Japan

110,745 kilometers later: an update on Nomadderwhere

110,745 kilometers later: an update on Nomadderwhere

I'm watching the Vancouver Marathon from my apartment window and giggling as seagulls drift by at eye-level. Canada represents my final destination of this academic year, and though it was an exciting year and an important one for my own growth, I am glad it's behind me.

Traveling with a math expert this year introduced me to the beauty of slow data. With every car ride or room change, she plugged miles traversed or beds switched into a spreadsheet. By the end of 220 days "on the road," she presented to us the impressive numbers of our #cdtravels:

  • 110,745 kilometers of transit = 2.76 times around the world
  • Total hours on planes, trains & automobiles (not layovers or wait time): 246 hours / 6 work weeks
  • 50 beds roughly, averaging 4.4 nights per bed

If you're wondering why I spent the last year making an epic carbon footprint (not proud of that), take a peek at the TGS Changemaker Program and read my post on this curriculum development mission. If you're not sure how I went from travel media to writing curriculum documents for a high school, I understand your confusion. It surprised me, too. Here's something on my evolution.

Last year at this time, I was living in Florence, Italy with THINK Global School, plugging away at graduate school and enjoying as stable a lifestyle as I've achieved in the last decade. Between then and now, I changed jobs, visited ten countries, and wrote two years of projects with three colleagues.

Here's what it was like...

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To all those hopeful travel writers out there

To all those hopeful travel writers out there

To my knowledge, there is no perfect equation that all can use in order to strike that balance between experience and processing time. Homework, books, projects, trips, community building, sports, and other desires or pressures will tug at one’s attention and make it difficult to prioritize processing time for maximum personal benefit.

Over my years on the road, I have witnessed in people who prioritize - even slightly - the documentation of their experiences:

  • more emotional stability
  • more ease with forming concluding thoughts about a place or experience
  • more clarity in drive or future path

It will take time to experiment with travel writing techniques in order to access inner thoughts, make the most meaning out of your world experiences, and utilize time most wisely for maximum gain. That time, however, will be fun and rewarding.

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A patchwork quilt of my days in Japan

A patchwork quilt of my days in Japan

For the last two years, I've used these little collages as a way to quickly chronicle a chapter of my work life. While this says "Hiro" (a.k.a Hiroshima) and some of the images are from elsewhere in Japan, this represents some of my favorite moments this term, the ones I continue to savor even months later.

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Q&A: teaching digital storytelling - live chat!

Q&A: teaching digital storytelling - live chat!

Semester at Sea impacts my day yet again :) Matthew Straub and I were on the S'07 voyage together, and a few years later, we discussed participation in The Nakavika Project after I returned from Fiji. I think having the common bond of SAS-hood inspires people to stay connected and communicative with other global and passionate people. Since chatting about potential collaboration on TNP, we've been in touch about ideas and our work.

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Northeast Japan still hurts from the 3/11 disaster...and you knowing that actually helps

Northeast Japan still hurts from the 3/11 disaster...and you knowing that actually helps

The more wonderful people and places I encounter, the more difficult choosing causes becomes for me, and I can understand that you might as well find difficulty in extending much of yourself to this cause with so many other things begging for your support. That's why I hope it feels entirely doable to you to simply follow them on Facebook and begin your engagement there. A message, a photo, or a "like" could be just the encouragement they needed for the next step.

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An earthquake challenges my understanding of reality

An earthquake challenges my understanding of reality

From a state of unconsciousness to complete lucidity in three seconds, I sped to the realization that an earthquake challenges what I know to be true about my reality. A building trembling and swaying, a bathroom vibrating bottles off the counter, a need to brace myself between two beds …and none of this occurring on a ship, as I’ve experienced before. I was not at sea; I was very much on land.

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Exploring the haiku with Kyoto and Kerouac

Exploring the haiku with Kyoto and Kerouac

Kerouac considered the beauty of the form to be in the process of painting a single moment as simply as possible in three lines of text. He often wrote in "Western haiku" form, which didn't follow a strict 5-7-5 syllable equation. Since I'm not a fan of a creative process that includes the frequent counting on my fingers, I embraced this style and experimented yet again with the haiku, this time during a TGS club session called "Word."

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Kyoto through the lens

Kyoto through the lens

I wasn't a part of the planning process for Kyoto, so every day presented new information and surprising activities I gulped up. The highlights included walking through a bamboo forest, watching chunky snowflakes coat the city, and our tea ceremony with a maiko, a geiko (or geisha) in training. I rolled my own sushi for the first time, which was a bucket list item, and I finally visited the orange gates captured in Memoirs of a Geisha.

