Author: Bekah McNeel

The Fascinating Lives of Car Salesmen

This is my old car, “Karen.”


Karen’s a/c didn’t work, so she had to be retired. We “sent her away to a farm” where she could run and play and blow hot air out of her vents in 100 degree weather all day long.

On The Fourth of July we did what JFK told us was the most patriotic thing we could do: we shopped. I don’t usually pay attention to car ads barking at me about ZERO DOWN! and ZERO PERCENT INTEREST! But I did spend enough of my formative years in front of the television to know that “Independence Day” is just the prefix for “Sale.”

Really it was Lewis’s idea, after picking me up from the gym. I would never have tried to negotiate interest rates and down payments in my sweaty gym clothes, but I have learned that when Lewis gets the wild hair to spontaneously spend money, I’d better hop right on that, regardless of how I smell.

The distinct disadvantage was that I felt like anyone liberal enough to be nice to me looking like a vagrant the way I did, deserved to make a sale. I wanted to buy a car as a way of saying, “Thank you for not laughing at me.”

The day was fairly uneventful from a car-buying standpoint. We test drove three vehicles. Purchased one. Traded in Karen for  beans (more beans than she may be worth, however). Pretty efficient day of shopping, really.

This is the gorgeous German machine we bought. We named her Marlene Dietrich.
This is the gorgeous German machine we bought. We named her Marlene Dietrich.

But along the way we heard two stories that together convinced us that car salesmen might have a more interesting job than most us.

As we were getting into the Prius V, we asked how often people wreck the cars when they take them out for a test drive.

“You’d be surprised how rarely that happens,” our 30-something salesman replied.

“Have you ever seen anyone try to steal one?”

“Not really,” he said. I was thinking that the conversation was a dud, and that we would have to make halting holiday-based conversation (“Any plans for the fourth?” “Well…we’re buying a car…you?” “I’m at work…”).

But then he continued.

“But I did have a guy try to carjack me once on a test drive.”

Suddenly I thought about it. This guy gets in the car with strangers every day. Strangers who have wandered in knowing full well that there are hundreds of brand new cars available for joyriding. All they have to do is ask.

But even if people do have honest intentions, they might be hazardous. Salesmen have to pull out onto busy access roads with grandmas behind the wheel. Or slam to a stop 2 feet from the tailgate of the giant truck when a 16 year old finally applies the brakes at a red light. Bickering couples. Distracted parents. Dudes trying to impress their girlfriends. Women who drive like Cruella de Vil.

It’s a really dangerous job.

A highlight of our return to the Volkswagen dealership to trade Karen (no, we didn’t really euthanize her) was when Lewis found a stuffed monkey under one of her seats. We then had to proceed with negotiating, discussing interest rates, credit scores, and down payments with a stuffed monkey in tow, in addition to me being smelly.

Lewis and the monkey do some tough negotiating.
Lewis and the monkey do some tough negotiating.

“Is that your good luck charm?” people kept asking.

We would laugh, assuming they were being funny. I mean, they were definitely being funny, but we assumed they knew that. Finally, when the Finance manager, Frank, looked back at us, earnestly waiting for our response, Lewis clued in.

“Do people bring good luck charms to buy cars?”

From there we got a laundry list of the good luck charms he had seen in his time in sales. It crescendoed to this story.

Frank took a man out for a test drive, and it was clear on the drive that the man was loving the car. It was everything he wanted.  The deal was so close, Frank could taste it. Suddenly, while behind the wheel, the man said, “This is it. This is the car I want. I just gotta ask my wife.”

Frank totally understood, though probably rolled his eyes a little that the man hadn’t gotten the major purchase pre-approved by the home office. He tried to keep the momentum going, should they need it to overcome whatever obstacle the wife presented. He waited for the man to pull out a cell phone, but instead, they just drove further from the dealership.

And kept driving.

Until they pulled up to a cemetery. The man parked the car and told Frank he would be right back. True to his word, the man came back shortly thereafter, a smile on his face, and good news for all.

“She’s fine with it.”

Last Call Adventure: Bruja Canyon Part II

When we last left our intrepid team of trekkers, they were setting off across the desert in the dark…

Part II: Up, over, around, and down

With our gaiters firmly in place and the desert air still dry and “cool,” we crossed Terlingua Creek (which was exactly as technical as Lewis nudging a rock into place and us skipping across), walked the dry tributary creek bed, and out on to the clay flats.

The terrain.
The terrain.

