Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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Japan in Season

I went to Japan last December. It was the perfect month to visit and my favorite time of year. In late December, you feel fall slowly fading, the leaves almost all gone, but a few strays that cling to the trees, the exact way my toddler clings to my legs when she gets shy.

I love the rush of cold air, the constant threat of first snowfall, the lights, the people in the city rushing around with bags of gifts for loved ones. It’s what I look forward to most during the heat of summer, the same way I look forward to the beach in the gray and rain of winter.  

Fushimi Inari Shrine

In Tokyo, most of the buildings are in muted beige and gray, the color comes in Shinto shrines with red-orange doors, splashes of neon signs, gardens tucked away with fiery fall colors and spotted koi.

It was a strange choice for a pre-Christmas vacation, but they do celebrate Christmas in Japan. They have Christmas cakes, an all-white whipped cake with strawberries on it and according to my sister who was living there at the time—strawberries in Japan taste better than the ones here.

Better strawberries. Can you even imagine?

And there were elaborate light shows, “illuminations” and lit trees all around the city.

You can’t see your way out of Tokyo, it feels infinite. It’s big and pulsing and electric, but at the same time, quiet. There are tucked-away gardens, shrines, and temples everywhere.

I took public transportation in Seattle daily for seven years and because of that, I appreciate Japan’s unspoken rules–drinking on trains, talking above a whisper, talking on your phone— all considered rude, punishable by glare.

Vegetables are in.

Things that have happened on the Seattle bus:

  • A rotisserie chicken rolling around and getting grease everywhere
  • A person so out-of-his-mind, when his friend punched him hard in the face, he didn’t even realize it. One of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed.
  • A woman who (while I was pregnant) asked me about hepatitis vaccines, then coughed right in my face.

It’s tempting to compare where you live to where you travel. To see how safe Tokyo feels, how meticulous and efficient and magical it all seems. The genius of hot coffee from a vending machine and the comfort of train station ramen.

Home is easy to take for granted.


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Super Seattle Photo Essay

The Seattle Seahawks won the SuperBowl. As if you hadn’t heard.

I will not jump on the bandwagon and say I’ve always been fan while shoveling a handful of Skittles into my mouth. On Sundays, I watch/root for/cry for Da Bears and Da Bears only, ya hear? I love the Bulls, the White Sox, the Blackhawks, hot dogs with neon-green relish all that Chicago stuff.

Sports and food loyalties are like family loyalties and I stick to them.

That said, no one can refute my love for the PacNorthwest. I loved it enough to come back after the Great Quebec Adventure. I loved it enough to put half a country between me and my family for a second time, when I could have settled into a nice brick house somewhere in Illinois. That’s right. I could be freezing my butt off right now.

I am not supposed to talk about how fantastic/gorgeous/incredible Seattle is because we want to keep it our little secret. Did you hear that: *we*? I think that is the first time I have ever “we’d” Seattle.

There’s no rule against pictures, so here you go:

Seattle in (my) Pictures


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Travel Pictures: Put a Bird on It

You know what turns a boring, mediocre travel photo into something beautiful? A bird. It doesn’t even have to be a rare bird, a scrappy seagull or downtrodden pigeon can make your travel pictures stunning.

Below is a travel photo narrative of bird photo bombs.

Travel photography tips

My number one travel photography tip: the best photographs happen by mistake.

I learned this while walking through London in shoes that pinched my feet. The clouds parted and a rainbow arched over the city. Freakin’ magical. I turned all the way around on a crowded street, snapped off a few pictures of the rainbow.

The he man behind me asks, “Blimey, don’t they have rainbows where you’re from?” his lips curled in an I-Hate-Tourists sneer. He looked so mad, I feared he would reach out and smash my camera. I felt like the biggest rube. There I was in my holy jeans and stupid shoes with a giant camera strapped to my neck getting called out by a real Londoner.

But it was worth it because I got a bunch of really great photos of a rainbow over London, including the one above with the bird flying across the square. My point is this: take a lot of photos. Don’t live through the lens, be in the present moment, but be ready to snap away the moment a great scene reveals itself.