3.14.2016

Charlie’s World – A Sneak Peak at Switzerland’s Charlie Chaplin Museum


(Photo:Michael Cervin)
American film icon Charlie Chaplin lived his last 26 years, not as an American film star, but as a cast away without a country, finding solace in a home perched above Lake Geneva, in Corsier-sur-Vevey Switzerland. His estate is being turned into a museum and Chaplin’s World –The Modern Times Museum, scheduled to open Spring 2016, aims to honor the professional and personal life of one of the world’s most beloved movie stars. I toured the construction site in late 2015 to get a first hand look and originally wrote about it for Forbes. This is a more in depth look at Chaplin’s Manoir le Ban.

The Manoir during Chaplin's time there
Born in England Charlie Chaplin came to the U.S. in 1911 and you pretty much know the story: the biggest movie star in the world, his Little Tramp is one of the most iconic images on the planet. Chaplin was a pioneer filmmaker and storyteller and many of the creative story devices he created are still used in films today. But when his U.S. citizenship was revoked during the McCarthy hearings in (Chaplin found out while aboard ship heading to Europe to promote his latest film Limelight) he was crushed at hearing the news was forced to think on his feet. He began to imagine staying put in the Cote D’Azur, Paris, and London but Switzerland won out in part because Chaplin’s brother-in-law mentioned that Charlie might prefer the quiet discretion of the Swiss banks in which to place his money. As it happened, an American diplomat was ready to unload his house in Vevey (an hour outside of Geneva) and two weeks after Chaplin first saw Manoir le Ban, he was moving in.

The Manoir under construction, 2015. Photo Michael Cervin
Originally built in 1840, Chaplin’s Manoir le Ban sits on 35 acres and originally was, more or less, a pig farm. Chaplin bought the estate then succeeded in living a not-so-quiet life, entertaining guests and frequently visiting nearby Montreux impeccably dressed and showing off. The Manoir consisted of a main house, barn, garage and living quarters for Chaplin’s dozen servants, as well as a swimming pool and tennis court. Charlie Chaplin died in 1977 and the estate went to his family. At one point Disney was interested in the property. When the family sold the estate in 2008 to a group of investors it was for the sole purpose to create Chaplin’s World, set to open in mid 2016. I was given exclusive access to see the boisterous construction firsthand in October 2015.

The library under construction, 2015. (Photo Michael Cervin)
“This is the project of my life,” Yves Durand, president of the Chaplin Museum, tells me wearing white a hardhat and bright orange vest, his small frame reduced even further by the construction workers and the buildings currently in a state of disrepair outside Montreux. “Every square meter is important.” Durand, somewhat obsessed with Chaplin, told me that as a young boy he had Chaplin posters tacked to his wall, a constant image of the Little Tramp affixing its mesmerizing quality onto his brain.

Chaplin's Office, 2015  (Photo Michael Cervin)
As part of Chaplin’s World the house, barn and servants quarters are being completely remodeled. What was once the garage and servant’s quarters will be business offices. The old barn will house a restaurant tentatively called The Limelight, and gift shop. And an entirely new building is underway, a cavernous two-story structure, which will feature different aspects of Chaplin’s film life including a walk down a main street from Chaplin’s Tramp days. Full screen and multi media images of Chaplin’s films, and movie stars from the 1920s, 30s and 40s will ornament the place in the form of 20 life-sized wax caricatures. There are 200,000 archives including 15,000 photographs to be sorted through, and new Little Tramp merchandise and branding will follow. They anticipate 300,000 visitors annually.

Statue of Chaplin in Vevey, Switzerland
Chaplin’s residence including library, office and bedrooms are being transformed into what will be, ideally, a dedication to the personal life of Chaplin. The main house will contain personal memorabilia from his estate, from the impact of the McCarthy hearings to Chaplin’s dalliances with young girls. You will be able to go inside Chaplin’s bedroom, his office, and the library and even to the top of the house, which was the children’s area (Chaplin and wife Oona had eight children living at the Manoir) with artifacts about Chaplin, many of which were donated by the Chaplin family. This is an ambitious project at a cost of 50 million Swiss Francs, according to Durand. “We feel a responsibility to do this correctly, to be the nicest museum in Switzerland,” he says.