The expanse of soft clay felt like we were walking across a macaroon, leaving easily trackable footprints that we would later appreciate. The clay also radiated heat that it had been holding from the days before. Suddenly we all started doing math in our heads, wondering how it would feel to walk the flat in the scourge of the afternoon sun on our way back to the car.

My guess was that it would feel really hot. Like if you were put in an oven. Satan’s oven.

The open flat was soon interrupted by a stubble of desert plants. Mesquite, all thorn, prickly pear, lechuguilla, ocotillo, cholla, and the particularly sinister claret cup. Everything in the desert wants to kill you. Or rather, it wants to keep you from getting close to it, which I respect. Since some unfortunate childhood experiences, I have given cacti a wide berth. While my gaiters did reduce the diameter of my bubble, it was soon popped altogether by invading spines.

We got up close and personal with some very surly plants.

Bruja is a slot canyon, like a stab wound in the side of a Mesa de Anguilla. Standing on top of the mesa it would have looked like a fissure running across the ground. From where we stood on the plain, the vertical face of the plateau’s northeastern wall loomed, Bruja was just a void. A crack in the wall.

We picked our way through and eventually scrambled up the rocks at the base of the wall, still dodging the “pokies” as Jenna named them.

Then it was time for the adventure to begin in earnest.

The grade of the wall varies from report to report, but it’s in the high 4’s or low 5’s, if that means anything to anyone. There were some moments where those extra inches of arms and legs that the boys had on us girls really made a difference. My own first hurdle came somewhere near the bottom of the wall when it was fingers,toes, and pokies  between the ledge I was on and the ledge where I needed to be. There was a rope too, but we were not tied to it.

The little white dot is Colin on reconnaissance.
The little white dot is Colin on reconnaissance.

In life, I’ve made a habit of saying “one, two, three, go!” and jumping off of things. Or cutting things. Or pushing buttons. I can count to three and shut off my brain. But lunging at the next hand hold or sloped surface requires, “one, two, three, quickly-do-the-next-thing.” That’s harder.

Our feet on the first ledge.
Our feet on the first ledge.
Jenna on the other side of the gap.
Jenna on the other side of the gap.

So we needed a new chant. Fortunately as I hung there quivering, Colin said, “Trust yourself!”

And then I was on the next ledge. The rest of the wall was no problem, not simply because I now trusted my feet, but because it really was a lot easier. We just walked on up the sticky rocks.

From there we walked two miles along a ridge that was like the rim inside the rim of the canyon. This was pretty thick cactus habitat, but we were high on life after a quick ascent.


At the back of the canyon we had snacks in a cave with burn marks on the cieling, and little Native American grain grinding holes outside. We were like ancient peoples…with Camelbacks, a decided evolutionary advantage.

From there we dropped down into the canyon itself. It was a fairly mild drop, just sliding down the smooth walls of the shallowest pool, which happened to be dry. From there we would slowly work our way back to the plane, dropping from pool to pool via rope, wiggle, and hopping.


We moved along in full sun, finding shade along the edge or in crevasses where we could. We were almost to the highlight, the big rappel into water, when came to what would be, for me, the scariest moment of the trek. To get to our rappelling point for the first major drop, we first had to clear a gap. Colin suggested we take a running leap.

“Um…I don’t do run-and-jump,” I said. Playing the one princess card I would allow myself. I don’t. It’s one of those “one, two, three, be coordinated” moments that I avoid. Whenever I try to run and jump, I second guess myself at the last second, try to stop mid-flight, and fall.

Aborting this jump would end in death…or paralysis…and waiting to be rescued…in the heat.

Colin is setting up the rappel on the other side of the gap...while we pretend not to worry about the crossing.
Colin is setting up the rappel on the other side of the gap…while we pretend not to worry about the crossing.

So we figured out another method, which still required leaning across the gap, hands on one side, feet on the other, and pushing off into a precarious hand hold. But “trust yourself” did the trick and we all made it safely across.

From there Colin rigged the rappelling system. I say rappel. Really he lowered us into the pool of water beneath. There was little rappeling involved. Somehow even this uncomplicated plan still found me with my bare feet above my head, butt against the wall. Laughing too hard to help myself.

Once we were lowered into the pool, and safely past the floating cactus on the other side, we watched Colin actually rappel, put our boots back on and continued.

Before long we would rappel again. This time the drop was far more dramatic, into a bigger pool. The boys swam the pool with the packs on their back, keeping them amazingly dry while Jenna and I cleared cacti from the exit of the pool.

