The usual apologies for not posting more frequently – it was certainly something I thought about, but just wasn’t in the mental headspace to do it. Some days the fields are a harvest, and some days they’re fallow. Both are important, though I feel better when it’s the former.
This week in Portland, there is finally a cold snap and some snow, and related posts about snowpocalypse. However, I’m not there. I’m in Hawaii, on the island of Maui, listening to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore. I’m okay with this.
How, why, what? Well, the short version is that my brother’s girlfriend ended up getting hooked up with a week in Maui, and the place was big enough that they decided to invite me along. So it’s me, my brother, his girlfriend, and her kids.
While I recognize that it’s, y’know, during a pandemic, and I do feel a bit guilty about being “part of the problem” (so to speak), we’ve been doing our due diligence. Hawaii requires negative COVID tests, documented and certified by trusted testing partners, in order to not be quarantined and checking in daily for 10 days, which we did. One of us is even vaccinated (both doses). And at a certain point of stress and depression (and frankly the pure temptation of free lodging in Hawaii), you decide to take the calculated risk and do the damn thing.
The water has been warm, and ranging between 70 and 80 each day, with a nice ocean breeze. We’ve already seen whales breaching and playing, hung out on the beach, and just generally taken things easy. We have a list of things we want to do while here, but none should be particularly stressful. I was a little nervous about going (because pandemic, and related guilt about traveling during one), but being here has really driven home how much I needed this. I’m not actually unwound yet, but it’s kind of like when some background noise you’ve been trying to tune out finally stops — it’s only when you’re removed from the stress that you realize how much you’ve been storing in your body. I’ll get there (knock wood).
It’s been 18 years since I was last in Hawaii (last time was January, 2003). The last time I was here, I was 21 and engaged. It feels like a lifetime ago. I’m a different person now, for better or worse; it’s interesting how, while my experience is different, the place itself doesn’t feel that different to me. The timelessness of paradise, I suppose.
Something that has struck me (maybe because I’ve been thinking about such things lately) is how many people here are effectively acting like expats despite Hawaii being part of the same country — here as digital nomads, working remotely and riding out the pandemic. Between the cost of everything being notably different than the mainland, and the place really sort of having its own culture (both literally, as in the native Hawaiians, and more figuratively), it’s sort of the “lite” version of living in a different country. That’s just my outsider’s take, though — maybe the people actually living it would feel differently.
It’s been stupidly hot in Portland for the past week, so I opted to flee to the coast on Sunday, ending up wandering through Port Angeles, Washington, and Olympic National Park. It continues to be one of my favorite regions and parks that I’ve visited. I could totally see myself ending up out there, if I’m not careful.
I’ve been in Japan for a few days now, and have managed to not die, starve, or even get lost (I’ve always had a good sense of direction, and while the addressing here is a little different, a quick glance at Maps to see how the streets are laid out has thus far been enough). It’s been fun! A few days in the Shibuya/Harajuku area of Tokyo, then took a Shinkansen down to Kyoto, where I spent today exploring the Fushimi Inari-taisha and surrounding area – not a bad way to spend your birthday. Tomorrow, I head to Nara. While there’s plenty to still see and do in Kyoto, it’ll have to wait for another trip.
I’ll admit, I feel a little torn. While I’ve been enjoying my solo adventure (always have, always will), I can’t help but feel it would’ve been great if I’d been able to line up a travel partner as well. Something to bear in mind for next time, I suppose.
One thing that sort of struck me when I got here: It’s easy to get drawn into the spectacle of a place, pseudo-mythologizing something because of the differences or wonder of the thing, but it’s so much nicer when you get there and are struck by the reality. People live here. The beauty of the mundane.
I’m hopping on a plane to Japan tomorrow morning, for 11 days of wandering around, looking at cool stuff, and hoping I don’t make too much of an ass of myself. I’m not bringing a laptop, but am bringing a camera, so there may be some photos when I get back.
I’m hoping to have some good long thinks while wandering, so you may see some posts (actual posts, not just linking to others)! Or I might end up radio silent until I’m back: time will tell. In either case, I look forward to seeing what y’all are writing/photographing/drawing/creating when I get back!
I’ve been talking about wanting to go to Japan for years — Japan and Greece were my go-to bucket list destinations going as far back as when I was 11. I still haven’t visited either of those countries, 25 years later, and it’s high time I corrected that. Just booked tickets for a trip to Japan for my birthday in April! I’ll be there for 11 days (well, I’ll be gone for 11 days, but 10 days there due to timezones and transit). My plan is to bookend my trip with a few days in Tokyo on either side, then take a train down to Kyoto and Nara in between.
I tend to look for quieter spaces, and I’m fascinated by a lot of the shrines and temples, but I’m also going to try and hit some other stuff (keeping an eye on tickets for the Ghibli Museum for instance). I’ve not done much foreign travel (and basically none to non-English speaking countries), so I’m a little nervous about it, but also excited to finally do this. Do you have any tips for things to check out or stuff I should prepare for in advance?
It hasn’t really sunk in that I’m back in Portland — it still feels a bit like a vacation. This will change, I imagine, as I get more settled, get unpacked, and find what will be my new routine and rhythm.
The drive north was pleasant, wandering up the coast on CA-1 and US-101. There’s been a heat wave for the past week, so it was nice to be by the coast, where the air was much cooler (I’ll take 65-70° over 90-95° nearly any day). The rest of this post is a bit of a photo dump — I hope you enjoy! Continue reading “Back in Portland”
A few years ago, I had a dream, involving a lake that I had never been to and did not even know existed at the time. When I awoke, I went to Google Maps and zoomed in on where the lake had appeared to me in my dream. Sure enough, it totally exists, and is just as hardcore as my dream would suggest.
The Lac à l’Eau Claire (the official name, in French), also called the Clearwater Lakes in English, Wiyasakami in Cree and Allait Qasigialingat by the Inuit, are a pair of circular lakes on the Canadian Shield in Quebec, Canada, near Hudson Bay.
The lakes were created by a double meteor impact roughly 290 million years ago:
The lakes fill circular depressions that are interpreted as paired impact craters (astroblemes). The eastern and western craters are 26 km (16 mi) and 36 km (22 mi) in diameter, respectively. Both craters have the same age, 290 ± 20 million years (Permian), and it is believed that they formed simultaneously. The impactors may have been gravitationally bound as a binary asteroid, a suggestion first made by Thomas Wm. Hamilton in a 1978 letter to Sky & Telescope magazine in support of the then-controversial theory that asteroids may possess moons.
There’s more information about the lakes here, though it’s worth noting, there isn’t really anything up there. Like, no one. The entire “unorganized territory” that spans that area had only 16 people, total, according to the 2006 census, in ~129,712 square kilometers. One of these days, I’d really like to charter an expedition up there, and spend some time exploring the lakes and islands. I’ve had this compulsion to head up there for five years, now. Maybe one of these days, I’ll finally manage to do it.