Today, Norm Goldman, editor of Sketchandtravel.com and Bookpleasures.com is
pleased to have as our guest, Tom Watson, author and freelancer
Tom is the author of: 60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Twin Cities: and Best in Camping Tents: Minnesota: (both published by Menasha Ridge Publishing)
Tom is also the author of How to Think Like a Survivor: A Guide to Wilderness Emergencies (in the summer of & # 39; 05, published by Creative Publishing, International)
Good morning Tom and thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview.
When did your passion for hiking and camping begin and what kept you going?
Good morning to you and thanks for this opportunity. My father was handsome
Active outdoors. After leaving the Navy, he opened a hobby shop that
carried many sporting goods. I was able as a boy growing up in the east
Missouri, a chance to try all kinds of equipment – baits, rifles, bows
and arrows. Also, as my father liked to camp, we took advantage of the
myriads of places in Missouri for the early camp. My cousins lived there too,
and they were avid campers too. So since I was about seven, I spent a
most of the summers outdoors.
When I was thinking about college – in the late 1960s, my parents were
divorced and I lived with my mother during the school years. I wanted
to maintain some outdoor exposure so I decided to go into forestry in the
University of Minnesota, St. Louis Paul campus. All these factors and my
the growing love for the natural sciences still keeps me going today.
As many of our readers are interested in romantic getaways, you could
Do you describe eight of Minnesota's most romantic and unique camping areas?
Why are they romantic?
This requires my interpretation of "romantic" and "single"
campsites. I am primarily a primitive camper, minimal facilities, minimal facilities
For me, a romantic site is private, remote and in a better way than
Medium scenery or natural attractions.
Based on this, I was able to list almost all campsites in the BWCA Desert as well as the Voyageurs National Park – most of which are accessible only by water. With regard to drive-up sites and those with a little walk-in access (my favorites), I need to list the following:
* Lake Maria State Park – secluded locations scattered along a hill under
a canopy full of oaks and maples – fabulous fall colors! Great hiking trail,
* Great River Bluffs State Park – This part overlooks the Mississippi River
offering these amazing views. The lookouts are at the end of the short
trails through a dense, very peaceful history of maples and the views
are breathtaking – some with very romantic perches in which you and one
A significant other can sit comfortably for hours.
* Lake Elmo Regional Park Reserve. It's so close to downtown Paul yet
It offers remote and affordable campsites and several miles of cross-country trails.
The campsites are along a corridor about 100 m from the parking lot.
area and each one is set in deep foliage, so the level of privacy is quite
also good. These are basic sites without many amenities around. These
They are good sites for relaxing or taking various walks.
* Crescent Lake Campground – This is outside the BWCA area in the
Superior National Forest. It's the best camp I've ever seen –
based on my tastes. Each site is on a hill or cut deep
woods for very private and serene environments.
* Split Rock Lighthouse State Park – One of the few really good campsites in
North Shore of Lake Superior only if not as well defined as
the others are. There are locations that extend for about ½ miles along
the rocky shore of the lake, each separated by a birch forest. O
sounds of water against the shore, breeze in the trees and the sea
the freshness of the area combines to make a very relaxing camp
* Crosby-Manitou State Park – Like Lake Maria, this is just a backpacker
park. The sites are situated along the rocky banks of the river, many
walking distance to jagged waterfalls and thundering waterfalls.
* Very romantic in a Grizzly Adams way, like most of them.
Voyageurs National Park Kabetogama Lake Region – I couldn't resist
offering campgrounds scattered throughout the southern region of the park.
Many are unique campsites on small rocky islands – no chance of
invasion by other campers! They are all accessible by water, but what is it?
more romantic than a boat going out to a private campsite surrounded by a
Many campgrounds in Minnesota state forests – Granted some
these are popular with knights, ORVs and fishermen, but if
you can find one that isn't being used you can have the whole forest to yourself
with trails and rivers and lakes in abundance. These offer very few
amenities but if you are independent and interested in dating the day
Outside, you will not need any extra.
Would you recommend honeymooners or couples looking for a single
Romantic adventure they try to camp, and if so, why?
From my perspective, if a guy can find a woman who really likes camping
(not parking a large trailer on a flat lawn and driveway), so it doesn't matter
Where are you going. However, I think I really understand a person you need to see
how self-confident they can be. I think camping brings this and separates
those who need things and those who can survive without complaint. Get
those below right and the rest will be easy. Find the right camp
The partner can be the springboard for many other successful interactions.
Has there been any change in the camp's popularity in the last thirty
years, and if so, why?
There was definitely a change in the definition. It's amazing how
Many RV parks with concrete slats and broom trees are listed as
"camps". There are fewer and fewer places to actually launch a
tent in a primitive "camp" setting.
Our wealthy society allows us to buy larger units more, but perhaps it is more that as we get older we still enjoy the outdoors and "assisted camping" units help people to do so.
I think the swings in the economy also affect the camp. Instead of long,
thousand-mile trips for a week, families are making shorter weekend trips
and let's go camping instead of spending more money on hosting and extras
gas. Overall, I think camping is generally a bit more popular.
What does travel mean to you?