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Sparked by a word and leaving it to the end

Sparked by a word and leaving it to the end

It's something I've trained for, feel born with an attitude and aptitude for, have developed strong passions for and a personality around. In its absence, I feel loss and incompleteness and greater pains than the ones it causes. It shapes the way I think about everything remotely related to it–turns me into a philosopher, a guru in a cave...in my own mind.

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Assume the world wants you to take risks, keep learning, and do what you love

Assume the world wants you to take risks, keep learning, and do what you love

Arriving at the bus terminal, I turned right back around and got on the Portliner train to try and get as close to the ship as possible. Having not traveled with my passport, and knowing the insanely tight restrictions on boarding, I knew there was no chance of talking my way on as a nostalgic alumna. As I rolled closer, I snapped pic after pic of increasingly higher quality until I found myself face-to-bow with my former nautical home. There are many reasons why SASers develop a lifelong love of the program and the vessel. For me, Semester at Sea changed the whole course of my life. I don’t know who I would have become without my round-the-world voyage in 2007. I certainly wouldn’t have met Garrett and Alexis, wouldn’t have felt strong enough to take my Big Journey, wouldn’t have aspired for the STA internship, and wouldn’t have landed in Japan today with my job at THINK Global School.

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Journeys of a Lifetime in July

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

The Sepik River: Let's start off with a trip for the hairy-chested and callused travelers. Say hello to Papua New Guinea! Coast along one of the least spoiled and greatest river systems in the world, flanked by jungle and indigenous cultures with multiple languages and gruesome stories from village rivalries. Skip the capital city and board a cruise boat for four days. Sounds extreme…

Turkey's Turquoise Coast: I read "anchor at night in isolated coves" and got a little giddy. How does sailing the southwest coast of Turkey, admiring relics of 4,000 year-old civilizations, and enjoying Turkish breakfasts while watching flying fish go by sound? Sounds like a trip to convert any land-lover.

By Road

Route 12 in the Outer Banks: Windsurfers, I'm talking to you now…and hang gliders…and people who like beaches. There's a stretch of 80 miles on the coast of North Carolina called the Outer Banks that would entice all of you. Rocky seas slap the shores and create the perfect climate for wind sports. Route 12 runs the length of the barrier islands and can be driven in three hours.

Ireland

Ireland

Connemara's Sky Road: Ireland already pulls you in with its lovely people and tendency to indulge in some tasty brews, and while you're enjoying the emerald green of her landscapes and primordial beauty, take a drive through the Connemara peninsula for some added visual pleasures. White-sand beaches and high cliffs both make up its rugged perimeter, where the intense wild mingles with pub-filled towns and wild ponies.

By Rail

The Inland Railway: Board in Mora, head to Lapland. See one of Europe's last great wildernesses along the way. If you're into grand travel landmarks, you may enjoy getting the certificate upon crossing the Arctic Circle. Don't rush your week in Sweden, awaiting brown bears outside your train car window. And remember that touring in summertime allows for some awesome vistas with the 24-hour daylight.

Scotland

Scotland

Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh: If you've never seen a hairy cow, now's your chance. Honestly, if you don't know what the Scottish Highlands look like, you're in for an awakening. You've probably dreamt about them without even knowing such land truly exists. I was enchanted by the simple beauty of the lakes and mountains. The landscape is haunting and hopeful at the same time. This train takes three hours and can show you the magic.

On Foot

Climbing Mount Fuji: No snow. No massive festival lines to the top. July is a great time to love on Japan's famous peak. From the looks of Japanese toilets, the rest stops on the way to the summit have got to be elaborate and…kush. Whether you start in the middle for the pre-dawn trek to the sunrise or do the whole darn thing all day long, allow yourself to think about the dormant volcano below you, not all the knick-knacks and novelty items you could get while up there.

Lake Issyk-Kul: I know you don't often find yourself crossing the Kyrgyzstani/Kazakhstani borders often, but you may want to tack this trip onto your pre-existing Stan tour (or your bucket list journey). What do you imagine a lake "cradled in the Mountains of Heven" looks like? You better bet it's not only picturesque but surrounded by incredible hikes through herb meadows and colorful vistas. I never knew the Stans were coated in natural splendor. Serves me right for watching Borat.

