This tree is a guest tree from my past – because I drove most of the day and then had a thanksgiving dinner at David’s house on a redwood-clad hillside outside of Eureka. I failed to pause to take a picture with a tree in it.
The tree shown (take your pick) is along one of my “pedestrian commuter” routes in Goyang City (Ilsan), South Korea. I took the picture in December, 2017.
I set a new personal record for driving time between LA (Pasadena) and Humboldt (Eureka): ten hours, thirty minutes. Driving on Thanksgiving day, with minimal traffic through cities, was the advantage.
Here is thanksgiving dinner at David’s. I guess there’s some shrubs in the shadows at the edges, and I could have used this as a tree picture. But it didn’t feel legit.
Erilynn took the picture, that’s David in the front right – an iconic friend of the family from my childhood, one of my many unofficial uncles, I guess. I look like I have a bandage on my neck – that’s just a mask because we were occasionally wearing masks in the house, because of concerns about Covid.
This tree is out there leaning over the a stretch of the Gabrielleno trail, which runs up the Arroyo Seco into the San Gabriel Mountains in northwest Pasadena. I met my brother, his friend Roy, my friend Jay and his friend Cameron for a hike up that trail. I had an enjoyable day talking and catching up with Jay and Cameron – I haven’t seen Jay since 2018 and I haven’t seen Cameron since… 2009. Jay and Cameron are both very interesting people, though. It was great to spend time talking with them.
It is a painful irony, given where I’ve chosen to live these recent years, that I am an unrepentant “public transit nerd.” I love public transit: buses, subways, trolleys, etc. So I am eccentric: I arrive in L.A. with my own rental car, but promptly set out to take the trolley and subway to the beach – just for fun. L.A.’s public transit is grossly underrated – some stations even have clean restrooms – though not quite to Korean standards. A trolley-subway mix from Pasadena to Santa Monica takes about 2 hours. But a drive would be at least an hour – and unpredictably, it could be much more, depending on traffic. Further, driving is intense and focused and doesn’t allow one to read or surf the internet during the journey, whereas sitting on train permits such leisures.
So that’s what I did today. I find large cities reassuring more than alarming.
Our neighbors-down-the-road, Mike and Penny, have a dog named Maya. Maya is a very energetic young malamute. Yesterday when I was at work, Penny came into the gift shop and reported that Mike had had an incident while walking the dog, and had fallen down and because of that, was now unable to walk the dog. Penny described a dog desperate for dogwalking.
Now that I am not working so much on my treehouse project – which was a lot of physical labor and excellent exercise – I think I need to start walking more. So I volunteered to walk down to Mike and Penny’s house and take the dog on a walk. What better morning for a neighborly dogwalk than one coated in fresh-fallen snow? I walked down to their house, collected the dog, walked with her back up to our house and back down to their house again, then walked back home. Total, about 5km just for that.
Mostly I don’t like it when people attempt “essays” or long-form journalism on twitter. It just doesn’t work, jumping from short little message to short little message. It’s a very constrained medium to develop any kind of narrative. But this morning I ran across what I felt was very good use of the medium.
Some guy in Britain decided to see how far he could go in 24 hours traveling by only city / local buses. No coaches, no trains, no anything but local bus routes. He started at Charing Cross, in the center of London, at 3 AM, and made his way, local bus by local bus, up the Island of Great Britain, tweeting all the way. Mostly it reads as a kind of “city and town bus stations of England” travelogue. I’m waiting for the coffee-table book.
He made it as far as Morecambe (a beach town just outside Lancaster) in the middle of the following night. The people following the story had been hoping he’d make it to Scotland – but he fell quite a ways short of that.
This tree is from my past. It was witness to a rather ambitious hiking excursion I took with my brother in September, 2013, in southwestern South Korea – right during the time I was undergoing my 3-times-a-week radiation therapy for my cancer. This is on the mountain just west of Hongnong, between the town and the nuclear power plant on the coast. Hongnong is where I lived in 2010-2011. I remember being utterly exhausted from this trip.
