FREQUENTLY  ASKED  QUESTIONS

(and Questions That I Just Feel Like Answering)

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Which camera do you use?

How many parks have you been to? How many national parks?

What is your favorite park?

If I could only visit one park in my life, which one should it be?

How much hiking have you done?

What is your favorite hike?

Would you hike the Appalachian Trail?

Were there any particular parks or areas of the country that were a pleasant surprise to you, that you think are underrated?

Have you ever had any trouble with wild animals?

Do you sell prints of your photos?


BOOK QUESTIONS

I know there is an e-book available for the iPad, but will there be one for the Kindle, Nook, or another e-reader?

Will the iPad version work on the iPhone?

Do you have more books planned?

How long did it take you to write the book?

Why is the book limited to parks in the United States?

Why didn’t you include <your favorite park here>?

How many national parks appear in the book?

Some passages in Chapter 2 seem to be references to American culture, and I didn’t understand them. Could you explain those?

 

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

What is your position on the renaming of Mt. McKinley to Denali?

Is it wrong to blame the victim?

I will be off from work around Christmastime. I need to set up an out-of-office auto-reply, but I don't want something boring. Do you have any suggestions?

 

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS


Which camera do you use?

My current camera is the Canon PowerShot G10, and my previous one was the Fujifilm FinePix E900. The vast majority of the photos in the book and on the website were taken with those two compact digital cameras.

 

With the Canon, I typically carry a tele-converter lens (for additional zoom), a polarizer, and a compact tripod.

 


How many parks have you been to? How many national parks?

I have visited about 500 parks total (I keep track), including 43 of the 59 national parks.

 


What is your favorite park?

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I find this wonderland of rock infinitely interesting to look at and photograph. Hiking amongst the hoodoos (rock columns) is fantastic. Contrast this with the Grand Canyon, where the scale of the rock formations is so much larger that hiking 100 yards doesn’t change your view very much.

 


If I could only visit one park in my life, which one should it be?

Yosemite National Park in California, especially when the waterfalls are running. While Bryce Canyon is my favorite park, not everyone loves the rock formations. With Yosemite, you get a more conventional beauty, with spectacular granite cliffs, tremendous waterfalls, and giant sequoias.

 

If crowds are a deterrent, nearby Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are not a bad alternative.

 

Many people put the Grand Canyon at the top of their lists of places to see. However, as I discuss in the book, the size of the Grand Canyon makes the park relatively hard to explore and feel a part of, which leaves you with the throngs along the rim. In my view, that diminishes the quality of the park experience.

 


How much hiking have you done?

About 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers).

 


What is your favorite hike?

The Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. I hike to see great scenery, not to get on top of things or to test myself somehow. As such, I judge hikes by the number of photos I take—or could have taken. By that standard, this hike—or almost any hike—in Bryce Amphitheater wins.

 

Second place goes to the hike to Observation Point in Zion National Park, Utah, for outstanding views of Zion Canyon. Zion's more-famous hike to Angels Landing is also excellent, but the trail to Observation Point offers more scenery.

 

I’ll give an honorable mention to the Cinder Cone Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. You get great views of the Cinder Cone and from the Cinder Cone, of the Painted Dunes, Fantastic Lava Beds, and Lassen Peak. Pick up the brochure for the trail, and you’ll learn something, too. Plus, for those who do derive some satisfaction from getting on top of things, you get to reach the summit of the Cinder Cone after some strenuous hiking.

 


Would you hike the Appalachian Trail?

No, never. I hike to enjoy great scenery, not to escape civilization for several months or achieve arbitrary goals.

 

The AT is about 2,200 miles long, and if I wanted to hike that distance, there’s no way I would do that in the Appalachians or anywhere east of the Rockies. Certainly there are some scenic parts of the AT, and I have hiked small pieces, but most of it is woods, woods, woods, which I find boring.

 

I consider it much more efficient to go to a park, hike around it, and then go to another park, rinse, and repeat. That approach yielded the book in a small fraction of the amount of hiking required by the AT, and I got to see … the country.

