It’s been a little over a month since we disembarked from a plane at Burlington International Airport, looking about as bad as we felt after 30 hours of travel time. Despite the idyllic green image of home we held onto for our 16 months away, we were greeted by tired, wet, brown, mid-spring surroundings—a truly disheartening time of year.
But, home would not be home without our friends and family, and good times have been had. The world is now green and beautiful, our garden is partly planted, and our wiffle ball field has already seen plenty of use. It is good to be home.
There are days when it seems we might never have left, like we’ve awoken from a dream. But others bring back memories from lands far away, such as the lupines blooming along our driveway. Along that vein, we thought we’d share the whole collection of title page banners that we used rather like calendar photos along the way. Viewed together they present some beautiful contrasts that capture a bit of what travel is like.
We are not quite done posting to this blog and we’re also cutting together hours of video into a short film for entry into some film festivals later this summer. Until then, enjoy the photos. Click the pictures to see the related post.
The relentless snowfall of Hokkaido, Japan. January, 2011.
Frosted peaks in Daisetsuzan National Park. January 2011.
Birch trees clinging to steep slopes on Yarigatake, Hakuba, Japan. February 2011.
Windows into old Japan, Kyoto. February 2011.
Close up on the Buddhist temples dotting Luang Prabang, Laos. March 2011.
Burning rice fields cloud the Nam Hou river, Laos. March 2011.
The best beach ever. El Nido, Palawan, Philippines. April 2011.
Lush eucalypt forest along the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. May 2011.
First light on the Tasman Sea. Croajingolong National Park, Victoria. May 2011.
Mandarin harvest, South Australia. May 2011.
Watching over Uluru. Australia’s red center. June 2011.
Floodplains at Ubirr, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. June 2011.
Filtered sun through fan palms, Daintree, Queensland. July 2011.
A sea of vines, Marlborough, New Zealand. August 2011.
The Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand. September 2011.
Tree fern silhouette, Abel Tasman, New Zealand. October 2011.
Glacial meltwater, Fiordland, New Zealand. November 2011.
Lupines. Omarama, New Zealand. December 2011.
Vine leaf, Marlbourough New Zealand. January 2012.
The dry and golden Wither Hills, Blenhiem, New Zealand. February 2012.
Morning light on a distant glacier, Aspiring National Park, New Zealand. March 2012.
Ferns in the kauri forest, Northland, New Zealand. April 2012.
First and foremost, our thoughts are with everyone in Japan right now affected by the earthquake. Having grown to love the place in our five weeks there, it is especially heartbreaking to see the devastation. It is an amazing country that you should definitely visit if you ever get the chance.
This is the first video in a series highlighting our fifteen-months across the Pacific. It’s 14 minutes long so get comfortable, grab a beer and watch it fullscreen if your bandwidth allows! Turning off HD will make for a faster load. Enjoy!
Kyoto is much better explained through photographs than words. We spent three days exploring the temples, gardens and historic streets of Japan’s old capital city.(more…)
A willow-lined canal crisscrossed with bridges, kimono-clad visitors hopping between the town’s seven onsen, a rainy beach walk, an amazingly friendly innkeeper, fat flakes of snow, and king crab fresh from the Sea of Japan. There was nothing not to love about our 24 hours in the coastal town of Kinosaki.
It isn’t until you look at it from above that you get a feel for just how big Tokyo is.
Wandering the streets, the buildings don’t seem excessively huge, the views aren’t especially impressive—in fact, the only remarkable thing seems to be how many people are riding the subways. But from the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, it’s a different story. Buildings, large and small, stretch off in every direction, disappearing into the horizon. Literally. You can’t see the end of them. We could go on and on trying to describe it, but…it’s big. Very big.
Like their name suggests, the Japan Alps are massive— bigger and more extensive than any mountains I’ve ever seen. Steep, spired, and caked with snow at the top, they smooth into long open slopes with patches of beech, willow, birch and tamarack trees. From Alaskan-style steeps to some of the best tree skiing in the world, they hold a staggering variety of terrain— all within reach thanks to an extensive lift system and open backcountry gates.
The Japan Alps rise 7,000 feet above the valley floor and are right up there with some of the more impressive mountains ranges I’ve seen. Though the snow is wind-effected in spots, the forecast looks sunny and temperatures mild, so hopefully we can do some more exploring this week. Here are just a few quick pictures from a ski tour today with three fellow Americans at Hakuba Tsugaike. We were wearing t-shirts during the middle of the day, a nice respite from cold and blustery Hokkiado. (more…)
In thousands of places across Japan, rivers heated by volcanic activity spill into beautiful rock-lined hot springs, known as onsen.
Hakuginso Onsen is one of many located along the edges of Daisetsuzan National Park and the Tokachi mountain range, among the tallest peaks in Hokkaido. The picturesque lodge, built to house the onsen, also provides access to some of the best backcountry skiing on the island—literally right out the front door.
Four days in Furano have treated us well. Though the skiing was lacking in comparison to Rusutsu, it was well made up for in food. Days centered around sushi, pastries, and hot drinks proved quite enjoyable. And we did manage a trip up nearby Asahidake, thanks to a chain of emails and two American expats, for the deepest turns of the trip so far.
Tomorrow we are bound for six days of backcountry skiing and soaking at an onsen (hot-spring) on Tokachidake, an active volcano across the valley.
If we had to describe Rusutsu in one word it would most definitely be “snowy.” It seemed to fall almost constantly here—big fat flakes, tiny wind-driven needles, fluffy swirling snow. In fact, there were probably only a few hours in each day when it didn’t snow.
Skiing in Japan is everything we expected it to be, and then some. Unbelievably deep snow, perfectly spaced birch trees, pillows, and no one here to ski it. This is a quick one teaser from our first day at Rusutsu…taken at 2pm.
After more than a year of planning, endless last-minute errands, and a few midnight meltdowns, we arrived in Japan this morning.
Our first impression after stepping off the plane in Tokyo: Japan is incredibly clean and welcoming, the people are super friendly, and the signage is awesome. We were able to find our way through customs and onto a shuttle bus to catch a tight connection with no problem. Imagine trying to navigate New York’s LaGuardia (worst airport ever?) as a foreign tourist! We could barely figure it out ourselves during our layover there.
Between Vermont and Japan, we stopped in Seattle for five days, seeing some good friends and taking an avalanche course through Mountain Madness. We spent two full days at Steven’s Pass, learning to use our avalanche gear, choose terrain wisely and look for instability in the snowpack. I wouldn’t say we feel totally confident in our abilities to determine whether or not a slope is safe, but I think we learned to be a lot more cautious and deliberate in our decisions.
The flight from Seattle to L.A. to Tokyo made for the longest night we’ve ever seen, since we were running away from the sun the entire time. It finally rose as we were leaving Tokyo, ending our 20 hours of darkness in the Land of the Rising Sun.