In Search of Culture

Amish Country: Do you hang with the Amish often? What gives? Maybe you should. Take off right now for Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania and find yourself some Old Order Amish folk to admire. Take the backroads, stop for some crafts and delicious food goods, and if you're around for a Saturday, try attending an auction. Don't ask me what they auction off; I want to be surprised when I hit that up.

The Painted Monasteries of Moldavia: Illuminated manuscripts are immaculate to begin with, but seeing a similar effect covering the walls of a quaint monastery in Romania's countryside would be time travel-esque. There are as many as fifteen monasteries with similar artistry on display, one of which earned the title of "the Sistine Chapel of the East." You won't have to search very hard to find the culture here in Romania.

In Gourmet Heaven

New York Deli Tour: There's an overwhelming amount of things to do and see in Manhattan, which is why fueling up is essential. Enter the New York deli scene. You've got your classic Katz's Delicatessen, your staple Carnegie Deli, and a slew of others both well-known and lower key. Go with friends and split sandwiches to save room for some cheesecake and other delicious goods.

Wine Route Through Hungary: Allow me to write a wine route haiku:

Ancient golden wines Aged in musty, moldy caves What could be sweeter

Since when have you needed to be persuaded to visit a wine country? You just needed to know it was there. And now you do. So go.

Into the Action

Horse Treks in the Andes: The choice isn't horse, foot, car, or plane. It's obvious you'll be traversing the Andes on horseback, but the question is where: through the grasslands and volcanoes of Ecuador or along old smugglers' routes in Patagonia. Since the Andes are the longest mountain range in the world, it seems the choices are virtually limitless. Regardless, to be that connected with the glory of nature would be a thrill for the masses…and the sole individual that feels real isolation and fresh air in their nostrils. Can you tell I pine for Patagonia?

The Big Five

The Big Five

Stalking the "Big Five": Who are the "Big Five?" They were classified as so for being the most difficult to hunt: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. Chobe National Park in Botswana will satiate your desires to see these bad boys and stalk them with your newly purchased sniper (a.k.a. telephoto) lens. Don't expect to sleep in on this sort of safari, but you can expect an awesome mid-day nap when the rest of the animals snooze as well.

Up and Away

Over British Columbia: Vancouver is one of those cities that can be done by foot, bike, car, etc. but what shouldn't be neglected is the aerial view from the windows of a float plane. Sunset flights could be majestic, but daytime jaunts can bring you into view of eagles, seals, and porpoises going nuts in nature.

Buzzing over Kruger National Park: Nothing feels more like a defiance of all natural instincts and laws that flying over man-eating animals in a kite strapped to a lawn mower engine. And at the same moment, nothing is cooler than taking a microlight on a mini-safari over reserves like Kruger. It's certainly a new and interesting way to move about this earth and a surreal way to observe animals in their natural habitats.

In Their Footsteps

Across the Continental Divide with Lewis and Clark: I have no idea how Lewis and Clark could do it. But thank goodness they did; otherwise, who knows if I'd be alive (that'd be funny and make sense if I were actually related to William Clark, which I don't believe I was). It is, however, possible to see for yourself what the wild continental divide was like 200 years ago when they made their famed trek. Montana looks monumental in size, and it's always a trip worth taking to be amidst mass beauty.

Blues Pilgrimage in Clarksdale: It's the birthplace of the blues and chillin' in the Mississippi Delta, waiting to be explored by you. Morgan Freeman has certainly invested a lot in this region, which is decidedly understated but top notch in musical quality and food choices, among many other things, I would assume. You could also take Highway 61, also known as the Blues Highway, and make Clarksdale one stop among many on your musical pilgrimage.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in August for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Journeys of a Lifetime in May

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Frontier Country: Hug Indiana's southern border via river barge to experience the wild, the musical, the historical, the classy and the rowdy. I'm talking about Nashville's music scene, the natural surroundings of former Native American land, and the Kentucky Derby, which takes place during the first week of May!

Cruising Milford Sound: Thank you, Ice Age, for carving out this amazing landscape. Waterfalls cascade from the mountaintops where rain forests cling. Sail, fly, walk, drive - there are seemingly no bad ways to experience this place.

By Road

Route 66 Through Arizona: Blare your Bob Dylan and rev your old fart engine. Cruise down America's "Main Street," and you may say some thoughts like: "Gee, that's a big canyon" or "Are these guys gunfighting for real?"

The Riviera Corniches: Rent a car and drive these coastal highways that carve into the famous French Riviera. I've got a feeling, if this is your kind of trip, you'll be doing a lot of chewing and swallowing between each drive. Sounds lovely.