Just before we exited the canyon I got to rappel one more time, thanks to a particular feature of my anatomy wedging itself so tightly into a hole that everything from my ribcage on down was dangling in mid-air. I wiggled back out and opted to go over the boulder, rather than have a distinctly female reenactment of 127 Hours.

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We polished off the snacks, and made a mad dash for the mouth of the canyon, stunned at our quick pace thus far, and now just going for a quick finish. So many of these adventures fall apart in the last hour.

Ours did not. We were quiet, yes. My trudging was more trudge-like. I’d been wrong about what the clay flat would feel like in the heat of the day. Not an oven. A griddle. Satan’s griddle.

We ran out of water about 1,000 steps from the car. Part of the strategy game that is desert trekking is rationing water, and we were shocked at how well we’d done.

We soaked our top layers in Terlingua Creek (long sleeves are a must in the desert, in one of natures cruelest ironies), and made the final push to the car, where the beer was still cold.

Campsite number two, 1,000 feet higher, 10 degrees cooler.
Campsite number two, 1,000 feet higher, 10 degrees cooler.

That night at our 10-degrees-cooler campsite in the Chisos Basin, we marveled at how well the hike had gone. No injuries. No water shortage. And we all still liked each other.

Last Call Adventure: Bruja Canyon, Part I


This was the big one.

When Colin first told us about canyoneering Bruja Canyon in a remote corner of Big Bend National Park, I was hooked at “rappel into a pool of freezing water.” I also knew that to make it happen, we would have to find a rare surplus of two extremely scarce resources: time and water. Looking for that magical moment when it had rained in Big Bend, and all four of us were free to skip town would be a challenge.

That magical moment was this weekend, July 5-7, 2013.

And whyever not? The forecast seemed totally amenable to a 10 mile desert trek. (Hike scheduled for Saturday)

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Part I: The journey West

So we loaded up Colin’s car with 4 friends, an ice chest, and every durable synthetic fiber known to man.

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Along the way we carefully rationed our David Sedaris Live CD, and did our best to listen to a Cormac McCarthy audiobook (by doing my best, I mean that I went straight to sleep). At some point everyone indulged in “I-only-eat-this-on-roadtrips” snacks. A sharp contrast to the meals we would be eating for the rest of the trip.

Yes, Lewis is using a sour straw to drink a Cherry Coke. We'd been in the car for many hours.
Yes, Lewis is using a sour straw to drink a Cherry Coke. We’d been in the car for many hours.
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What we ate outside the car.

 Once inside the Park we went through the rigmarole of permitting, paying fees, and not getting to go into Mexico.

We’ll save that for the next adventure, because it does involve 1) ferrying across the river, 2) possibly riding a horse into Boquillas, Mexico, and 3) chatting with U.S. Officials via virtual passport control upon return. All things I’m dying to do.

However, we were informed by the helpful NPS employees that we’d probably be stuck over there if we left after 4 pm. They reassured us, however, that there was no night life we were missing. Something about our sunhats and trekking shoes must have screamed, “I like to party hard.”

Here’s my question…do people really still go party at night in Mexican border towns? That’s terrifying.

This fancy border control station closes at 6pm folks.
This fancy border control station closes at 6pm, folks.
Jenna utilizes to topographical map at the headquarters to make tomorrow's hike look like "no biggie."
Jenna (who conquered Bruja back in March) utilizes to topographical map at the headquarters to make tomorrow’s hike look like no biggie.

So from there all we could do was set up our campsite along Terlingua Creek. We camped under the stars, being slow roasted by the desert floor which radiated heat through our inflatable sleeping pads like some device used by celebrity chefs to make the perfect braised duck.

It was far too warm for sleeping bags, so we slept largely exposed, which is thrilling in it’s own way.

Few things are more majestic than falling asleep under a glittering canopy of shooting stars with Scorpio rising up from the horizon as you drift off to sleep with no one around for miles… except the three other people lying shoulder-to-shoulder with you on a tarp.

Our first campsite, and the tarp we shared.
Our first campsite, and the tarp we shared.

We set our alarms for 4:40 am, only to awaken to a completely dark sky that looked no closer to daylight than when we’d gone to sleep. Big Bend is at the western edge of the timezone. So we slept another hour, until distant coyote howls woke us and the horizon was growing lighter.

