About

Adventure. Landscape. Family.

My life has been anything but ordinary from the very beginning. I was born in 1942 to medical missionary parents in Chengdu, China. Two and a half years later my family fled the escalating war between China and Japan, flying “over the Hump” of the Himalaya Mountains to India. In Mumbai we waited six months for passage home to the United States. While there I turned three years old.

I grew up in northcentral West Virginia in the small town of Philippi, a shy, self-conscious kid. I was ambivalent about my connection to China, wanting nothing to do with it in public but at home loving Chinese food and my father’s many adventurous stories from the 1930s.

I attended Muskingum College (now University) in Ohio and married immediately upon graduating in 1963. Although I worked while my husband attended medical school, I became a stay-at-home mom while my son and daughter were young. Having children, discovering unconditional love, opened me in a new way to life’s possibilities.

While living in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1975 I discovered the environmental work that became my life’s passion. Alaska also introduced me to outdoor adventure in large mountainous landscapes and changed how I view the world around me.

In 1980 I returned to China with my parents. I felt a surprising resonance while traveling by train around my birth country for four weeks. And in Chengdu, where we were welcomed by friends and colleagues my parents hadn’t seen in thirty-five years, I found my parents’ China, the China of my birth, of my parents’ old photos. From then on, China became the bridge to healing old wounds between my mother and me, helping me understand who I am and what I value in life.

These stories and more are on this website, illustrated with photos—both my parents’ from the 1930s and my contemporary ones. You will also find information about my forthcoming book Whispers From the Valley of the Yak: One Woman’s Journey to Self-Discovery.

Thank you for visiting!