Akita  Alaska  Australia  Cambodia  Canada  Code  Computer  Costa Rica  Dance  Discrimination  Education  English  Flashcards  Food  Geography  Hawaii  Health  Hiking  Hokkaido  Hungary  Indonesia  Ireland  Japan  Japanese  Jordan  Logic  Malaysia  Math  Motorcycle  Music  Nature  New Zealand  Newspaper  Nicaragua  Norway  Paperwork  Police  Qatar  Recipe  School  Shawangunks  South Korea  Sports  Taiwan  Teaching  Textbook  Thailand  Tokyo  Travel  USA  Vietnam  Visa

Camping in Kansai


You have to be flexible to happily travel during spring break. Roads and restaurants might be closed for the winter, it might be hot or cold or rainy or sunny. On the one hand, I didn't summit three of the peaks on my list. On the other hand, I climbed four others, drove on some beautiful roads up in the mountains, and relaxed at some grand campgrounds.

20240329.1.Kongo.jpg 20240329.2.Ryujin.jpg 20240329.3.Wakayama.jpg 20240330.1.Hakkyo.jpg 20240330.2.Hakkyo.jpg 20240331.1.Campground.jpg 20240401.Minago.jpg

I made a schedule because it's easier to organize with one. The first day in Kansai I climbed Mt. Kongo, the highest point in Osaka, in the rain. Later the sun came out, and it was a beautiful drive up the Koya Ryujin Skyline to the summit of Mt. Ryujin, the highest point in Wakayama. That was a nice first day.

On the second day, I hiked a trail that didn't deserve to be called one. In reality, it was rock hopping and bushwhacking, and then some ladders to climb where if they didn't exist you would have had no choice but to turn around. A great time, certainly. In fact, it was such a great time that there was not enough left over to reach the summit of Mt. Hakkyo. Ah well, there's another trail head that opens later in April, and it is said that the other trail is less about parkour and more about hiking. Regardless, it was an exciting venture in the woods.

After two days in Nara I headed north with no delay. Mt. Minago, the highest point in Kyoto, was a quick morning walk. Later in the day, I discovered that Mt. Ibuki is currently closed to hiking, so it will also have to wait for another trip. On the long drive home, I stopped by Mt. Chausu, the highest point in Aichi, got a nice view of the Alps, and slowly headed back east.


New Mexico


Here are some pictures from a two-week winter trip to New Mexico.

20231223.1.NM.jpg 20231225.1.Falcon.jpg 20231226.1.Food.jpg 20231228.1.Sunset.jpg 20231229.1.Devils_Hall.jpg 20231229.2.McKittrick.jpg 20231231.1.Carlsbad.jpg 20240101.1.Organ.jpg 20240101.2.White_Sands.jpg

My family got together at George and Cora's house in Los Alamos. We did some snowboarding, shopping in Santa Fe, cooking, and then we played with the cat a lot. Later, Dex & Betsy and Matt & Diana flew home, and I went south in a rental car. The first stop was Guadalupe Mountains National Park, just across the state line into Texas. The hiking was excellent. For the entire trip, the nights were around freezing, and during the sunny days the temperature rose to the 50s, which made for great conditions for being outside. Several days later, I stopped by Carlsbad Caverns, which is a ridiculously large and impressive cave complex. From there it was up to White Sands National Park, with the overnight at Aguirre Springs Campground in the Organ Mountains. The last destination was a brief stop at Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, then a quick sprint up the interstate to Albuquerque, an airport hotel, and a long flight home.

I've been to New Mexico several times, and even to some of the above locations before, but that was a long time ago, and some of the previous visits were short. It's nice to relax and focus on seeing those areas with time to spare, to walk around longer and take in more views. It's a beautiful part of the U.S.



Here are some pictures from a two-week summer trip to Ireland with Marjorie and River.

20230810.1.Trinity.jpg 20230810.2.Kells.jpg 20230811.1.Glendalough.jpg 20230812.1.Monasterboice.jpg 20230812.2.Knowth.jpg 20230814.1.Breakfast.jpg 20230814.2.Sky.jpg 20230814.3.Flower.jpg 20230816.1.Moher.jpg 20230819.1.Gallarus.jpg 20230820.1.Kenmare.jpg 20230821.1.Cathedral.jpg 20230821.2.UCC.jpg 20230822.1.Mail.jpg

We started in Dublin for several days, complete with day trips to visit Glendalough, Knowth, and some other sites with somewhat old and very old ruins. After that we headed west to Galway. The Sky Road was a scenic drive. After Galway, we headed south to Doolin. The sites to see there were the Aran Islands — we visited Inishmore, the large island — and the Cliffs of Moher. The views and landscape here, as with elsewhere in the country, were amazing. The coastal cliffs are distinct in color and vegetation from the inland mountains, even though they're only twenty minutes' drive from each other. Following Doolin, we continued south to Killarney. Our rainiest day was a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry, which was designed to be fun regardless of the weather. Finally, we spent two days in Cork.

I didn't know much about Irish history before visiting, so it was exciting to learn about the neolithic people, the history with the Vikings and later the British, and small things like the fact that George Boole was the first mathematics professor at University College Cork or that famous wool sweaters come from the Aran Islands. The food was mostly excellent. Many of the sandwich shops and bakeries we visited served great food, and classics like mussels, fish & chips, and the full breakfast were as good as I'd hoped they'd be. It was a nice time seeing the historical, cultural, and natural sites with friends.