The grounds too are being completely redone, adding a much-needed parking lot, which used to be Chaplin’s garden, and converting the decrepit landscaping to its former glory. Staying in place are several mature pine and cedar trees including one Durand says was a favorite of pop star Michael Jackson who, along with the likes of Albert Einstein, visited Manoir Le Ban. Chaplin’s tennis court and swimming pool are gone but the stunning views of Lake Geneva and the Alps remain, as will the memory of a man who forever transformed the film industry.

(Photos Michael Cervin unless noted. Additional photos courtesy  
  Chaplin's World™ © Bubbles Incorporated SA)







3.06.2016

Book Review - National Geographic’s Guide to National Parks


We were born to be outdoors. We are linked to nature by evolution and spirit. And in America we have taken steps to secure vast tracts of land to honor our heritage and our future. We call these our National Parks.  Yet many of us do not fully take advantage of the incredible stunning beauty of our collective parks - these temples of vistas and waterfalls, shrines of trees and forests, these cathedrals of granite and sandstone. Admittedly I have been to few of the places listed in National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States-8th Edition, so as I thumbed through the pages of this book, through the cool facts and figures, through the captivating images, the book did exactly as it was intended - it inspired me, made me crave to travel and place my feet on ancient soil, wrap my hands around verdant plants and breathe in the scents only magnificent natural surrounds can do. Yeah, you probably know and maybe have visited the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite. But do you know anything about IsleRoyale in Michigan, or Dry Tortugas in Florida? The book details 59 National Parks including the Channel Islands in my backyard of Santa Barbara.

I have written four Moon travel books so I know firsthand the tremendous amount of work that goes into a book like this. I love the precise detail for each of the parks, practical information you may not always know. Aside from that I’m a fan of quirky – and this book provides odds and ends too, like the fact that Capital Reef in Utah is, “so remote the nearest traffic light is 78 miles away.” Or try this on - in California’s Sequoia National Park, there are spots, “farther from a road than any other place in the lower 48 states.” This is not a book for a select few. This is a book for everyone, a book you need to own even if you never plan on taking a plane anywhere - the photos alone will transport you. But this is also a book about celebration and about how our respect and admiration of our planet can be literally manifested in our ability to protect natural beauty so that we may always stand in awe of the world around us.

National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States/8th Edition
$28 - 494 Pages

2.13.2016

The Emperor Needs No Clothes - Who Is In Max’s Innsbruck Tomb?


By all accounts Maximillian I seemed to love life, and why not? He was the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1508 until he died in 1515 (although he was never officially crowned by the Pope), so pretty much anything and everything was available to him. Before that he was archduke of Austria where he laid the groundwork for much of Europe as part of the Hapsburg dynasty. Like many of that generation, and up to our present narcissistic beliefs, it was crucial, and I mean crucial, to be remembered after death – to be loved and adored well into infinity. Therefore plans were underway a decade prior to Max’s demise for his memorial; an elaborate marble tomb flanked by dozens of life-size bronze statues in stunning detail that flank Max’s sepulcher.

Just one of the large bronze statues
I visited the Tomb and was impressed by the scope of the monument, but what illuminates the imagination is the near jaw dropping detail. A stately Renaissance-style grill on all four sides of the tomb is topped by the kneeling Maximilian and supported at the four corners by statues of the cardinal virtues. It’s important to remember that this was all done by hand, before computer generated images, 3D printing, or cheap Chinese labor. And this is what is so remarkable about the tomb – the immense handiwork and time it took to complete it. Max’s tomb is housed inside the Hofkirche or “court church,” in downtown Innsbruck, Austria. The church itself is rather unremarkable so this is really about Max and his elaborate tomb. The sides of the marble tomb have 24 hand-carved inlaid panels depicting various scenes from his life such as his wedding and battles carved by Alexandre Colin of Belgium. He died before it was completed so his son carried on with the work of finishing the tomb.

The stunning detail of the marble panels is exquisite
The website, The World of the Habsburgs, which chronicles the dynasty says this about the tomb: “The design represents a combination of classical tomb and medieval funerary cortege and is symptomatic of Maximilian’s concept of art, which sought to revive classical ideals while remaining bound to medieval traditions.” Hum. “The monument was intended to glorify the Habsburgs and legitimize their imperial status by referencing the Roman emperors and their tombs.” Well then, mission accomplished.

