Well, folks, here I am again in my de facto Tokyo office with the soft-jazz soundtrack and the students frowning over their papers and textbooks with the single caramel frappuccino they’ll ride till the ice melts and beyond, and the convenient power outlets spaced along the window bench — my main reason for hanging here (apart from the tobacco-free policy). Su-tā-bakku-su. I’ve been busy, and it doesn’t seem like my posts on this trip will ever be less than a week older than the events they describe. Here I am about to talk about Day 3 of my Daisetsuzan adventure and since then I’ve already done two Tohoku hikes and returned yesterday from a magnificent (but very hard) three-day trek through the Minami (South) Alps, highest range in Japan. It nearly killed me, but it was worth it! You’ll remember the busted tent pole from last post. Well, at a little ma-and-pa outdoor store just around the corner here in Kichijoji, an energetic youngster in jeans tight enough to break bones was able to decipher my problem …
Hey, folks. First of all today, would you like to see my Nikkas? Happy to oblige. First, here’s one of the pair of convenient travel-sized bottles I bought in the gift shop just before boarding the cable car up the side of Asahi-Dake a few days ago. The kind lady even wrapped each one in bubble-wrap without me even asking: And here’s one I took last night as I walked home from dinner to my third (and best) capsule hotel, here in Sapporo, Hokkaido. This is at the other end of the Nikka size spectrum: I do believe in the responsible consumption of ‘alcohol,’ even in the mountains, just like the authorities in Japan. Me, I like to keep the manner, and I do my best swearing in private: That gondola: I don’t really believe in the things. They’re like bridges to islands — they kinda mess with definitions. If you can fly halfway up the side of a mountain in minutes, is it still a mountain? But dang, that pack of mine was heavy. …
Well, the snow is starting to melt and the air smells like spring… That’s how Kate’s email began this morning (yesterday afternoon New York time). I was at once overcome with envy and nostalgia for that revivifying time when you feel the change in the air like the scent of hope and you know you’ve made it through the harshest of seasons. Pretty soon the first bulbs will be pushing through the melt-sodden earth. Here in Brisbane the harshest season is Summer, and we’re not through it yet; it seems to have saved its heaviest artillery for one bloody last stand. I don’t know if it’s age, my general malaise, or if all those southern summers I missed while living overseas made me soft, but I’ve really struggled with this latest one. Over in Upstate New York, of course, it’s been, by all accounts, an even harsher Winter than the one I lived through in 2014. That was the most consistently cold I’ve ever been, but it wasn’t just the temperatures, it was the grey, the gloom, the oppressive monotony of the …
CHRISTMAS 2010, SOMEWHERE IN THE SWISS-GERMAN HEARTLAND I’ve never enjoyed Christmas much as a (relative) grown-up, but I loved my introduction to the European version. In Australia, backyard beers and sizzling sausages on a 30C afternoon, followed incongruously by hot, heavy — and admittedly delicious — pudding drowned in custard and littered with antique threepenny coins, had just never worked for me. But this felt like the real thing. It actually seemed possible to believe that something deeper or more meaningful than an orgy of shopping, eating and bad television was taking place in this ancient little town between Zurich and Lucerne.
With just under a week remaining in Queensland, I’ve enjoyed every day since “resolving” the passport problem and allowing myself to relax and soak in the sunshine and the very mellow Easter-holiday atmosphere.
I’ve been back in Brisbane a few days: visa stuff. It’s good to be here, and Easter in South-East Queensland brings the best weather all year, but the trip hasn’t been without its traumas, and I don’t just mean the flying part.
Hi, all. I’ve been a bad, bad blogger again, but hopefully I can get back in the groove after perhaps my longest break from posting since embarking on the crazy roller-coaster ride that is walking-blogging. A lot’s been happening, and this isn’t the time or place to fill you in on all of it: I’m tapping this with my laptop perched atop my, er, lap, in the waiting area of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
BUCK MOUNTAIN, MARCH 7, 2014 Buck Mountain lies on the southeast shore of Lake George, and it is a perfect introduction to the Adirondacks. Pick a bright day in May and start your Adirondack hiking with a great climb. ~ Barbara McMartin, 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks The Buck Mountain hike — and chapter — is #1 in McMartin’s guide, one of a growing collection Kate and I have started amassing. It was also, appropriately enough, our first Adirondack hike as a couple (cue the chorus of Awwws), a nice easy out-and-back (as the American idiom has it) hike of almost seven miles in total. We did make it a little tougher by picking an overcast day in early March, but yes: it was still a great climb.
