PhotoFriday this week has the theme Wheels. This is timely, as a couple days ago, my beloved 1989 Toyota Camry passed the 200,000 mile marker. That is around 8 trips around this planet we travel, or .8 of the distance to the moon.
Surfaces is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. While most probably will go with surfaces as a noun, I have decided to use it as a verb. This is yet another photo from my freighter trip. As we approached the California coast, the sea life came out, and put on a show. I watched as the dolphins played in the wake of the Hanjin Phoenix. A few even chose to race ahead of the ship in a game called bow riding. Here is some of my video of bow riding in action.
You can click on the photo to be taken to a larger image.
This photo was taken last March near Galveston, Texas, seven months after Hurricane Ike struck. A few days before I took this photo, a good friend in Kansas called me up. He asked me one of my favorite questions, "You want to go on a road trip?" I would guess ninety percent of the time those words are uttered, I respond in the affirmative. The only reasons that would stop me is work schedules or the person has proven to be a horrible road companion in the past. This time it was a no-brainer. The only question I had was when and where? Well, he needed to make a trip down to Galveston to check out 1 Mission:Galveston and the possibility of taking his church's youth group down to help. Having some time on my hands, I told him I'd pack up the car and head west. A couple days we were on the road to the coast. I was shocked at the damage that remained when we arrived in the area. We lost count of the McDonald's sings that had been blown out. And while we joked about the damage to the golden arches, the destruction to homes was heartbreaking. At the same time, we met some amazing people who both were long time residents, as well as recent arrivals, who made it their mission to help rebuild the area around them.
It is amazing the good that mankind can do, when faced with adversity. It is something that we have seen on the news this past week. Sadly, it often takes disasters to really bring out the best in man. Sometimes, I wonder why we can't put our egos, selfishness, and attitudes away and help the less fortunate around us more often?
After years of crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by airplanes, I decided to do something different on my final trip from Korea to America. After some online searching, I found a company where I could book passage on a freighter. Talk about slowing the trip down. What usually took me thirteen hours would take about thirteen days. To top it off, that only landed me on the coast. I then decided to take a train to make the final portion of the journey.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Those days were some of the most relaxing days I have. I also enjoyed getting to know the crew and a little bit of their lives. Plus, I was able to drive the boat. Sure, it was only for a minute or so, but how many of you have had their hands on the steering wheel of a freighter? Didn't think so.
Three summers ago I had the opportunity to travel the rails from Beijing to Moscow. Our first stop was Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Having a few days to explore, we ended up heading out to the countryside to stay with some nomads. While we were there, we were able to ride camels, experience some of the local sports and music, as well as sample the traditional dishes. Oh, and we were able to participate in the milking of the mares. In fact it was the first milking of the year, so we even celebrated with Vodka and fermented mare's milk afterwards. Every night we were with them, we were able to sleep in a ger. Interestingly enough, even though we were hundred of miles from civilization among these nomads, they did provide us with Winnie The Pooh sheets and blankets on our bed. I'd say it made me feel like I was home, but I don't have a cool matching bed set with cartoon characters there.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is Square. I did a quick scan of my photos and couldn't find any good ones of the rectangle with equal sides. I did how ever find one of the most famous square, Red Square in Moscow. I took this photo several years ago. Myself and two friends had taken the train from Beijing to Moscow during our summer break. After a couple days in the Russian capital, it was time to go our separate ways. One headed to Domodedovo International Airport for his flight and the other Sheremetyevo International Airport to wait for his flight. I rode the subway with them until they had to head off to different lines. Having another full night before my flight, I decided to wander down to Red Square for one final visit. We had been there a couple times during the previous days, but never in the evening. I was amazed at how beautiful it was at night. Even thought it appears to be early evening, this photo was taken right around midnight.
Vehicle is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. A couple years my friends laughed at me when I told them another friend was giving me his car. Not just any car, but a 1989 Toyota Camry. A car old enough, I could have been driving it when I got my license. Some were even betting that I would not make it across the state of California, let alone all the way back to Illinois. Well, over two years later, and many many miles down the road it still keeps on cruising. I recently had to replace the front tires after one blew, but such is life. While many would recommend never buying a car from a friend or relative, I would highly encourage accepting free cars. At least it has worked out well for me.