By Rail

The Bolshoi Express: St. Petersburg to Moscow. The Hermitage, the Kremlin - see everything amazing from both cities, including the amazing scenery in between while aboard Russia's first post-Soviet luxury train. Won't you take me to SWANKY TOWWWN!

The Andean Explorer: From the old capital of the ancient Inca world to the highest navigable lake in the world, enjoy every high altitude chug to the clear skies from your cabin window. Stops are made to increase appreciation for the fresh air and local markets selling soft alpaca wool. I hope they play the Emperor's New Groove on the train!

On Foot

IMG_0204

Everest Base Camp: My friend's grandparents took this legendary journey on foot twice in their last decades, so don't write this off just yet as something you cant handle. Acclimate to the Nepalese world for a few days in Kathmandu, take the 8 day trek up 18,000 feet to base camp, and visit the tea houses and quaint high altitude villages along the way. The photo to the right shows my view of Everest from 107 miles away (it's the little pink dot above the blue mountains. She's a tall sucker.

Samaria Gorge: Herb-scented air wafts through this wildlife-littered cut through western Crete, and you could too, if you only knew it was there. Pass through the Iron Gates in May, and you'll be walking amongst many wildflowers and past very few people. The taverns at the end near the southern coast make for an excellent and compelling finish line!

In Search of Culture

Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park: The May tours fill up quickly for this bike trip through a western suburb of Chicago filled with the highest concentration of FLW architecture. Admire his radical Prairie Style creations with Cubist influences while also burning some cals! And it doesn't hurt that Chicago has quite a lot more to admire.

Renaissance Italy: If I tried, I don't think I could do Italy's Renaissance evidence justice. Florences streets and many, many palaces, museums, and churches; Siena's cathedral, town square, and civic building; Rome's Sistine Chapel and other works scattered across the Vatican...you know you need to go. It's just about finding the time. Well, next May will be your time to explore Italy back in one of its many hey days.

In Gourmet Heaven

Depachika Shopping in Tokyo: A depachika is a basement of a department store in Japan, and these floors are stuffed to the brim with top quality food merchandise, including cured meats and cheeses from Italy, cigar wafers, chocolates, and the most expensive and juicy melon you'll ever taste. Though you don't have to wait until May; this is year-round shopping.

The Baltic Gourmet: I find the cultures between prominent cultures fascinating. So what happens when the culinary traditions of Germany, Poland, Russia, and Sweden collide? You get the palette of meat, fish, root vegetables, sour cream, and dill that is enjoyed across the Baltic countries. Bus between Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia for the full gastronomic experience.

Into the Action

The Trans Canada Trail: Wow, this thing really is TRANS-Canada. Stretching from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and even up to the Arctic Ocean, you can either jump on for an hour of wildlife spotting and nature admiring or you can strap on a backpack and hike a massive chunk. And if you start in May, you've got the whole summer to blaze the trail. Keep in mind that in the Yukon region, summer offers 24 hours of daylight!

ATVs in the Namib Dunes: The ATVs just denote the tip of the adventure sport iceberg in Namibia, while adventure sports only cover some of what's available in this southern African nation. Visit the atmospheric Skeleton Coast, watch for dolphins, eat top notch oysters, stalk animals, and don't forget to motor around the dunes looking for that landscape of the Atlantic on the horizon.

Up and Away

Hoover Dam Air Tour: Take off in the morning to ride smooth air waves over this modern civil engineering wonder of America. Of course, if you take the sunset tour, you return to the neon-happy Las Vegas cityscape. After this trip, you'll finally be able to tell your friends you know what 5 million barrels of cement looks like.

El Teleferico: All other cable cars will feel puny compared to this one in Merida, Venezuela. Ascend the longest and highest of the global litter to sit atop Pico Espejo, an Andean peak. Block off your morning, because the cars only run from 7am until noon.

In Their Footsteps

Captain Cook's Polynesia: Jump on a ten day cruise of some lovely, isolated islands that surely beat your home landscape. Black pearls, underwater kalidescopic wonderlands, and evidence of Gauguin can't top the gorgeous surroundings, but they can certainly top the cake! The South Pacific isn't a place to see in a hurry. Sandwich your cruise with some extra days to be an islander and slow your life down.

Pilgrimage to Santiago: Join the thousands who have blazed this trail before you and become a medieval pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. If you want to be really authentic, nix the shoes, but if you're not crazy, enjoy your hearty soles as your traverse the Iberian peninsula's north. Your first stop could include a bull run in Pamplona, but don't remember...a swift jab of a horn could do your pilgrimage in!

