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I began writing the Reader’s “Roam-O-Rama” column on January 28, 1993, with a description of a wild and lonely campsite in the Anza-Borrego Desert called Mortero Palms. This “Roam” column, my 861st, is the last one I will write. I am not giving up authorship of the column voluntarily, but rather necessarily, due to stage 4 cancer.

During “Roam’s” first seven years, I described nearly 300 outdoor activities and adventures, primarily hikes, within San Diego County only. By the year 2000, the list of remaining places to cover within the county was wearing thin, and it was time to expand the geographic scope of the column to include all of Southern California. In addition, many of the previous “Roam”-column topics from the ’90s on San Diego locales were repeated in updated form over the next 11+ years.

Researching and writing the column has been a great gig. Nice work if you can get it, some would say.

I have two nuggets of advice for those who have been enticed to read this column at one time or another, but have not yet translated learning into action.

(1) Just get out there! You’d be hard pressed to find any other region in the world as scenically diverse and magnificent as Southern California. That statement is even more applicable to San Diego County.

(2) When planning a hike or other outdoor activity, be mindful of the time of the year and the time of day. The visual richness of the landscape is often colored by factors like sun angle. Choose hikes in high places when the air is crystal clear, and avoid the desert and other inland areas when it’s hot and dry. The “summer equals hiking” paradigm adopted by most people in the United States does not apply very well here, except along the immediate coastline.

I would like to thank Reader publisher Jim Holman for his support of this column from its inception. A big thanks as well goes to my longtime editor Leslie Venolia and production specialists Robert Mizrachi and Chris Woo.

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