The theme at PhotoFriday this week is Three. In my quest to attend a game at all the major league ball parks, I was able to cross off National Park off the list this year. Sadly, I think the fans were cheering more for the presidents race than the Nationals the night I was there. Oh well, at least someone they rooted for won that night.
PhotoFriday's theme this week is Dawn. Yet another photo taken in the woods of the Upper Peninsula. When I was younger I would often spend a lot of time on this little island. There is an old ice shack where they used to store ice blocks for the ice boxes from days of old. Even though the island is smaller than a school bus, it was fun to explore around. I felt like it was my very own place. Even now there is something about it that draws me near. It is amazing how many photos I have taken of it. This one just happened to be taken in the early morning as the fog was lifting from the lake.
The theme is Fast Food over at PhotoFriday this week. I took this near the Basel SBB train station. I had never seen a vending machine targeting pets before, and actually haven't seen another one like this.
The theme this week at PhotoFriday is plants. This photo was taken on a lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have often thought about changing my residence to there, even have debated telling people that is where I am from. Nothing against my hometown, but there is just something amazing in my book about the UP. You have to experience it to understand.
This week's theme at PhotoFriday is "In Shadows." I took this earlier this week from the viewing deck of the Sunsphere in Knoxville, Tennessee. Twenty-seven years ago my family headed down for the World's Fair. I don't remember being able to go up to the top of the Sunsphere at the time due to long lines, but I am guessing it would have been shorter than took twenty-seven years.
As I looked down over Knoxville, I thought it might have been that trip almost three decades ago that started my crazy wandering around the globe. There on the streets of Knoxville, a young and impressionable boy was bumping shoulders with people from all over the world. I was witness to many countries showing off their best and brightest. I think those experiences might be some of the catalyst that prompted me to wander to over thirty-five countries to see first hand what each country has to offer. And for this, I am thankful.
The theme of PhotoFriday is Eyes this week. This tarsier was located in Bohol, Philippines. I took this shot a few years back while there helping with Habitat For Humanity. There is also a video of the little creature eating over on my YouTube pages.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is debris. I took this photo in Daejeon, South Korea. I was walking back from the HomePlus and found this trio of randomly discarded items caught my eye. I've occasionally wondered what they story that landed this trio together.
Noisy is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. This photo was taken somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is the engine of the Hanjin Phoenix, a freighter ship that I had the opportunity to spend a couple weeks on. The engine room was one of the main areas that was off limits to my wanderings, but the chief engineer did give me a private tour. Unfortunately, it was so loud that I could barely understand half of what he was telling me about the machine.
This week at PhotoFriday the theme is Brown. This was taken in Amadeo, Philippines, which is the Coffee Capital of the Philippines. The mayor of the town invited us in for a cup of coffee. I was able to tell him it was the best coffee I have ever had. It also was the first cup of coffee I had ever had. Two more cups have followed, but that first cup still was the best.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is Edible. I had several photos of foods from around the world I have consumed, but figured I would go with what many might find one of the more disgusting items. This is some balut from my last trip to the Philippines. While it might not be the most appetizing images, it actually was a whole lot better than I expected.
The Weekend is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. I have spent the last three four days sitting inside a vehicle watching the pavement pass by, and my weekend is looking like more of the same. I am not exactly sure which way I am heading, I just know I need to get home from this long road trip I am on.
Isolation is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. This shot was taken towards the end of my self imposed hermit days this winter. Guess after so many days without contact you get a little stir crazy. And being stir crazy can lead to ideas like canoeing in the snow or setting up your own bowling rink.
The theme this week at PhotoFriday is Morning Routine. Sadly in my current employment status, I do not have any great morning routine, or at least one that would be worthy of a photo. So I give you a photo of one of my favorite statues. And really, don't most of us enjoy a little toilet reading in the morning?
This week at PhotoFriday the theme is pet. I do not have a pet. Part of the reason is that they limit the vagabond lifestyle. I would also have a hard time spending money to take care and feed something that I am just going to have to clean up after.
But if I had a limitless supply of money and land to have animals to call my own, I would probably have to have an elephant. There is just something cool about seeing one up close. Perhaps it is due to my desire of being in a circus as a kid. It could also could be related to the Simpsons episode where Bart wins an elephant. Either way, I am guessing I would be the coolest guy on the block, owning my own pachyderm.
