Don’t wait for the last judgment—it takes place every day. --Camus
I am a widely published travel and natural history journalist. I aim to broaden recognition of our amazing world and its people. I stand for peace, social justice and hope.
My work appears in Alaska Airlines Beyond magazine, Westways, Western Journey, Michelin Travel Publications, and many other venues. My expertise is Western North America and Europe; natural history; regional cuisine; sustainability; indigenous culture. I am also an excellent copy editor and proofreader.
I like to squash myths, tell stories, and describe flavors, landscapes, symphonies, scents, freshets and storms.
In my spare time I am an
organic farmer, avid
bike rider (right, Gotland,
Sweden) and inveterate reader
of suspense fiction. I love the
West, Zurich and Stockholm,
the smell of sagebrush,
sockeye salmon, beautiful
Sweden, dust devils and
In September, 2004, I parked my truck at the top of Steens Mountain, Oregon, to hike down to Wildhorse Lake on an extremely steep, difficult trail. In the trail register, there were comments about good fishing, and this caution:
“Trail Not 4 Sissies.”
I headed down, verified the warning, caught four nice cutthroat trout, and reflected later on how that ironic phrase represents my own life in the West. It is not for flatlanders, wimps or slackers. Here’s a picture of the trail:
Yes, the path does drop down that snow-covered cliff at the top. The elevation is about 9,000 feet. There is no broadband for a hundred miles, but eagles and buteos span the gap.
To learn more about Steens Mountain, go here. Or, here:
Old growth cottonwoods,
Big Indian Gorge
That month I took my last drink and my last drug. These 34 years of continuous sobriety represent more than half my life.
I do not write about wine, beer or any other alcoholic beverages. Many other excellent writers do so, and if that’s your interest I’ll be happy to refer you to several.
In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an eternal summer. --Camus
My dad, Peter Lucas, discovered a $5 billion oil & gas field for Royal Dutch Shell; he survived terminal cancer for eight years, and is one of my heroes. My great-uncle, Vincent Impelliteri, was mayor of New York City from 1950-1953; I had Thanksgiving dinner at Gracie Mansion in 1952. My grandfather, Kurt Lubinski, was a European journalist who escaped Nazi Germany and took my grandmother on a round-the-
world trip for their honeymoon.
My great-grandparents died in Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp in 1942 and 1944. My sister, Kristin Lucas, is a world-class folk dancer; in 2006 we visited Theresienstadt together and lit a memorial candle in the crematorium. My other great-grandparents emigrated from Sicily, Sweden and the Carpathian Mountains to the United States in the late 19th century. Five of my forebears have plaques at Ellis Island.
Seeking peace, justice and Chimayo red.
Golden Oldies Dep't.:
Harvesting taro, Moloka'i January 2013
(photo by Lani Turner)
Where to next
Honey, are you ever coming home?
Years ago I met a fellow who declared himself immune to jet lag—he spent more than 300 nights a year on the road. “Where do you live?” I inquired.
“Well,” he replied, “I keep my stuff in a flat in New York.”
My interlocutor was a so-called “road warrior”—a term I despise. Travel is not a battlefield. And the world needs less warrioring. But some of us may be a bit too footloose for our own good.
I have been known to trek off to the wilds of Oregon; return home for a night, then hop a plane to London; return home for a week, then head off to Vancouver. My friend Dave Carlstrom calls this “Lucasing.” “I am ‘Lucasing,’ we are going to ‘Lucas’ next month,” he says. “It’s a verb.” Stunned and chagrined, I devised a test to measure whether people travel too much.
Take the test. Face the truth.
A) How many airport codes do you know?
1) Fewer than 10.
4) More than 50.
B) Plane flights per year?
4) More than 75.
C) New stamps in your passport, past 12 months?
4) More than 40.
(Note: If no passport, automatic disqualification. Put down your pen, please.)
D) How many points/miles programs do you belong to?
4) More than 6.
E) In how many points/miles programs are you an elite member?
4) More than 6.
F) Do you have a half-packed suitcase in your closet?
G) How many nights a year in hotel rooms?
4) More than 100.
H) Car rentals, past 12 months?
4) More than 20.
I) Most exotic food you ever ate?
1) Frozen custard
2) Smoked eel
J) Can you say “Thank you” in:
1) Spanish or French
2) Polish or Mandarin
3) Hungarian or Urdu
4) T’lingit, Suomi or Venusian.
Scoring: Very simple (I’m not a math geek). Add up the total value of your answers--i.e., one point for a ‘1,’ four points for a ‘4,’ etc. If your score is:
• Less than 10: Why did you take this test? Please go somewhere.
• 10-20: Twice a year to Peoria? Get out there more.
• 21-30: What a well-rounded citizen of the world. Please vote in every election.
• 31-39: Does your family know who you are? Please go home.
• 40: Are you crazy?
My score? Send me an email with your score and we'll trade: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feral horses, Lake County, Oregon, July 2009