A couple of months back, before it got too hot for all but deranged masochists to hike anywhere, my friend Chris Lynch borrowed his mother’s car, I downed a couple of Kwells to head off the inevitable car sickness, and we drove south a few hours to O’Reilly’s, the famous “rainforest retreat” set in the midst of mountainous Lamington National Park. It was a last-minute escape plan, and we only came up with a rudimentary course while poring over a tourist map minutes before leaving my place: two nights in the Green Mountains section, at unimproved bush campsites (read: no running water or toilets), with lots of rainforest walking and waterfalls in between. The pills worked, I arrived mildly stoned but nausea-free, and we left the car at the resort to set off down one of the numerous tracks that intersect, start or finish there. It was a fantastic trip — sometimes the hastily prepared ones are the best ones. Early on, as I apologised for stopping for yet another shot, Chris remarked, “Take your time. This …
I was stuffing cameras into my daypack, readying for a trip up the road, when I heard it: a loud, sharp CRACK on the roof over the back verandah. Then another, and another. They started coming faster till we were under sustained attack, like a gang of vandals was hurling rocks from up the hill. But there is no hill to be up and the vandals around here are not that resourceful or organised. This was two afternoons ago. The forecast had suggested a storm, but I’d been disappointed before. Now with the temperature easing off and the sky darkening, I thought I’d try my luck at some very low-budget storm-chasing. I love the summer storm season here in South-East Queensland: rain, cooler temps, some much-needed drama. And I keep hoping one day I’ll fluke a nice magazine cover-worthy lightning shot and retire to somewhere dark and stormy with my earnings. I ditched the pack and peeked out from under the upstairs verandah. Leaving cover right then would have been suicidal. A few years ago I was way, …
I just had a couple of days helping my friend Frank paint his house and generally bum around his charming inner-city Brisbane suburb. It was delightful to walk some different terrain, and take pictures of things that hadn’t washed in on the previous night’s tide. Also, it finally rained, which made the hills and coffee shops and leg-waxing salons (it’s a very well-waxed suburb) all the more refreshing — it’s been hot of late. Yesterday, back here on the edge of the Bay, we got our long-rumoured storm: 70ml of sweet clear glory sloshed around in our backyard gauge after a mere hour; wind-whipped water poured in over the tops of my sliding windows even though they were closed. It was fantastic, and the local park resembled the Serengeti afterwards, ibis, egrets and other waders by the hundreds combing the lake-like puddles when I trotted up with my camera to investigate. More on all that stuff coming up. So, listen: I’ve made a pact with myself (and my girlfriend, who is one hell of a tough …
Yesterday started weirdly even for me: awake around 2:30am and stepping out into blackness and perfect silence at exactly 3:30, since one of the features of my variety of insomnia is that I fall sleep easily but wake for no reason anywhere from a few to five or six (if I’m lucky) hours later. Wide awake, painfully awake. And it’s usually futile to lie there waiting for sleep to seep back in; might as well do something useful. For the last few weeks it’s been particularly bad. I do have a lot on my mind, and for part of every day there’s a knot of mild anxiety in my gut that vanishes completely when I’m lining up a shot, or enjoying a particularly sublime dawn, or thinking about long-term plans — even ideas for blog posts, believe it or not. Another annoying feature of my psychology is that my mind likes devising and settling into its own idiosyncratic rhythms. One day it figures, “This waking up hours before dawn caper is working out pretty damned …
Late September, Sandgate, Australia. A warm, sunny Saturday morning, and the dogs have brought their humans to the seaside. With a languid incoming tide lapping at the seawall, the walkway/cycle path that hugs the rim of the Bay from Shorncliffe to Scarborough is already well populated with cyclists, skateboarders, rollerbladers, perambulating families and couples, the occasional wretched loner walking his or her own path. And there are the dogs. Dogs of all sizes, shapes, temperaments and religious persuasions, all in a state of high excitement. So many things to do, see, bark at, chase and roll in. Their humans sip their lattes and struggle stoically to keep up. Anyway, it’s exercise. We wretched loners slump grimly on, attempting indifference, inwardly acknowledging our sad and undeniable doglessness. ~ And that’s all the Goat wrote
If you build it…
Well, here we are in nether regions of the alphabet, which was always going to be the toughest section of this journey. But by taking a few liberties with semantics and, well, truth, I have successfully completed my mission and can get on with my life… In unrelated news, my birthday gathering has been postponed a week, giving us some extra time to tame and prettify the backyard jungle. Yesterday was a phenomenally beautiful Saturday, appropriately enough for the longest one of the year and the beginning of Summer. The day began with the haunting call of a mourning dove that signals each new dawn lately, and ended the same way as Kate and I sat by the fire pit (we built a good one overlooking our squash-and-corn patch) toasting marshmallows and drinking brown ale: the (presumably same) dove had settled into the enormous old oak in the back corner of our yard, and kept up its mournful refrain until it finally got dark and the fire had withdrawn to a few glowing embers. An all-round …
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.
