Thursday, November 16, 2017

Four Kyushu Olle Hikes

It can be a challenge getting to a hiking trailhead. Public transport may be spotty or non-existent, and once you're in the locale, trailheads have a bad habit of hiding in plain sight.

Once I've found the trailhead, I can usually muddle my way along the trail with the assistance of GPS, map, signage, and dumb luck. The odd involuntary reroute, in airline parlance, is all part of the experience. Travel without wabi-sabi is bland.

Sometimes, though, I just want to get to a trailhead then walk with my mind relieved of the logistics of the walk. Originally developed in South Korea, Olle hikes meet this challenge in Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island. An Olle hike might include villages, farms, mountainous countryside, and the seaside. The trail may be arduous, or relaxed, depending on the classification.

I don't have to overthink: an Olle hike is a nice day out; I just have to follow the symbols shown at the top of this post.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Snapshots: A Night in a Bicycle Hotel

This week I spent a night in Hotel Cycle, in a converted warehouse in the port city of Onomichi. I used it as a base to cycle part of the Shimanami Kaido trail across the Seto Inland Sea.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Walking in Silence

Today I walked through a solemn space filled with sounds of flowing water, wishing for an alternate history that does not lead to this place.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Snapshots: Circling and Framing a Volcano

Sakurajima dominates the view across the bay from Kagoshima, southern Japan. It's one of the world's most active volcanoes, regularly raining ash on the city. Surfaces can feel gritty, accumulations of dust are a hazard to cyclists.

Hotel rooms with a view of Sakurajima fetch a premium. Directions are expressed relative to the volcano; e.g., "walk towards Sakurajima." It's a common element in public art.

Yesterday, I cycled around the volcano.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Using Social Media to Resolve an Issue with United Airlines

We're off to New Zealand in December. There are no nonstop flights from hometown Minneapolis (MSP) to New Zealand, but I found one-stop itineraries through Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco, and Houston. These are good cities to connect through in the winter: they don't get shut down by snow.

Everything was fine until United changed our optimal one-stop itinerary to two stops. This added several hours to the journey, and introduced opportunities for misconnects.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Snapshots: Superior Hiking Trail 2017

Each October we drive up to the North Shore of Lake Superior to hike sections of the Superior Hiking Trail.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Travel Gear: Packing Hiking Boots

The first frost of the season nipped Minneapolis this week, signaling less cycling and more hiking. My boots are squeaky clean and ready.

Boots are bulky, which is an issue when flying with a small carry-on backpack. It's amazing how much you can stuff into boots, then further reduce the bulk by tying the laces tightly.

I took the pictures at the top of this post a few years ago to show the contents of my boots. I no longer stuff anything metal or electrical into them since my collision with London Heathrow Security. I was grateful when the kind official put my suspicious-looking boots back through the X-ray scanner, rather than have me empty them.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Manual for New Homeowners

This week we hand off our house to new owners. In recent days I have been putting together an online manual for the buyers to make it easier for them to settle in.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Poms Don't Tub

Cab service improved in Minneapolis in the 1990's. Cabs started to be well-maintained, drivers were clean and respectful, Minnesota Public Radio, rather than loud rock, was playing quietly. The driver may have worked as a physician or a teacher or an engineer in Somalia, but now he was working his way back up.

In the past year I've spent many days pacing the corridors of Methodist Hospital in a Minneapolis suburb. As with any well-run medical facility, surfaces were being cleaned non-stop. I was cheerfully acknowledged by housekeeping staff from far-away places like Somalia, Myanmar, Tibet, and the former Soviet Union.