In 2018 I will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada. I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.
Union Pacific Railroad Museum – Council Bluffs, Iowa
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
For most of my 250+ blog posts on my Less Beaten Paths Blog, I have discussed the back roads of America and Canada.
But for today’s post in the A-to-Z challenge, I want to note some of my other travels outside of the country. I would like to say I’m a world traveler, but I have yet to visit Europe or Australia or New Zealand or South America. But, I have been very fortunate to have lived in Japan for a number of years. From 1987 to 1991, my family also lives there with me. I have also spent a number of weeks working in the Philippines and spend some time working in China near Shanghai and Suzhou. Finally, I should note that I have also visited the mainland of Mexico during a cruise and was able to see the ruins at Tulum.
My first venture overseas was to Japan in 1976 as a missionary for the LDS church. I served in what was then called the Nagoya mission and worked in cities throughout Central Japan including, in order, Kanazawa, Nagoya, Fukui, Takaoka, Ogaki and finally, Fuji City. It was an amazing 22 month experience for me as a young 19 to 21-year-old.
Though most of my time was spent doing missionary work, I did have occasion to travel and visit parts of Japan back then. I also was very lucky to live at the base of the beautiful Mount Fuji, one of the most well known symbols of Japan. Many of the following photos were scanned from old Fujichrome slides taken between 1976 and 1978.
After my return to the states, I went to school, got married, had children and eventually graduated from Arizona State University with a Masters Degree in International Political Science. At that time, in 1987, Japan’s Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Education had started a brand-new program called The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program). After consulting with my sweet wife, I decided to apply for that in hopes that maybe we could go to Japan as a family and experience that country together.
Since we were in the Los Angeles district for registration, I really worried that I would not qualify despite my language skills. But I did and was one of the first 38 individuals selected to participate in the program as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). There were about 400 others selected as assistant English teachers.
My assignment would be to work in the office of the governor of Oita prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Oita’s governor Hiramatsu was a nationally known progressive governor. He had programs that he had instituted to produce locally and think globally. During my two-year stint as a CIR, I got to travel extensively throughout the prefecture and got to meet many wonderful people and experience many wonderful things, as did my family. Also, as a CIR, I participated in a number of TV programs and my children were in numerous television and print commercials. It was an amazing experience for us all.
On the day that my assignment ended, July 31, 1989, I got onto an airplane to fly to Fukui where I had once served my mission. August 1 would be my first day as the Director of International Planning for a nationally known company called Asahi Solar Corporation, which was also headquartered in Oita. I was the first foreigner to work for that company and I traveled throughout the country with the president of the company. We also made trips to China, Hawaii and other places within the United States in search of improving the solar industry. We even brought a solar water heater to donate to the solar foundation at the Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona.
During my four years in Japan from 1987 to 1991, I’ve visited every prefecture in the country except for Okinawa and Hokkaido.
We got to visit many wonderful places and famous places. We attended the national Sumo Wrestling Tournament in Fukuoka. We visited some of Kyoto’s famed sites and more.
Indeed, Japan was a wonderful experience. Our family returned to the US in late 1991 and eventually made our way to Kentucky. While in Kentucky I worked for a number of Japanese companies as an interpreter. I eventually made my way to Lexmark International, where I worked with the software development team to get the Japanese, Chinese, Korean (and other language) versions of their software localized. While an employee of Lexmark, I made two training trips to Cebu, Philippines, yet another great experience. You can read a detailed post of my adventures at my Cebu Journal
My only other real big overseas trip was on a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico. During this cruise we also got to take a small boat to mainland Mexico and visit the old Mayan ruins of Tulum.
As a lover of history, this was a fascinating visit and one I will not soon forget.
I am glad that my sweet wife was able to accompany me. You can see the entire story on the Polyesterfest Cruise Post of mine.
“You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go!” – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go
As a Throwback Thursday menagerie, I thought I would throw in some of my odds and ends from the past…some going way back and some not so long ago. I have been blessed to travel so many places and many of my travels happened long before I began writing about them. So, here they are, a potpourri of places diverse. ENJOY THE RIDE!
“You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.” – Dr. Seuss, Oh The Places You’ll Go
Most of my early life was spent in the western U.S. and, as such, I got to see deserts, mountains, Indian ruins and more.
Growing a love for antiquities and old things, I had many opportunities to visit old places during my many visits to Japan. I am especially fond of the awesome castles and amazing old shrines, many of which I have had the opportunity to visit. Here are a couple.
While living in Japan, I also visited Kyoto on a couple of occasions. Kyoto has wonderful old historic shrines and temples, and colorful Geisha…
Back in the U.S., I have been to both coasts and to the north and south and most points in between. Here are some of the places I have visited…
I have discovered that the world abounds with natural beauty. I have been blessed to see this beauty in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, China, the Philippines and other places.
Of course, when taking trips there are always fun things to try. When in Japan I tried quite a few new adventures. Perhaps my favorites were taking hot springs baths and going to the Sumo Wrestling events.
Beppu is probably the most famous of the hot springs resort towns in Japan. Located in Oita Prefecture, I had the opportunity to visit often and for different kinds of “baths”
Then there are the Sumos…I got to go to two of their tournaments and see the giant Konishiki wrestle. I will always be a fan of Sumo wrestling.
Of course, as a history major, I have always had an interest in things historical. One of my classes at Northern Arizona University was on Japanese literature and we studied Kunikida Doppo, who was considered one of Meiji Japan’s most well traveled writers. While living in Oita, I was able to visit his studio in Saiki. Ironically, my professor at NAU, Dr. Atkins, was a Kunikida Doppo expert, so it was a special trip for me.
One cannot study Japanese history without learning about the atrocities of World War II. The Americans dropped two atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. I have been able to visit both places. Ironically, in 1979 I also visited the Los Alamos museum where the bombs were initially built. So, I have seen both sides of the story.
And now, for a few other odds and ends, just for fun…