Max kneels atop his own tomb
But here is the twist - this elaborate tomb so dutifully created, planned and executed, this staggeringly intricate piece of art - well, Max isn’t buried here. Who is? Actually…no one. There are no bones of Max inside the tomb, or anywhere near it. His remains are in Vienna, not Innsbruck, 300 miles away. So all this work, craftsmanship, time, dedication and toil resulted in an empty coffin. But you can, and should, visit the Tomb of Maximilian for the sheer magnitude of artistry represented here if you are in Innsbruck. It is a reminder that much of what history leaves us is less about political dynasties and nation building, and more about artists who toil in virtual obscurity, leaving behind physical manifestations of their God-given abilities.



9.21.2015

Calaveras - Do You See What I Tree?


I admit it. I love the Sierra Foothills. They have been included in several of my travel books, and I adore Calaveras County (the southern neighbor to Amador and El Dorado counties) because it offers a huge diversity of things to do and see: there is gold panning, white water rafting, horseback riding, visiting the historical mining camps that dot the area, and wine tasting. But this post is about trees -the region is populated with lots of them. 

One way to see them is to fly above them at speeds of 40 mph. MoaningCavern in Vallecito not only brags of having the largest underground cavern in California (large enough that the Statue of Liberty could fit inside), but has twin zip lines stretching 1,500 feet above the tree tops whereby you can race against someone else, or just keep each other company as you zoom like a bird in the air. The oldest person to zip was 98 years old and a zip line offers a pure rush as you roar over mature pine forests. To capture the experience you can rent a Go Pro camera mounted to your helmet, or use Google glasses to film yourself in action. Unlike other zip lines, this is one long uninterrupted line and you do not operate it using a hand break, the system has a built in breaking system so all you have to do is enjoy the ride, and that makes it so much better than worrying about stopping yourself, especially for first timers.
If flying above forests is too daunting then a visit to the blandly named Big Trees State Park is your counterpoint to the rush of zip lines; a sedate and stunning collection of giant sequoias reaching heights of 325 feet with diameters of 33 feet. Back in 1852 no one believed Augustus T. Dowd when he described massive trees he had found while tracking a wounded grizzly bear. Today giant sequoias are the largest trees on earth living for more than 2,000 years, and the North Grove of the park is populated with 150 of them. Stretched out across a 1 3/4 mile loop the hard packed path with minimal elevation gain is quite suitable for a baby stroller, even a wheelchair. 
Populated with a mix of ponderosa pines, sugar pines, incense cedars, white fir and pacific dogwoods this forest is stunning; the sequoias so colossal you crane your neck constantly to take them in. There are 26 specific sequoias along the path, notable for their size, shape, age and even one you used to be able to drive through. Aside from the vocal strains of other people in the forest, the deep rustle of the wind in the treetops hundreds of feet above you is magical. More and more as developments and cities consume our time, a visit to a place like this reminds of of our mortality and our proper place in the world.




Creature Comforts
Of course you need someplace to stay and I highly recommend Saddle Creek Resort. Yes it is a golf destination. No, you don’t need to golf to stay there. Designed by Carter Morrish and located in compact Copperopolis the resort offers lodging for golfers, but little known is that non-golfers can stay here too; a counterpoint to the standard motels and quaint but pricy B&Bs nearby. Several bungalows offer terrific value if you're staying in the region for several days as there is a full kitchen, two bedrooms and two bath options, a large living area with fireplace and a patio in which to soak up the sedate and wide open visuals of the golf course. 
Their on-site restaurant, Copper Grille, offers a Friday and Saturday dinner menu which changes weekly, which might include lobster risotto, prime rib, Dover sole stuffed with crab. They offer lunch and breakfast daily and I loved staying here. It’s a short drive to Angels Camp and Murphys and yes you can stay in these places too, but I find that Saddle Creek Resort is worth looking into if you’d prefer a home over a hotel. The Sierra Foothills in included in my Moon Travel Guide, CaliforniaWine Country, with lots more info!

3.09.2015

The Right Stuff: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House Blooms Again


“Turn the world on its side and everything loose will end up in Los Angeles.” ~Frank Lloyd Wright.

As you stand at the entrance to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House located in Barnsdall Art Park, the Hollywood sign and Griffith Observatory peer down from the hills. They are iconic images of the City of Angels, but so too is Wright’s recently restored residential masterwork. After $4.4 million spent over six years, Hollyhock House, the only Frank Lloyd Wright property you can visit in Los Angeles, is once again open to the public.

