Category Archives: Travel

The First Art Museum

When I was in France I had the fortune to visit a few of their famous caves. Like any other tourist in Dordogne, I visited Lascaux II. While Lascaux II faithfully reproduces most of the great art of the original, it is painfully obvious you’re in a tourist attraction the whole time. I also was able to visit Font-de-Gaume, a lesser known cave which has original paintings and reliefs. Mammoths, bison, horses and reindeer are all found throughout, though most of them require you to look hard to notice them. We had a tour guide who pointed each one out and gave us background about each work. Voices echoed whenever spoken.

Reaching Font-de-Gaum requires a laborious hike up steep stairs to the top of the hill. It was well worth it and I was conditioned for it, I had been in the Parisian Catacombs and climbed to the roof of Notre Dame just a few days earlier.

The pictures are not my own, they don’t allow tourists to take photos:



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Want some culture?

I guess it’s a good opportunity to post some pictures of my trip to France back in May. Here are some pics from the Musee d’Orsee, Musee Cluny and Notre Dame.

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Back From the Motherland (this time for real)


Hello faithful readers, as you know from either closely following this blog or by the last two posts I have been away in Tanzania for quite some time now. Well now I’m back. We arrived back in America on Thursday, but the 24+ total hours of traveling had left me to exhuasted to write a new post until just now.

To briefly recap what I had said we’d be doing earlier (click on the tag “Tanzania” for more) we went to go stay and help out a Benedictine convent. I baked bread, helped schoolchildren with Enlgish reading skills, organized medical records at a village clinic, and extracted sunflowerseed oil. I helped at the orhpanage once, but found the kids to be far more energetic for me to keep up with; though there were two other team members who were with them for the duration of our stay and are now in full maternal mode for them. Everyone on the team grew very connected with many indiviudals we met, alas because I have Asperger’s Syndrome I by and large did not. It’s not that I didn’t try, it takes me much longer to develope bonds and we simply didn’t have enough time. As the trip loomed towards the inevitable end everyone dreaded leaving, but I was more then ready. However by the last week I was beginning to feel a closeness with the people we met, and now I wish that perhaps the trip was longer so I would have had more time for that. Whatever the case, I was the only one who didn’t shed a tear during goodbyes.

This being subsaharan Africa, of course we saw lots of animals. Zebras, giraffs, elephants, baboons, antelope, gazelles, wildebeast, city monkeys, and weird black birds with white torso that make a very annoying sound. No lions or rhinos, but we did have an opportunity to pass throuh a reserve known for those two. We elected not to because it would have added three hours to our already 16 hour Jeep ride from Dar es Salaam to Songea. Songea is a small city about an hour from the convent, and once a week we would go there to buy supplies, check the internet, and get a much needed change of scenery. At the internet cafe I tried to post updates for you guys but the internet was way to shitty to get anything done. It took me like twenty minutes to check my email.

Overall I would say this trip is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. So far, anyway. I did, saw, and experienced far too much to be shared in one post, so expect more information in the near future.

You can find more pictures here: (as you scroll down eventually you will begin to see more and more pictures from unrelated trips)


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The Day After Tomorrow

Hey Strangers and Friends, I’m sorry for going over a week without posting anything. Last week some out of state relatives visited and we stayed in a beachouse that for some weird unadvertized reason didn’t have any internet access. They left on Saturday, and I haven’t posed until know because I am preparing the next big thing on my Summer agenda. More like the next big event in my life, really.

As some of you may recall, I will be going to Tanzania. Well I will be leaving, as the post’s title insinuates, the day after tomorrow. I have feel really fluttery right now as this is something I have been anticipating since December. For most of that time I was not particurally excited as I had more immediate matters of concern, but now it is right on the horizon. I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness; the latter due largely to the fact I’m not a big fan of flying, let alone a twenty hour hour flight. We will have a two hour layover in Amsterdam, we won’t be able to set foot outside the airport (which from what I understand means we legally won’t enter the Netherlands). Originally we had planned to do a day trip to Zanzibar, but we scrapped that idea in light of a recent terrorist bombing.

