Josh Black in the Wild E.1

Josh Black
9 min readAug 17, 2023

Episode One

Somewhere Central California Coast — original photo J. Black

Welcome to episode 2. Here’s the quick guide to what’s in the newsletter:

I. Introduction by Josh

II. ICYMI (Ep. 1) — quick review of last episode

III. Road trip playlist — summer songs for the road

IV. Travel planning — a brief look at travel by rail + an activity booking site

V. Travel tips — clothing, through a sustainable lens

VI. Trivia — answer to last week’s question, plus a new travel trivia question

VII. Travel quote — words to be inspired by

VIII. Travel deals — 3 travel deals

IX. Next episode — preview of JB in the Wild Ep. 3

I. Introduction:

Hello from sunny Florida. It’s summertime. The weather is very different from my home state, California. I remember visiting family in Arizona and the Mojave in California often when I was growing up. This is a different kind of heat. Out west, the phrase, “bone dry” comes to mind. We on a rare occasion had the good fortune to catch a summer monsoon in the desert. The oppressive heat, a monotony.

In the middle of the night, the air temperature may not dip below 100˚ F/ 37.7˚ C. The winds only make it more intense, a blow dryer by mother nature. On the distant horizon a cloud tower slowly builds. The pillowy white changes to a dark gray. Static permeates the air, a whiff of ozone, lightning burns through the air, thunder rumbles across the desert, you can see the dark waters pouring from the cloud wall.

At first a hot breeze, soon becomes a steady cooler wind. The storm is moving fast. Within minutes, the rain showers quench the parched land. The clouds move on, dumping rain to the opposite horizon. The welcome damp air feels an elemental tonic. Good on the skin. Static air slowly dissipates.

Touch a piece of metal, beware the electric shock. When static is high, sometimes the zap arcs off metal, an invisible electrified touch. The pooled rain sieves into the sandy brown earth. The brief streams dry away, the air heats up all over again. It is an experience everyone needs to add to their travel bucket list, a summer desert monsoon.

In the semi-tropic Florida summer, it rains more days than not. It’s common for showers to pour down heavy for 5 minutes, then a few hours later another downpour. These brief rain cells cool the swampy heat for a short time, a welcome reprieve from the hot, heavy air.

The change in home base near two years ago is still sinking in. All in all, I enjoy the quieter summers in Florida, compared to the high tourist season in winter. That said, the winter weather here is about as perfect as it can be, 60˚ F/15.5˚ C to 80˚ F/26.6˚ C and lower humidity, less rain too.

The snowbirds and visitors from around the world are welcomed here with a classic southern charm. It’s a great place for digital nomads who appreciate the beach/coastal lifestyle. Not to mention the abundance of natural spaces to hike, paddle, sail, and dive. It’s a nature lovers paradise.

II. ICYMI — Episode 1

i. 3 travel bloggers who inspire

ii. 2 travel tips

iii. 1 road trip idea: A four-day California coastal road trip

iv. Trivia question

v. Travel quote — something to be inspired by

Here’s a link to Episode I:

III. Road trip playlist

Making playlists is a labor of love. Finding a set of disparate songs, making the music flow is a soft skill. A patchwork of rhythms, tempos, and vocals. Back in the day, putting together a cassette or CD playlist had finite boundaries. A 90 minute blank cassette offered two 45-minute sides to play with. Structuring a series of songs in two maxed out 45-minute sessions is a puzzle of sorts.

Hours going into scrutinizing one song by an artist that just has to represent on this playlist, finding that song that segues with ease. It’s an art and it’s fun. In my teens, I made a whole series titled, “Maximum Tuneage”. I don’t have any of the tapes. Years of moving, the spools of audio tape encased in a thin plastic box disappeared. I can still envision the handwritten labels. The song titles and artists carefully penned in the seriously small, lined spaces on the cassette j-card. The funny, descriptive name for the paper cards inserted to document the playlist.

Summer is full on. Students are back in school, it’s an excellent time for a road trip or get serious about planning one. Here’s a quick song set to queue up on your favorite streaming service or, if you have a classic ride, ready for dubbing on to a brown shiny ribbon in a rectangle case, AKA a cassette tape. This one is road ready for that next cruise down the highway of life.

original image J. Black | Made with Figma

SIDE ONE 44:24

1. Bob Marley/Could You Be Loved (3:53)

2. Beach Boys/Good Vibrations (3:39)

3. The Eagles/One of These Nights (4:51)

4. Dua Lipa/Levitating (3:50)

5. Sofia Valdes/Gems (3:19)

6. Phantogram/Fall in Love (3:48)

7. MGMT/Electric Feel (3:49)

8. The Academy Is/Almost There (3:06)

9. Juliana Theory/Constellation (6:34)

10. Hinds/New for You (4:04)

11. Nina Persson/Jungle (3:31)

original image J. Black | Made with Figma

SIDE TWO 43:47

1. O’Jays/Love Train (3:06)

2. Sly & the Family Stone/Hot Fun in the Summertime (2:39)

3. Grace Potter/Desire (3:00)

4. Kasey Musgraves/Golden Hour (3:20)

5. Chris Stapleton/Traveller (3:42)

6. Jack Johnson/Good People (3:28)

7. Stephen Malkmus/Church on White (3:20)

8. Weezer/Surfwax America (3:06)

9. Tommy Guerrero/Paper Switchblade (3:14)

10. BLO/Gonna Get Me a Better Head (4:32)

11. Toots & the Maytals/Pressure Drop (3:49)

12. Tim Maia/Ela Partiu (4:15)

13. The Ventures/Pipeline (2:20)

More playlists to come. Requests and suggestions welcomed!