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in June for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Journeys of a Lifetime in April

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

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Journeys of a Lifetime in March

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Sampo Arctic Icebreaker: Crunch across Finlands waterways in this 75 meter ship, and psych yourself up for a quick dip in the icy sea - protected by a thermal watertight suit, of course. Book well in advance. This looks awesome.

The Lower Zambezi River: What an incredible ride in between Zambia and Zimbabwe, where I actually saw elephants swimming, massive crocodiles sunning, and hippos pop out of nowhere - scaring the living daylights outta me.

By Road

From Cairo to the Cape: Africa is a trail map, and this is the main route. Bike it, overland it, drive it, but I beg you...don't walk through the Sahara. Give yourself at least two months, more like four, to make the trek, and you'll really feel like you know Africa.

From Delhi to Agra: Try shrine-hopping in India, avoiding the bulk of the heat and rain in March. Aside from the usual must-dos like the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, be sure to visit Fatehpur Sikri to see a well-preserved palace complex with an interesting history...no, really!

By Rail

The Shinkansen: The mother of all train systems. The Japanese are so time-efficient, the driver will humbly apologize if the train arrives even a minute behind the expected TOA. All you'll be thinking on this trip, aside from how clean and swanky everything is, is scenery...scenery...scenery...ooooh, cherry blossoms!

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Definitely not for the backpacker type, this line from London toParis to Innsbruck to Venice is possibly the most luxurious train in the world (ex: bring your black tie). Mark off two days and one night in March 2011 and take one of the year's first rides across the Alps and Dolomites.

On Foot

The Grand Traverse: Amble the great divide between Fiordland and the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island, and make sure you get there in time for the clear views in March. A five day trek with camping lodges on the way; it sounds like you need to book ahead to witness this masterpiece of nature.

The National Mall: After Japan, why not doing the Grand World Tour of Cherry Blossoms (not a real trip) by hitting up D.C. thawing trail. Bring some stellar walking shoes to visit all the memorials, but don't forget your artsy scarf and cat-eye glasses for the museums next!

In Search of Culture

Venetian Legacy: After taking the luxurious train from London to Venice, why not continue onward by stepping back in time, to when the Venetians were on top of the trading world. Take a ferry to Cyprus, via Greece, to view the cultural and economic influences on the harbor cities - town halls, mansions, fortresses, and all things tall, flashy and handsome.

Moorish Spain: Wind around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Ronda to observe the remnants of the region once called the most civilized and properous in Europe (for 400 years, I might add). The Moors were partial to using Arabic architectural elements, bling in the form of gold leaf, and serious tricks with water fountain construction.

In Gourmet Heaven

Malbec in Mendoza: I don't think I need to do too much convincing with this one. Here's all you need to know: Argentina, mountains, wine, meat...done. Oh, and I can't forget, the first weekend of March holds the Vendimia, or harvest, festival. Don't you dare miss that!

Margaret River Wine Region: Man, I'm all about the wine this month. Visit the very bottom left of Australia in March, and you'll not only have beautiful red teeth from all the lovely wine tastings but also ears ringing from the sweet music of local events and festivals. While you're there, why not check out where the Indian and Southern Oceans converge. Kir-Splash!

Into the Action

Dogsledding in Alaska: Go just about any cold month and experience your mushing fantasy; however, venture up to Alaska in March and try your skills on the Iditarod trail, which will be held at that time. Not sure how much of a spectator sport it is, with its 1,151 mile course, but surely the scenery and will of the competitors is awe-inspiring.

Vermont's Catamount Trail: Can you ski across an entire state? Why not give it a try? Because it's hard...but, boy, what a story you could tell your friends back at home, through your chapped lips. Take a month and meander up or down the trail through the Green Mountains, stopping in country inns along the way. Be sure and carb load with lots of maple syrup!

Up and Away

Heliskiing the Alps: It's exactly what it sounds like: skiing on new snow overlooking the entire mountain range of the European Alps. Whether you go through France, Austria, Switzerland, or Italy, it doesn't matter. Base yourself at one ski resort or move around across borders. All you're going to remember are the amazing views and the adrenaline rushes.

Microlight on my Golden Birthday

Microlight on my Golden Birthday

Victoria Falls by Microlight: I was fortunate enough to experience this on my golden birthday, when I turned 23 on the 23rd. Get up early in the morning, put on a helmet, and board a kite with a lawn mower engine attached. Fly into a surreal world above the trees where you can see hippos swimming, elephant herds wandering, and the world's largest waterfall spew water of gigantic proportions.

