Friday, December 27, 2013

Art for Everyone

Spoonbridge and Cherry (Oldenburg), Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Today, on my walk to The Wedge Co-op to pick up some groceries, I popped into the Walker Art Center to catch their Claes Oldenburg exhibition before it ends its run in January. Afterwards, it struck me there were learning moments for my nephews (5 and 6). This blog entry is for them.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Our Traditional Tree

Life, Phase 3, is an opportunity to simplify. Simplification will become a necessity when, one day, we move from our current home to something more manageable.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Japan's Islands off Islands

Sakurajima, active volcano off Kagoshima, Southern Japan, March 2013
The winter is setting in, and won't budge for another four or five months: it's time to think about travel to warmer places like Southern Japan.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Selling LEGO

As LEGO Technic creations go, this vehicle is as basic as they come. For me, it represents a point in a process I've been following with my two nephews (5 and 6): I'm trying to discover if they have the potential to be interested in LEGO.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Travel Gear: Handheld GPS

Eurostar, Northern France, heading straight for the English Channel at 183 MPH
If I could only bring one piece of electronic equipment when traveling, it would be my handheld GPS.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Artful Living

Who reads this stuff?
Here's some random quotes from Artful Living magazine:
Where your stay is part of defining who you are.
You can join the crowd, or you can leave it behind.
Eat. Shop. Sleep.
Own Chicago. Know the right people.
Make a statement with every second.
"I never thought I would receive so many compliments every day."
As unique as you are.
Who needs this stuff?

Friday, October 4, 2013

Decoding a Crane

What are we thinking?
I'm in Japan. A lone crane swoops low over a large, exquisitely landscaped pond. There are two other bystanders; they smile contentedly as the crane reinforces a common bond, evoking fragments of mysticism, national treasure, longevity, good fortune, origami, the number 1,000, childhood memories, and current dreams. I'm seeing a crane swooping over a pond and feeling contented, too.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Travel Gear: Portable Router

In Japan I like to go off the beaten path where guide books are not helpful. Daily research using the Internet becomes essential for me to navigate that often-opaque country.

I use a portable wireless router because most Japanese hotel rooms have (free) wired Internet, but no wireless Internet. I've set up my router with exactly the same SSID as I have at home. Thus my phone, tablet, and camera immediately connect to the Internet because they "think" they are at home. Pictures automatically upload from my camera to Google+ on the Web, without any fiddling.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Superior Trail 2013

Photographs do not explain why I hike. Gorgeous vistas and little mossy vignettes float in and out of my consciousness, but they do not define the experience.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gathering Gear

12EEEE and 12A.

Today, I'm getting my brain in gear for a multi-day hike along part of the Superior Hiking Trail. To help me plan, I have some useful resources from previous trips.
September 2011 Superior Trail hike: itinerary and GPS tracks (GPX format).
The trail we followed is in dark red in the above map; the Canadian border runs along the top, and Duluth is bottom left. We walked from hotel to hotel, except for one night when we camped.
September 2012 UK hike. I'll modify a packing list from this trip.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kale Chronicles

We grew kale this summer, so it has been our default vegetable for the past month.

Kale is extraordinarily easy to prepare. Here's a 20-second video (my first cooking show) showing how to quickly remove the stem and break up the leaf, all without the use of tools.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reflections on Gold

Downtown Minneapolis from MSP, hazy August day
Minnesota winters can be cold, bitterly cold.

