I was born on June 7, 1952 in Easton, Pennsylvania, because there was no hospital in Phillipsburg, New Jersey.
After graduating from Phillipsburg High School I attended Villanova University, returning home for the summers to work on the free
bridges over the Delaware River (from Belvedere to Frenchtown). My last summer of college I flew to England and found work in a London
food hall selling Bath buns and scones.
With my BA in English I moved to Washington, DC, and got a job editing engineering reports for the Department of the Navy. In my free time I learned to type and play tennis. In the fall of 1975, thinking I wanted to be a travel writer, I sailed on the Queen Elizabeth 2 to France, where I spent the winter studying French in Aix-en-Provence and the summer working on a farm in Kutzenhausen, Alsace. In London to catch my ship home - I had booked passage on the Mikhail Lermontov - I met a young Polish woman named Hania.
Back in New Jersey, with my farm experience, I landed a job as a feature writer for the Trenton Times. After a year and a half I quit and moved to Warsaw, where, with my newspaper experience, I found a job teaching English. When my six-month visa was about to expire I went for an interview to request an extension and was asked to become an informer. I declined (didn't feel I had the experience) and three days later left the country on a train bound for Budapest. I kept going south until I reached Greece, where I eventually found a job teaching English to children in the northern city of Arta.
I returned to Poland in the fall of 1980, a few weeks after the start of the Solidarity movement, and regained my job at the English Language College. In October, Hania and I were married in Warsaw's Old Town. I taught, freelanced, and kept a diary which expanded with the imposition of martial law at the end of 1981. In August of the following year I walked on the pilgrimage to Czestochowa, and in October sailed home on the Stefan Batory.
When Hania joined me a few months later we moved to Philadelphia, where I worked as a feature writer for the Observer, a publication of the American College of Physicians. In my spare time, I wrote about Poland. In 1987 I got a job as an editorial writer for the Providence Journal in Rhode Island. Two years later the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale hired me as the travel editor.
In 1991 my first book - Unquiet Days: At Home in Poland - was published by Ticknor & Fields. My second book - A Way to See the World: From Texas to Transylvania with a Maverick Traveler - was published in 2003 by The Lyons Press. (The subtitle was the publisher's idea, years before the word maverick would become a political joke.) Unquiet Days was translated and published in Poland in 2006.
In July 2008 I was laid off from the Sun-Sentinel and became a full-time writer. I moved from a job that people thought of as a vacation to a freelance career that many see as a retirement. Hania and I still live in Fort Lauderdale, in a condo on the New River which feeds my love of rivers and - when the Jungle Queen passes - my love of ships.