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Fountain Creek

Fountain Creek: Big Lessons from a Little River

October 2024

From its headwaters high up Colorado’s legendary Pike’s Peak to suburban concrete-lined canals, Fountain Creek has endured nearly everything humans could do to a single watershed. It has been dammed, diverted, drained, poisoned, restored, exploited, ignored—and yet it has survived. 

Journalist and archeologist Jim O’Donnell grew up exploring among the beavers and discarded beer bottles that have long populated Fountain Creek. Irreverent, deeply knowledgeable, and endlessly curious, O’Donnell guides us through the contradictions and complexities of one of the most heavily urbanized areas in one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. 

Fountain Creek is at once a reflection of our ever-changing relationship to the natural world and a challenge for each of us to reexamine the many ways we are connected to the world around us, to water, and to each other.

 Purchase Fountain Creek >>


“Every stream in the American West deserves a biographer as affectionate, thorough, and lyrical as Jim O’Donnell.” —BEN GOLDFARB, author of Crossings

“Fountain Creek takes us on a fascinating tour of an abused and unassuming stream, fed by the effluent of cities and carrying with it centuries of human history. Jim O’Donnell reminds us that—even within earshot of the interstate’s roar—water still flows and wildness persists.” —ZAK PODMORE, Life After Dead Pool

“A quietly beautiful exercise in the glory of natural spaces, O’Donnell’s Fountain Creek is a panacea for and an acknowledgement of the hurts and injustices done to the wild world on behalf of humanity’s irrepressible ‘progress.’” —MOLLY IMBER, Maria’s Bookshop


Notes for the Aurora Society: 1500 Miles on Foot Across Finland

June 2010

Walk 1,500 miles through Finland. From the islands of the Baltic to the Arctic coast, this work of travel literature looks at the Finnish people through their connection to the natural world.

Paperback: 368 pages
 Purchase Notes for the Aurora Society >>

“Notes For the Aurora Society is a detailed journey of one man’s 1500-mile walk across Finland, which already sounds interesting enough. But, the author goes beyond a simple travelogue into the natural world. His journey is a unique and universal dive into the people of Finland: their hopes, their waning connection with nature and family, and the bridge between rural and urban. The structure is short, journal-like; each segment is small essay of a day or moment and the lessons learned during that part of a long, engaging adventure.”

“Traversing a small nation isn’t easy: both physically and socially. And that’s what always makes good non-fiction literature. This is a great read from a fine writer, can’t wait to dig into his work.”


Rise and Go

Hardcover, Dust Jacket
Linen cover with full-color dust jacket & flaps
October 2011

A large, coffee table style fine art book with nearly 200 photos from all over the world and 6 short stories by Jim O’Donnell — one story never before published and available here only!

Hardcover: 130 pages
13 x 11 inches  Purchase >>


Hyenas Laughed at Me and Now I Know Why: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure

October 2003

Everyone knows that stories improve with the telling, and nothing helps a travel story more than something going wrong. As soon as things stop going your way you know you’re in trouble, but the frustration, embarrassment, danger, and inconvenience provide great material for stories once the anguish has faded. What we remember are the absurd, surreal, and wacky moments when travel becomes slapstick and grand plans dissolve into comedy. The adventurers here encounter just about everything you’d never expect, from a monster dildo that won’t go away to becoming the prey of religious zealots at the world’s largest human gathering to the proverbial “hair in my soup” at a French restaurant and the proprietor’s remarkable solution to the “problem.” In a case of life imitating art, nothing is too ridiculous on the road, as these travelers discover and so generously share without shame or undue embarrassment. Purchase >>

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