Though many people would prefer it not be known (including Bill Maher, and probably Wright himself) the house was used in the 1989 film, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death in which Maher starred alongside Shannon Tweed. The exterior suggests a Mayan temple (we assume that might reference the “avocado jungle” but we’re not sure) and though film shoots are no longer allowed, this ‘house-museum’ has garnered respect not only for its renovation and imperious design, but Hollyhock is now on a tentative list of the first modern architecture nominations from the United States as a UNESCO world heritage site - and since there are fewer that 25 UNESCO sites in the entire U.S., that’s a pretty damn big deal.


A UNESCO nomination would absolutely bring validation to Los Angeles, which constantly fights against perceptions it is a cultural wasteland. “We’re not as Philistine as we’re made out to be,” Jeffery Herr curator for Hollyhock House tells me. Wright’s initial concept included a residence for owner Aline Barnsdall, a theater, a director’s house, dormitory for actors, studios for artists, shops and a motion picture theater. Most of that never materialized, but the residence stands as a promise of what might have been. Barnsdall, a Pennsylvania oil heiress, wanted to produce theater in her own venue and she purchased a 36-acre site known as Olive Hill in 1919, and commissioned Wright to build a theater where she could produce avant-garde plays. “The house is unconventional, built for an unconventional client,” says Herr, who toured me through the house on opening day. “It’s disorienting and at the same time it mystifies people,” he surmised. A long rectangular tunnel leads you up to the formidable cast concrete doors, which are not at all welcoming. To your left is a small triangular metal plate, a tiny doorbell dead center. It seems completely out of place given the cold imposing concrete structure. But like much of Hollyhock, it is indicative of the playful use of volume and scale that Wright seemed to find amusing. The hollyhock flower was Barnsdall’s favorite so Wright crafted an abstract symmetrical block version of the flower used throughout the exterior and interiors including furnishings. The cool thing is that the renovation also planted hollyhocks, which were in bloom the day I visited. It’s no secret that Barnsdall herself barely lived in the house and when visiting L.A. she most often stayed at the Biltmore rather then her one-off Mayan temple. Yes, she fired Wright because of cost overruns; yes, he was difficult - a childish genius of whom you forgave his faults because he exuded copious inspiration and creativity.
 
The stylized hollyhock motif is used throughout the property
But restoring an iconic house from a nearly mythic architect isn’t easy. The restoration was like “detective work,” Herr says. He had to rely on mangled, faded architectural blueprints and old photos as clues to what Wright had originally envisioned. The recently completed restoration allows visitors to experience the house in much of its original handcrafted elegance. Floors, windows, doors, decorative molding, and long-forgotten paint colors have been recreated. Gone are the sliding glass doors leading away from the living room, which were erroneously installed during the 1970s renovation, something that Wright would have abhorred, and frankly speaking, so too would I. In its place are the correct wood accordion-folding doors, which add an angled depth and historical accuracy. Even exposed screw heads reflect the original work in spite of their seemingly unfinished state. Water intrusion has always been one of the hallmarks of Wright’s design failures. In this case the hollow clay tiles covered with stucco that formed the building blocks were not the issue (unlike the Pasadena Millard House), nor Hollyhock’s flat roof; no, it was 90 years of clogged drains both inside and outside the home that proved to be the culprit. Water goes where it will and if a drain is clogged, water will nonetheless find the lowest point it can.
 
The dining room
Architectural failings aside, the house is a wonder of design, space, light and shadow, and Art Deco imagery. The bas-relief fireplace made of cast concrete blocks is the central unifying image, one that can’t be ignored, though Wright never interpreted its meaning. “It’s a theatrical statement,” Herr told me, a modernist landscape commanding the living area. Flanked by oak sofas with verdant green pillows designed to take in the stage, and a three foot pool at the foot of the fireplace with a skylight above, it ties in the classic and spiritual four elements: earth, water, fire and air. Yes, Wright designed all the furniture and you notice the library, living and dining areas are comprised of very precise angles on his designs including the chairs. Having sat in several of Wright’s original chairs, I can personally tell you they were never designed for comfort, but were set pieces for the theatre of any Wright home: cool looking but not comfy.

