Saturday, December 27, 2008

Family PIC from Christmas 2008

Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Christmas 2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oregon the Beautiful

Here's some pictures from our Oregon trip put to music.

South Falls in Oregon's Silver Falls State Park

Here's something new I've been trying. It makes good use of my camera video's.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Japan Trip Pictures

It has been a month since I've returned from our bike tour in Japan. All my pictures are now post on my Pbase picture site. It took awhile to go through them since there were thousands of pictures after 2 months on the road. I have posted a lot of pictures with the intent of telling our story through pictures. I've included some remarks with each picture and indicated the day of trip which covered 60 days total. During this time frame, we rode a total of about 1,700 miles and climbed approximately 73,000 feet. Needless to say, Japan is a very mountainous country and we rode right into the heart of the mountains often varying our route between the coastlines and highlands. Although, our original objective encompassed the islands of Hokkaido, Honcho, Shikoku, and Kyushu, we did not have a specific time table or a final destination. In the end, our bike tour as a group of five ended in Nagano, about half the distance through Honchu. Guess that means we'll just have to come back to finish our tour one day.

A big “Thank You” to you, Jay and Andrew for the invite and everything you've done during this memorable trip. Because of your leadership, patience and ability to read and speak Japanese, I was able to see and enjoy so much more of Japan than I could have ever imagined. We were definitely off the beaten path! The friendliness of the Japanese people is something I will always remember. As we have said many times, “This has been a trip of a lifetime.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Our Japan Tour is Nearing its End

Geno and I ended our bike tour in Nagano about 6 days ago and sent our bikes and camping equipment back to the Narita Youth Hostel. We decided not to ride to Tokyo, however, Jay still plans to ride into Tokyo since he has an additional week in Japan. Mine catching a cold also helped me toward that decision. The Kids, Andrew and Korey, continued riding southwest through the high northern alps of Japan. Geno and I hope to meet up with Korey again in Tokyo.

Geno and I have been traveling by train and bus since Nagano. We (Geno, Jay, and I) are now in Kamikochi within the high mountains of the Northern Alps of Japan. The mountains and fall colors are big attractions in this area. Tomorrow, we will take a bus back to Matsumoto for two more nights before taking a train to Tokyo. We plan to spend four nights in Tokyo and then fly home on Nov 4th. Jay will ride on alone from Matsumoto toward Tokyo.

For the past two weeks, beginning with the city of Nikko, then Kusatsu, Nagano, Matsumoto, and now Kamikochi, we have been in popular tourist areas of Japan. These places are fairly close to Tokyo by train or car. The cities and places are interesting and beautiful, but there are a lot of local tourist as well as foreigners. I guess this is the other side of traveling in Japan and this is a popular time of year for tourist.

After 1,700 miles of riding, our trip is now rapidly coming to an end. I have enjoyed every aspect of our trip, but I`m also ready for some home time. Updating this site has not been easy during this tour. Guess I`ll have to doing it at home. I have a lot of pictures so I`ll be busy for a while. I did add some pictures on Take Care.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking a Break in Sapporo

We're now in Sapporo. The biggest surprise so far is the fact Wifi does not exist outside of the large cities which means I have not been able to update the websites with pictures. Let me start by saying that I am thoroughly enjoying our bike tour of Japan. I only wish that I could speak the language so I could converse with the locals who have been friendly and very curious about us. Andrew and Jay have been doing a great job getting us around and helping us deal with the language barrier. Even the simplest needs can be an issue when one doesn't speak Japanese, especially dinner menu's without pictures. Their help and patience is invaluable and much appreciated.

We are now on our 18th day of the tour and we have been active every day. Our short riding days usually involves catching a ferry to another island and our rest days involve hiking a mountain; Mt. Asahidake in central Hokkaido and Mt. Rishirifuji on Rishiri Island. Our total mileage to date is approximately 800 miles. We're all tired at this point so we'll probably take a few days off in Sapporo. So far, the roads of Hokkaido are very clean, the scenery is fantastic, the people are very friendly, and the food is tasty. The Japanese diet seems to agree with me. No surprise there! We usually end our day soaking in hot pools (onsen – natural mineral hot springs or sento – heated water) and resting in the tatami room until it's time for dinner. Our group of five is getting along very well. However, the young people, Andrew and Korey, are usually leading the way on the bikes and full of energy.

