Travel writer Tim Cahill will visit Steamboat for the Sept. 13 Literary Sojourn
September 4, 2003
Tim Cahill was sitting in the Owl, “a small bar in a small town in Montana.”
As he settled on his bar stool, a war correspondent named Thomas Goltz, also known as Tommy the Turk, walked through the door.
“I’ve got a quest for you, Doctor,” Goltz said.
Tommy the Turk pulled out an article from the London Sunday Express about the Caspian tiger. The tiger is considered extinct, but hunters in Southeast Turkey say they have seen it.
“We toasted Tommy’s safe arrival back in Montana and discussed the idea of searching for the ghost tiger. As I recall, this involved many toasts. The next morning, I woke up with some fuzzy recollection about an agreement to go to Turkey. … Was that a good idea? Would we get shot at? And what the hell do I know about tigers?”
Thus began the story “The Search for the Caspian Tiger,” a chapter in Cahill’s latest book, titled “Hold the Enlightenment.”
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Cahill is proud of that beginning. He knows the reader is hooked.
“(The reader is) interested in the question I’ve asked — is there a live Caspian tiger out there?” Cahill said. “The reader has already seen that I will be searching for the Caspian tiger, and I will be doing it with someone who is dangerous.
“There is a tale to be told, and I have implicitly promised a lot of dangerous situations.”
Give it to them in the lead, he said.
“You’ve got to capture them, make them want to find out what happened. I talk to so many people who say they will never get published because their archaeological or political opinions are too this or too that, but it’s not true. They won’t publish you because you don’t write well.”
Cahill has been writing adventure travel stories for 20 years. He has visited more than 100 countries — destinations such as Mongolia, right after the fall of the USSR, the North Pole and many, many trips to Honduras.
He has published eight books of his adventures and is a freelance writer for National Geographic Adventure and Men’s Journal and is a founding editor of Outside magazine. Cahill also co-wrote the Everest Imax film.
If it is there to be done, Cahill has done it or is willing to try, all for the sake of writing it down.
“I travel so that I can write,” he said. “Writing is the reason that I travel. There is so much to write about.
“I suppose I have an extremely low threshold of boredom. I like to be out there meeting different people and exploring an infinite variety of things.”
In “Professor Cahill’s Travel 101” from “Hold the Enlightenment,” Cahill gives his 20 rules for life on the road.
Rule 1: Avoid psychotic travel companions. Rule 2: Have a quest. Rule 3: Exercise ordinary caution. Rule 4: You are the protagonist.
Rule 5: “Boredom greases the cogs in the machinery of marvels.”
What does that mean?
“What a lot of people don’t understand is a great deal of what you are going to experience while traveling is boredom — waits for trains, endless waits for bureaucrats. If you can’t take the boredom, you will never experience the marvels.”
Despite decades of travel, Cahill always returns to the same
He settled in Livingston, Mont., after discovering that his career choice allowed him the freedom to live wherever he wanted.
“I live in Montana because it is the American West personified. It’s the high plains with lots of animals, fresh running water. I live here because it’s the finest place on Earth to live.”
Cahill has never been to Steamboat Springs. His visit for next weekend’s Literary Sojourn will be his first time to the area.