. There is something wonderful when the leader of a country chooses to pay homage to philosophers instead of warriors.

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