Still, this is what “getting ready” looked like:

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Jenna and I added a clever, if not particularly trendy, piece of equipment to our desert gear: gaiters. Mine were “3 season” gaiters. I’m willing to guess that blistering summer is not one of those seasons. But I didn’t care. The desert is thick with pokey flora, and I intended to trudge like a pro. Gaiters on!

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From there we set out and the adventure really began.

Stay tuned for Part II of the story to find out if all four intrepid travelers remain intact as they climb, rappel, scramble, and swim their way out of Bruja Canyon.

Trying to Write a Wedding Toast, Part III

So…Liz and Jason. As their wedding draws nearer, I know that they are overwhelmed with details. I also know that they are overwhelmed with all the things they love about each other.

Meanwhile, there have been some loose ends in my own thoughts on marriage.  I know that I heard all of this before I got married, but it’s just now starting to make sense. I just remember thinking everyone was killing my love-buzz. And now that I’m not a newlywed…where did all those sages go who had so much good advice? Suddenly insight bills at $125 an hour.

Pop culture to the rescue.

Summary: The no-escape clause

At some point, ironically, the sameness in marriage and the changes in your spouse might make you shake your head and say, “I don’t think I knew what I was getting into.”


But it doesn’t exempt us from the “til death do us part” part. So we have to figure out how to deal with the fact that forever has a lot more Mondays than we’d calculated, and our spouse seems to have grown an extra arm out of his or her personality.

There are three movies I’ve seen that had some telling insights into this. They are not particularly fabulous movies. At all. I didn’t even really like them, and I don’t think that their overarching themes hold the key to happy marriages. But there were moments in each one that made me say, “THAT’S IT!”

The first is an older rom-com starring Topher Grace (see disclaimer above!) called “In Good Company” (83% on Rotten Tomatoes). I remember exactly one thing about that movie:  this quote, right here. (Carter Duryea is placed by Topher Grace, and Dan Foreman is played by Dennis Quaid.)

Carter Duryea: Dan, you seem to have the perfect marriage. How do you do it?

Dan Foreman: You just pick the right one to be in the foxhole with, and then when you’re outside of the foxhole you keep your dick in your pants.

Carter Duryea: That’s poetic.

in good company

Similarly, another sort of lackluster rom-com was “Friends with Kids” (67% on Rotten Tomatoes) I watched it because I needed a Kristin Wiig fix. Well, she’s in it, but she doesn’t say much, and what she does say is not funny. But Jon Hamm plays her husband, sooo…yes, I kept watching.

In the movie, Jon Hamm’s character Ben says something along the lines of, “You pick the person you want to be with in the bad times.” Probably also good that they share the good times… but that’s the easy part.

I tend to get dramatic about my needs, my feelings, Lewis’s needs, and Lewis’s feelings. But in the end, it all comes down to committing to the partnership like your life depends on it, and then dealing with the flurry of bullets and grenades. And you have to remember that the person in the foxhole with you is the one person who has taken a sacred vow to be ON YOUR TEAM. Taking aim at them is totally counterproductive.

Does that sound like too much negativity? Well, here’s the reason it’s not: you are no longer alone in the foxhole. That fact alone should be the underpinning smiley face on the rest of your days (which are more numerous than if you really were facing sprays of bullets and hand grenades, so, again, hooray!).

Also, it emphasizes the importance of picking well. Pick your spouse well. Because the last thing you want is some screaming Mimi running out into the fray.

But even if you pick the right person, there’s still days where the foxhole gets a little…foxholey.

The next movie that I did not like, but that I did feel had some insight was “Take This Waltz” (77% on Rotten Tomatoes). It’s about an achingly hipster married woman who seems “restless in a kind of permanent way.” Basically, she’s jonesin’ (in a muted, listless sort of way that hipsters express longing) for excitement . And there’s a shiny new boy across the street.

It’s her alcoholic sister-in-law, played very nicely by Sarah Silverman, who falls off the wagon and delivers the moral of the story.

“Life has a gap in it…it just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it.”


I’m keenly aware of the gaps in life, and the perils of my hunt to fill them. If Lewis was everything I wanted him to be every single day, he’d have to be psychotic, because I change my list of demands as often as I change my socks. Often to reflect exactly the opposite of yesterday’s demands.

The hip Christian way to say this is, “you never marry the right person.” The choice of words there is a little too let-me-blow-your-mind-nouveau-Puritan for me.  I propose this revision: “You can’t marry God, so cut your spouse some slack.”

