Friday, January 20, 2012 0 comments

The Piano Guys


Alright, Lokey put this video up on facebook.  On a whim, I stopped and listened to it.  And there went my evening...I've been listening to The Piano Guys videos on YouTube for the past three hours.  Really good stuff...this one is my favorite, but there are several that I was really impressed with.  This is what I like most about the internet--the sharing of stories and talents and music and art that otherwise you'd never hear about. 


Coldplay - Paradise (Peponi) African Style (Piano/Cello) Cover - The Piano Guy
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 0 comments

Indie Travel Week 1: Resolutions


As I mentioned in my last post. to get myself back in the habit of writing regularly, I'm going to do the 2012 Indie Travel Blog Challenge.   This is an idea from Bootsnall, which is one of my favorite travel websites.  It's been a website to daydream on, as it wasn't blocked at work over the past few months.

The first week's topic is resolutions, surprise surprise.  Although not terribly original, I do appreciate that we have a time each year that we think about where our lives are at and what we'd like to improve.  It's too easy to get so busy living that we don't stop to evaluate and check our direction, and besides, we all need a fresh start sometimes.

My first resolution is, obviously, to write this blog about resolutions.  One down!  Well, really, 1/52 down.  I really want to write, but lack of self-discipline is my worst shortcoming.  The challenge involves writing a blog post  each week, so I'm going to keep you all hanging until December to see if I really keep it or not.  Or at least until next week when I forget to post.  No.  I'm going to do this...I will write a weekly post. I will write a weekly post.  I will write a weekly post.  There.  Leave obnoxious comments if I don't. 

My more difficult resolution is the classic one: I've got to get in better shape.  I've blogged before about my very favorite of all my adventures: mountain hiking.  There was Mt. Etna in 2006, the hike up the mountain on the shore of Lake Como to the lighthouse on Pasquetta (the day after Easter, a public holiday in Italy) in the spring of 2007, Swiss Alps around St. Moritz, and then later around the Matterhorn in summer and winter 2007 (well, I took a train/ski life for most of it on both of those), summer camp in the Sibylline Mountains in central Italy in the summers of 2008 and 2009, looking into the crater of Mt. Vesuvius in May of 2009, hiking in the Tatras in southern Poland in 2009, Hua Shan and Huang Shan in China in the summer of 2010, and, well, Rock City on Lookout Mountain in 2011 (well, it was fun, if not quite so exotic as past years...).  But each year the mountains get a little harder on my knees.  Each year the getting-there gets more miserable.  Hua Shan involved a lot of prayer.  The peaks are always worth it, but the getting-there would be a lot more fun, too, if I kept myself in better shape in the meantime.  And my face wouldn't be so red in all the pictures.

After spending this past year entirely in the U.S., with ubiquitous cars, no sidewalks, and too many creature comforts indoors, I especially need to get into some better habits.  I was going to join some exercise classes offered by my job, but they've schedule them to where everyone from my branch can't attend them (still miffed over that one).  Once I get my new computer, I'll download some of my favorite exercise videos again.  I've thought of catching up on actually watching some of my DVD collection while peddling on the stationary bike upstairs. That doesn't seem to really be much of a workout, but I suppose it would be better than nothing.  I'd go for a walk, but it's dangerous to walk along the highway or in the parking lot at work; we've got the woods behind the house, but the summer I'd get eaten alive by bugs.  In the fall, our neighbors all deer hunt. In winter, it's dark by the time I get home.  That leaves a bit of early spring before the bugs come out too bad.   I also need to forget that Little Debbie Brownies even exist; unfortunately, the rack of them is directly within my line of view all day long at work. :(  Why does it seem  like healthy habits are so inconvenient around here?  When I lived in Italy or in China, or even in college, for that matter, you had to walk to get to public transportation.  You had to walk to the grocery store.  There were sidewalks everywhere and large safe parks to walk in.  There were neighborhoods to meander through and explore; there were towers/belfries/hills/domes to climb for the view.  The lack of walking as a part of everyday life is one of my biggest gripes about life in the U.S.  I get too lazy here.  

Getting in shape may not seem like a travel resolution, but I think it is for me--or at least, that's my biggest motivation for it.  I want to be in better shape to make my travel adventures easier and kinder to my knees. 

Now, the resolution I like to daydream the most about is, as it has been for years, to find my mountain for 2012.  I keep hoping that one of these years it's going to be to Everest base camp, or in the Andes to Machu Picchu, or, my ultimate dream, Kilamanjaro, but I don't think that any of those are going to be right for 2012.  I'm not sure what it will be...but somehow I'll find one.

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Indie Travel Blog Challenge 2012

It's easy for me to get caught up in the minutiae of day-in, day-out life...playing games on my kindle, wasting hours on those life-sucking inventions pinterest and facebook timeline, and fiddling with the layout of the blog instead of actually writing anything...as well as those little things like my job, church, family, friends...but I really do want to get back in the habit of writing.