This tree is a guest tree from my past. I saw this tree in September, 2013, at a temple called 흥국사 (Heungguksa) in eastern Goyang City (which was my home in Korea). The mountain in the background is Bukhansan, which separates Goyang and other northwest suburbs from Seoul proper – it’s the same mountain which, seen from the other side, is found in many iconic photos of the city.
I decided to include this tree because I took that trip to that temple while I was undergoing radiation therapy (x-ray tomography) for my cancer treatment at that time. And frankly, I felt so bad today that I said to Arthur: “I haven’t felt this awful since I was getting radiation therapy.”
I suspect it’s what you might call the Covid vaccine “hangover.” Arthur didn’t have any such symptoms, but then, despite his various health problems, I suspect he has a very healthy immune system. I don’t think mine is so strong – the cancer is (was) proof of that. Anyway, there are others who have had such a strong reaction to the Moderna vaccine’s second dose. I experience fever, chills, nausea, and even some delirium today. I didn’t do anything except lie in bed and drink water. [daily log: walking, no]
This tree is from my past. It was at a little historical park on the northern tip of Ganghwa Island, about 30 km northwest from my home in Ilsan, South Korea. I’d gone there when my mother was visiting me in Korea. I took the picture in October, 2013.
From the promontory at the little fortress there, you can see directly into North Korea, across the river – this is the part of the DMZ where the border runs in the river. A few hundred meters away from that tree, this is a view across the river. Those mountains in the distance are in North Korea. There are little coin-operated binoculars and you can look into the North Korean town over there.
My brother Andrew and I went to Kasaan. There is a totem pole park there – a kind of outdoor museum of native culture.
Kasaan is possibly my favorite place on the island. It being winter, the cafe and indoor visitor center was closed. But we walked among the totems, saw the old long house, and had a kind of impromptu picnic on the beach.
It was a nice day, though quite cold – I think about 36° F (2 C), and windy.
Here is Andrew on the rocky beach.
Peter and I went on a hike in the morning, up the trail that runs up the side of Sunnahae mountain – but we didn’t intend to go to the top, which would have been an all-day hike. We went about 2 miles up and turned around a came back down.
Here is a tree we saw along the trail.
Here is me looking like a sinister Korean right-wing ajeossi of the sort you’d meet on a mountainside in Korea.
I’m wearing a hat that Peter gave to me that says “외국인” [oegugin = “alien, foreigner”]. This is funny. [daily log: walking, 6km]
I am with Arthur in Juneau.
He came here for two medical appointments – we’d decided when planning the trip to my mom’s in Australia that it was logical to just tack on the visit to Juneau to the end of that trip.
This did not work out well. We got to see the specialist this morning, but our delayed arrival due to the problem in departing Cairns meant that the general annual VA appointment was utterly cocked up by our missed day. And there seems to be little we can do about it. Arthur is being indecisive about whether to stay longer in in Juneau to get things taken care of, or to go on home and come back to Juneau later – both involve almost exactly the same level of extra expense, and without that as a guide, it’s hard to make a decision.
Meanwhile, I decided to walk around. I’ve never visited Juneau before, despite repeated visits to Southeast Alaska.
Here are some pictures.
The State Capitol building – one of the few non-purpose-built state capitols in the US (the only one?), it’s just a repurposed old office building.
The Russian church.
A neighborhood park called Chicken Yard.
Manila Square – there are a lot of Philippine people in Southeast Alaska (which I knew – I remember my surprise at hearing Tagalog on the streets of Ketchikan), so there is, apparently, a memorial of this here.
The Korean Restaurant that is closest to my new home (bearing in mind that that still means more than 500km by boat or plane from my new home).
A view of Juneau from in front of our motel.
A little hut in a field.
We drove over to Kuranda today, to visit some of my mom’s friends.
We saw Pat, whom I’ve met during previous visits. Here is a picture of Ann, Arthur and Pat beside the Buddha in Pat’s driveway.