It was actually Ira Glass, host of This American Life, who put this all together the best. He was talking to a man who had decided that marriage should have a contract expiration. That because people change, they shouldn’t have to stay in relationships forever. Honestly, I expected quirky, progressive Ira Glass to agree with him. Instead, he said,


I think it was the “no-escape clause” that gave me a panic attack two weeks before I got married…and has kept me from having one since.

Florence’s So-Called Life: Season 1, Episode 2

In this episode Florence continues to be humiliated by her parents, but also is forced to over come her fears.

(Read in the voice of Florence, which sounds a lot like a 14-year-old Claire Danes)

Going to the vet. I just don’t get why we have to do it. It’s this…thing…that keeps looming on the horizon. Making my dinner taste like guilt.

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All they do is weigh me (which is humiliating) and get me wound up. I know I’m going to pee on the floor and upset my parents, but I can’t help it. There’s something about the way the vet tech talks in that high, excited, goo-goo tone that just makes me so…. happy? Then she pets me…and I pee. Every time.

But then she says, “Wow, what a big girl.” And I’m like, “We all know what that means. Just say it. Why can’t we just be… real?”

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And then there’s my parents. They have this, like, need for me to get in and out of the car by myself. They are perfectly capable of lifting me. 60 pounds is not going to kill them.

We sat like this for a long time, since all they are going to offer as bait are those “organic” cookies they buy. Seriously guys, Milkbone. One little incident with a brand new Costco-sized bag of treats and suddenly we only eat “organic.”


And then…I did it. I made the jump. Maybe I am a “big girl.” Maybe I am ready to start getting in and out of the car by myself.

But then my parents made this big deal over my jump. I looked up and the boxer across the street was watching. The one with the big, sweet eyes. So was edgy Delilah, who lives next door and plays under the house. I thought I was going to die.

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The Curious Urbanite learns about Bike Commuting

The best Christmas present I got last year was my Trek hybrid 7.1. I, as a curious urbanite, had long been envious of those hip, healthy people navigating traffic on their bicycles, faster than pedestrians and more agile than cars. Locking up the bike and waiting at the table while the rest of us circled downtown looking for parking.

Not to mention my growing concern about carbon emissions.

I knew how to ride a bike…but I wanted to use it as a mode of transportation. Not a vacation novelty.

Finally, equipped with my sturdy, versatile bicycle, I have been slowly venturing into the world of commuter biking, photographing the ways that riding has changed my surroundings.

1)  My question is no longer, “is there parking?” It’s “is there railing?”

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2) Without a place to lock it up, you have to just take it inside. If the establishment has a problem with it, they need to get a bike rack. We have a bike rack inside.

On the other hand, while you have to valet a car, you can coat check a bike.

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3) Narrow stairwells + doors that open outward = problematic.

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4) I bought the most obnoxious helmet I could find, to compensate for my sensible bike.


5) There are definitely types of cyclists. You can guess which one I am (this is Lewis’s bike, but it illustrates a broader truth):

Yuppie bike

6) Unfortunately I got a flat tire once. Fortunately Lewis was around. Unfortunately he was in the Jeep. Fortunately we were  at the Pearl.

iPhone upload May 23 2013 015 iPhone upload May 23 2013 0167) And while it has solved many of my transit woes…riding a bike did little to alleviate the transit woe that is Fiesta.

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8) This is always sort of in flux, but really bike commuting changed how I believe tax dollars should be spent. I’m more aware of a lot of things: bad roads, incomplete removal of train tracks, bad drivers, smelly dumpsters, litter, dangerous intersections, and the dead-zones created by overpasses.

 It should be noted that my little reflective velcro strap that keeps my pant legs out of the gears was given to me by the MPO, who is in charge of all kinds of transportation…I mean, it says something when the people who’s salaries are paid by gas taxes are promoting biking. The people who look at transit alternatives all day.

Also, the MPO’s bike motto includes “Be Predictable.” I love when engineers take on marketing.



Beer Journal: Corona


This entry in the beer journal is not about travel. It’s about home.

This is a Corona. It is my beer of choice.June 9 iPhone 081

And sitting behind that Corona is Lewis, my company of choice. He’s having a Shiner Black.

When I am home, I drink light, effervescent, (preferably Mexican) beer. Lewis is pretty loyal to “whatever you have that’s really dark.” He likes words like “stout.” I like words like “crisp.” And I like my Mexican lagers dressed. That means with salt and lime (it was alarming to me that this is not common knowledge everywhere in the world, as it took me 10 minutes to explain it to a waiter in Yosemite National Park).

