When Nick Offerman took a trip to Glacier National Park in 2019, the actor left with more than a fancy backpack and a few handles of trail mix. Offerman was accompanied by Wilco singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy, Booker Prize-winning author George Saunders, and an adventure guide to lead the way to their bed after enjoying the park.
âI’m an actor who lives in Los Angeles. And yes, I have a carpentry workshop. Yes, I can use tools, and yes, I love the outdoors, but I don’t put myself in a survival situation. I don’t even camp in a tent, âsays Offerman. âBear Grylls is fascinating, but I don’t expect or ever want to need his knowledge. “
This trip became the opening section of Offerman’s latest book, “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside,” now by Dutton. Offerman also spends time on “Pastoral Song” author James Rebanks’ working farm in England and takes a pandemic-era RV trip with his wife Megan Mullally and dog Clover in an Airstream. mistakenly named “The Nutmeg of Consolation” after a ship from Patrick O’Brian’s Master & Commander series.
So, regarding that first adventure, which involved hiking, rock climbing, and rafting, was he worried about losing or hurting two American icons in the Montana wilderness?
âI can’t take the credit for myself; that was Jeff’s idea. I have been talking about this book for years. I had a vague idea for this book and Jeff then said to me: “What if me, you and George” – we already had a threesome – “go for a walk in a nice place and you can record the conversations for your book ? Remembers Offerman. “It’s like you’re Pete Best and John [Lennon] and Paul [McCartney] are like, “Hey, what if we just played around with a few melodies and you could be listed on the keyboards?” I was like, ‘Yeah, that sounds good. Jeff. ‘â
Saunders, author of âLincoln in the Bardo,â of several short stories and âA Swim in a Pond in the Rain,â echoed the good vibes. âThey are both deeply generous and funny and enlightening companions – good hearts and very grateful to live and to be able to make art. Every time I’m with them I learn things about creativity, openness and gratitude, âthe author said in an email while playfully offering a question to ask Offerman below. .
Although he is best known for playing gruff mustache icon Ron Swanson in “Parks & Recreation,” Offerman cultivated a vast career in the years that followed. He starred in the Hulu sci-fi limited series “Devs”, voices the family patriarch in the Fox animated series “The Great North” and co-animates NBC’s “Making It” with former co-star of “Parks & Rec” Amy Poehler. He’s appeared in movies, narrated audiobooks, had a working carpentry workshop, and wrote bestsellers. He is also a reader and verified the name of a range of writers including Wendell Berry, Aldo Leopold, Madeleine L’Engle, Neil Gaiman and many more during our conversation.
Offerman spoke about his latest book, “Where the Deer and the Antelope Play”, his travels and more. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Q. George Saunders said he made the trip hoping to deepen a wonderful friendship and other beautiful things. He added that there is one detail you left out of the book that I should tell you about.
A. Damn it. Too bad. The good news is that they allow me to do revisions for the paperback.
Jeff and I are modern people with little disposable income. And so, when we show up at the trailhead, we’re like, âOh, a cool tech jacket! Â»Â« Check out my Camelbak water tank system! “” Rad! We both clearly did internet work and enjoyed the fruits of modern capitalism, while George showed up straight from an Allman Brothers record cover with a flannel jacket and shirt and boots you can. say he wears a long time.
Basically, I make a meal with – to be complementary – the pragmatism of George’s gear. The economics of its accessorization is a short story in itself.
So I really enjoyed watching and writing this and later in the trip he had a rash in one of his boots. George had to fix it and spent like the last two or three days of the hike with just a duct tape boot – just one last triumphant testament to what I was doing. But somehow it escaped my notes. And so when George read the evidence, he was like, “Love it. Love it all. Where are my taped boots? I was like, Saint [crap], that’s why I’m an actor and not a journalist. Color me sorrowful.
Q. Before reading your new book and hearing that you knew each other, I had read “Pastoral Song” by James Rebanks, the English farmer, shepherd and author, and he thanks you in his thanks. To be honest, I didn’t expect Nick Offerman to appear in a non-fiction book for an environmentally conscious farmer.
A. For real, I just got emotional. We share our writings with each other and collaborate and ask for notes and stuff. So I was not aware of it; I didn’t see a finished copy, and I was just moved to learn that I was part of the acknowledgments. It hadn’t occurred to me and it’s so exciting.
I love to read about caring people like James Rebanks. This is why I was so thrilled to befriend him because he is this forward-thinking shepherd, who also closely examines the triumphs and mistakes of previous generations, which is sort of what we should all always do with everything.
Q. You spent part of the pandemic transporting your Airstream, which is named after a ship from a Patrick O’Brian novel, across the country. What held you back from this experience and what did your wife Megan Mullally think?
A. First of all, it was his idea. I was writing my book while Megan was learning RV parks and planning a route and also ordering stuff to outfit the thing with because she’s a genius interior designer. She was creating the cutest, cutest Airstream while I was writing, and then I had to shoot a season of my “Making It” show, the craft contest show I do with Amy Poehler. I kept saying, âHoney, I’m so sorry that I’m not available to do this with you. “
It was deep. It is beautiful to go to sleep where you can get up in the morning, put on your boots, get out of your motorhome and you are on the mountain and you can start walking. It’s awesome. I had camped as a kid, so had made my share of pancakes over a campfire in the morning, but stepping out of the cold into a small full kitchen where Megan had made an amazing gourmet pizza or pasta dish? I am not a good enough writer to describe how extremely satisfying this experience has been.
But also the claustrophobia of living in a Ford Expedition and an eight-foot-by-30-foot studio, maintaining a marriage for a few months. As in any relationship, it wasn’t all pizza and orecchiette with sausage, but we have a beautiful wedding and we feel very lucky because we have a lot more sun than thunderstorms in our house, and we know enough to be grateful for both. Nothing will grow in the garden without weather.
So I mean, it was just amazing. And frankly, we can’t wait to start over.
Q. The clichÃ© is that when an actor has an iconic role like Ron Swanson, you can be labeled for the rest of your life. But you seem to have a lot of different things – TV shows, books, tours, etc. – which build on what happened before.
Without flattering me in any way – just the show and Ron Swanson’s writers – becoming the vessel of this material is a lottery ticket. I’m glad that as a mug I was able to hold the beer they brewed. But it’s the beer that scares people.
So it’s an incredible privilege. I was given this platform, people will come to see me. And I can make them laugh relatively well. But I am not a great thinker. I am not the creator of “Parks and Recreation”. I am not George Saunders. I’m not Jeff Tweedy. Like, I need you to plan Central Park, and then I’ll show up with my shovel and a bunch of other people and together we’ll make it beautiful.
And so with that in mind, that’s what fueled my tour as a stand-up comedian. And my books. I like books. I like to communicate ideas and receive ideas in writing.
And given the opportunity to participate, I’m like, damn yeah.