Traveling means traveling at least 80 km for business or pleasure.
"Traveling" as a hobby or activity, of course, conjures up images of new,
exciting or relaxing destinations. I am a naturalist, so "traveling" means
seeing and experiencing new environments, new flora and fauna, as well as new
cultures and lifestyles – that's why "traveling" is such a good education
How do you have ideas for what you write? What methods do you use to
concretize your idea to determine if it is salable?
I try to see what's covered in current magazines to see if I have
experienced some new areas that are timely and can be written
informative and fun way. I love photography and usually not always
consider a story, unless I know I have good photo support. That is
Also a good selling tool for publishers. Otherwise, I look at the features in
Internet, newsroom groups, etc. that will list topics of interest or announce
opportunities. Menasha Ridge already had a good base for hiking books, but
I needed one from Minneapolis. It was where I lived, so there was a chance of
make a guide in my own backyard. Once you have a "feel" for
magazine, you begin to anticipate what may be sold by them.
What challenges or obstacles did you encounter while writing your books? How
Did you overcome these challenges?
Frankly, the biggest challenge is always if I could cover the state or
topic completely given the budget (what I would pay for it and the expenses
I would have to do so) to find appropriate information as soon as
started, and most importantly, that someone would care enough to want to read
about this. When I started the camping book, I didn't know which ones I could
use and which one would not measure. Sometimes I drove for two hours
just to find out that there really wasn't a campsite you'd like to recommend or
this fits your criteria.
Minnesota is a state large enough that one weekend to cover the area I was researching I put 1100 miles in my car – and it was out of my pocket. You overcome obstacles by deciding that you will complete the task and become more experienced in ways to optimize travel and budget during the research part.
How did you use the Internet to boost your writing career?
80% of my writing opportunities start on the Internet. I belong to
the OWAA (Association of Outdoor Writers of America). Their website offers
Monthly updates from publishers looking for specific topics. Other sites do the
I also use the Internet to check facts or to learn more about
something new and check what was posted in the type of
magazine I usually write for (kayaking, camping, outdoor gear,
tourist destinations, etc.).
Who are your favorite authors and why do they inspire you?
As a child, Jules Verne always piqued my imagination and Sam Clemens
rekindled the kind of feelings that I had grown in Missouri (at the same time
I must add). I really enjoyed Edgar Allen Poe's macabre and
Robert Frost's poetry, very popular writers – but they all
allowed my imagination to complement theirs.
Unfortunately I don't read as much as I should, so the authors not only
in the conversation. I write a lot, creating my own things. If I had to
choose an author I really enjoyed reading recently it would have to be
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Your Collection of Short Stories Is Wonderfully
imaginative and a bit "weird".
I always liked Ray Bradbury and the amazing group of writers from Twilight Zone. This is totally different from the type of writing I am writing now. Guide books and magazine articles. Fiction is a much harder and higher level than I hope to aspire to one day.
As there does not seem to be any authoritarian pattern that exists to
guide authors or editors, as you know a guide is available
pair? How do you confer authorial competence?
For me there are two types of "guide books": those that are basically a
compilation of data, sometimes intelligently organized to look new and
different, but basically a collection of lists on the Internet.
Other books are opinion articles that use a specific activity or skill and the
the author's breadth of knowledge to know what is important, etc.
the author must first reveal himself, offer a profile so the reader can
say, "yes, I identify with this person, so what they like I probably
to like ".
In that sense, I approach what I would consider a good
Nice campground or trail. I tell the reader right away that I'm a
photographer and naturalist so i'll stop and smell the roses or take a
image, even on the seemingly more mundane trails. I also offer a
historical perspective – most publishers want you to qualify
I grew up in Minnesota mostly (except the summers we spent
Missouri) and worked in the Boy Scouts. I spent a lot of time
outdoors, on trails, hiking and such. I had a sense about these books before
I started my research. Another big factor, frankly, is that this is a
business, pleasant, but a business. Unless you produce a product
People will buy, you will not be in the business of writing for long. It's at
least a work hobby and as such requires some discipline and taxation
How do you blend your photojournalism with your travel writing?
People like to imagine themselves in a photo. "I wish it were me
paddling that kayak in Alaska! "A good photo attracts a reader to the story-
Let's see what you are talking about.
Sometimes an editor restricts the number of words they want so much. A good photo can convey the information you need with very few words. I am proud to be a good
photographer and I know a lot of stories were sold because there were good ones
sharp and colorful supportive photography offered with writing. Photos too
help me recover areas without making many notes.
I spent a whole month in Peru and recorded probably 30 rolls of film. I used about 8 pages of a diary – most identifying some of the subjects in the photos I took. I will go then
go back and review the photos to see how many I could offer for a variety of
different story ideas. Sometimes these images get ahead
cover – a good bonus!
What comes next for Tom Watson?
I really want to follow some Roald-style fiction writings
Dahl, or some of the writers, camped out for the old Twilight Zone series.
As for magazines and guides, I will continue to regard them as those
Opportunities appear. It's a good income and allows me to share some
Exciting adventures with those eager to do the same. Thank you for allowing me
to share this with you.
Thanks again Tom and good luck with all your future endeavors.