Then he took an extended backpacking trip in Europe and shared what he'd learned in a travel class he taught through UW's Experimental College. The handbook from that class grew into the book Europe Through the Back Door, and so began the Edmonds-Europe migration that Steves has been winging for more than 25 years.
If you are a "Ricknik," as his fans are known, you know what Steves does 120 days a year. He gallops through Europe, plotting a detailed course designed to keep Americans off the beaten track and in touch with local people.
The rest of the year, you won't find Steves searching for Seattle's best coffee, restaurants, B&Bs, or other attractions. Instead, Steves spends time in Edmonds with his wife and their two children. He marshals his staff of 70 people at the travel center he built in Edmonds. But what Steves likes to do best is a lot more low-key.
He soaks in his hot tub and looks at birds. He lounges on the living room sofa, listening to his daughter play piano. He burrows his backside into the sand at his favorite beach, contemplating the backdoor town he was born to love and the city he wouldn't trade for the world.
"The Seattle area is made to order for a person like me," Steves says. "It's like living in a terrarium. The rain is a blessing. The green is life. I walk on the beach in Edmonds and it just fits me."