What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.
Three and three-quarter miles of walking in glorious sunshine and very mild temps — it’s minus 1C as I write this over the remnants of my bakery lunch — could just about fool a gullible rambler into thinking Winter was over.
So, remember that lake I half-heartedly pretended to road-walk to a couple of times (here and here) — Moreau Lake?
The soundtrack for this stroll — for most of my urban walking of late — was the Beatles’ Revolution Number 9: Number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine…number nine… You get the idea. But how about some visuals?
I’d bought us a new washing machine that was getting delivered “between 1:00 and 5:00” — how’s that for an opening hook? — and with my morning free I set out early down Rt 9 to make the most of the Winter sunshine and stow some more road miles under my belt.
Hey, all. Well, as one Pony Express rider remarked to another, it’s been way too long between posts. A lot has happened, and almost nothing at all, but somehow I’ve accumulated enough material over the last few weeks for several posts. It’s just that all the actual living part keeps getting in the way.
G’day, folks, and thanks for all the good wishes I received after my first New York-based post. I’ve been here a little over a week now and am acclimatising in more ways than one — Americans say acclimating: there’s another thing I have to acclimate to — and I haven’t been troubled by cold since that cry for help about frozen fingers in the last post. I’m getting used to the snow…
Somewhere over the mid-Pacific I swapped my camo hunting cap (found dangling on a tree in Pennsylvania while hiking the A.T.) for a beanie, arranged my flimsy, handkerchief-sized blankie and folded myself into an approximation of sleep. I always book a window seat when I can to avoid contact with fellow passengers, and refrain from bathroom trips if possible, a challenge that passes the time while building self-control and Olympic-standard bladder endurance. I managed 12 hours on this trip, I’m proud to say. Just limit your free drinks to a single gin and tonic and try not to look at the ocean.
It dawned on me last night that I only had one more Saturday and two Sundays left in Korea. Now there’s just one more weekend and 10 full days. And I intend to cram six more posts into that space, starting with this one. I think it’s now officially Winter. I’ve had the odd case of numb, near-paralysed fingers with the Raynaud’s Syndrome playing up a bit on early-morning hikes, particularly in my camera hand — but really, who’s complaining when over in New York, Kate’s needed her brother with a snow plough so she could move her car? It’s been amazing walking weather. Someone told me today that this area had a mere 30% of its normal rainfall this year — and Jeju Island only 20%. Autumn was far sunnier and more pleasant than last year’s, and I’ve scarcely had a weekend walk over the last couple of months that didn’t occur under clear blue skies.
Remember that wintry couple of days I stayed at Wing Road Farm, just out of Saratoga Springs, in January?
Well I came across a child of God, he was walking along the road And I asked him, tell where are you going, this he told me: Well, I’m going down to Yasgur’s farm, going to join in a rock and roll band. Got to get back to the land, set my soul free ~ Joni Mitchell (performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), ‘Woodstock’ I’m not goin’ back to Woodstock for a while, Though I long to hear that lonesome hippie smile. I’m a million miles away from that helicopter day No, I don’t believe I’ll be goin’ back that way. ~ Neil Young, ‘Roll Another Number (For the Road)’ Hippies are squares with long hair And they don’t wear no underwear Country rock is on the wane I don’t want music, I want pain! ~ Dictators, ‘Master Race Rock’
The conclusion of yesterday’s tale. Two posts in 24 hours = two consecutive days of doing something useful at work! This could be habit-forming… So back I went along the ridge, down the foggy ruins of time (Bob Dylan), umbrella swishing nice cold raindrops into my eyes from low-hanging boughs. I dug my main camera back out of my pack, slung it round my neck and resumed my struggle against the forces of darkness — I mean the forces of moisture. I’m pretty reckless with that little machine, but I’d rather have it handy and risk a few raindrops than have to keep stopping and retrieving it.