Author: Jacob Resneck

  • We cast a message-in-a-bottle into the winter sea. This being Alaska, homesteaders with 26,000+ YouTube followers found it.

    DOUGLAS, Alaska – “My name is Ansel Resneck. I am 3½ years old. I like rockets, bulldozers, trucks, penguins & sausages.” So began a one-page missive written in marker and cast into Juneau’s Gastineau Channel on a particularly cold, miserable Saturday afternoon. The note had been scrawled in my hand, taking dictation from my toddler […]

  • Inside Russia’s exclave Kaliningrad, the Cold War honeymoon was just beginning

    KLAIPEDA, Lithuania—For the briefest of instants the Russian border guard’s placid face betrayed his surprise as we produced our blue US passports. His eyes momentarily widened as he read the gold lettering on our worn travel documents. I imagine Americans rarely cross at Mamonovo, a rural border crossing that’s a gateway to Kaliningrad, an exclave […]

  • “Line ’em up and shoot ’em.”

    COMRAT, Moldova — The Transnistrian policeman who had been interrogating us turned to his colleague. “I caught three journalists – Bulgarian, Spanish and American – without accreditation.” His fellow lawman looked us up and down with distaste. “Line ‘em up and shoot ‘em,” he said and turned away. This wasn’t the warmest of welcomes to […]

  • OMON goons, discussion culture and five days in the Arctic wilderness

    APATITY, Russia – I look to my right, a man in a black balaclava with what looks like a toy rifle is running full speed toward me and shouting something unintelligible. My first thought is it’s a friend playing a prank. Determined not to let him get a rise out of me, I turn away […]

  • Bounding through the Balkans on a bicycle bought for a beer

    NIŠ, Serbia— So this Finnish guy ‘rescues’ a broken purple bike in Innsbruck, Austria and proceeds to ride it 1,200 kilometers to Guča, Serbia where I just happened to be preparing a reportage for RFI. He was thirsty and needed a beer; I’d been hitchhiking since Kosovo and was desperate for a bicycle. In a […]

  • Sittin’ on top of the world

    “Goin’ down to the freight yard / Just to meet a freight train / I’m gonna leave this town / Work done got hard / But now she’s gone / And I don’t worry / Because I’m sittin’ on top of the  world…” — Howlin’ Wolf, traditional MURMANSK, Russia — As the train rumbled north […]

  • The big push to Tbilisi

    TBILISI, Georgia – The Greek border guard’s unibrow contracted in consternation and then annoyance as he thumbed through my well-worn blue passport. “What is this? This isn’t a passport! This is shit!” He spat out the words as he held the threadbare document with the tips of his fingers as if it had some communicable […]

  • The hitchin’ post

    GOTHENBURG, Sweden – I’d been warned that hitchhiking in Scandinavia would be no picnic. Despite expensive buses and trains, wide roads with plenty of traffic and lots of empty cars it’s simply not in the culture for people to solicit rides from strangers. In Denmark it had been relatively easy to hitchhike with a (partially […]

  • Three-day shoreleave in the Faroes

    TÓRSHAVN, Faroe Islands – Provided you’re not a schizophrenic sociopath, those little nagging voices should be heeded. For every so often there’s a nagging voice in my head goading me to head in a certain direction, usually defying common sense and logic. Often I am rewarded by following this advice, other times it’s folly and […]

  • Soaking in the great divide

    SEYDISFJORDUR, Iceland – My approach to travel is to keep minimal expectations. However with Iceland I couldn’t help myself: I wanted to idyllic natural hot springs carved out of rock populated by supple valkyries. Nothing less! So after spending too much time on a work assignment at a fish festival seeking out these natural treasures […]

  • A simple plan

    HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – The secret to stress-free travel is to keep logistics from getting complicated. So I kept the plan to leave the country simple: Canoe 300+ miles through the Adirondack Mountains, across Lake Champlain, upstream eastward through Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire into Maine. Then ride my bicycle to Edmundston, New Brunswick and catch […]

  • The fox in the box and how I was brought to justice

    KODIAK, Alaska – My finest writing seem to stem from admitting illegal activities whether or not the law happens to catch up with me. In this case they did; I was swiftly brought to justice and it was this very blog what gave me away. The Alaska State Troopers log tells the story much more […]

  • Hunting Fate in Bush Alaska

    DILLINGHAM, Alaska – The story begins in Bangladesh. For the past week it had been a game of hide-and-seek with poodle-sized cockroaches: I would hide, they would seek. I was learning a lot about myself. One such lesson is that I scream like a damsel-in-distress when confronted with an insect larger than my thumb that […]

  • Now it can be told (as I’m safely out of Bangladesh)

    DILLINGHAM, Alaska – When the voice at the other end of the line said he was a police inspector curious about my activities in Bangladesh, I can’t say I was too surprised. I had been warned by foreigners and locals alike that poking around the country would attract suspicion from the authorities and that surveillance […]

  • Rangamati days, Bandarban nights

    CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh – I had been waiting a half-hour in the police superintendent’s dingy office, a greasy photocopy of my permission in hand, when the woman with a toddler on her hip appeared. I had gotten as far as the administrative capital Rangamati. My entry had been smoothed over through the generosity of a public […]