It used to be that tours were lead by docents but Herr has abandoned that formula in favor of “self guided” - allowing people to spend as much time as they want ambling about the home. Docents are on hand to answer questions and each room has handheld notes, almost like a theatre program, that give the specifics of each room. But the advantage of allowing people time to meander though Hollyhock is that there truly is a sense of discovery. Perhaps someday the remaining 60% of the house that is still unseen and unrestored might get its due. For now one of the most creative West Coast residences is finally accessible in which to bask in the revelation that is Frank Lloyd Wright. WATCH very cool drone video courtesy of HOUZZ.

“Walk Wright In” tours run Thursday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Last admission is 3:15 p.m. Cost: $7 for adults, $3 for students and seniors. There is free parking. www.barnsdall.org

(NOTE: The original version of this article first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, March 2015)


10.13.2014

Sweet on the Pearl


Re-Vitalise: The Pearl District in downtown Portland, Oregon is one of those success stories of urban renewal. Originally mapped in 1869 and built with small houses for “blue collar” workers, it morphed into warehouses and industrial buildings and eventually deteriorated to the point where it was avoided at all costs. But all urban centers are part of the ebb and flow of good times, bad times, revitalization and decay. The Pearl has reinvented itself so that now it’s a trendy, hip, pedestrian, fashionable, de jour, funky – whatever you want to call it. And regardless, it’s a positive thing.

Lovejoy Bakery
Every neighborhood needs a bakery (pun intended) and Lovejoy first opened in 2010 and now has two locations including a corner spot in the Pearl. Diversity is the key as they bake 25 daily breads and rolls including golden raisin pecan, potato bread, vollkornbrot, and an egg challah braid. There's an industrial feel to the place with concrete floors, open ductwork and communal tables but of course the best digs are the outside tables that hug the perimeter. There are lots of animated conversations over a cup of tea, coffee and a scone; or a cookie like Snickerdoodles, their chewy and moist ginger molasses, and their chocolate crinkle. Cakes and pastries like chocolate passion mousse tarts, and Opera cakes to cheesecakes and macaroons are here too. They do lunches and breakfasts as well. Why Lovejoy works is that with their large diversity of foods, they do it consistenlyt and they do it well, not to mention it’s a great social hub.

Cool Moon Ice Cream
We may all scream, but it doesn’t mean we get the best ice cream. The first official account of ice cream in America was in a letter written in 1744 in Maryland. The first advertisement for ice cream in the U.S. appeared in the New York Gazette in May 1777, but it’s believed that ice cream has been around much longer, however it’s also believed that early iterations were simply juice was poured over ice, not the ice cream we know today. So when Cool Moon opened in 2007 they kicked it up several notches. With flavors like the tasty peanut butter and jelly kulfi with whole peanuts loaded in, to the coffee crackle pumpkin, buttermilk Marion berry which is mild with definite buttermilk and mellow bright berry flavors, to lemon lavender, you’ll find something you want. It's small inside, and in the blink of an eye it gets packed, like their quarts. They offer a 5% discount for cash purchases (we like this) and right across the street is Jaimeson Park a small part grass, part water feature park filled with kids playing in the low waterfalls, the perfect spot to eat said ice cream. Their ingredients are clean and pure resulting in terrific ice cream.

Sugar Mama’s
I am a fan of Sugar Mama’s for the best cinnamon rolls, though they are not technically located in the Pearl (less than a mile away). But no matter, these are killer cinnamon rolls, all mostly soft and gooey with a few crisp edges. Though large and slathered with icing they strike a balance between sweet (but not overwhelmingly sweet), a wee bit of savory with just the right balance of cinnamon. And the ingredients are the real deal, not substitute flavorings or manufactured ingredients and this is evident in the taste. Sure they serve decent breakfasts and lunch too, but come for the rolls. Clearly if I lived in Portland I’d have a problem with self-control.

The Pearl has plenty of restaurants, bars, brewpubs and is just a 40-minute drive into the Columbia River Gorge and a handful of terrific wineries on both the Oregon and Washington sides of this stunningly beautiful river. Over 90 waterfalls are here including the iconic Multnomah Falls (read about the waterfalls here), white water rafting, stand-up paddle boarding, mountain biking, wind surfing, and the list goes on. Portland is one of those classic American cities, which offers everything within close proximity so you can be urban and then quickly lost in scenic beauty with lightening speed…and give in to your sweet tooth. Watch my brief Oregon Wine County video, and my Gorge Waterfalls video as well.
READ MORE at Exploracation with a post of Southern Oregon Wine Country

9.30.2014

Photograph Nature? Prepare to Face a Fine-Time To Fight Back!