Our different taste in beer is a pretty good metaphor for the rest of our differences. He’s mysterious, minor-key, and and meticulous. I’m…not any of that.

Over years of marriage, from what I’ve heard, you start to know things about each other. Important stuff like, what cacao percentage to choose (70% for Bekah, 80% for Lewis). Which color of clothing will be a hard sell (purple, for Lewis). Which herbs to avoid (cilantro, for Bekah).

But there’s something really really special about the first time someone successfully pegs your drink order. You go out, it’s really crowded, and you finally manage to find a place to perch. Before you can even peruse the list, your partner senses the urgency of having drinks-in-hand, disappears to the bar, and comes back holding exactly what you would have ordered.

Lewis does that for me, and he also knows those deeper differences. He can order my drink, squeeze my hand at the right time, and know that my storms will pass. He knows me.

Beer Journal: Aguila

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. More than wine, when I travel, I find beer. Not haute beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant. And these stories are not the stories of the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about the times when I had a beer, and the people I was with.

This is Aguila, a Colombian Beer.

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I drank…a lot of it. With Benja, who was never really a stranger, but is now an old friend. Also some lovely Australians.

Somehow, Australians always know where to find beer. We could be in the middle of nowhere, and one of them would show up with armfuls of beer, passing it around, for the good of all.

Benja and the Australians gave me a three day crash course in not “overthinking.”

On our last day we hiked through Tayrona National Park, one of the more fascinatingly beautiful places on earth. We sweated out the remnants of the night before, and then soaked in the sea on a 7 km hike in 95 degree weather at around 100% humidity. It was like some kind of purification ritual.

It’s weird how many times I’ve called up that day. When vines start creeping around my ankles asking, “What will they think?” or “Do they like you?” or “Won’t they expect you to…?”

Sometimes you have to look disapproval/pressure/judgement in the eye… and have a beer.

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Beer Journal: Cusqueña

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. When I travel, I drink beer. Not haute beer. Not craft beer. Not hip beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant, or snatch at a corner store after a long day of activity. And these stories are not about the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about times I had a beer, and the people who shared them.

This is Cusqueña. A Peruvian beer.

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This beer, right here, this exact bottle, stands for all the beers (and tequila shots) that have given me back a little bit of agency. Yes, I realize that excessive drinking can lead to a loss of agency. But for me, it’s the first sip that tells me, “you know who you are.” The first sip tastes like slamming the door…letting your hair down… and turning on Tom Petty as loud as you can and jumping on the furniture.

When reclaiming one’s agency/identity, drinking alone is drinking in good company. I drank this alone, while Lewis napped. The server wore a white jacket and a bowtie.

I was in the courtyard of our hotel in Cusco, after 14 site inspections of luxury hotels. Being waited on hand and foot. I had been fussed over, portered, and served beyond my capacity. So I ordered a beer. Sometimes you need to remember what kind of girl you are.

Beer Journal: Kross

Some people have wine journals. Liz James told me about beer journals. Mine will double as a travel journal. More than wine, when I travel, I find beer. Not haute beer. Everyman beer. Beer I can order in any restaurant. And these stories are not the stories of the most amazing places I’ve seen. They are about the times when I had a beer, and the people I was with.

This is Kross. It is a Chilean beer.


This might be the only beer in my beer journal that is something you should actually find in a beer journal. It’s won awards. It’s microbrewed.I had it in Chile with Lewis and a guide names Marcelo, who would introduce us to the world of expert guides and when to use them.

This would come in handy later.

I had gone to get away from  the pervasive unpleasantness that had become my job, back in 2012. When I came back from Chile, bad news was waiting, and it just kept coming for two months. Job gone. Church gone (for me). And a series of other disappointments.

Then I started working for Ker and Downey. I used the research I’d done for our trip to Chile in my application, which included creating an itinerary suited to the company’s clientele. It just so happened that a South America Specialist was something they needed. Now, one year and three trips later, the whole continent continues to dazzle me.

But Chile always comes up special. It’s unique and diverse and dramatic. When I left California, back in 2004, I told friends that I didn’t think I was done there quite yet. Same goes for Chile, where I got a sneak peak at what lay beyond the rapids of April and May 2012, though I still don’t think I have the full story.

There’s something special in that country. Maybe I just have a thing for westernmost places.

Chile with Lewis