I haven’t updated this blog in months, for three big reasons.

First, I was living life in person rather than behind my laptop screen, like on my recent Pacific sailing adventure. (Computers and water don’t mix.)

But second, and more honestly, I was suffering from a massive case of writer’s block. After my last post my inspiration evaporated. I felt I might not write about my travels again.

These led to a third reason. I began wondering, “Why am I doing this?” questioning what purpose(s) this site serves, if any.

I know I have many friends who enjoy following my travels, and I enjoy sharing with you! But for the effort required to update the site to my standards I had to find reasons to do it for me.

Thus commenced my existential investigation. “Why should I do this? WHY??” I asked, until I arrived at an answer that made me chuckle in its obviousness:

For any reason I want to.

Vanuatu, South Pacific
The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean, one day’s sail from Vanuatu (2018)

I contemplated what those reasons might be, how I might make my website work for me and my vision for my life as more than just a “thing to do.”

I’m delighted to say I came up with some answers…

which I’m not going to share. πŸ™‚

But the good news is that they’ve inspired me to invest myself in this site like I haven’t done so before.Β That required major renovations.

Thus I am pleased to debut today The Lost Pilgrim 2.0! This new version is the result of weeks’ worth of effort upgrading the site into something more alive, expansive, and vital; something that serves me.

I think I’ve succeeded.

PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BLOG

You might see a few big differences already, and I’ll highlight all of them in this post. If you like gritty details and commentary, please read on.

If you prefer to discover for yourself, go ahead! Take a test drive. I recommend starting here. This post will be waiting when you get back.

OK, let’s get into it.

UNDER THE HOOD

I started with site performance. Visiting a slow website is a drag, and working on one is worse. So I sped the site up with:

  • a new WordPress-only web host (Flywheel – recommended!)
  • page compression, so the content arrives faster over the Internet
  • caching improvements, so the site loads faster in your browser

And most excitingly, image optimization! All the images on the site have been reprocessed to produce smaller files – some up to 50% – with identical visual quality.

In other words, expect everything to look the same and load much quicker.

PHOTOGRAPHY

olgii_clouds
Clouds, sky, stone, and snow in the far reaches of Altai Tavan Bogd National Park, Western Mongolia (2017)

I’ve received such meaningful feedback from everyone about my photography. Thank you! I hear you, and have responded by moving my work front-and-center into my site with…

1. Faster site speed. Beautiful photos make big files. By shrinking those files and accelerating the site around them, the photos should be more enjoyable to view in a world where your time is at a premium.

2. A slick new lightbox. A “lightbox” showcases individual photos against a black background when you click on them. The new one I’ve chosen lets you share and download images, and features “Zoom” and “Full-screen” buttons to take a closer look. Click on the image above to give it a try.

3. A real Photography page. Finally! I painstakingly selected the best images from my collection and built two galleries that show them off. “Recent Work” will highlight my latest photos on an ongoing basis. “Archive Gallery” is a randomized collection of selects, some dating back 10 years. Please visit that page for more.

4. A new Instagram page. Through Instagram I share photos on-the-go and often write mini-entries with them. This makes Instagram an ideal way to keep up with my travels day-to-day. With this new page you can do so without needing an Instagram account. Just visit the Instagram page to see my latest updates.

Instagram Feed Logo

NAVIGATION

I always forgot to update those “Current Location” and “Current Book” fields. Sorry! I’ve chosen new headers that now highlight the most popular content with readers (“Top 4”) and some personal favorites (“Don’t Miss”).

Between them, a new drop-down menu (“Explore More”) lists the updated article categories that I’ll cover in the next section.

Finally, I refreshed the main menu bar with more specific page titles, and a re-order that reflects my priorities today. I’ll get to those in a minute, too.

CONTENT ORGANIZATION

mosque_courtyard
A mosque courtyard in Fez, Morocco (2015)

One post or page can’t contain the growing story of my travels, so making this site fun to explore is vital to communicate the bigger picture of my experiences. Whether visitors arrive from a blog post, my Instagram feed, or a re-shared photo, I want them (and you) to be able to find more engaging content in one click.

I had major work to do with that, starting with the main navigation menu. Now the core pages – Photography, Destinations, Sounds, About, and Contact –  have more interesting and specific titles.

Then I reorganized my blog content post by post, crafting a small handful of categories that intuitively link entries to each other. If you like one type of post, I’ve made it easier to find others just like it. (In other words, my posts aren’t all “Deeper Thoughts” anymore.)

The “Explore More” drop-down menu lists the categories along with their article count. Here they are if you’d like to “explore more”:

DESIGN & BRANDING

I updated the site coloring to shades of vibrant red instead of stark white, gray, and the occasional blue. It’s an unconventional choice for “travel,” but the colors communicate things I want to say.

I also updated the headline and body fonts with new typefaces. (Google Fonts’ Lato for headlines and Merriweather for body copy.) They’re evocative and modern while still being readable on screens of all sizes.

There are also other design and branding touches throughout the site I’ll let you discover on your own.