The federal government, specifically the U.S. Forest Service, is seeking to change language in their rules which will allow them to penalize people who take photographs/still images and/or video images on federal wilderness areas, meaning they, actually YOU, will need to pay a fee in order to take a picture. I am a travel writer and photographer. My not so edited reaction is WTF?

Many unwitting people are suggesting that this is not the directive of the government. Well, I have read the directive and I can tell you what is uniformly true of any government document: it is vague and open to interpretation. My official and edited response during this public comment phase is listed below. The Forest Service Handbook, states that only commercial filming activities require a use permit when specifically, “that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets, or props … when created for the purpose of generating income.” Here’s the newsflash for the federal government – any travel book, article, collection of photographs, etc. is done by a writer or photographer for the purpose of generating income – by it’s very definition that is our job. That this directive is so poorly written and could easily be punitive is disturbing. I encourage everyone to add their public comment HERE and make sure you include that your comment relates to “Commercial Filming in Wilderness, Interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1” You have until November 3rd, 2014. Click the GREEN button at the upper right labeled "Submit a Formal Comment." Otherwise images that I took, included below may not be seen much anymore.


In Re: Commercial Filming in Wilderness: “The Forest Service proposes to incorporate interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40 to make permanent guidance for the evaluation of proposals for still photography and commercial filming on National Forest System Lands.”

I am compelled to respond to the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed action to charge photographers and writers for images taken in the 36 million acres of federal wilderness areas across the U.S.

As President Theodore Roosevelt wrote “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” And I heartily concur. As a travel writer with six travel books, many of which include listings of state, local and regional parks and wilderness areas, not to mention dozens of travel articles that feature these areas, it is an important part of my job to document and photograph what are the compelling reasons for guests to visit these areas. According to your proposed legislation, Interim Directive FSH 2709.11, chapter 40, section 45.51b, “It will provide guidelines for accepting and denying still photography and commercial filming applications in congressionally designated wilderness areas.”

Whether you understand it or not, people are visual creatures, and as such the primary goal of an article or book is to draw visitors to wilderness areas based on images more so than actual text. I have happily supported and promoted federally protected lands all of my life. My goal as a writer and photographer is to get people interested in these places and if that means it's a photograph of a stunning vista, then that is the hook. Writers like me do not make a lot of money. Yes we sell books, articles, we write blog posts, and write for websites but that does not mean we are given remuneration such that it would cover a $1,500 fee to photograph nature areas. Any attempt by the federal government to mandate that we should sign a waiver and pay an upfront fee, or be denied a permit and/or fined for doing our job, will result in catastrophic consequences for the Forest Service. As President Theodore Roosevelt wrote, “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.” Travel writers like me never mar the landscape, never harm these areas because we have such inherent respect for the natural beauty that makes America great. We only seek to fulfill Roosevelt’s admonition to preserve these areas for future generations.

Recently I was working on a nationally distributed travel book and a California wilderness area demanded that I pay an upfront fee to photograph part of it. I explained that I did not have the financial resources to cover the fee and that it was to their advantage to allow me to photograph the place, and thus promote the area, bringing in revenue. They did not relent. Therefore, I cut them out of my book entirely. That is a sad commentary specifically for the number of tourists who could have visited. But to demand money from photographers, writers and editors is a lunatic piece of legislation, which will backfire in the long run. I for one, and other travel writers like myself, will not tolerate in any way shape or form this kind of, what amounts to, extortion. We support, promote and encourage travel to federal lands, but we will not be coerced into paying a fee because the government cannot manage its own resources – and it seems clear this is what this directive is about - money, or your lack of it. We are all aware of budget cuts, which are affecting our parks and wilderness areas. But there are other ways to increase revenue rather than single out a specific segment of the population (writers and photographers), which amounts to discrimination. If this legislation goes through, I will see it as my duty and obligation as a writer to corral my travel writer colleagues around the globe, not just the U.S., to boycott Forest Service lands. Do not assume a small group of travel writers does not have much of an impact, we do. Persistence of forcing a fee onto the back of writers clearly shows that you cannot see the forest for the trees.