We met Kirsten and Emma at their “block” a little farther west. They live in a big shed and have a dam and a small reservoir on their property. And some dogs.
Here is the dog Mickey playing fetch with a ring-shaped toy, looking cute because the ring wraps around the nose.
Driving back, there was a lot of rain – sheets of rain like falling oceans.
We stopped in Ravenshoe, the closest town to where my mother’s house is, for a late lunch. Here is the Ravenshoe Town Hall.
Looking the other way, here is the Bottle Shop (Liquor Store) and Motel.
Today my brother Andrew and I took a hike. We went out into the “backyard” – which is to say, up the mountain behind my uncle’s house. There is no trail. Nothing. People don’t go up there, for the most part – except every few decades to log trees, and occasional hunters.
We just kept walking uphill. Mostly a southward bearing, leaning a bit southwestward. I used the GPS on my phone to take regular bearings, every few hundred feet. And we tied plastic ribbon on branches to mark our path, too, which was useful for finding our way back down the hill.
Here is a screenshot of the navigation app I used, with all the little pink waypoints.
I took some pictures, and so did Andrew. The hillside got snowier as we went up, but easier, too, because even deep snow is easier than the really thick underbrush of the lower slopes, and once you get into the old growth trees higher up, there is much less underbrush.
My trip odometer was 11034 miles (17757km) since departing home 63 days ago. That’s a lot of driving. And now I’m home. I think I’ll do absolutely nothing for a few days. A vacation to recover from my vacation. Hah.
Here is a tree I saw while taking walk in Ketchikan as Arthur and I waited for the Hollis ferry. [daily log: walking, 4km]
Arthur and I drove north from Forest Grove, Oregon, to Bellingham, Washington.
I saw this tree, with truck, at a rest area off I-5 near Centralia, WA.
We arrived in Bellingham and checked in to our ferry with Alaska Marine Highway. Our boat will be the M/V Columbia.
I saw this view of the area of Bellingham called Fairhaven from the dock – this used to be an independent town but has been absorbed by Bellingham. Bellingham reminds me a lot of Eureka, California (a town of my childhood).
We boarded the boat right at dusk.
This blog post posted from a floating boat, just underway. [daily log: walking, 1.5km; driving, 500km]
I’m thinking of just posting a picture of a tree every day. I think living up in Prince of Wales Island, Alaska, I won’t run out of different trees.
Today, the tree is a cherry tree in Juli and Keith’s front yard.
Yes, we have arrived back at their house, west of Portland.
We drove down from central Idaho. Here are two more pictures from stops along the road.
Snake River Valley at dawn.
Some mountains fighting with a snowcloud.
This is our last major stop before returning to Alaska. I’ll make one side trip next weekend, up to Seattle, hopefully. We’ll do some shopping and things that we can’t do easily up in Craig. Then next Friday (Jan 18), we take the ferry northward. [daily log: walking, 1km; driving, 700km]
I took a walk this afternoon. This time I went west. I found the big chocolate factory. There is a street behind the factory called Chocolate Avenue (sign at right in picture – the big white building is the chocolate factory).
Now I understand why Arthur likes to visit his brother in Montrose.
Some other pictures.
Call this daily tree #2.
Tomorrow, Arthur and I drive northwest. It looks like we’re not going to meet Arthur’s friends in Reno, so we’ll be heading straight for Portland. Our holiday adventure is coming to a close. We’ll have a bit over a week in Portland and then we return to Alaska. [daily log: walking, 9km]
I took a long walk in the morning. I walked east up out of town.
I looked south from the top of a hill.
I saw a cold horse, who said nay.
I saw something for the horse to eat, called hay.
In the afternoon, we went to have beer with some of my uncle Alan’s friends at a craft brewery in downtown Montrose. [daily log: walking, 8km]
We spent the day mostly just hanging out with Patti and Alan.
My two uncles, Arthur and Alan, could almost pass for twins, though they’re not.
Later, I took a long walk, in a big circle around this subdivision and another, and the fields beyond.
