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 Islands Information

Place: Portland, Oregon




Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of   Sketchandtravel.com  and    Bookpleasures.com   is pleased to have as our guest, Paul Gerald, Editor of  60 Hikes Within 60 Miles - Portland

Paul is also a travel writer and his writings have appeared in newspapers around the country, as well as Northwest Airlines' WorldTraveler, Dish Magazine, Weissmann Travel Reports, and Nike's web site.

Good day Paul and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.

Norm:

Paul, could you tell us a little about yourself and when did your passion for writing begin? What kept you going?

Paul:

When I was 12, I would write adventure stories in which I was the hero -- and always got the girl! Typical 12-year-old male, I suppose. I was also a sports fan, and when I found out sportswriters got paid to attend games and sit in the press box, I decided to go for that. Over the years, I found that I loved telling stories and having access to places, people and situations that I couldn't have access to without that writer identity. And no matter what, it beats working.

Norm:

How did you come up with the idea of writing about hiking in Portland Oregon? What methods did you use to flesh out your idea to determine if it's salable?

Paul:

Actually, I was insanely lucky. The nice folks at Menasha Ridge Press were looking for a Portland author, and some of their writers (whom I knew as travel writer friends) recommended me. Portland had plenty of hiking books, so I had to make mine the best one in town: fun writing, complete and accurate information, entertaining history, etc.

Norm:

If you were to choose eight of the most romantic and unique hikes around Portland, Oregon, which ones would they be and why?

Paul:

  • Opal Creek Wilderness in the fall, because it's a dense, lovely ancient-growth forest with a truly magical stream winding through it. You can swim in a deep pool and then wander among the giant trees, listening to birds and the breeze through the brances.

  • Vista Ridge in the late summer, when the flowers are blooming in the meadows right at the base of Mount Hood especially Elk Cove, where I always expect to see hobbits dancing around.

  • The loop from Wahkeena Falls to Multnomah Fallls, because it's filled with waterfalls and tall trees and wildflowers, and it winds up at an ice cream stand!

  • Catherine Creek in April. There are almost 100 different species of flowers all blooming at the same time.

  • Angels Rest anytime the name says it all, and it's a beautiful place to watch the sunset from almost 2,000 feet above the Columbia River. They've even put in a nice little bench in the best spot.

  • Silver Falls State Park in spring or early summer: the temperatures are cool, the creek is running high, the hiking is not too tough, and in a seven-mile loop you visit 10 waterfalls and go behind a few of them.

  • Cooper Spur in late summer. It's a long drive and a tough hike, but when it's done there's a little rock wall at about 8,000 feet elevation where you can snuggle up and listen to the glacier pop and rumble. And you'll usually have the place to yourself.

  • Cape Falcon whenever the weather is good. You hike a couple of easy miles through old-growth forest to a tree-covered, grassy lookout 200 feet above the pounding waves. A great place for an ocean-view sunset!

Norm:

As a follow up to the last question, would you recommend hiking to couples seeking romantic getaways, and if so, why?

Paul:

Of course! You have the potential for solitude and beauty, and also the chance that things will get tiring and/or stressful, and that's when you find out who you're really with! Seriously, though, exercise plus conversation plus some alone time with a view and some snacks & I mean, what more do you want?

Norm:

Besides writing and editing a guidebook, what other gigs have you found profitable or rewarding?

Paul:

My motto for years was whatever you do, don't work full-time! I have worked in landscaping, commercial fishing in Alaska, restaurants, social work, and newspapers. I insist on variety. I even tried the cubicle life, and while it does have some advantages, I had to give it up.

Norm:

What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while editing your book? How did you overcome these challenges?

Paul:

Since this was the first book I ever wrote, I had to really plan out my time and decide when I would do certain things. On the first edition, for example, I waited too long on a couple of hikes, and then we got an early snowfall that really messed me up. I couldn't get up there~ Also, I had to learn to take better notes, and to re-write them soon after the hike, because sometimes I would sit down to write a chapter around three months after doing the hike, and I wouldn't even be able to read my own notes. So time management and organization were very important. For my next edition I'll be using a microcassette recorder to dictate notes while I'm walking.

Norm:

As there does not seem to be any authoritative standards that exist for guidebook authors or publishers, how do you know that a guidebook is up to par? How do you check out the authorial competence?

Paul:

My goal in writing my book was that at no time, from leaving home to the trailhead to the end of the hike, would the reader ever find themselves saying, Okay, now which way do we go? That's a tall order, but if you're not clear and accurate, what's the point? Beyond that, a guidebook should tell you something you couldn't have figured out on your own something more than which way to go. For example, I used a great book called Oregon Geographical Names, a 900-page tome that explains how everything in our state got its name. I love putting that stuff in my book.

Norm:

What does travel mean to you?

Paul:

Adventure! I figured out very early in life that no matter where you live, the rest of the world is more interesting. I feel like my life started the first time I left home for summer camp, and I decided at that point that the key to being happy, meeting people and having fun was to leave town. There are worse addictions to have. It has also meant independence, freedom, self-discovery and, let's be honest, occasional bouts of loneliness and homesickness. But that's how travel makes you realize how nice it is to be at home with friends and family just like hiking makes you really appreciate showers and restaurants.

Norm:

Would you say that hiking is more popular today than thirty years ago, and if so, why?

Paul:

It sure seems so, although I'm only 38, so I'm not sure. It makes sense, though: my generation grew up with more free time than any previous generation in America, because our parents had so much success in the post-World War II years. Recreation in general has become much more diversified, and as the cities become more crowded, work hours get longer, and television more pervasive, it makes sense people would want to spend more time in the woods. I also think that America is finally becoming aware of the benefits of exercise.

Norm:

What is next for Paul Gerald?

Paul:

Well, around the second week of June I'm taking off to walk the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail some 465 miles of adventure with a friend and his dog. (This is what I quit the cubicle job for!) I hope to write a book about that one, either a fun and easy guidebook or a personal/spiritual journey book. I have some other book ideas, as well, and generally I am returning to freelance writing and self-employment. Just the other day I had a yard sale and sold most of my possessions. I am all about simplicity, and the office life is not for me.

Norm:

Is there anything you wish to add to our interview that we have not covered?

Paul:

Just that everything you've heard about Oregon is true: the weather's great, the people are nice, Portland is a wonderful city, and within a two-hour drive we can visit ocean, mountains and desert. Just do me a favor, and if you decide to move here, please don't tell anybody I sent you! It's getting crowded out here!

Thank you once again Paul and good luck with all of your future endeavours.

Thank you!