Literature

Traveling with Twain

Mark Twain, traveling the world.

I’ve always wanted to travel the world like Mark Twain, but it wasn’t until last week that I discovered I’m actually following his footsteps!

It started in 2004 when, as part of a BYU Travel Study, I visited Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain’s boyhood town. It was there that I first became acquainted with “the Lincoln of American literature.”

From there, my travels took me back to Utah. Twain himself visited the state in 1861. While Mark Twain didn’t get along with Brigham Young, he had a lot of praise for the grandeur of Salt Lake City:

“…in the edge of a level plain as broad as the state of Connecticut, and crouches close down to the ground under a curving wall of mighty mountains whose heads are hidden in the clouds, and whose shoulders bear relics of the snows of winter all the summer long. Seen from one of these dizzy heights, twelve or fifteen miles off, Great Salt Lake City is toned down and diminished till it is suggestive of a child’s toy village reposing under the majestic protection of the Chinese wall.”

Since 2010, I’ve made numerous trips across Nevada to San Francisco. Twain also “roughed it” across Nevada, and suggested an opinion of the I-80 landscape that is similar to my own:

“Some people are malicious enough to think that if the devil were set at liberty and told to confine himself to Nevada Territory, he would…get homesick and go back to hell again.”

But a real mark of Twain’s footsteps was made in San Francisco, California, my present home.

Kim and I in San Francisco…minutes before I proposed to her.

Though he had written before, San Francisco is what brought the writer out of Twain. Landing in San Francisco at age 28 (I’m 26), he worked as a reporter for The Daily Morning Call. This job allowed him to hone his writing skills and learn more about the trade.

Following my wife, I moved to San Francisco earlier this year. As a result of her constant encouragement and support, I inquired about an internship at a publishing company downtown. To my great surprise, I got the internship. Apart from my experiences at ANASAZI, I’ve never had a better job. I work with fantastic, talented people and I’ve learned so much about writing and publishing.

To deepen the connection, I agree with Twain in that “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.”

I’ve been following the footsteps of Twain without even knowing it…

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