In Their Footsteps

Route Napoleon: Why march in March along Napoleon's footsteps post-exile in Alba? Why, for authenticity of course! Make your way from Cannes to Grenoble, although I imagine you won't be greeted by mobs of supporters calling you "emperor," Oh well, at least you'll see some pretty cool scenery.

Tolstoy's Russia: Witness what inspired Leo Tolstoy to create work, such as Anna Karenina, by following his trail of museums and influential cities. Be certain you take a day (or two) trip to Tula, where he was born and now lies today. Tula also marks the location of his experimental school, friends, favorite natural surroundings, the peasants he worked with, and his novels' conceptions and creations. Enjoy the brisk winds of Russia in March!

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in April for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Journeys of a Lifetime in January

Happy New Year! Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

The Orinoco River Cruise: The dry season in January lends to the viewing of more land mammals along this river cruise through Venezuela. Boy oh boy...the description of this places includes words such as: expedition, canoe, venture, wetland and steamy jungle. I'm there.

The Mekong River: Laos is on a ticking clock toward Vietnam status, and it's up to you to seize the opportunity to view this country's incredible landscapes before the authenticity becomes manufactured. Nat Geo claims this is the most scenic stretch of the massive river through the Southeast Asia region.

By Road

Historic Spain: There's no bad time to see the architecture of historic, central Spain. January will wash out the summer tourist crowd and give you snow capped mountains in your photograph backgrounds. Give yourself one week to drive along this ribbon of highway, and remember to ask in Segovia about the suckling pig.

Crossing the Sahara: Get your visas ready and your car rented. You're about to drive across Morocco, Western Sahara and Mauritania to see some cultures and barren landscapes that present an awesome challenge to the "bring it on" type of traveler.

By Rail

Bangkok-Kanchanaburi-Nam Tok Line: This time riding the rail will bring you closer to the gritty, not further away. Taking this infamous route, known as the "death railway" from WWII, will remind you of the many POWs and lives lost from building the bridge at the River Kwai. It's not all gruesome and heavy-hearted; the landscape is Thai-rific.

The Palace on Wheels: India's glitzy region of palaces and architectural masterpieces will give you plenty of eye candy and good photographs on this luxurious train ride. It's not my favorite side of India, but many find the old British and Raj culture appealing. The Golden Triangle along with Udaipur and Jaisalmer makes for an awesome itinerary, though!

On Foot

The Shackleton Crossing: South Georgia is a speck in the Southern Ocean and looks like a challenge for weathered climber types like Jon Krakauer and Bear Grylls. I pretty much guarantee no one reading this post will attempt this climb, but I thought I'd give you some dream material for tonight's slumber.

Climbing Kilimanjaro: Africa's tallest peak and the only 8,000+ meter mountain that one could ambulate - climbing Kilimanjaro seems to be an achievement worth going for. Those who have claimed the summit unanimously advise climbers to take the longer route (Machame) for better odds of success and greater views.

In Search of Culture

Japanese Kabuki Theater: With make-up that would spook the Joker and costumes that could presumably stand on their own, the men of Kabuki theater become household names for their dramatic and powerful performances. Brace yourself; these shows look lengthy but worth it for a one-time experience.

Earth Architecture of Yemen: High rise earth architecture makes Yemen look pretty darn cool. Perched at the heel of Asia's wee bootie are homes made of sun-dried mud bricks and a culture sure to intrigue. Nat Geo recommends going with a reputable tour company and taking caution with photographing people. Should make for an interesting trip!

In Gourmet Heaven

Eat Your Way Around Sydney: After you recover from a surely intense NYE celebration on the beach, enjoy Sydney's January Festival and a slew of culinary jackpots around Oz's biggest city. If you're into Euro-Asian fusion food with top notch seafood, I'm guessing there are few places in the world better than Sydney.

Malaysian Melting Pot: And we thought we were a melting pot…maybe next January you'll be traveling up the peninsula of Malaysia to sample the converging tastes of many prominent food traditions: Chinese, Indian, Arabic, etc. Thanks to all the hawkers and street food artists, some call this country a snacker's paradise.

Into the Action

Following Che Through South America: Cross the Andes on two screeching wheels in the footsteps of Che Guevara, but make sure you remember to ride something a little more reliable than "La Poderosa." Buenos Aires to Machu Pichu will take you across some varying landscapes and surely on a journey fit with ceaseless inspiration.