As a means, of reminding myself and having a goal, I've decided to really, really try to keep up with the 2012 Indie Blog Challenge.  There will be a new prompt every week (and I'm already over a week behind), all about my favorite subject, travel.  Please nag me if I don't keep up.


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New Chapter in Life

As usual, I've gotten behind on my blog.  I guess the act of writing, especially about traveling, makes me want...more.  When I'm writing, I long to learn, to experience, to grow, to have adventures...and over this past year I was living a life where those thoughts were a bit...dangerous isn't exactly the right word.  Well, thinking too much about traveling, writing, learning, having adventures made me dissatisfied with the life I was living.  It was easier to just not think about those things as I tried to be "normal" and settle in to small-town life.  So I focused my mind on other things, because the days I spent listening to travel podcasts or researching destinations made me feel like a traitor to this life I thought I wanted.

In the end, the dissatisfaction with that life won out.  I don't want to have to avoid what makes me happy, what makes me feel alive, what makes me feel like I'm developing myself as a person, just to be relatively contented in a life that I'm told is "normal" and that everyone around me is happy with.  And so I've left that life, and although I hate that it hurt the person I shared that life with, I can look to the future with excitement again.  I'm still staying in middle Tennessee for a while; I've got a (broken down, unfortunately) car to pay off, a new job, and some life-organizing to do, and besides, I need to save up some money.  But I'm planning.  I'm dreaming.  I'm living my life again, instead of tagging along on someone else's.

And so, I decided it was time to revive this blog.  I've got so many stories I've never told, and now I know there will be stories ahead to tell as well. 
Monday, January 9, 2012 0 comments

Photos 5

 It was a blissful experience after a long, hot, hard bike ride over rough roads to the Dragon Bridge to ride back on a bamboo raft on the Li River.  This was taken near Yangshuo, China, in late July or early August of 2010. 
 Another shot of the Li River, near sunset, as I rode a bamboo raft. 
 Moon Hill, with an amazing crescent-shaped hole in it, near Yangshuo, China, in 2010. 
 One of my favorite little hikes as a child was to Jackson Falls, on the Natchez Trace, about seven miles from where I grew up near Columbia, Tennessee.  This particular shot was taken in the spring of 2011. 
 I love cities...I especially love cities that have a downtown worth walking around.  This is in Memphis on a cold December day in 2011. 
Sunrise, as seen from the summit of Hua Shan, a mountain I climbed in July of 2010, in China. 
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Photos 4

 The Abstruse Temple in Jingzhou, China, taken on a snowy day in December 2010.
 My favorite shot of the Abstruse Temple in Jingzhou...I don't know how a vertical picture will work in the slideshow, but we'll see.  Also December 2010. 
 The Kuang Si Waterfall near Luang Prabang, Laos...this waterfall hidden in the depths of the jungle was absolutely breathtaking.  This was in August 2010. 
A temple in Luang Prabang, Laos, taken in August 2010. 
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Photos 3

 Looking over Naples from the Castello Sant'Elmo...that's Vesuvius in the background.  This was taken in May of 2009. 
 The pier on Tybee Island, on the coast of Georgia.  This was taken not long after sunrise, in late August 2009. 
 Meandering through The Burren, in western Ireland, on a nice day in October of 2008.
 The Cliffs of Moher, on the western coast of Ireland, in October of 2008. 
Beautiful old gate near the Sunshine Temple on the outskirts of Jingzhou, China, taken in November or December of 2010; I'm too lazy to go look for sure right now. 
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Photos 2

 The sun setting over the rooftops of Budapest...taken in July 2009. 
 Hiking along a ridge in the Tatra Mountains, near Zakopane, Poland, in July 2009. 
 World War II memorial in Bologna, Italy, taken in February 2009. 
The most ancient and interesting church in Milan, Sant'Ambrogio.  This was taken in April of 2009.
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Photos 1

 This one is in the Swiss Alps, from the Bernina Express train.  The train wound through the mountains from Locarno, or thereabouts, I think, to St. Moritz.  I took Mom on a day trip here on her first trip to Europe, in July of 2007.   
 I love the amazing colors of the Ligurian coast.  Mom and I were hiking through the Cinque Terre in July of 2007 when I took this and the next photo. 
 Also a view while hiking along the Cinque Terre in Liguria, Italy...
One of my favorite views in Milan...This was taken from the top of Monte Stella.  There are no natural hills in Milan, but after World War II all the rubble and debris was carted to two parks, one on each side of the city.  The larger pile, on the west side of town, was named Monte Stella and is now an amazing vantage point of the Alps in the distance and the city below. 
 
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