Hey, all, and welcome to a bright new year of blogging — and perhaps other stuff, if that’s your thing. I hope 2014 is a productive and rewarding year for you, and many thanks to readers who’ve been sticking with me on TGTW for my last couple of years in Korea, and in some cases, longer! Well, this time tomorrow I should be gazing out an aeroplane window at lovely blue ocean — hopefully below the plane. I’m excited about catching up with friends and family I haven’t seen for two years, and enjoying a few weeks of Brisbane beauty, not to mention hot weather, sand, good food and coffee, and revisiting some favourite haunts with my camera before I have to move on again.
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.
PEAKS & PILGRIMAGE TOUR TOKYO, AUGUST 2013 The oddly pleasant smell of burning mosquito coils wafted through the upstairs-room window as I slipped into chu-hi-enhanced sleep. Then sometime after midnight I was shaken awake by tremors rippling through the tatami — wondered in the morning if I’d dreamed them till Andrew told me they’d originated up north, somewhere near the site of the Fukushima disaster.
PEAKS & PILGRIMAGE TOKYO, 2013 I seemed to spend half my waking life on the Chuo Line when I lived in Tokyo. Now I was once again jumping into one of the familiar orange carriages at Nishi Kokubunji, playing a little game of Guess the Next Station from Memory as our kaisoku (rapid) train sped inbound: Kokubunji, Musashi-Koganei, Higashi-Koganei, Musashi-Sakai, Mitaka — and then the next stop on my high-speed visit to places from my Tokyo past: Kichijoji.
Howdy again. I’ve been a terrible blogger of late — I know it — but I start redeeming myself right here and right now. What’s it been since the last post, a week or so? Unforgivable — I was shooting for two or three posts per week, pre-computer breakdown. The shocking truth is that I can’t even blame the breakdown. Two Fridays ago, after skipping school at lunchtime and enduring one of those bruising trawls through the shabby Busan backstreets that I do so well, just as I was admitting defeat and retreating to the subway, I chanced upon a sign, which led me to an exit, and then a stairway, and finally the nondescript office building housing the approved Apple service joint serving the Southeast. A few minutes with the just-barely English-speaking technician, an arcane configuration of fingers on keys — something out of an I.T. Karma Sutra — and this here laptop was purring like a phlegmatic kitten.
Around the middle of last week we got some decent rain, and Daecheong Creek, down here in Jangyu where it widens and levels out after its carefree tumble down the gullies of Bulmo-San, roared with an uncharacteristic wildness.
“God damn it!” I was taking a hard-earned morning nap in the storeroom next to my Fortress of Solitude when that godawful bell ruined everything, announcing the conclusion of the day’s midterm exams. 12:15. I slumped grumpily to the window and watched the students escaping, free for the rest of their Friday. My Friday was free only of classes. I still had to turn up, to sit in the empty room with its broken computer for eight hours. I had seen no other teachers all morning. I flicked through a book — one of those paper ones they used to make last century — and stared out the window, itching for my own escape.
[Folks, this post, published earlier this month, recently disappeared from my site. Like, utterly — it’s not even in my WordPress trash folder. How is this possible? Thanks to Kate, my diligent blog monitor and number-one fan, for alerting me — I had no idea! Don’t understand how this could happen but am CERTAIN it wasn’t me. Anyway I’ve recovered it from Google Cache and backdated it to the original date. Apologies if I can’t get the original comments back as well…let’s see…] * * * * * The wreckage looked like shredded pieces of paper. The plane’s broken tail and nose came to rest near the top of the mountain, where a lack of access roads slowed rescuers’ efforts to reach the scene of the disaster… The plane hit one side of the mountain and then plowed toward the peak, catching fire and cutting a trail of fallen trees 100 yards long and 30 yards wide ~ CBS News, April 15, 2002
ON A SOUTHBOUND BUS, WEDNESDAY Greetings, folks. Never blogged from a bus before, but here goes. It’s a wild ride for writer and reader alike here on TGTW, where we explore the uncharted frontiers of the Blogosphere, at least until motion sickness kicks in.
Although I don’t have a religious bone in my body, I do enjoy a good temple, as regular readers might have guessed. I don’t go to them in search of anything profound. I just enjoy their architecture and landscaping, and the glimpses they provide of an older Korea (or Japan, for that matter).
Well, I’m pumping out the posts lately, trying to tidy up a few threads before I start my little walk on Friday night — and all going well I’ll treat you to a short but awesome post each night of my ordeal adventure. Before I finish the Big Rock Mountain saga, though, how’s this for some arresting graphics?
A popular legend describes the governor in charge of [Dongnae] fortress, Song Sang-hyeon. When Konishi Yukinaga [leader of 7,000 Japanese invaders] again demanded before the battle that the Koreans allow the Japanese to travel through the peninsula, the governor was said to have replied, “It is easy for me to die, but difficult to let you pass.”