We are camping most of the time which is very inexpensive or free. Most of the campsites are on nice green grass with very clean facilities. About half of the time, there is a western style toilet. One does have to get use to floor level toilets if traveling in Japan. We've also stayed at Youth Hostels and Rider Houses. Rider Houses are series of places set up specifically for motorcycle and bicycle tourist traveling on a budget. They are inexpensive ($5.00 or less) or free offering one a place to sleep with very close quarters. At times your space is the size of single futon pad. The Rider Houses so far, have been an old train car, a 15' x8' freight-box-like structure, a house, and a funky warehouse loft. It has been interesting to say the least.

For some pictures, go to my Pbase picture site. Herb

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Still In Hokkaido

I spoke with Herb this morning. The guys are still exploring the island of Hokkaido. Herb says Japan is absolutely beautiful and so clean. The roads are so clean that you need not worry about getting flat tires. When they are not camping, they have been staying at Rider Houses, which are run by locals and offer rooms with tatsumi (spelling?) mats for bicylists and motorcyclists.

In about 1 1/2 weeks from now, they plan to be in Sapporo which is the large and modern city on Hokkaido. Hopefully Herb will be able to find internet access and load some pictures onto the website. From there they plan to head to the big island of Honshu.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Communication From Japan

Note from Kay........

I received a call from Herb at 11:30pm last night(3:15 pm 9/10, Japan time). The guys all arrived safely and found their way to the youth hostel last week. According to Herb, there is a language issue, and thank goodness they have Jay and Andrew with them. This past Saturday they ferried to the northern island to start their journey. They were in Naka-Furano which is in the countryside of Hokkaido, when he called. They are all having a wonderful time, the weather has been good to them and they have been enjoying the bathhouses, noodles dishes and bento boxes.

Unfortunately they have not been successful finding internet service in the areas that they have been riding. So updates to this blog will not be made too often. But do check back periodically for updates on their trip.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Universe

The grandeur of a fully illuminated night sky with billions of shining stars looming overhead can be a humbling and profound visual experience. Such visions can reawaken our minds to the boundless wonders of the world that surrounds us day and night. All creation, here and beyond, seen and unseen comes from stardust. Awareness and knowledge of the universe allows us to see beyond ourselves. It broadens our perspective. Only then can we truly appreciate the miracle of life and tell our story within a greater truth. Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Universe

Friday, August 29, 2008

Japan, Ready or Not

It’s hard to believe that a year as passed since I was invited to do a self-contained bike tour in Japan. How I’ll be taking off in less than a week on Sept 4th. I’ll spend two months touring Japan with friends Jay and Geno along with Jay's son Andrew and his friend Korey returning on November 4th, 2008. We’ll fly into Tokyo and catch a ferry to the northern most island of Hokkaido and begin our tour. Although we have a planned route which also encompasses the islands of Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, we do not have a specific time table for a final destination. Our tour will conclude when our allotted time of two month is at its end. I do have a small portable PC so I plan to update this blog and my Pbase picture site if all goes well. One thing I’ve learned from my cross-country bike tour in the spring is that PC access, internet connections, and available time can make blog updates a real challenge while on the road. We’ll see how it goes. Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Japan Ready or Not

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Bike Tourist

The passing cars disappear around the bend and I am again alone in the middle of a remote desert landscape. In their wake, dust lingers in the air momentarily before settling. Silence again prevails upon the warm afternoon as I pedal mile after mile far from anywhere. Ahead, the narrow road stretches toward the horizon and beyond. It is difficult to see into the distance because of glare from a bright afternoon sun. Alas, I may not encounter another person for hours. With only myself for company, I think of my wife and try to imagine what she might be doing back home. It has been awhile since I began so I think of her often during the long days of riding. Sometimes, there are feelings of guilt for leaving her behind. But always, the open road has beckoned. It’s an obsession to which we concede. Before every fork in the road and around every bend, I am compelled by curiosity and the anticipation of what lies ahead. And at every road’s end is yet another road. With miles and miles to go, I can only find solace in the irony that the farther I ride from her; the sooner I will see her upon my journey’s end.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Cat's Day

Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: A Cat's Day

Saturday, August 16, 2008

High Places

As in life, there are many trails leading to places beyond the bend that we will never know

For some, the path ahead often ends upon the crest of a mountain high above the world

Is it the spirit of man to seek high places or the will of God which beckons him to such heights

Alas, we need not to travel much further but to close thy eyes and begin a journey unbounded

Monday, August 4, 2008

On the Eastern Side

My words could never adequately describe the beauty of the mountain ranges from our camp next to the Owens River within the Long Valley Caldera off Hwy 395. This high desert landscape sitting within an ancient caldera is surrounded by rugged mountains with heights to 14,000 feet. In an area devoid of trees, it didn’t take long to be captivated by the unobstructed beauty of the surrounding views. Like the hypnotic sounds of a melodic song, I was mesmerized by the tonal harmony of the nearby mountains. From a bluish hue to a golden glow from an ever changing light, the mountains loomed and radiated casting its spell over those who gazed.

