At the controls of United Airlines 747-400 N117UA
San Francisco International Airport
My parents met on a ski lift in Crested Butte, Colorado, and I think that that kind of chance meeting imbued a certain genetic wanderlust in me. My first flight was two months after I was born — Newark to Denver-Stapleton on a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 — to show me off to their friends. From there, it’s never really stopped.
I’ve always loved travelling, whether it was our frequent family trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina growing up or some kind of world-spanning offbeat adventure. I’m fascinated by interesting forms of transportation — old ferries, obscure railways, strange aircraft, lonely highways — and this has fuelled a lot of my travels for the past decade. From chasing down the last mid-century ocean liners to trying to get on old aircraft types that are about to disappear from the skies, I have an inclination towards the urgent, vanishing recent past.
Right now, one of my priorities has been roadtrips and off-road adventures with my Land Rovers, especially exploring the American West. My mother bought a Land Rover Discovery in 1994 when they came out in North America, and I’ve been in love with the marque ever since. I have a 1994 Discovery, a 1994 Range Rover Classic, and a project Range Rover Classic/Series IIA “Hybrid,” and they’re the primary drivers of my North American adventures. I’ve also developed a network of Land Rover friends across the continent, and I’ve been doing more fly-drive trips with them lately.
I also have a strong passion for lighthouses, and over the past 19 years I’ve seen almost 500 around the world, including over half of the approximately 700 lights in the United States. There’s a network of a few hundred extremely hardcore lighthouse enthusiasts, who will spare no effort and almost no expense to see a light. I’ve had adventures with these friends across the country, and as I’ve hit the tipping point I’ve become more focused on advancing the goal to see every American lighthouse.
On the home front, I live in exurban central New Jersey and work in New York City. Both places are very important to me, and I feel some kind of ownership over both…a Homegrown Jersey Boy and Bridge-and-Tunnel New Yorker. My family has been tied to this area since the 1630s; as each branch came to America over the centuries, they never left the region. This connection has given me a commitment to historic preservation at the local level at home as a volunteer on my town’s Historic Sites Committee.
The phrase “trip of a lifetime” makes me cringe. To me there’s always some new adventure around the corner. The world is a big, beautiful place, and the sooner you make an effort — any effort — to see it, the better off you are.
New York City, January 2019