I don't mind January in Minnesota: the relief Christmas is in the rearview mirror is enough to keep me going; besides, it's a great month for quiet reflection and to play with my Legos (Technics). Come February, though, my thoughts turn to escaping to warmer places; in February MSP is my favorite place on the planet

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Duckies in Space

A couple weeks ago we visited the Johnson Space Center near Houston. As well as procuring Space Shuttle Duckies for the nephews, we toured the sprawling, and still operational NASA facility.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Gnarly Minneapolis

No Trespassing!
Normally when I head out on my bike, it's to a world of lakes, rivers, and wooded areas. Yesterday, I decided to explore a more gritty side of Minneapolis.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lake of the Isles to Minnehaha Falls by Bicycle

This wobbly 4-minute video shows my Chain of Lakes ride, this week, from Lake of the Isles to the fast-flowing Minnehaha Falls.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travel Fails: Managing Expectations

A co-worker had just returned from a visit to the UK. "How was it?" I asked. "They don't put ice in the water" was the reply. I'd learned enough about her trip, and about her.
Rule when traveling: Avoid making constant comparisons with "back home."
If you don't follow this rule, you end up bringing home with you, which, frankly, diminishes the experience. Take what you experience on its own terms.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Now and Then: Guns n' Cigarettes

Last Fall, I was lost in my thoughts, exploring some quiet back lanes in Istanbul I've seen described as "gritty."  Just as I was about to walk into a busier area, someone tugged on my sleeve, stopping me in my tracks. 

A bizarre scene unfolded in front of me. First some men in suits walked out from a side street towards some men seated at a cafe table. A punch-up ensued, then out came the guns.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travel Gear: Mobile Internet

My SIMs from UK, Japan, USA, Turkey
Once, while traveling in the UK, T-Mobile billed me $400 for 25MB--that's $16,000 per GB! This was a surprise as, under that same plan, I had not been charged for data use during previous overseas trips. I asked T-Mobile to waive the charge (they did), but I cancelled the phone plan because any future overseas use would be charged at that exorbitant rate.

I resolved I would never, again, give a phone company that amount of control over my wallet.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Travel Gear: Makeup and Mirror

I noticed the woman when I was riding the Busan (South Korea) subway at morning commute time, earlier this year. She was middle-aged, and quite unremarkable until she started her morning makeup routine. Seated in the crowded carriage, out came her creams, brushes, and other makeup paraphernalia. She then painstakingly, unselfconsciously transformed her appearance, right in front of me. By the end of the process she was no longer the plain-looking person who had walked on the train.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Travel Gear: OpenStreetMap

Minnesota in the summer is just too lovely, so I won't be traveling far this month. That doesn't stop me thinking about the mechanics of travel.

When I was in Japan earlier this year, handheld electronics hugely contributed to my ability to navigate the geography and the culture. Or, to be more precise, the software that runs on those devices contributed greatly to the quality of my travels.

My Garmin and me crossing the Sea of Japan

I arrived by boat in Fukuoka, Japan from Busan, South Korea. The walk from the Fukuoka Ferry Terminal to the mainline (bullet train) station in Hakata is about 2.5 miles, giving me plenty opportunities to lose my way in a strange and sometimes opaque country.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

30 Reasons I Like Japan

1. Figuring out how to navigate the day was like solving a puzzle. That was most satisfying.

2. Being able to hop on and off trains anywhere, having paid once for my Japan Rail pass.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hokkaido Museum Day: Trains and Beer

The trails around Otaru are still buried under snow drifts, so time for plan B: Museum Day.

Otaru (Train) Museum

Otaru had the first railroad on Hokkaido.

One of the many snow plows on display

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tokyo Hiking Trails

Trailhead: Seibu-Chichibu Train Station

April 4, 2013

I stayed at a hotel two blocks from the station and walked directly to trails.

Cherry blossoms, rice paddies

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bigu Feetu Around Matsuyama

Today (Tuesday) was a day to pause the journey. Besides it rained hard all day, which would have made hiking less pleasant. Time to be a consumer of sights.

I knew Matsuyama was a really cool place when I saw this heading along the streetcar line:

Monday, April 1, 2013

Temple Plumbing 2013

Just after you enter the grounds of a Japanese temple, there's always a fountain for rinsing hands and mouth. Here's examples from the temples I visited when I followed the route of part of the Shikoku Henro ("Shikoku 88").

