Writing Samples

Arkansas’ White River

Morning mist obscures anglers on the White River, Arkansas.

Morning mist obscures anglers on the White River, Arkansas.

The late-morning mist is burning off the White River, letting the people in the flat-bottomed boats see where to cast their baited hooks for brown and rainbow trout.

The view for 360 degrees is the definition of outdoor relaxation: The river flows gently by, its water so clear you can see the rocky bottom 4 or 5 feet below, as well as the fish ignoring the night crawlers or plastic doodads. Dense stands of brilliantly green trees line the banks, except when rugged bluffs more than 100 feet high come to the water’s edge.

Floating and fishing on the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

Floating and fishing on the Buffalo River in Arkansas.

The only noises: the occasional comment from one angler to another, the ripple when the river crosses a shallow area, and the bird noises – alternately sweet trilling of small birds or the honking squawks of the numerous gray and blue herons that nest in trees along the shore.

Wes Canady puts a big brown worm on a small, brassy hook and explains to the fisherman in his boat: “You can make fishing as difficult as you want, as challenging as you want, or as relaxing as you want – cast with a fly rod or dangle the bait from a cane pole.”

Canady, 34, has done it all. He grew up here in Arkansas, hunting for deer and the occasional wild pig, but mainly fishing.

End Bag, the new book from Bob Jenkins, collects his best stories from 19 years as travel editor. Available now on Amazon.com. View a sample at Smashwords.com. Read more about End Bag here.

Cruise ship Wind Spirit

Uh-oh, there’s trouble in paradise.

Barely half an hour into the pool-deck barbecue dinner, while there is still lobster tail on the grill, lots of meat left on the roast pig and jumbo shrimp in the ice bowl, it has begun to rain on the passengers aboard the cruise ship Wind Spirit.

Not to worry. The waiters quickly appear to offer thick beach towels to those diners who feel threatened by the shower blowing across the harbor of St. Barthelemy, island escape of the super-rich. And for this evening, escape for the merely well-to-do aboard this four-masted, 148-passenger ship.

Rising above even the elements, we dine on. For our courage, we are soon rewarded with line-dancing by the waiters and bartenders — who knew there still existed a copy of Achy Breaky Heart? — followed by passengers stepping to oldies rock ‘n’ rock played by the ship’s orchestra, a two-man combo and its prerecorded sound tracks.

Life is good aboard the Wind Spirit.

End Bag, the new book from Bob Jenkins, collects his best stories from 19 years as travel editor. Available now on Amazon.com. View a sample at Smashwords.com. Read more about End Bag here.

Newfoundland

Fishing boats in the harbor in Newfoundland.

Fishing boats in the harbor in Newfoundland.

If ever there was a place that made humans earn the right to live amid the natural beauty, it is Newfoundland.

Even in late June, a chill wind can blow dense sea fog onto the coast, and thick gray skies hide the sun. Laundry whips on backyard clotheslines. Icebergs glide to the Atlantic coastline. Shrinking within layers of outerwear, an off-islander has to contemplate the tenacity of the early settlers.

For a couple of centuries, hundreds of villages of two- and three- room houses were occupied along the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic coasts. Fishers worked there during the spring and summer, from before dawn to after dark.

Enjoying a walk in the wilderness of Newfoundland.

Enjoying a walk in the wilderness of Newfoundland.

The men would row out in their small, open dories, putting in and taking out lobster traps, putting out and hauling in nets of cod and salmon. Wives and children worked on shore, salting and drying the cod to preserve it, gathering wood for the fires in the dozens of tiny coastline salmon canneries.

“It was cod that brought them here, it was cod that kept them,” says Newfoundland native and motel operator Bill Maynard, speaking about the island’s Gulf of St. Lawrence coastal residents.

But now, because of overfishing, there are too few cod… Consequently, more than 20,000 former commercial fishers from Newfoundland are receiving subsidies from a government program that already has cost $1-billion more than estimated.

Other fishermen have taken mining or petroleum jobs thousands of miles away, in the western provinces. And many of the island’s teenagers also consider their futures may be found by leaving the island their elders call “The Rock’.

End Bag, the new book from Bob Jenkins, collects his best stories from 19 years as travel editor. Available now on Amazon.com. View a sample at Smashwords.com. Read more about End Bag here.

Yosemite National Park

Built to attract wealthy visitors to Yosemite, The Ahwanee hotel lavishes guests with elegance and eye-popping panoramas.

This is what it’s like to be wealthy, the hotel architect wanted you to know. Wealthy, and with a 2,425-foot-tall waterfall in the back yard.

End Bag, the new book from Bob Jenkins, collects his best stories from 19 years as travel editor. Available now on Amazon.com. View a sample at Smashwords.com. Read more about End Bag here.

Chile’s Lakes Region

The thick clouds drift in from the Pacific, skidding against the cold skies above the eternally snow-capped Andes. It rains 260 days a year here, greening the valleys of Chile’s Lakes region and the lower slopes of the mountains.

“The rain is kind of our life,’ says tourist guide Guillermo Winkler Reinares, born 44 years ago in the busy commercial fishing city of Puerto Montt, at the western edge of the region.

There is no need to check with the Internet or CNN for the weather forecast, he says. Instead, “In the morning, if you can see the mountains, it is going to rain. If you cannot see the mountains, it is raining.’

End Bag, the new book from Bob Jenkins, collects his best stories from 19 years as travel editor. Available now on Amazon.com. View a sample at Smashwords.com. Read more about End Bag here.

The Boomers contemplate life

If time gets tight when she’s delivering a speech, Dr. Mary S. Furlong can hurry through the PowerPoint and speak over the chuckles after her one-liners. Speeding up is easy, because she has studied her topic for 23 years.

But when she answers questions from her audience or from a reporter, she often pauses as she carefully frames her reply. This taking time to contemplate, she often says, is a part of the personality of her subjects: the 78-million boomers.

“Arriving at 60 is a life-changing event that rattles your comfort zone,” Furlong says. “But at midlife, you don’t get a guidance counselor, like you did in high school.”

Consequently, she told me after speaking at a conference here this month, “We want to set a very creative tone (to the rest of our lives), putting a lot of energy into crafting an alternative to what our parents are coping with.”

End Bag, the new book from Bob Jenkins, collects his best stories from 19 years as travel editor. Available now on Amazon.com. View a sample at Smashwords.com. Read more about End Bag here.