NEWS!

These last two semesters of college have been a doozy, but I feel hopeful that soon I will resume my venture hyena lifestyle.  My confidence stems from the fact that the other day I accepted a summer position at Yellowstone National Park!  In light of this amazing news, here are a couple quick snapshots of that side of the country from my last summer trip.

Big Sky Country

Big Sky Country – what a view to wake up to.. (Glacier NP, MT)

Glacier NP, MT

The rest of the day never fails to disappoint, either (Glacier NP, MT).

Look out for posts from South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana starting in late May.  Woohoo!

I Know a Place // PARKE COUNTY, IN

Most of the places I want to escape to are very far from where I am now.  I’ll get there eventually, to Istanbul, Tirol, Cape Town, Santorini, Kingston… But the purpose of travel isn’t to get as far away as possible (okay, except when it is, because sometimes it is); I’m currently trying to give Indiana a chance.  So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  These pictures were taken in Parke County, IN – home of Turkey Run and Shades State Parks.  I feel an almost constant pull towards the forest, so I’m sure I’ll be spending lots of weekends here while I’m finishing school.

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Keep on Moving // IN TRANSIT

I don’t know what it’s like to have a hometown, and I still don’t know a simple answer to the question, “Where are you from?”  I was born in Indiana.  I spent 5 years in California.  I knew my dad in Oregon.  I felt happy in Texas.  I cried hard when I left Maryland.  I loved for the first time in Japan.  I loved again in Germany and cried again when I left.  But I can’t call even one of those places “home,” and I think it would be misleading to define myself by one or more of the places I’ve lived.

Anyway, my happiest memories aren’t of staying still.  What comes to mind?  Riding bikes in the dark back to Miesenbach with my brother after a pub night, dozing in the jump seat of my uncle’s truck on a drive through Utah, running up and over the impossibly steep hills of the Schwarzwald on trails to God-knows-where while the rest of town sleeps, boarding the train from Fussa with no destination in mind and hopping off at the flip of a coin, sleeping my way down the west coast in a tiny tent with a friend and two dogs, sharing a boat in Venice in Winter with the morning commuters, driving on an empty country road in Indiana with my music playing, daydreaming on the Greyhound Bus of my next trip to Illinois, or Washington, or Minnesota, or Montana, or wherever.  All of those times were times I felt free, free from institutions, from houses, neighborhoods, jobs, acquaintances, and from so many of the things we own that we say we can’t live without.

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It’s not wrong by any means to have a home, but I’ve made it this far without one, and I count myself lucky.  I only know who I am when I’m in transit, and the farther I go, the lighter my burden becomes.  Of course, it’s completely possible that I’ll want a home one day, but for now, I’ll just keep on moving.

Shots in the Dark // GLACIER, MT 2014

I feel sort of like a high-class vagabond sometimes, jumping from group to group of travelling family and friends. After making my way to Seattle to join Brianna for a road trip up and down the West Coast, I took a bus to Pasco, WA to hop in the car with some relatives driving north to Montana. This wagon train was headed for Glacier National Park. On the agenda was hiking, hiking and more hiking. I was a happy camper (pun intended).

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A happy camper equipped with water, snacks and a guide to Montana wildflowers.

The beauty of Glacier is paradoxical. Fantastic views greet the eyes in all directions, and it’s hard to tell where one incredible landscape ends and another begins. The infinities between each scene made framing photos a struggle. However, I took a few shots in the dark.  Or more appropriately, in the light.

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Logan’s Pass, Hidden Lake Trail

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Grinnell Glacier Hike at Many Glacier

I can’t wait to return for some longer hikes.  For inspiring views and a healthy dose of fresh air and exercise (and huckleberry ice cream, pie, caramel, syrup, licorice, or whatever else suits your fancy), Glacier National Park is the place to be.

Prologue // TACOMA, WA

 

 

 

My West Coast road trip has begun!  Well, kind of.  My travel buddy finished up her exams today and we hung around her campus in Tacoma.  Tacoma is kind of like Seattle’s younger brother – smaller and quieter but up-and-coming and just as charming.  We wandered around and had (delicious) burgers at Shake Shake Shake.  After coming from muggy Indiana, the cool cloudy weather was not unwelcome.  I also enjoyed the hills, a feature we have few of in my home of “Lay-flat,” Indiana.

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On Friday, we stock the car and study our maps.  Saturday, we hit the open road.

Take Me Back // JAPAN

I can’t remember what I dreamt last night, but I woke up with a single thought in my head: “I have to go back to Japan.”

Someday I will.  I miss it all the time.  The food, the people, the sights and sounds.  I miss everything.  I want to eat real ramen, shop for candy and trinkets at the Daiso, snack on onigiri, ride my bike along the Tama, run up and down Mt. Ome, see the coast, the mountains, the city, take in the colors of the local festivals, everything.

Japan was the place I first made a conscious decision to travel.  I spent my school breaks in places like Thailand and Indonesia, and at home I would hop on the train with no set destination in mind, stepping off into unknown territory.

I spent the summers running with the cross country team through paddy fields and along the Tama river, stopping once in a while to jump in the water and cool off or to get a drink from a vending machine (special note to runners:  Japan has vending machines and toilets EVERYWHERE.  If you have yen, you’ll never bonk hard.  And you’ll never have to explain why you left for a run with two socks and returned with one).  After 8-12 miles in the bright, sticky heat we’d make a stop at 7-11 to get cold drinks to enjoy in the shade, giddy and happy and tired.

I was lucky enough to have family just a two-hour train ride away.  My aunt and uncle took my all over the country, from the mountains of Nozawa for the annual fire festival to the foggy beaches of the Izu Peninsula to quirky tourist attractions like the Ramen Museum or a Roppongi club called Abbey Road where Beatles cover bands take the stage.  We slept on tatami mats and ate fish at nearly every meal and always said Oishikatta (“It was delicious”) afterwards, although after a while I yearned for something simple and American like a PB&J.

Unfortunately, I did not start documenting my travel moments through photography until after I had left Japan.  One more reason to go back!  Here are a few from my facebook archives:

Ramen and Milk Tea

Ramen and Milk Tea

Festival Lights

Festival Lights

Climbing Fuji-San on a Perfect Day

Climbing Fuji-San on a Perfect Day

In other news, I finished my final exams today.  Let the summer adventures begin!

Favorites // FLAGSTAFF, AZ

They say it’s a small world, but Earth is a pretty big place.  I am under no impression that I’ve truly seen the world.  I’ve seen 19 countries of 200+ in existence, and how much of these countries have I really been exposed to?  I haven’t even experienced all that my own home country has to offer.

While I have many places left to explore, I have a few favorites.  One of them is Flagstaff, Arizona.  I’ve written before that home is a difficult concept for me, but in my heart, Flagstaff feels like home.  My aunt and uncle have retired from their jobs as travelling educators and settled in the area.  But maybe “settled” is the wrong word.. They are still very much on the move, and I love joining them on their adventures.

One such adventure: the nearby Chocolate Falls, located in the Painted Desert on Navajo land.  We took a bumpy drive through the dirt and dust to hike and explore and climb on the rocks.

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But there’s more to Arizona than desert.  Last summer we took a trip to Lockett Meadow for some (more) hiking and stargazing.

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It was a beautiful clear night and I saw my first shooting star!  Morning was just as pleasant.  I slept in the bed of the truck and woke with the morning light to a peaceful forest scene.  I warmed up with a cup of bitter black tea.

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Flagstaff, I hope to see you again soon.