“I almost got eaten by coyotes while climbing in California”


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

I try to schedule my trips to the east coast at the beginning of November because Central Park is then the most beautiful place on the planet. The leaves are turning and the air is fresh. I am just amazed by the spectacle.

I stay as far as possible from the cities

I am looking for physical beauty and emptiness. In Los Angeles, I can get into my motorhome and, two hours later, be in an environment that looks like it would have been 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 calming. People think Southern California is made up of beaches and palm trees, but it’s just a tiny bark that touches the Pacific Ocean. The rest are rugged and utterly unforgiving, with inhospitable mountains and deserts.

Part of the thrill of the American Southwest …

… is that there are so many things that can hurt you: rattlesnakes, coyotes, spiders, pumas and bears. I was once alone climbing what I thought was a rock face in Bronson Canyon, Calif., But it turned out to be just compressed earth that kept crumbling in my hands. There was a time when I couldn’t go up or down so I had to go sideways, grabbing hold of tufts of grass. I looked up and saw six coyotes. There was an immediate atavistic understanding that they were waiting to see if I was going to die. If I was, they would eat me. It was comically terrifying. But the grass held.

In terms of beauty, nothing comes close to New Zealand

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 less and less viable as a place to live. I like the diversity. The North Island is a subtropical paradise of absurd beauty with endless empty black beaches. The one that stunned me was Whatipu. The South Island is Alpine splendor. Every time I go somewhere I look at Google Maps and look for green spaces where there are no people. I walk and immerse myself.

One part of Prague that always impresses me is the Charles Bridge, which is covered with statues

It has been described to me as the philosopher’s bridge. Before crossing, you walk down a winding street and pass apartments once occupied by alchemists. There is something wonderful about the ruler of a country deciding to pay homage to philosophers rather than warriors.