I saw some sheep in a field. I said, “Happy Holidays!” to the sheep. The sheep answered, “Baa [humbug].”
I took a self portrait in fresh snow. This is a mere shadow of my former self. [daily log: walking, 7.5km]
We drove the rest of the way to Montrose, Colorado, today. It was a bit of a monotonous drive, but the temperatures outside were quite cold. And there was quite a bit of snow scattered around.
I took some pictures from before departure from the motel.
This is the crescent moon and venus (upper right), from my predawn walk.
Here are some mountains out to the west, at sunrise.
We took a wrong turn and ended up on the planet Mars.
Finally, we arrived at my uncle Alan’s house.
I took a long walk. Arthur didn’t want to come, because it was too cold. I love the cold. [daily log: walking, 5km; driving, 600km]
Yesterday I went back from L.A. to Jenna and Braden’s in Indio. We didn’t depart for Montrose.
Then today, in the morning, we departed. We drove across the Mojave Desert, taking a non-interstate highway shortcut between Indio and I-15 just south of Primm, Nevada. There was snow falling in the high desert.
Later we had lunch in Las Vegas, and we drove north on I-15. It went from 50 degrees (10C) in Las Vegas to 15 degrees (-10C) where we stopped for the evening in a motel. Much colder. [daily log: walking, 2km; driving, 750km]
This morning, my dad, my brother and I went on a hike up the Arroyo Seco canyon, which stretches up into the San Gabriel mountains above Pasadena from the NASA-JPL campus on the north western end of the city.
Here is JPL.
Here we are, setting out. A rather low-quality selfie. I’m looking pretty scraggly, these days: my new Alaskan look, I guess.
Here are some pictures from along the trail.
We hiked about 6 miles, up and back down.
Later, we met James and Leia and we had a brunch at the Red Hen Cafe, a somewhat historic location in Altadena.
In the afternoon, I walked around Pasadena some. I like Pasadena. I lived here for about half a year, in 1992. But it was my dad’s birthtown, and where my grandparents lived when I was small, so we visited here often. Here is Pasadena’s iconic city hall. [daily log: walking, 10km]
We left Phoenix and arrived at Jenna’s in Indio, California, around noon.
It was nice to see everyone here. This is where we will spend Christmas.
I took a picture of Arthur with a cat.
Juli and I took a walk (as we often do when we see each other) and I saw a roadrunner in park.
We walked up a hill and I took this picture of the Coachella Valley. It’s notable that the valley is below sea level.
We had a big pasta dinner with everyone who is here. [daily log: walking, 4km; driving 400km]
We drove past many rocks, on our way from Tucumcari, New Mexico, to Phoenix, Arizona.
Here is a very traditional-looking hilltop village in western New Mexico.
Here is the Salt River Canyon, coming down an alternate route (avoiding interstate highway) from Holbrook, Arizona through Show Low and Globe to Phoenix. [daily log: walking, 2km; driving, 900km]
“Lotsa horizon around here.” – Arthur.
We visited people today. First, extended family of Dean and Pam’s up in Crescent, Oklahoma, on a farm. We had venison chili for lunch and later Arthur and I took a walk down the road.
Then later, we had dinner with my uncle Miles, his wife, along with my cousin Niki and her family. Clockwise, you see Ella, Abby, Niki, Jeremy, Kaitlyn, me, Arthur, Miles, and Nancy.
Then we drove to Clayton, where Dean and Pam have their farm. [daily log: walking, 4km; driving, 300km]
I have arrived safely in Oklahoma City. I’m tired.
Rather than meet with Arthur and his friends Dean and Pam at their home in Clayton, Oklahoma, they contacted me as I drove down and suggested meeting in Oklahoma City, instead. This will enable an easier meet-up with other people tomorrow – a member of their family, on one hand, and a member of Arthur’s family (my uncle Miles), on the other hand.
So I drove to OKC (as Okhahoma City is universally abbreviated) and we are at a motel here. We’ll meet up with various people tomorrow.