 

For those who insist on hiking one long trail, I’d recommend considering the Pacific Crest Trail instead. At least with the PCT, you’re hitting some of the best parks.

 


Were there any particular parks or areas of the country that were a pleasant surprise to you, that you think are underrated?

The biggest surprise for me was the parks on the shores of Lake Superior, which includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As a New Englander, I was completely unaware of this very scenic area. Two gems, Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Minnesota’s Tettegouche State Park, appear in the book.

 

As for individual parks, there are many that deserve more attention. Two national parks that come to mind are Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison and California’s Lassen Volcanic.

 


Have you ever had any trouble with wild animals?

No, only other people's uncontrolled dogs, which have scared the bejesus out of me. I have hiked around bears, bison, elk, and alligators, keeping a safe distance, and I have had only peaceful encounters. Generally, wild animals are either afraid of humans or they don't care and just want to go about their business.


Do you sell prints of your photos?

Not yet. That may be coming, however. If there is something in particular you want, feel free to contact me, and that may spur me to offer prints.

 

 

BOOK QUESTIONS


I know there is an e-book available for the iPad, but will there be one for the Kindle, Nook, or another e-reader?

There are currently no plans to produce e-books beyond the existing iPad version. The problem is the layout of the book, which is somewhat rigidly defined as text, photo, and caption on almost every page. E-readers don’t like such inflexible formatting; they like text that can be resized and reflowed with little regard for page boundaries.

 

The iPad e-book was created with iBooks Author, Apple’s software that was primarily intended to support the creation of textbooks for the iPad. That software was flexible enough to accommodate the book’s layout and yield a quality e-book.

 

The e-book realm is still developing, so let’s hope that new tools and capabilities emerge (e-merge?) for Kindle and its brethren.

 


Will the iPad version work on the iPhone?

No, only the iPad.

 


Do you have more books planned?

I have ideas but I think it’s too early to reveal any plans. I would like to see what happens with this book first.

 


How long did it take you to write the book?

If I start the clock when I began writing in earnest, it would be about six years. However, I was thinking about writing a book and keeping notes for years prior to that.

 


Why is the book limited to parks in the United States?

I wrote the book primarily for an American audience and wanted to show readers that you don’t have to go far to see great scenery. In fact, I initially left out Alaska and Hawaii for that reason, but I eventually thought it best to include all 50 states.

 


Why didn’t you include <your favorite park here>?

There are lots of great parks that don’t appear in the book, and no slight is intended. I generally chose scenes that fit the text while showing a variety of parks in all 50 states. In some cases, a park didn’t appear because my photography skills were underdeveloped when I went there. Montana’s Glacier National Park, a top-notch destination, would be a prime example of that.

 


How many national parks appear in the book?

26. Of the 160 photos, 53 are from national parks. There are also 17 other parks managed by the National Park Service that appear in the book in 21 photos.

 

So the vast majority of the photos are not from national parks or even NPS properties. If you just focus on national parks, you can see some fantastic scenery, but you’ll miss a lot, too.

 

By the way, if you’re confused about the various designations used by the NPS, and is avaliable here.

 


Some passages in Chapter 2 seem to be references to American culture, and I didn’t understand them. Could you explain those?

Yes, there are a few allusions to slogans that might be unfamiliar to some readers.

 

“It’s ten o’clock; do you know where your galaxy is?”  See here.

 

“No Super Bowl victor has ever shouted, ‘I’m going to the Everglades!’”  See here.

 

“As a result, if you happen to be in Vegas, you will likely stay in Vegas.”  See here.

 

Did I watch too much TV? Perhaps.

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS


What is your position on the renaming of Mt. McKinley to Denali?

I proposed a simple compromise in the Denali/McKinley fight. I hope it will be implemented.

 


Is it wrong to blame the victim?

Not always. Sometimes the victim deserves some blame. Here are my thoughts in the Hartford Courant.

 


I will be off from work around Christmastime. I need to set up an out-of-office auto-reply, but I don't want something boring. Do you have any suggestions?

Yes, try my Jingle Bells out-of-office auto-reply.