UPDATED CORE PAGES

Mea culpa, I never did any meaningful work on the site outside of the home page and blog entries. The Photos page read “Under Construction” for two years. The Travels page had an unusable map with a route that resembled a plate of spaghetti. I overloaded my DJ page with stale content.

It’s as if I had built a 4-bedroom house but was sleeping on a mattress in the master bedroom.

I’ve already discussed the “Photography” page and its updates. Here are the changes on the other core pages:

CORE PAGE: DESTINATIONS

travel_photo_map

The “Destinations” page now features a full-width interactive map that illustrates the 30 countries (and counting) that I’ve visited, without the back-and-forth clutter of how I got to them. Beneath the map I also added a gallery of my photos that lists the countries one-by-one.

Building the page I was struck by how much I’ve seen, and how much I have yet to see. The page also mirrored my photography back to me and helped me appreciate it in a way that I’m sure many of you do.

This forced me to question if I’m going to develop whatever photographic skills I have, or not, and why I might choose to do so?

(Bonus points if you can answer the last question.)

CORE PAGE: SOUNDS

will_dj_banner

When I left San Francisco, I naively believed that it would be easier to DJ overseas than it has been. I thought clubs in remote locales might welcome a seasoned out-of-town guest from a globally-renowned electronic music city, especially without needing to pay for his flight.

Sadly, I had forgotten two essential principles of the house music scene: scarcity and connections. There are more DJs in the world than hours for them to play, and if you want one of those hours you’d better know somebody.

Not an optimal scenario for the perpetual stranger in town.

Thus after 18 years DJ’ing has moved towards the back of my creative bus. Consequently, I needed to change the approach of my DJ page.

I still have music that I believe in and would love to share. I think dance music deserves a place on my site, as it will always have a place in my heart.

But what would I say if I were honest with myself about the place DJ’ing holds in my life today?

My updated “Sounds” page is the answer. It features my latest and greatest music, videos of me that I love, words of appreciation for that era of my life, and a gallery of photos and gig flyers that narrate my long and meaningful career.

I have areas in which I’m looking forward. I think it’s OK to have one looking back.

stargazex_play_pic
This photo came deep out of the archives, me playing for friends at Stargaze X. What a night. (2002)

CORE PAGE: ABOUT

When someone visits my site for the first time, they have a right to know something about who’s providing the content and why they should care.

With that in mind I rewrote the “About Me” page. In it I articulated my intentions for the site, what I hope it to be and do, and what I’m trying to say.

This turned out to be as descriptive for others as it was a valuable prescription for myself.

CORE PAGE: CONTACT

The most profound page on the site. The inspiration I found in its construction humbled me.

Just kidding. It’s only a “Contact Me” form, in case you want to get in touch.

(I can’t take the whole bloody project so seriously, can I?)

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE….

In addition to all these changes I have others in the works, including…

  • Google Analytics, so I know who you are and where you’re coming from (The all-seeing eye of Sauron sees all!)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so my posts and photos appear in Google, Bing, and other search sites
  • Big updates to the mailing list

And more!

The best way to keep up with all the latest developments is by subscribing. To do so, if you haven’t already, please enter your email address into the box below. I promise no spam, ever.

Subscribe for updates and more.

CONCLUSION

dune_desert_woman
A woman atop a dune in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia (2017)

β€œIf a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well. If it is worth having, it is worth waiting for. If it is worth attaining, it is worth fighting for. If it is worth experiencing, it is worth putting aside time for.”
– Oscar Wilde

I discovered this quote while writing this post. I love Oscar Wilde, and I agree with the truth he expresses here. I try to live by similar principles in everything I do.

My own website is no exception. I’m not the sort of man to permit it to roll along as a half-cooked distraction; better to let it go entirely.

Fortunately, in my teleological search for this site’s purpose I saw that it was very much worth doing and therefore worth doing well, both for others, including you reading this, and for me.

Because I am one of a vanishingly small cohort of people throughout all of history who have the opportunity to explore the planet.

If there is one grand theme to the changes I’ve made to the site, big and small, visible and not, and one aim that unites them, it’s to make The Lost Pilgrim a wider and more transparent window into that planet and to the man exploring it.

Sailing off the coast of Vanuatu (2018)
Me sailing off the coast of Vanuatu. July 2018

I’d love to know what you think of my new site! Got questions, comments, or compliments? Did I miss something? How’s the speed? Are there features you’d like to see in the future?

Drop a note in the comments below! Or message me on my Contact page.

This post and my updated website are dedicated to my dad.
Thanks also to my beta testers, Travis and Andy. You guys are the best.

6 thoughts

  1. So happy to see you working on this again. You are indeed providing a window to the world for me and surely many others, as well as a window to a journey well-traveled. I miss you, man, but it’s so heartening to see you taking life by the horns. Thanks for the continued effort and for the connection it allows me <3.

    1. Glen! So great to hear from you again. Thank you for seeing me, and seeing my journey. Sometimes it’s tough not being around, but if I’m going to live this life, I’m grateful to have the chance to share it with people like you. Thanks for being a part of it, for checking out my site, and sharing the connection with me. <3

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