Travel Writing

Travel Writing Travel

A guide to spotting the nation’s threatened and endangered plants and animals. A profile of the tiny Quileute Indian tribe on Washington’s rugged coastline. An inside look at destinations as varied as the temples of Cambodia, mountains of Chile, caves of Slovenia and farms of northern Minnesota. I love sharing my sense of discovery and wonder in unexpected, remarkable, and unforgettable locations. My travel features have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, High Country News, and Newsday.

Featured Stories

Photo: Bryn Nelson

Threatened by a Tsunami of Tourism, a Tribe Opens Up

High Country News, June 25, 2012 | (Also published in Crosscut on July 9, 2012)

Five Quileute boys emerge from a phalanx of drummers. Barefoot and bare-chested, they wear black cloaks and wolf headdresses, and dance, crouch and crawl within the center of a large circle. On the outskirts, women and girls move rhythmically to a chant and steady drumbeat, several of them sporting red and black capes emblazoned with orca or elk, thunderbird or hummingbird. Every generation is represented, from drumming elders to mothers teaching toddlers to follow their footwork.

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Photo: J.C. Winkler via Flickr Creative Commons

A Coast-to-Coast Guide to Endangered Species

The New York Times, May 13, 2011

The whoosh of a surfacing orca and the glower of a mother grizzly still have the power to raise goose bumps; a soaring California condor can yet astonish. But chances to admire many of our wildlife neighbors are becoming increasingly uncommon. Also see the accompanying interactive feature: “A Directory of Rare Wonders”.
Photo: Bryn Nelson

A New Love for the Very Old

The Last Word on Nothing, October 1, 2013

When I was young, my brother and sister and I caught salamanders in my grandparents’ garage and chased cats through the barn. The family farm was a big private playground, where we could poke at tadpoles in Nelson Lake (more like a large pond) and occasionally ride around on a giant lawnmower. More often than not, though, we would spend our time on the other side of rural Highway 32, at a far more public and imposing place called Steamer Hill.

Photo: Bryn Nelson

Seattle’s Budding Economy: Pot Tourism, April 8, 2013

If you think 2013 will be a half-baked year for tourism in Seattle, you haven’t been paying attention to the curiously pungent smoke signals emanating from this city. On a recent chilly evening, an unmistakable smell has drifted across the street from an industrial space in the SODO neighborhood. Inside, a DJ spins an eclectic mix of rock while a man in a tie-dyed hoodie distributes cannabis-infused buttered rum and root beer-flavored hard candy to a diverse crowd of revelers. Another volunteer passes around a 12-foot-long “vape bag” filled with marijuana vapor -- one way to get around the city’s indoor smoking ban.

Photo: Bryn Nelson

On the Scene in South America [PDF]

Newsday, September 2, 2007

Separated by nearly half a continent, southern Chile’s rugged Torres del Paine National Park and the spectacular Iguazú Falls that divide northern Argentina and southern Brazil couldn’t be more dissimilar. The first offers vistas of jagged mountains and fields of ice while the second boasts lush jungle paths and plummeting walls of water. The distinctive sites, though, are being increasingly linked as two of South America’s most iconic natural wonders and among the can’t-miss destinations by travelers in search of some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.

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Photo: Bryn Nelson

Exploring Castles, Caves and a Cool Capital in Slovenia [PDF]

Newsday, April 30, 2006

My first night in a Slovenian military prison went far better than expected. The cell was rather small and Spartan, but the lofted sleeping space, functional furniture and sliding wood panel covered with eclectic paintings seemed like nice touches. OK, it was a former military prison. Alright, a prison turned hip youth hostel in the midst of an alternative arts complex within an enchanting city dubbed ‘The New Prague.

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Photo: Bryn Nelson

Reflections of the Past [PDF]

Newsday, October 16, 2005

With Valencia’s fantastical city of the future laid out before me, I began to see much of Spain’s remarkable past. My traveling companion, Geoff, and I had just reveled in the beauty of Altea, a historic seaside village where whitewashed homes set off the Mediterranean blue beyond. Now, I was marveling at a radical reworking of the same theme, only this time the Spanish Mediterranean had been replaced by a shallow blue-green pool in a drained riverbed from which massive bleach-white buildings were rising like inscrutable fossils.

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Photo: Bryn Nelson

Catching Up With Cambodia's Past [PDF]

Newsday, October 31, 2004

From the taxi, Phnom Penh gradually appears as an exotic collage of extremes: stately French colonial buildings in slow decay or careful repair, humble shanties, beautiful Buddhist temples, and traffic patterns that verge on anarchy.

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Photos: Newsday/Bryn Nelson

Turf and Surf in Belize [PDF]

Newsday, October 12, 2003

Like so much else in the jungle, the rain betrayed its presence with an abundance of noise. With a distant whispering, a rustling of leaves, and then a growing ruffle, it swept across the forest canopy and descended upon us with a whoosh. One voice among many in the heart of Belize.