After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a journalism degree, I spent 35 years as a healthcare communications professional, retiring eight years ago. I immediately began exploring the great outdoors full-time, continuing my love of enjoying nature and our national parks and wildlife refuges. I write for and contribute photography to www.WanderingRoseTravels.com. And as a community service, I give nature presentations to senior communities and assisted living centers.
1. What got you into travel writing?
My family and I have always traveled, starting when my daughter was nine months old. We took her hiking in Olympic National Park. After that, we couldn’t stop exploring. I’m a perpetual student of nature, wildlife, and our national parks. When I retired eight years ago, we ratcheted up our travel to monthly trips and I also started exploring national wildlife refuges, which are more remote and challenging to visit. With my journalism and photography background, it just made sense for me to share those experiences and the takeaways, good and bad.
2. What’s the most challenging part of being a travel journalist for you?
I have to be careful not to preach to audiences and instead simply share experiences that can help them plan their travel and pique their interest in destinations they might have overlooked. It’s a rush for me to receive an email from someone who recounts a positive vacation experience that was influenced by my writing or photographs.
3. What is one thing [equipment or personal item] you can’t go without on the road?
My 150-600 mm camera lens. It helps me see and document things that might go unnoticed. You could achieve the same advantage with binoculars, but I enjoy capturing those images and sharing the tapestry of nature that closeups reveal.
4. What’s your most unusual and/or memorable travel experience?
It’s tough to pick one. I waffle between hiking up Yosemite’s Half Dome or trekking the entire length of The Narrows in Zion. But most people don’t appreciate a waffler, so I’ll settle on snorkeling among manatees in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, FL. It humbled me to swim with those majestic creatures.
5. How did you learn about NATJA and why did you join?
A fellow travel journalist told me about the organization. I joined because I’m not done learning. And I intend to keep photographing and writing about the Great Outdoors, so NATJA can help me discover new places and pry open the world just a little bit wider for me.
6. What is the best piece of advice you could give to a rookie travel journalist?
Don’t make travel about you. Focus on the destination and what makes it worth someone’s time and resources to explore. Yes, I share stories and weave in part of my personality. But my audience isn’t vacationing with me. I want my writing and photography to help people put together a trip that leaves them speechless and in awe of our natural world.