IV. Travel planning

Travel Planning — This episode we look at two travel industry sectors that are in many instances an afterthought, particularly in the Americas. However, incorporating train travel into a vacation is a smart way to experience a lesser used transportation option.

When planning a trip, we pour hours into reviewing hotels and airfares. After all those two aspects are the most common. Once the flight is booked and hotel reservations are confirmed, then what? We need to eat. We likely want some form of entertainment or, cultural experience.

More travelers than ever are also booking tours before arriving to their vacation location. Spotlighting an emerging European company with rapid expansion into the American market. If you are going to Europe, they have plenty of interesting options. The brand identity is also growing in Africa and Asia.

Rail travel is popular in many locations. For most Americans, the thought of travel by rail is often met with a sneer. There are numerous agencies and railroad companies offering a wide variety of experiences, budget to luxury accommodations.

A spotlight on one travel provider, Railbookers:

Their platform is loaded with tour ideas for those who aren’t sure what to do when arriving in a foreign land. The company also publicizes sales often on their site. It can be sensory overload. There’s a virtual mountain of options to sift through. A quick look at packaged train trips can inspire someone who hasn’t considered rail travel before.

Here’s a quick look at what a couple itineraries might look like:

London, UK to Rome, IT | source:
A rail adventure through Vietnam | source:

There is a surge of travelers booking tours, and excursions in big cities and wild, natural surroundings. Maybe you have seen an ad for one of the companies, Viator. They have an abundance of private, group and themed adventures on offer domestic and abroad.

A European based competitor is making some in roads to the American market, Civitatis. A platform very easy to navigate, search interesting activities the staff curate just for their clients. What separates this Spanish company?

Their mission is to partner with tour operators who have an excellent track record, build a business partnership, in lieu of signing up volumes of tour operators. Their concept adheres to a, quality over quantity business model. Next time you are heading to New York City or Barcelona, compare Civitatis to your usual search process.

Here’s a couple screenshots demonstrating multiple search options, by list (with or without filters) and by map view (with or without filters) desktop Civitatis experience:

Civitatis screen capture August 2023
Civitatis screen capture August 2023

V. Travel tips — clothing, what to pack

A common question I read on travel chat boards or hear from clients revolves around what to wear. I hear tales of buying a pair of stylish shirts with hidden pockets or boots that were advertised as the most comfortable, until day four of the weeklong wilderness adventure. Maybe it was as simple fix as one more pair of socks. An easy oversight with all the tasks pre-travel.

There are a dizzying array of options and brands to choose from. An alternative route is shopping thrift shops or local consignment stores. Some great and affordable finds are out there. No candy coating it, it is potentially a lot of work.

Of the scores of brands touting ethical employment and earth friendly fabrics, few truly live up to that high and difficult goal. Most people know and adore Patagonia. Their brand identity is strong. Their commitment to environmental causes has been a core part of their identity for decades. Their brand is a culture, a rarity.

A brand I discovered whilst shopping for a new pair of durable pants I could wear hiking through European cities and the backwoods of a nameless trail a short drive from my front door. I learned about PrAna. A great product. A small brand with an emphasis on global stewardship that rivals any organization. I have so far owned two pair of their Zion Pant. Very comfortable, dries fast, and light weight making it a keeper when deciding what to pack for your next adventure. The garment maker also has a robust women’s line. Dresses, tops, bottoms, and outerwear. Read their “clothing for a positive change” (C4PC) to learn about the brand’s commitment to a more eco-conscious society.

NOTE: The author and/or JB in the Wild have not been compensated or influenced to write the above commentary. It is an unsolicited report.

VI. Trivia

Answer, last episode’s trivia question: Moscow, Russia

54% of the city is green/park space. The capital city of Russia, home to 12.9 million residents. Source:

Trivia Question:

What is the busiest airport in the world?

Tell us, what do you think it is?

Answer next episode.

VII. Travel quote

“Live your life by a compass, not a clock”

Stephen Covey

VIII. Travel deals

i. Arctic explorations in Greenland 50–25% discount

Bookings must be completed by August 21st (50% discount)

Bookings must be completed by September 27th (30% discount)

Additional 10% discount if paid in full at initial booking

ii. Small ship cruising Australia & New Zealand additional 3 nights + $600 onboard credit allowance

Bookings must be completed by September 6, 2023. Travel between October 27, 2023 through April 3, 2024. Select itineraries.

iii. Rocky mountain train itineraries — $780 — $1,000 discount

Multiple rail routes. Canadian Rockies and the Colorado Rockies

Book by August 31, 2023

— — —

Thank you for reading!

Ready to travel? Talk about travel? Dream up an epic trip?

Come visit us: Holiday Road Adventures.

We’d love an opportunity to help you make your next travel dreams come to life.

Find us online @

Dream. Plan. Go!

IX. Next Episode JB in the Wild E. 3:

Photo essay — Florida

Travel writing original essay

Notes from the road (ephemera — booklets)

More travel tips — sustainability

More travel deals

Answer to the trivia question + a new trivia question

More content, T.B.D.



Josh Black

writer, traveler, music lover, California native living in Florida.