Bucky McMahon was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1955, the youngest of four siblings, and doubtless the beneficiary of the Roman Catholic ban on birth control. Nevertheless, a certain winsome helplessness and beaver-like dentition (christened Michael, he was soon known as Bucky) preserved him through the "dark years" until the sudden eruption of consciousness -- or memory, at least -- chasing a butterfly, net cocked overhead, into screeching traffic in Coral Gables, Florida. His other family nickname, acquired soon after, was "Nature Boy," for the many small animals he captured and brought home to be his totems.

In 1963 the family relocated to Neptune Beach, where the young dude became a fanatical surfer and tireless player of pick-up sports of all kinds. He did not apply himself academically, attended college reluctantly, and affects to remember much of this poorly. A modestly gifted visual artist, his first attempt at a career, after dropping out of college, was as a stone carver. This was a terrible idea! How he suffered! Yet, not so much really.

Finally, after a series of Raymond Carver-esque dead-end jobs, complicated by not-quite-Carver-esque drinking, he declared a "do-over," returned to college, and, paying for the classes himself, actually attended them faithfully. While a graduate student at the Florida State University Creative Writing Department, he began publishing short fiction, a comic strip (Fat Rabbit, with Tim Hoomes), as well as a weekly humor column, "Barmadillo," for the Tallahassee Democrat.

In 1992, he published his first feature article for Outside magazine. That was the beginning of a long, strange adventure in the travel/adventure writing biz, the best of which is collected here. His yarns have been anthologized in the Best American series, once for Travel and once for Sports. A certain sentence, long and spiraling, and right on the gleeful brink of syntactical smashup, was chosen as one of the 70 greatest sentences by Esquire magazine (along with efforts from old friends Ernest "Papa" Hemingway and Scottie Fitzgerald). In 2005 he was awarded a novelty plaque by his sister, Molly, which reads, "If you haven't grown up by age fifty, you don't have to."