Cross-Country Skiing in Lillehammer: Check out this "premier cross-country location" if you want to make like a Scandinavian and glide. Easily accessible from Oslo, renting all your gear is possible on location, and going in January ensures a helluva daylight surplus!

Up and Away

The Nasca Lines: It is only from the sky where you can truly appreciate the diversity of Peru's terrain, as one ecosystem bleeds into the next. Also from this vantage point you can be slapped silly by the wonder of these earth drawings that were created with pre-historic tools by the Nasca people.

Alpine Baloon Festival: Arrive in Switzerland in late January for a display that surely inspires painters, children's book illustrators and surrealists worldwide. A sky of balloons decorate the invisible Christmas tree in the Swiss Alp valley. Inquire about the nighttime flight of illuminated balloons while you're there!

In Their Footsteps

Road to Enlightenment: Follow Buddha's journey to enlightenment from his birthplace in Lumbini, Nepal to Patna, India, past the third-generation descendant tree where he attained nirvana. Ahh, the ease of traveling in the moderate chill of February around the Subcontinent.

Tramping After Mark Twain: A boat trip down the Neckar River could inspire you to write a Huck Finn sequel, just as Twain was inspired to write the original on this journey. Tramp across Germany and Switzerland, enjoying the chill and scenery of winter, on a journey that the famed American author used to "improve himself."

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in February for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

The Sweet Old Men of Tokyo: Day 197

The gardens in Tokyo

One of the things I feared most about this trip was the transition from away to returned. One world to another. I'm talking culture shock, my friends. That nasty bugger has gotten me once in a nasty way, and I really didn't want it to happen again. This feeling of anger towards one's home and all things luxurious, familiar, or technical was sure to be compounded by the doubled amount of time away from home on this journey. And the part I feared above all was this moment between Southeast Asia and the most civilized, organized, developed country in the world. The Uni- - -I'm kidding. It's Japan.

I had been to Japan before, only briefly on Semester at Sea, and already had an idea of social etiquette, my favorite candies, and some buzz words to throw out as though I were local. I even had a friend I was meeting on the evening of my arrival. But going from one extreme to the other, essentially Phnom Penh to Tokyo, has potential for causing an emotional stir in the mind of a weary traveler.

Short Digression for Background's Sake: During college, I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow art history lover/Northern Hoosier/giggle-fest by the name of Bryan Lufkin. Our first meeting was actually when we were photographer and model, I being the camera clicker working on a charity calendar and he being the studly student leader for the month of September. Our friendship solidified with a mutual interest in Italian, Amy Sedaris, Japan, and all things travel…or funny. And after I returned from Semester at Sea feeling at a loss for honest connections with some of my friends, he seemed to pull into a clear spot as someone who understood the mind of Lindsay Clark, post-circumnavigation.

Bryan continues to teach himself Japanese and educate himself on their mystic culture, except instead of quizzing himself with flash cards at the IU Auditorium, he works as an English teacher at the base of Mt. Fuji. The JET program was smart to take this kid in. And so I had a friend in Japan to meet and revel with on my three day lay-over in Tokyo.

I managed to find our hostel with his directions in good time before our meeting at the bus terminal. Still feeling the wrath of a stuffy nose and sickness, I took to the showers and had what some may call a "religious experience."

The door to the shower created a seal to not allow a vapor of steam out while the shower was in use. I put my 100 yen in the machine to send 10 minutes of scorching falls thunder on the mat. Hot water. An illuminated shower. No cockroaches. Provided soaps and a ledge for a razor. Unfathomable. And with this utter state of contentment, I began the act of purging my body of every morsel of foreign substance.

I scrubbed my pores raw. I brushed my teeth and tongue until I gagged. I turned the heat to scalding and steamed my body like a dumpling. And I began hawking up everything in my system that didn’t belong there.

Had I had a lick of food in me, I surely would have sent it back up and out. After two or three different shampoo and rinse cycles, I was literally squeaking and my body weak from the uneventful wretches. I felt like I had been in a personal, physical war.

It was grotesque. It was wonderful.

I emerged from the shower a new woman, a healthy woman. I no longer had the sniffles. You may be wondering why I chose to write in such vivid explicit detail above, but the end result has since convinced me I've found the cure for the common cold. Do this, and you shall be free of the nasal drip. Do this, and feel oddly refreshed. Do this, and find strength in your own ability to cure yourself.