Temple 37: Iwamotoji

March 29, 2013.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Shikoku 88: Some Observations

Pilgrim on his way

The Shikoku Henro ("Shikoku 88") is an 88-temple pilgrimage around the island of Shikoku, Japan. The complete journey is about 750 miles.

It is particularly appealing to me the pilgrimage goes in a circle: when you reach temple 88 you are just a few miles from temple 1, but your mind is in a different place from when you started.

I notice pilgrims spend only a short time at each temple, perhaps just 15 minutes. This is about the journey.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Hike under the Sea, a Buzzcutter, and a Visit to TOTO

I grew up in an industrial town in the North of England. I love that town, and its attitude. I continue to visit it regularly.

Consequently I decided to spend a while in Kokura, a town in the north of Kyushu that has been described as "half industrial park." I dislike that description.

I arrived in Kokura off the bullet train late last night, and checked in to a business hotel. I blew all of $50 for a clean, compact, en suite room with wired Internet, and even a yukata (robe).

Today I was determined to prove to myself an ordinary Japanese town, with everyday people, can be a great place to visit. I was not disappointed, even though it rained all day.

I wanted to start with a hike. What could be better, when it's raining, than a hike under the sea?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are you Trevor?

I always pace around departure areas, so today was no exception at the Busan ferry terminal.

A couple years ago, had I not been pacing around the Haridwar (India) station platform at 3:00 a.m. waiting for a train that never came, I might not have been spotted in the crowd by four backpackers. I would've missed the scariest, most invigorating car (jeep) ride of my life. Stuff like that makes me feel really alive.

Anyway, there I was,  doing the Busan Shuffle, when a Korean guy walked up to me, and asked: "Are you Trevor?"

"No, l'm not!" I quickly denied, while simultaneously increasing my pace.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Japan Framework 2013

Tomorrow I go to Japan. I need a plan for a plan.

The only fixed part of my "Japan Framework" is:
March 22: Hydrofoil from Busan, South Korea to Fukuoka (Southern Japan).
April 11: Check in to Sapporo New Chitose Airport hotel (Northern Japan)--I'm catching an early flight next morning.
April 12: Fly Sapporo to Tokyo, then nonstop to Minneapolis.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Suddenly it's Very Quiet in Lihue Airport

The airport is awfully quiet, apart from the sound of a vacuum cleaner. Most of the flights to the mainland have departed.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Travel Gear: Water Purification

Until recently, when we went back-country camping, we'd bring a lightweight camp stove. That meant safe water from streams, hot meals, and an unlimited supply of the best Kona coffee... ever. (We also brought a Melitta coffee filter cone.)

These days, when we back-country camp, we carry a very effective ultraviolet water sterilizer, which lets us save on weight by leaving the camping stove and accompanying paraphernalia at home.

No Kona coffee, no hot meals. Oh well.

You'll notice another item in the picture: a bottle of iodine pills to be used if the primary mechanism for sterilizing water fails. We've carried that same bottle for 25 years, but, mercifully have never had to use it.  The shelf life of those pills exceeds my expiration date.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Now and Then: Who was at the Kauai Marriott in January 2007?

March 14, 2013, Marriott, Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii Big Island
January 2007, Marriott, Lihue, Mom and Dad to be
We knew you were on your way, Caden. And in July 2007, we got to meet you for the first time. And the next year, 2008, we got to meet Davin. Wonderful memories.

Hawaii, Big Island, 2012

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Now and Then: Hiking the Kalalau Trail (1995)

2013: We've just hiked the Kalalau Trail for the fourth time.

1995: Here we are on the Kalalau back in our salad days:

Hiking the Kalalau Trail (2013)

March 11 and 12, 2013, our fourth time on the trail. Our first time was in 1988.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

MSP--HNL 2013

MSP--LAX:  I knew he was poison when he reached across my face and tugged on a guy`s sweat shirt (Sweat Shirt was boarding, walking down the aisle) which declared  'Fighting Sioux.' Never mind the good citizens of ND voted that motif down.

"Where's the stupid, angry white person (SAWP)?" tee shirt, I was thinking.