The year is shaping up nicely, with my first guidebook assignment set to begin in a month – and it’s a doozy: New England, USA.
It’s been a long time since I’ve worked on a US title for Lonely Planet – in fact, it was in 2001, when I covered Houston and the Gulf Coast (from the Louisiana border south to the Mexico border) for the Texas guide. That was one of my very earliest guidebook-authoring jobs, and an unlikely gig – I stepped in late in the piece to fill in for a colleague whose circumstances had changed. It was a fun, enlightening trip: rodeos, barbecue, country music, Galveston, NASA’s headquarters, and plenty of big-hearted Texans. I loved it.
And now I’m returning to the US, and covering two regions in the country’s northeast: Cape Cod (including the islands of Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard) and Maine. The first region in particular is very dear to my heart (the second looks set to tug at my heartstrings, thanks to its pristine coastline and famous lobster shacks).
In the late 1990s, I spent six months working at an inn on Nantucket, and I fell under the island’s spell: its lighthouses, windswept beaches, fabulous cycling lanes, cranberry bogs, boat-filled harbours, handsome grey-shingled homes set in pretty gardens. I worked on a team of 10 staff (from Australia, New Zealand and England) who helped run three inns, cleaning rooms, serving breakfasts, greeting guests.
My best friend and I had been living in London, coming to the end of our two-year working holiday visas, but we knew we weren’t quite ready to return to Melbourne. We saw a small ad in one of the ubiquitous traveller mags, advertising summer positions at hotels on a yachting island in the US. We applied, we got job offers, we headed to Boston and on to Cape Cod.
I can’t wait to return and get all nostalgic, and to dose up on fresh seafood, tony resorts, fine literary connections and authentic American hospitality. Stay tuned.