This isn’t the first time I have been out of the US, I grew up in Japan and have been to Canada a couple times. Nor is it my first time out of the US away from my parents, I did that when I went to Costa Rica in 2012. However I will be gone for five weeks, and this is much further.

Internet access will be limited to dial-up on obsolete and unprotected computors if availible at all. I will try and post something while I’m there if I can, but don’t count on it. See you all on July 25th!


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I Have No Such List

There are many things I want to do before die, but I feel no need or desire to write a list for it. Some things I will almost certainly do, others I will possibly do, and others there is a good chance that I won’t. Having such a list would become a measure of life success and a completion meter. Because I view everything as being nothing but a sequence of cause and effect from circumstance, I realize that anything could become impossible. I have always wanted to go to Egypt and Turkey, neither one is remotely plausible as of current and it will probably be many years before it is again. On the other hand I will be going to Tanzania this summer, which is not a place I had ever thought about going to before going to the info session for the trip. Besides, what will it matter what item on the list I completed or didn’t once the bucket is kicked?


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Impulse Souveniring

When I was younger I had an atrocious tendency to buy a souvenir whenever I went somewhere special. I was under the impression that I needed some cheap knickknack in order to have memories about wherever I went. My room back home is filled with all sorts of useless shit that now means nothing to me and serves no purpose other than collecting dust. Of course, taking advantage of these impulses is a big moneymaker for tourism. Now that I’ve realized this I’ve gotten much better, and now I generally only purchase souvenirs as gifts for family members. That’s what I did in Costa Rica, even though the temptation to buy crap for myself was still present. The only thing I got for myself was a jersey for Costa Rica’s national FC, something practical that I actually use. Costa Rican souvenir markets carry a lot of paraphernalia, most of it very eye catching. I remember seeing a glass pipe that had a clay sloth hanging off the stem, and I briefly considered getting it for an uncle who is a chronic enthusiast. At Disneyland all I got was a Yoda shirt, and at Yellowstone I did as I had in Costa Rica. I am more mature know, and have learned the hard way that any memory that needs some tacky ass souvenir isn’t a memory worth making effort to retain.


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Back From the Motherland

You are currently convinced that nothing happened during by sabbatical, however there is one thing that I failed to mention. In early December I was selected to one of seven students who will be going a month long trip to Tanzania for a month from mid June to mid July, where we will be staying in a village to help a Benedictine convent; numerous of the Sisters were educated at our university. The goal is to teach English at the convent school and orphanage, in addition to being completely submerged in village life. Around the time the prompt gives us I will probably be readjusting to life in the First Word, perhaps a different person than before. Also I am applying to be an RA for next school year and if so training will begin in July 31st.



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My Perception of Time

Yes, I definately can feel time slow down when I am hyped about something. The most recent time I felt that was the night before I moved into my dorm. I maybe got three or four hours of sleep, I really don’t know but I functioned perfectly fine on that big day. I felt similar the day before I went to Yellowstone, but I think the main culprit for not being able to sleep on that night was the fact I was sleeping in a church sanctuary (click on the tag for Montana for further context) which is not the most comfortable place to sleep; although I lucky enough to get to share an air matress with a friend, which is rather awkward. Airplanes are another place where time slows down for me. Flying to Costa Rica (another sleepless night before) was very grueling for me and it seemed to last much longer than the ten hours that it actually did. Flying back home, seemed much quicker.

A friend of mine went to the midnight release of GTA V and he said that was one of the longest hours he has experienced. If you don’t play video games it would be difficult to explain that, if you do than no explanation is necessary.

Its rather interesting that this Prompt be posted when it has. Right now I am reading La Commedia Divina which has some very interesting insights about the nature of time, specifically Dante’s ideas about time that were the paradigm in the Middle Ages. When I read Inferno I can feel time go by very fast, as it is a very fascinating work. When I am reading Anna Karenina, for another class, I can feel time go slow. It’s not a bad book, its just a labor to read in four weeks juggled with about three other books.