Here are some pictures from driving down. [daily log: walking, 1km; driving, 1350km]
I went to Madison with my friend Bob. He had to do a radio interview, related to publicizing his upcoming concert which he is conducting.
While he was in the radio station doing his interview, I had some time to kill walking around Madison. I have never lived in Madison, but I have spent a lot of time here over there years, because it’s where my sister went to grad school, and where several friends also went to grad school, and of course now, where my friend Bob teaches and conducts music.
I took this picture looking up State Street, which connects the state capitol building (in the distance) with the university campus (behind me).
My friend Doug has long described Madison as “Disneyland for college students” and that seems an accurate moniker. It’s everything you want in a college town.
Madison occupies a striking isthmus between two lakes. So a few blocks north of State Street you’re on the shores of Lake Mendota.
Later, after his interview, Bob and I met with Martin, who is the son of my friends Mark and Amy who I just finished visiting up in Eagan, Minnesota. Martin works in downtown Madison, so it was easy for him to get away from work and have lunch.
I found a place selling poke. Poke (/poʊˈkeɪ/) is a bit like a Hawaiian version of 비빔밥 (bibimbap) or 볶음밥 (bokkeumbap). You mix rice with various toppings, including raw or cooked fish, veggies, and sauces. I had one with very hot sauce and raw tuna and tofu. It was delicious.
Here is a selfie of me, Martin and Bob at the poke joint.
Later, I took a long walk to a nature reserve north of Bob and Sarah’s house. I went past the photogenic Whitewater water tower. [daily log: walking, 4km]
I call Eugene my “almost” brother. He was an exchange student from Kazakhstan in the early 1990s, living with my dad and stepmother in Southern California, at the time when my brother Andrew was a teenager.
Eugene has been a member of my extended family ever since, even though I haven’t seen him much (I mean, the same could apply to many of my actual relatives, too).
His wife and he live in Minnesota, here, and have two amazing children. I was happy to meet them. I drove out to their house for dinner this evening. We took a selfie at the dinner table. It’s not a great photo, but it managed to include all of us, despite its blurriness.
Since Eugene speaks Russian, natively, and his wife Marisol grew up as a native Spanish-speaker in Los Angeles, they made the decision to raise their children trilingually. It’s quite spectacular to see a 4 year old switching seamlessly between English, Spanish and Russian. The fact that I’m fluent in two of those and able to at least vaguely understand the third (from my two years of college Russian), I had fun switching along with her.
All parents who can should give the gift of multilingualism to their children.
Unrelatedly, earlier, I took another long walk at the big park south of Mark and Amy’s house. I took some pictures. They seem a bit monotonous, I’m sure, but I never tire of the winter landscape here.
I saw a frozen stream.
I saw long shadows.
This is Jensen Lake. A good Minnesota name.
The lake has an island.
I found an unexpected shrine beside the trail.
I saw a hillside beetling into the lake. [daily log: walking, 5km]
Last night, Amy made a delicious dinner (which I tried to help with, at least a little). There was a roast and potatoes.
Today, I ran a few small errands, got frustrated with my bank, and decided to take a long walk in the giant park near Mark and Amy’s house. I took a lot of pictures.
I went east on Cliff Road to the entrance to the Lebanon Hills Regional Park. I walked down a snow-covered path.
I saw some small lakes.
I had to find my way around a stretch of closed trail. These two signs were at opposite ends of the closed part.
I saw some trees.
I saw what, in summer, is probably a grassy hillside.
I came to a clearing in the trees and saw some humble, 21st century habitations.
I love Minnesota in the winter. It is probably what I miss most about living here. [daily log: walking, 4km]
I drove east yesterday, and it was interesting to see the increasing amounts of snow on the ground as I progressed northeastward from Denver to Minneapolis.
After crossing from Colorado to Nebraska:
After crossing from Nebraska to Iowa:
After crossing from Iowa to Minnesota:
The Blueberry Tank in Mark and Amy’s driveway this morning. [daily log: walking, km]