For 6 days, I joined Geno and friends camping along the Owens River just north of Crowley Lake. There we were surrounded by the Sierra Nevada, White, and Benton Mountain Ranges. We biked and hiked around the region by day and spent our nights under the light of the stars. Use the link below to see some pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Eastern Sierra 2008
See all my pictures from our activities at "".

From the Garden to the Table: A Caprese Salad

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Small Garden

What started several years ago with potted tomato plants have now become two small raised bed vegetable gardens in our side yard. The hand picked tomatoes have been delightful this summer and I would have to admit to a certain satisfaction in taking the fruits of our garden directly into the kitchen. Alas, there is much to be learned about gardening, but we are encouraged by the success of this summer. We are now looking forward to a larger garden in the far corner of the backyard where the sunlight is better with fewer obstructions from nearby trees and structures. Use the link below to see all the pictures.
Link to Photo Album: A Small Garden

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hiking Round Top Mountain

On Wednesday, July 23rd, Geno and I hiked to the top of Round Top Mountain from Carson Pass off Highway 88. I wanted to do this hike as preparation for our coming climb to the top of Mt. Morgan at 13,748 feet. The Round Top Peak hike within the Mokelumne Wilderness is about 8.5 miles total, but hikers get a lot in return. The rewards are three serene lakes, patches of wildflower, a climb to 10,381 feet, and tremendous views. Unfortunately for us, smoke from valley fires made for hazy views. Use the link below to see my pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Hiking Round Top

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dale Chihuly Exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco

Kay and I decided to spend a day in San Francisco visiting the Dale Chihuly Exhibition at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The visual spectacle of his artistic creations with its voluptuous colors and sheer size were stunning, akin to walking through a magical wonderland made of glass. The wow factor was a definite “Ten”. It was well worth the trip; however, it was very crowded on Saturday so go during a weekday if you can swing it. Use the link below to see my pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Chihuly

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oregon 2008

The timing of our 2-week trip from June 28th thru July 11th to Oregon could not have been better to escape the smoke and haze in the central valley of California due to a multitude of fires throughout State. “What gives with all this trapped smoke in the valley?” It’s not as if this State hasn’t been inundated with fires in the past. Maybe it’s my age, but I just don’t remember smoky conditions as bad as that. It might be what weather people would call the “Prefect Storm” situation, a popular term these days. With the jet air stream moving northward during spring, most of the storms went north leaving California dry and primed for fires. Now, coupled with the lack of air flow, smoke from hundreds of natural and suspicious fires have been trapped in the State for nearly a month. The State is in a literal haze of polluted air leading to health issues and cancelled outdoor events. Perhaps, this can serve as a reminder for us not to take Mother Nature for granted. Either way, I was glad to spend some time in Oregon away from all the foul air.

If not for Kay, I probably would not have gone to Oregon. Alas, her trip to China was cancelled so she suggested this plan as an alternative. As for my perspective, I always enjoy the places I visit and this trip was no exception. We spent the first week along the Oregon coast in Lincoln City, an hour or so west of Salem. Our second week was in the shadows of Mount Bachelor just 5-miles west of downtown Bend staying with friends Dennis and Debbie who are part-time owners of a condominium at the Seventh Mountain Resort. In all, we spent one night in Grants Pass, 4 nights in Lincoln city, one night in Salem, and 7 nights in Bend. The pace of our travel gave us plenty of time to explore the region with side trips to Depoe Bay, Newport, Drift Creek Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Silverton, Smith Rock State Park, and Sisters.

We stayed active with walks on the beach, biking along the coast and into the mountains, hiking to waterfalls, shopping in town, and just hanging out at our homes away from home. Other than an occasional weather report, vacation meant no TV Sports or News. I even missed a great Wimbledon final between Federer and Nadal, the ultimate winner with his first Wimbledon title. As for the news, the problems of the world are endless and will still be there in one form or another when we return home so why not take a vacation from the world at large. Our evenings at the resort were centered on games like Gin-Rummy, Spades, and Dominoes while we consumed our share of wine to help the local wine industry. Our thanks to Dennis and Debbie for sharing their place! We had a great time with them hiking, riding tandems, and exploring the area both within and around Bend. I also enjoyed the opportunity to do some photography. Use the link below to see my pictures.
Link to Photo Album: Oregon 2008