Time is fluid and open to interpretation.



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I wish I read more

My plan for this Summer was to spend most of it reading. When I was younger I read quite a bit but I fell out of habit for several years and I just largely stopped reading for fun. I grew up without cable (so it was a huge deal when I got to watch Spongebob at a friends’ house), and when my family finally got a satellite I started watching TV and not reading as much. When I got a 360 was the final nail, especially since I had about two or three years of games to catch up on.

So it was for the next few years. When I started junior college I began to read a ton, much more than I ever had before. However all that was for school, and then I certainly had no time to read. When I took my creative writing class in my last quarter I had decided that this Summer I would be reading a lot. Well, it didn’t happen. My Summer turned out to be to busy for that, as I went to Disneyland, Montana and Yellowstone, in addition to my overnight campus orientation. When I wasn’t doing any of that I was pretty much either blogging or watching Breaking Bad; which incidently started showing right when I first got satellite but I didn’t start watching until this June when AMC began to replay the entire series to prepare for the Final Episodes.

“I’ll just read some other time!” Was a common thought.

However, when I start university I will finally be reading fiction again. I signed up for a Russian Literature class and a Theological Literature (I’m going to a Benedictine school)one. Both of those have like seven books apiece, so this semester I will more than compensate for my lack of reading this Summer. I have never had any desire to read Anna Karenina, but I will have to. Needless to say I won’t be able to choose what books I will be reading.


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There’s No Place Like Home

Now I have enough energy to write about my trip. It was another church group trip, superficially like the one I did last year in Costa Rica. Rather than build a house for a family, this time we hosted a vacation Bible school for a church in Montana. The town we stayed in was one of the smallest functioning town I’ve been to, the only place to go shopping was an IGA and there are no chain restaraunts; as a result many people take the hour long drive to Billings once a week to get stuff they need. Walking down mainstreet felt really does feel like being in the Wild West. Several bars, bootmakers, horse suppliers and such line the street, there is even a 1%er clubhouse with a door that reads “patchholders only.”

The VBS program was a huge success, it went much more smoothly than it ever does at my church. Granted I am comparing working with 60 kids to working with upwards of 200 kids. As I do every year, I was part of the drama team. This year the five part drama was about David, I played Jesse and one of King Saul’s henchmen.

That Wild West vibe I mentioned was more then superficial, at one point we worked on a cattle ranch doing various jobs like fencing and mending chicken coops. However, those jobs were merely the openers for the main event: banding. For those of you not in the know, banding is a method of castration where a tiny rubber band is streched and put around a poor soon to be steer’s testicles. It took our whole team to do that. One person gave the calf milk to disract him, several more held him down, and I and one other had to actually do the banding part. Thankfully it’s done with plier things that open and close the rubber bands. I never thought I’d ever fix a cow. For dinner that day we ate fried bull balls, from a different bull mind you. Pretty good actually, as long as you don’t get a chewy one.

After we left the town we drove to Yellowstone. Going there has never exactly been a dream of mine, but I absolutely loved it and I am so glad we went. Even pictures can’t do it justice, you really have to go there and experience the sounds and especially the smells. When you smell the minerals and gasses it the geological and thermal forces at work make themselves clear. Personally, I think Old Faithful kind of steals the thunder of everything else. Don’t get me wrong it’s definately worth seeing. My favorite parts were the areas that have several hot springs, mud fountains, and are right next to bison herds. I have admired bison for some time and have seen them before, but seeing hundreds of them elavates it to another level. We could only stay at the park for two days, then we headed home.

Overall I would say the trip was very rewarding for me, though not lifechanging like Costa Rica was. I didn’t bring a camera but here are some pictures to give an idea of what I saw:

bison mammothspring falls

I’d love to post more but I have over twenty episodes of Breaking Bad to catch up on.

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