My World and Welcome to It
Hey, you found me! Feel free to poke around, rummage through some stories and other clips, look under the seat cushions (if you find any change, it’s mine), and have as much fun as it’s possible to have on a writer’s homepage.
Oh: Bob or Robert? Robert Earle Howells is my professional byline and the name I was born with. And the guy you can write checks to. Otherwise, I’m a proud Bob.
The Ink Is Still Drying
I’m the editor and lead writer for Just Ahead: “Your Audio Tour Guide to the World.” We’re developing smartphone audio tours for some of the most beautiful places on earth, starting with classic American national parks such as Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Yosemite. This being a startup, I wear a number of hats. I write the website, marketing copy, blog, and, so far, all of our tours, plus help produce the apps and brainstorm with our supersmart CEO, Gregory Morse. It’s a very cool platform. Check it out.
My first assignment for Sunset was a timely story about Yosemite on the eve of the park’s 150th anniversary. My lede assures everyone that the park didn’t burn down last summer.
During the throes of the government shutdown in the fall of 2013, the Washington Post asked me to write this opinion piece titled “Five Myths About the National Parks.” The shutdown affected everyone who loves national parks, including me, both personally and professionally. I was in the early stages of researching a Just Ahead tour of Joshua Tree National Park, but had to shut down myself while our friends in Washington sorted things out.
I nabbed a contract in 2012 to write the copy for SpaceX’s new website. (SpaceX is Elon Musk’s private rocket company.) Translating rocketry lingo into everyday English was a challenge. I had to make the copy compelling for a general audience while avoiding the kind of dumbing-down that would roll space wonks’ eyeballs. And, of course, it had to be scrupulously accurate, to satisfy Elon and his engineers. It’s a complex site and took quite awhile to go live, but it’s finally up.
I have the cover story in the April 2013 issue of Popular Science. I love writing about technology that is imaginative, that stretches the boundaries of human potential. Such is certainly the case with SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. When it launches later this year, it will be the world’s most powerful rocket—one that could someday take humans much farther into space than the space station or even the moon. My story leads off the magazine’s annual How It Works issue.
Writing about national parks is a specialty and a passion. Secrets of the National Parks (National Geographic Books; April 2013), highlights places that drive-through visitors to the parks might overlook. In other words, get outta your dang car and have a look around! I handled four chapters for the book covering Yosemite, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Channel Islands National Parks. As with my previous project for Nat Geo Books (Ten Best of Everything: National Parks) Nat Geo has tabbed me as national spokesdude, and I’ll be doing radio and print interviews to support the book.