Hiking in North Kanto


Continuing on the quest to climb Japan's Top 100 Mountains list as well as dodge the heat in Tokyo and Kanagawa, I went up to North Kanto for a week and climbed five peaks: Mt. Nikko-Shirane, Mt. Hotaka, Mt. Tanigawa, Mt. Makihata, and Mt. Hiuchigatake.

20230726.1.Shirane.jpg 20230727.1.Gunma.jpg 20230727.2.Hotaka.jpg 20230727.3.Hotaka.jpg 20230728.1.Tanigawa.jpg 20230728.2.Tanigawa.jpg 20230728.3.Tanigawa.jpg 20230729.1.Makihata.jpg 20230729.2.Tadami.jpg 20230729.3.Minamiaizu.jpg 20230730.1.Hiuchigatake.jpg 20230730.2.Hiuchigatake.jpg 20230730.3.Hiuchigatake.jpg

This trip spanned from Gunma to Tochigi, then Niigata, and finally Fukushima. The distances as a crow flies for each hike, and even between trail heads and campgrounds, is relatively short, but the mountains are steep and the roads are curvy, so it takes a surprisingly long time to get anywhere... Which is just as well, because what's the rush? There's a lot to be discovered: campgrounds with no cell signal, bears, monkeys, foxes, good views, peace & quiet, cicadas, rain on the tent, wind. That's why I come up here.

20230731.1.Kanto.png 20230731.2.Kanto.png

Hiking in Shikoku


For spring break this year, I took my car on the ferry from Tokyo to Tokushima and went hiking and car camping in Shikoku. Six years ago I did a similar trip by motorcycle, and it was good then, so why not mix it up with a revisit by car? There were bicycles to ride and mountains to climb.

20230325.1.Miune.jpg 20230325.2.Tsurugi.jpg 20230325.3.Tsurugi.jpg 20230326.1.Ryuo.jpg 20230327.1.Shimanami.jpg 20230327.2.Beach.jpg 20230328.1.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230328.2.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230328.3.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230328.4.Ishizuchi.jpg 20230329.1.Iya.jpg 20230329.2.Minodanofuchi.jpg

It was my goal to climb Mt. Tsurugi and Mt. Ishizuchi, because they're on Japan's Top 100 Mountains list. Along with those two mountains are Mt. Ryuo and Mt. Miune, which are less famous, and those four mountains are the highest points of each of the four prefectures in Shikoku. Mt. Ryuo isn't even a hike — you can drive to the summit — but the other three mountains were around 10 km jaunts up the hills. Late March weather can be spotty, so there aren't many other hikers around, so it makes for a relaxing time.

Later in the trip I headed west to ride on the Shimanami Kaido, a bicycle path that runs from Imabari in the south to Onomichi in the north, bridging the island chain from Ehime to Hiroshima. I rented a bike in Imabari, and it took about seven hours at a leisurely pace to get to Onomichi. Getting back to my car in the south was complicated: walking, a ferry, more walking, a highway bus, and yet another long walk. The path was also on my list of sixteen motorcycle roads.

If you live in Kanto and have a car, Shikoku is a great spring break location. The ferry is slow but inexpensive, there are many free or cheap campgrounds, and there's a lot to explore. Along with the above-mentioned hikes and rides, I spent a day driving through the Iya Valley, replete with thatch roofs, vine bridges, and mountain valleys with crystal clear streams.

20230331.1.Tokyo-Tokushima.png 20230331.2.Shikoku.png



Here are some pictures from a two-week Christmas vacation trip to Sabah, Malaysia.

20221225.1.Sipadan.jpg 20221225.3.Mabul.jpg 20221227.1.Sign.jpg 20221227.2.Roti.jpg 20221227.3.Hill.jpg 20221227.4.Hill.jpg 20221227.5.Dock.jpg 20221227.6.Dinner.jpg 20221228.3.Orangutan.jpg 20221231.2.River.jpg 20221231.4.Lunch.jpg 20221231.5.Macaque.jpg 20230101.1.River.jpg 20230101.2.Lodge.jpg 20230103.2.Mosque.jpg

A few years ago I was diving in Bali, and a couple on the dive boat recommended Sipadan. So this year, as COVID restrictions were easing around most of the world, I wanted to go somewhere new, so Sipadan it was.

I did three days of diving in Sipadan. Sipadan is a famous diving destination, and I was impressed. We saw all kinds of creatures: jack fish, barracuda, bump head, white tip sharks, turtles, lion fish, cuttlefish, manta rays, sting rays, scorpion fish, frog fish, tuna, mantis shrimps. The schools of bump head were freaky looking, and we had some amazing barracuda cyclones. After Sipadan, I took a day for easy hiking around Semporna.

It's a quick flight up to Sandakan, and from there a short taxi ride to Sepilok and the urangutans. You can watch the urangutans get fed at the rehabilitation center. Next door is a sun bear rehabilitation center, which is also pretty cool. I also did some hiking at the Rainforest Discovery Center.

Next on the trip was the Lower Kinbatangan River. A three-day two-night package with mosquito-laden nature walks and mosquito-free river cruises revealed all manner of wildlife: long tailed macaques, proboscis monkeys, silver leaf monkeys, egrets, baby and adult crocodiles, hornbills, osprey, an orangutan, kingfishers, Pacific swallows, storm storks, Oriental darters, eagles, and more. There's a lot of beautiful nature in this country.

My last two days were in Kota Kinabalu, the state capitol. There is a museum, plus some mosques to see. Malaysia is not famous for its food, but if you look carefully there's tasty stuff to be found. I had some great seafood meals, and there are many good coffee shops to be found. A leisurely stroll through the city was a nice way to end the vacation.

20230104.1.Malaysia.png 20230104.2.Borneo.png 20230104.3.Sabah.png