Costume is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. Last summer, I took my sister-in-law and nieces to Chick-fil-A for their Cow Appreciation Day. This guy was there to claim his free meal for dressing up like a cow. I only received a free sandwich, as I only wore a cow themed hat. Guess I just wasn't that committed to the cause.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is iconic. I took this photo on my last trip to California. This statue is located on the campus/compound of the Crystal Cathedral. My friend Dave and I both were puzzled by the metallic baby Jesus. I think I made the joke that he looks less like the son of God, and more like the son of Destro. Cobra-la-la-la-la-la-la!
It has been a while since I have been online on a Friday for PhotoFriday. This week's theme is White. I chose one of the photos I took last month while I was wandering around the frozen lake. This was from one of the sunnier days. Part of me wishes I was back up there, although I hear it is bitter cold. But that is what the wood stove is for, right?
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is "Rough." It has been a few weeks since I have posted a PhotoFriday entry, mostly because of the traveling. This one is from the last trip to the Philippines. These are some of the many bricks my team help build alongside the Habitat For Humanity crew. And only one thumb was damaged in the process.
Movement is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. I took this photo this week up in Seoul. I spent more time on the Seoul subway this week than I might have in the last two years. If I am right, I was on it for over three and a half hours on Tuesday alone. I am heading back up tomorrow for one last visit before my boat leaves this country in four days.
Tools is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. This was in the window of a knife store in Basel, Switzerland. If I had a spare thousand Swiss francs around, I could have bought the Swiss Army knife with 85 different tools.
I took this shot during the Duran Duran concert April 17th, in Seoul, South Korea. It was not easy to get the shot, as security guards were constantly watching for the evil people who brought cameras into the concert venue. It did not help that I was in the very front of the crowd. Luckily, I got a few shots off without being caught. You can read more about the concert in my previous post.
Professional is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. Had to look though my photos to find someone/thing that looked professional. This photo of my friend Andrew was prefect. He took me to my first shooting range last summer. The guy not only was a great shot, but a great instructor. Guess it helps is in law enforcement. Although I think he was only being nice when he thought my shooting was good. That or I have spent way too many quarters on Virtual Cop at the arcade.
My Little Secret is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. I am not sure if my secret is that I still owned this shirt until about a week ago, or that I still occasionally watch wrestling. The best/worst part about it is that here in Korea there is a channel that shows WWE at least once a day. I think I've watched the Ric Flair farewell address about five times this week. I think I have said too much, and should stop there.
"Electricity" is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. This photo was taken last fall when I was in Hong Kong. Every night they put on an amazing light display in the harbour. I would love to know what the total electric bill to run the Symphony of Lights. I posted a video of the show on the YouTube.
"Fragile" is this week's theme at PhotoFriday. This was a bomb I came across while wandering around some old war trenches in the Vosges Mountains of France. I tried to pick it up, just to see how heavy it was. I even thought it would make a cool conversation piece in my apartment. Luckily, there were some people who felt it would be unwise to load a undetonated WWII bomb into the back of van full of students. Those same wise people were not on another trip we made to the area, but that is another story for another time.
I have considered myself fortunate to be able to wander so far from the pumpkin fields of Morton, Illinois. There are hundreds of photos I could use to show myself "far from home" I picked this one, just because it is one of the more recent photos. It was taken in Subic Bay, Philippines, while I was in the area helping with a Habitat for Humanity building project.
To be honest, home is a concept I struggle more and more with. While many of my peers have a place to call home, I feel homeless. Sure there are places I know I can stay for long periods of time and feel comfortable, but a home I feel I lack. In some ways I would love to say because I am longing for a heavenly home, but I think it might have to deal with my ever need to wander.
This actually line of thought could fill a huge post, so for the time being, just enjoy the photo. As with every photo, it was so much better in real life.
