Fathom Questionnaire: J.B. Taylor
by J.B. Taylor
Hometown: San Fernando Valley, CA (like, totally)
Occupation: author, designer, co-founder of Thunderwing Press
Favorite destinations: Paris, Reykjavik, Santa Fe, Asheville, Kauai, Los Angeles, and the Pacific Northwest
Dying to visit: Maine, Istanbul, The Cotswolds, Venice, Capri, Mustique, Marrakech
Bizarre travel rituals: Going through my OCD-worthy filing cabinet of travel location clippings, all kept in folders organized by country or state, collected over the past 15 years. It's also a tradition for me to make an iPod mix with songs relating to the vibe of the destination.
In-flight relaxation regime: I'm sadly a totally freaked-out, neurotic flyer, so having my pug (Ali Baba) in my lap helps me chill. He's a classified emotional support animal, which enables my husband to have a nice journey. If no pug, then a couple of Klonopin, ensuring I say something humiliating to a flight attendant.
Always in carry-on: lavender hand-sanitizer, Evian face mist, soft Balinese ikat blankie, knitting accoutrement, The World of Interiors.
Concierge or DIY? I was once a fanzine editing punk, and founder of a Riot Grrrl chapter, so DIY, naturally.
See it all or take it easy? Meticulously plan to experience everything . . . museum, shop, cuisine, native tradition . . . then stress out until I'm physically forced to scrap the whole itinerary and just wander.
Drive or be driven? Given that it takes a few days for the Klonopin to wear off . . . driven.
Travel hero: Georgia O'Keeffe, who bravely left Manhattan in the 1920s to explore the mysteries of the remote New Mexican desert, and didn't start traveling internationally until she was in her 70s, which I find inspiring, since it wasn't until my 30s that I made my first trip to Europe. At an age when most humans are sitting in rocking chairs, she explored isolated ancient locales in her long black gowns and witch hats, and at the age of 71, embarked on a three-and-a-half month trip around the world, returning home newly obsessed with Japanese art. Too cool.
Weirdest thing seen on travels: During a cross-country road trip, we fell behind on our desired ETA, ending-up at a Waffle House in Harrisonburg, VA, at 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve. My husband and I sat at the counter, watching the 300-pound short order cook dancing to Motown hits blasting through busted jukebox speakers, while eating bacon straight off the grill. Every waitress was smoking while serving, and ours had no teeth. There was also a Christmas tree covered in waffle ornaments. Nothing beats good ol' American weird. Another gem was The Enchanted Forest in Salem, Oregon, a wonderfully kitsch hand-built family-run amusement park straight from 1971, with walk-through fairy tale vignettes, haunted house, and lighted fountain show, all located in a faux-Bavarian-meets-olde English village that looks like candy.
Best hotel amenity: heated stone flooring (first experienced at the Glen Oaks, Big Sur), record player, geothermal hot spring pool
I dream about my meal at Le Relais de l'Entrecôte in Paris — sitting outside, looking at the pink sunset, eating the signature magic dream steak, and sipping rosé while a guitarist played "Moon River" nearby. It was a perfect Parisian fantasy come to life . . . so I cried. Also, the classic toast skagen (shrimp salad on toast garnished with trout roe) at Lisa Elmqvist in Stockholm's Saluhall Market. And I had the best turkey sandwich of my life (the "Number Six") at the The Warren Store in Warren Village, Vermont.
Everywhere I go, I check out the flea markets, coffee houses, record stores, movie theatres, odd museums, dusty bookshops, and places for my husband to eat ramen.
When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by spending the first couple of hours drawing points on a printed map of the area of all the locations I want to hit.
I always bring home old paper ephemera, vintage purses, art books, and chocolate.
If I never return to Ensenada it'll be too soon because I was chased by a wild dog, I could barely avoid Señor Frog's, and every time I looked in a mirror, I had a dirt mustache just from breathing the air.
I travel for the same reason as Georgia O'Keeffe. "To see if I live in the right place."