After graduating in the top 80% of the class of 1975 from Catalina High School in Tucson, Arizona, I worked as fry-vat lid opener at Kentucky Fried Chicken, steel bender at A&J Sheet Metal, and deconstructionist at Cro-Magnon Demolition. I later attended the University of Arizona, which eventually granted me a degree in botany. I still live in Tucson. Judging from how I spend my waking hours, nowadays I'm mostly the father of Rosita (aged 14) and Rudy (17), husband of Sonya (52), and keeper of a red brick house (65). I'm afraid I'm not a very good botanist, largely because I lack the quick and ready recall of Latin names. Still, there's work enough, and since 2009 I've worked as a research scientist at the University of Arizona, making vegetation maps of the places nobody else wants to go: the big dry wastelands along the Arizona/Mexico frontier. For a long time my writing was more compulsion than job, meaning that I made little money from venues like The Tucson Weekly. Then I got lucky and landed gigs with Discovery Channel Online and Natural History magazine, who sent me all over the place: Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, the Atacama Desert in Chile, carnivorous flies in Panama, and Three Gorges Dam in China. When prompted by Discovery to invent a yearly travel piece, I naturally aimed for the desert. The result was a series of trips over six years, each a bicycle tour to the lowest point on each continent. The bike would be a gimmick if not for my fondness for camping and solitude. The low points are merely a destination, a pleasure to behold after a thousand miles on the road. My story is in the movement, and it's told in my travelogue, Into Thick Air.