PhotoFriday's theme this week is "The Good Life." You probably are wondering why a photo of the shore of Lake Baikal is a representation of the good life. Here is the simplified version of the story behind this photo:
I was traveling across Mongolia and Russia with two good friends. We stopped ended up in Port Baikal for the evening due to a mix-up out of our control. In the process we found ourselves on a hike with two complete strangers. As we walked along the train tracks outside of the desolated area, my brain began to play tricks on me. I wondered exactly why these two men had a large backpack and a full shopping bag. My brain was flashing thoughts about the Russian mafia and various ways tourists have been mugged. As the mist began to come down, and my blood was being pumped out by the thousand mosquitoes that surrounded me, I began to wonder if this was the end. Could this be where this crazy adventure of my life ends.
Our two guides then told us to walk ahead another kilometer to a train tunnel, look around for a while, and then return for dinner. We walked ahead to the tunnel, where two of us shared similar thoughts. After some laughter we returned to a campfire along the shore of the lake. The contents of the backpack and bag were being cooked over a fire for our consumption. Our guide had even made tea from various leaves he had collected along the walk. It might have been one of the best meals I have ever had.
Perhaps a little thought about death makes you realize how good life is. I was enjoying a meal beside a beautiful shore with two great friends in a part of the world I never imagined I would explore. That my friends is why I feel I have the good life. Good friends, good travels, good food, and a good God who has provided it all.
"Fuzzy" is the PhotoFriday's theme this week. This photo was taken at a friend's house. I knew he liked to wear those crazy Russian style hats, but did not know he had multiple hats. Guess it is good to always have a spare. Perhaps there are different levels of thickness and warmth provided by each hat. I did not bother enough to find out.
By the way, I learned they are called ushankas. I have learned my something for the day.
"Art" is this week's theme at PhotoFriday. This is a shot from my recent trip to India. Everyday we would have some time for arts and crafts with the children at the orphanage. We were amazed at the creativity the children displayed in their projects.
"Infinity" is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. This was my high score on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster ride at Hong Kong Disneyland. Actually, this was my highest unassisted score. Later in the day, one of the park employees told me how to get a higher score. Although the highest score came when the ride stopped moving for a few minutes, but the targets were still live.
"The Machine" is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. Above is the 1989 Toyota Camry that was kindly donated to me this summer. Thanks Dave! I do not know if reasoning was as an easy way to get rid of the car, or because he secretly wanted me to end up broken down along the side of a highway. I was impressed with how well that car performed. It made it all the way from Los Angeles, CA to Marquette, MI without any issues. It did not even take the shortest route, much to the chagrin of a Texan police officer, who told me I should not be driving in his state. That was right before he did a thorough drug search of the car and those riding it in.
Now it sits in storage, awaiting the next big adventure. In fact, last night my dad was asking me if I thought it would make another trip to the west coast and back. Not sure, but I would be game to find out.
I also like this photo of the car, taken by one of my friends who decided to join me for a week of the road trip.
I am back from break, and trying to get back into posting again. This week's theme at PhotoFriday is "Disastrous." I dug up this photo of the first car I owned in Europe. It was a great car, but unfortunately an Italian guardrail was no match for the Mazda. The funny part was that two weeks after I had left in an Italian junk yard, one of my coworkers, who was a complete mooch, called me up asking to borrow it.
"The Best of 2007" is the theme of PhotoFriday this week. I've posted over a thousand photos taken in nine different countries. It is hard to narrow down to just one as the best. I picked this one, as it shows one of the things about travel that I love most, the open road. Travel to me is not always about the destination, but the journey. Too often for me the best parts about a trip happen on the way. The destination is sometimes the icing on the cake. J.R.R Tolkien said it best, "Not all who wander are lost." I am just grateful I have been able to wander this far and for this long.
The PhotoFriday theme this week is "Sunrise." It must be proof that I am not really a morning person, when this is the only sunrise photo I have. I took this from the top of an orphanage near Bangalore, India. I am excited to be able to return there in about two months. This will be my third time taking a group of students from our school to work with the children there.
"Dead of Night" is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. This was taken two summers ago in Moscow. My friends had left for the airport, and I decided to wander around Red Square at midnight. One of my favorite activities when I travel is to wander major cities in the middle of night. A city changes so much when all the activity dies down, and the locals all go home. There is something about wandering around streets that are usually full of activity, but at the time are deserted. One can get the feeling of being the only survivor in a ghost town. Plus, you can save a few bucks on lodging that way.