Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tokyo update

Well, it's been a week of the Japan-America Student Conference, and I was all ready to blog about my experiences at American Orientation outside of Chicago, and the first few days here in Tokyo, but the internet connection here is running pretty slow tonight, and it's difficult to upload photos. A single image from the Harujuku area of Tokyo will have to suffice for now. We've done many fun things in the past week, including a reception at the Japanese Council General's home in Evanston, Illinois, listening to a panel discussion on Japanese history, having a forum on the environment at the World Bank, as well as a meeting with students from Ghana and France and a chance to hear from some people working on environmental policy here in Japan. We've also done some purely fun things, including shopping and dinner at Harujuku, skits from the Japanese and U.S. students, and a game of capture the flag in the park this afternoon. It's great to be back in Japan!! Hopefully the connection will cooperate more soon, so I can include some photos of all that I've been doing.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NYC weekend

On Friday afternoon we flew into New York for a whirlwind weekend of great music, tasty food, and good times.

After a dinner of Japanese food and a little settling into our weekend home in Midtown, The Pod Hotel, we set out to see some music. We missed seeing the dj we had hoped to catch in Brooklyn, so instead we opted for martinis at Tao and some free music at the 5th Avenue Apple store.

On Saturday we started out the day with a quick breakfast, and sat and drank some coffee in the shadows of the Guggenheim. Although the exterior is undergoing restoration, it was nice to see the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright's building, as well as some great art.

Our next stop was the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. We really enjoyed Design Life Now, the National Design Triennial, which had some fantastic stuff. The museum is housed in the old Carnegie Mansion, and the grounds were a nice place to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

After a little shopping, we had a great dinner at Angelo's Pizza.

Saturday night was the highlight of the weekend, the String Cheese Incident show! This is the last summer the band will be touring, and the last show I could attend. It was a really great time, good crowd, fantastic music, and a nice venue. Excellent!

On Sunday we started the day by walking downtown near the Stock Exchange and Fraunces Tavern, founded in 1762, and where George Washington gave his farewell before retirement.

We rode the free Staten Island Ferry to get some fresh air and a nice view of the city and the Statue of Liberty from the water.

After the ferry ride, we made our way uptown, stopping for a falafel lunch, and ending up at the Met, where we roamed the sprawling Asian and Egyptian exhibitions, always a pleasure.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking in Central Park, people watching and relaxing on a nice summer day.

We had Sunday dinner at Esca, which was a wonderful dining experience. Great service, excellent food, and good wine. On our way back to the subway we happend upon one of the 7-11 stores that has been temporarily changed into a Kwik-E-Mart to promote the upcoming Simpsons movie. Hilarious. It was a perfect weekend in a great city, the only negative part was that it had to end.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Colorado camping trip!

After a long Sunday drive across Kansas and Eastern Colorado, including a bookstore stop in Denver and a dinner stop in Vail, we camped at the Camp Hale Memorial Campground in the White River National Forest, about half way between Vail and Leadville.

On Monday, after a relaxing breakfast and coffee at camp, we drove through Leadville, and over the Independence Pass and the Continental Divide.

We arrived on the other side of the divide near Aspen and camped at the Silver Bell campground in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area. After setting up camp, we hiked up to Crater Lake at the foot of the Maroon Bells, about a four mile roundtrip hike. The first photo is of Maroon Lake, at the start of the hike.

The columbine were especially beautiful on the sunny sections of the trail.

Crater Lake!

Pointing the way for the return hike.

Looking down at Maroon Lake.

Back at camp on Monday night we had Honey Teriyaki Seitan for dinner before relaxing around the campfire.

The view East and West from in front of our tent.

Backpacking Snowmass

After a hearty Tuesday breakfast in Aspen, we headed to the Snowmass Creek trail, where we would backpack about twelve miles and 3,000 feet of elevation change roundtrip.

Entering the wilderness!

Along the trail.

At about five miles we came to an open spot with a great view of a waterfall and nearby peaks, a nice spot to rest our weary feet.

We camped along Snowmass Creek on Tuesday, where we were able to pump water.

Resting after a dinner of Kathmandu Curry. Yum!

The craggy peaks behind our camp.

We hiked back out on Wednesday, retracing our steps, but downhill this time. What better way to spend Independence Day than enjoying the public wilderness that makes the U.S. such an interesting place. Keep your hands off the wildlands, Republicans!