Tag Archives: travel

Searching Seattle’s Neighborhoods

IMG_7406Living in a new city is incredibly exciting, and something that comes with time is getting the feel of that new city. Seattle is a place with a very well-defined neighborhood structure. Tons has been written about what separates each of these little enclaves, but getting there and seeing it for yourself is really the only way to understand it.

A quick lesson on Seattle geography... and infographics.

A quick lesson on Seattle geography… and infographics.

A couple weeks ago, Seattle’s International District (ID) was having their annual Dragon Fest. For $2 at each participating restaurant in the neighborhood, patrons get a generous sample of their fare and a chance to breathe in all the sights and smells of the ID. Having never been to this section of town, it was a lot of fun.

Multicolored dragons adorn the streets, Shimmering Chinese characters line the sides of buildings and archways over intersections. It’s amazing to feel so transported only a 20 minute bus ride away from our home.

After a few bites of steamed pork buns, dumplings, dim sum, and gelato, we found ourselves in a garden. Rows of ripening vegetables twisted around gravel pathways. We made our way up higher, past a pig roasting spit and beautiful flowers, to a Japanese garden. Above all the festivities below, with the gentle hum of the nearby I-5, we enjoyed some down time before hopping the bus back home.

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Badlands National Park

Vegetation from another planet.

I saw a lot of this country on my drive from Massachusetts to Washington, but overall, I’d have to say that the Badlands were the most significant. They brought me to tears.

Badlands National Park was the first nature-related stop we made on our drive across the country (Check out the map at the end of the post.) After the urban decay in Detroit, metropolis of Chicago and Toronto, and hanging out with friends in Milwaukee, we were ready to leave some things behind and do some introspection. States like the ones we had yet to cover — South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana — were just the thing we needed.

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When you tell people you’re going on a drive across the country, one of the first things they tell you is that you’re going to get bored with the scenery around the Great Plains. “There’s a who bunch of nothing,” they say. Well, the nothing was beautiful.

South Dakota was full of green rolling hills dotted with cows and entertaining billboards. We took the main interstate the whole way through, something we didn’t do in any other state. That day, we crossed most of the state under grey skies with looming dark clouds that we were trying to stay well ahead of. As we got closer and closer to the Badlands, the edge of the clouds became clear, and as soon as we reached the park, the sun had set low enough to shine what looked to be all the way down the road we had traveled.

The golden light washed the rocks over as we meandered through the park, seeing goats, deer, and other animals. Tons of photographers were out that evening, including myself. I think we hit the jackpot.

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Road Trip to Washington

For any of my loyal followers who are not already plugged in on Facebook, I’ll be moving to Seattle, Washington in early June. I’m excited beyond words for what’s in store for me and my partner. We’ll be hitting up tons of amazing cities and parks along the way, and I’ll definitely be photographing all 3,391 miles. (Sounds daunting, doesn’t it?)

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Just to get you all as excited as I am about this epic trip, here are some photos I took during my trip to Washington state last spring. During that trip, I went to Vancouver, the Olympic Peninsula, the rain forest, and the desert, all in one action-packed week.

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We’ve been time traveling for years.

Maybe I’m just obsessed with the concept of reality being based on one’s perception, but it really seems like time is passing quicker. I feel like most mundane daily conversations that I have usually end with some aggravated rant about how I feel cheated by time. It’s already March. We’ve had Spring Break. It’ll be summer soon. Then, before we know it, it’ll be summer again.

This phenomenon is something I’ve discussed with many of my peers, young and old alike. The young agree with me, and the old attest to it getting more noticeable as the years go by. What then is changing “as the years go by”? Technology.

It is my belief that we’ve actually been time traveling as a society with the help of technological advances and increased convenience.

When you think about it, antiquated processes (like walking, heating your food over an open flame, building a fire for said flame, written correspondence, researching in the library, etc.) take much more time than the current replacements. Jets fling you thousands of miles. Stoves allow you to have a flame with the turn of a knob. Email is instant. JStor is a lifesaver. We are getting the results with a fraction of the time.

This is causing time compression. Because we’re able to accomplish so much with our time, it’s distorting our perception of the passage of time.

Input of information is also a factor in all of this, I think. Today’s average tech-savvy individual receives much more information being plugged into the Internet in the day to day world than people of past generations would have ever imagined possible in their lifetimes. We’re all thinking and seeing and doing so much… but it doesn’t feel strange to us because that’s just how things are now. We still have the same sense of time, but with a different feeling. We’ve been time traveling for years.


Surreal Moments of Reality

Let’s play a little word association. When you hear “war” I guarantee “tourist trap” is definitely not the first thing that pops into your head. Apparently things run a little differently in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam.

Thanks to Samantha Brown’s show on the Travel channel, I became aware of this reality. Apparently leftover, discarded weapons from the Vietnam War are used in shooting ranges there, set up and maintained by locals, for tourists. The cheery host flinched throughout her cue-card reading as shots from AK-47s boomed around her and the man humbly showing her through the area. While veterans around the world remain shell-shocked and crippled with PTSD, some of those more fortunate to have never seen first-hand combat are shooting those very same guns they used to kill, for fun on vacation. How something as destructive and agonizing as war got contorted into a money making tourist stop is completely beyond me. If you’ve got a dollar to spare, you can do a round yourself.

I know people domestically have been profiting from war for years, but this instance is a bit too blatant for me to handle.

Things like this often force me to question reality altogether. Is this really happening? It sounds like something from a futuristic, plagued dystopia you’d find deep within the pages of Bradbury, Orwell or Huxley. When opposites of these proportions collide, it just makes me lose a bit of my sanity. Oh, what wonders the future must hold in store for us! I just can’t wait.