I recognized Bryan's shag and shirt instantly in the midst of hundreds of commuters and within seconds of reuniting told him all about my awesome shower discovery. All the talking and walking led us in circles around the metro stations, since it takes an aware one to navigate Tokyo's tied-up underground tubes. Eventually we landed at our hostel with bags of 7/11 dinner sustenance and caught up with months of discussion on the top floor couches until much past the midnight hour.

We awoke from our pods the next morning to a city calling our names. To the nerd quarter! To a maid café! The park! Tokyo Tower! Shibuya! Shipoopie! Bryan was an awesome guide and translator. We had a lunch at a joint that catered to the creepy miniature dog lovers (the creepy is directed at the owners, if that wasn't clear), which would have fit perfectly in Indy's Broad Ripple.

And a dinner of heavy appetizers at the Hip Hop Café led to passionate rants about Northern Indiana and shared shots with the partiers at the next table. With our cheap-o budgets and dwindling energies, we ended up at our hostel top floor once again, buying beers out of the vending machine and slowly sinking into the plush couches across from each other. I saw and did more that day than I had in two weeks in Cambodia.

Understandably, we moved slowly the next day. Finally breathing at the crack of noon, we traversed wet and soggy streets for the art museums that enliven our souls. Since both of us thrive on taking in brush strokes and compositions, it was a fitting place to mosey as the rain beat the city.

In the park surrounding the museums, I suddenly became aware of the nature wrapping around me, genuine Japanese-style gardens and flora that became dramatic with their moist and darkened bark. There's something about taking in intentional or natural art that makes me feel like I've eaten; a fulfillment I wish would be more convincing. Man, what a diet that would be!

On one of our rides back to the hostel, we sat side-by-side, looking in opposite directions, in a momentary conversation lull, waiting for the doors to close from the current station. I felt a nudge in my side from Bryan and looked to see a man I had just earlier admired and wondered about. "He's got awesome eyebrows. I wonder if he has to maintain them because they grow like weeds. I wish he would grow them out and brush them aside like a Kung Fu master would his dangling mustache." The adorable man was face down in the woman's lap beside him, drooling and unconscious.

Once again, at this moment of split-second decisions and action vs. inaction, I froze like I always seem to and watched with eyes like saucers. The woman whose lap was invaded began giggling and looking at her friend. I thought it an odd reaction, but Bryan later informed me that's how many Japanese deal with very uncomfortable situations.

One man lunged to hit the big red button no one normally dares to touch in the subway. Another man, a bilingual American, came over with a quick but uneven gait from his crutch. He tried to bring the man back upright and into consciousness. His eyes flickered as though he was taking in his surroundings, but when the American pulled his hand away from the man's forehead, his head wobbled like a lifeless marionette's. I wished at that moment I had a dictionary to look up "Stroke".

The conductors came running from the previous cars and the platforms to find the ones or situation responsible for the Emergency Alarm. The man began speaking to the sharp uniforms as though he had come to, but once the conductors left to discuss the matter minutes later, his head dropped just as dramatically as the first time into the woman's lap.

He was carried out on a stretcher, staring at the illuminated ceiling while rubbing his bristly eyebrows. I imagined his thoughts being something like, "When did I get to be this old?" I imagined a little lady as cute as he getting a phone call from a medic downtown or some grandchildren with invisible weights on their chests from worry. I know it's very "Lifetime Network" of me to think of such sap, but that's all that passed through my mind, my unhelpful, frozen mind when an old man across from me on a subway passed out.

Bryan, being the employed person that he was, had to catch a bus back to his small town on that Sunday afternoon, and I continued to wander the streets of Shinjuku, feeling the timer tick away my minutes of adventure and seeing no point in spending wads of Yen on a few moments that wouldn't outweigh seven months of fantastical reality. I would soon see my parents, my home soil, and the American dollar.

I accepted my imminent fate and gathered food from a 7/11, bargain shopped for my favorite Japanese candies, and put in the first season of Arrested Development in the hostel's top floor entertainment center. Every following minute involved me putting my pen to paper and purging my mind of all the thoughts and moments still left hanging in my memory closet. Hours spent in my sleeping pod alit by headlamp, half a day in a coffee shop before my flight, I wrote down my history.

It felt in a sense like cheating on valued international time, but I have a way of justifying pretty much anything that makes me happy, anytime and anywhere. Besides, I saw an old man wearing a propeller hat outside the café as I took a sip of my coffee. I snapped a picture, giggled silently and thought, "This will be my lasting memory from my major journey abroad."

An old man getting a pebble out of his shoe on the street in Japan…in a propeller hat.

Goodbye, World. Exit Stage Right.