Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Joys of Air Travel

A long wait taxing at O'Hare, on the way back to Shanghai earlier this month....



We sat on the plane for a very long time before we took off.  Long enough that I napped and kind of lost track of time.

At least there was no connecting flight to be made.  Like the day we went from Fairbanks to Houston via Minneapolis just a couple of weeks before.  A long run through a big airport with 2 kids.  We made it, seat to seat, in 10 minutes — just before the door to the flight closed.

And then sat waiting 20 minutes for any news of takeoff.


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Saturday, September 25, 2010

A New Venue

I've been blogging for a long time now.  Recently, the regularity with which I've maintained some of my blogs was rewarded with a little recognition.  Amazon decided to accept Tai Shan, where I blog about China and all things Chinese, into their Blogs for Kindle catalog.  I am very pleased to see that blog, which I maintain at the online magazine Sloth Jockey, be made available at this new venue.

If you'd like to subscribe to Tai Shan on your Kindle or Kindle-enabled device, you can use the link below.




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Monday, September 20, 2010

Updates and New Hubs

I updated my hub The Five Elements in Chinese Thought earlier this week. The new info might be of interest...

In addition, I've posted a new hub on Tomorrow Square, one of my favorite buildings in Shanghai.  You might like to see the photos there.

And, last of all, I've posted my translation of Ye Shengtao's essay "The Suzhou Garden."


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Thursday, September 16, 2010

On the Road in Alaska

When we were in Alaska last month, we did lots of driving.  It was lots of fun to cover as much ground as we did (about 2000 miles in 6 days).  Alaska is a big place, and there is so much to see when you drive there.

Some of our favorite spots on the road were these:

Fairbanks to Delta Junction  — beautiful mountain scenery there

Glenallen to Palmer — mountains, glaciers, and usually lots of wildlife (though we had a quiet day in that department)

Anchorage to Seward — glaciers, mountain, and sea... one of the most beautiful stretches of road I have ever seen (both directions)

Seward to Howard — forest and wildlife (saw lots of moose here); on the Homer side of the Peninsula, lots of coastal views

Wasilla to Fairbanks — Denali National Park

Fairbanks north on HWY 11 — we made it to the Arctic Circle and saw the Northern Lights... fantastic!  (Though the road is mostly frequented by big trucks at work on the Pipeline, so it's a little rugged)



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Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Tough Cycling Spot

When I was in Alaska last month, I had my two youngest nephews with me, and didn't do a whole lot of "rugged" travel.



When I was in Alaska last month, I had my two youngest nephews with me, and didn't do a whole lot of "rugged" travel.  We did, though, get to do a little cycling in Anchorage on some dedicated cycling paths near the coast, and had a lot of fun with that. 

Anchorage is a great city for cycling.  It's easy to rent bikes in the city, especially near the coast where the path is, and the path is a beautiful spot for a day's cycling trip. We picked our bikes up at Hertz, and got a good price on them.


We did have a lot of fun on our half day or so of cycling, and I am very glad we got to do it.  We loved seeing the seaside, with the birds and wildlife that make their home there coming out to welcome us.

What looked really appealing to me, though, as a cycling spot, were some of the other parts of Alaska, particularly the spots north of Anchorage, Palmer, and Wasilla.
We saw a number of cyclists in and around Denali National Park as we drove there. With the little guys along, this wasn't a time for me to consider doing the sort of cycling that Denali would require — and I've been really out of shape for it all year long anyway — but seeing some of the folks on two wheels in the area really whet my appetite for the adventure.  I have to admit that I was more than a little jealous seeing the women and men on their bikes, struggling up the hills.  I can just imagine the exhilaration that comes with reaching one of the peaks, to be greeted with the spectacular views that fill Denali.  Even from the car it was pretty fantastic.  How much more so from a bike, when the struggle uphill multiplies the rewards of reaching the top.

Unfortunately, it wasn't quite suitable for our itinerary this time round.  But who knows?  Maybe one day....







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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Notes on Alaska

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who finds it difficult to put travels to Alaska into words. Here's what John Muir says in Travels in Alaska

Day after day in the fine weather we enjoyed, we seemed to float in true fairyland, each succeeding view seeming more and more beautiful, the one we chanced to have before us the most surprisingly beautiful of all. Never before this had I been embosomed in scenery so hopelessly beyond description. To sketch picturesque bits, definitely bounded, is comparatively easy — a lake in the woods, a glacier meadow, or a cascade in its dell; or even a grand master view of mountains beheld from some commanding outlook after climbing from height to height above the forests. These may be attempted, and more or less telling pictures made of them; but in these coast landscapes there is such indefinite, on-leading expansiveness, such a multitude of features without apparent redundance, their lines graduating delicately into one another in endless succession, while the whole is so fine, so tender, so ethereal, that all pen-work seems hopelessly unavailing. Tracing shining ways through fjord and sound, past forests and waterfalls, islands and mountains and far azure headlands, it seems as if surely we must at length reach the very paradise of the poets, the abode of the blessed.

Some ideas of the wealth of this scenery may be gained from the fact that the coast-line of Alaska is about twenty-six thousand miles long, more than twice as long as all the rest of the United States.


I started reading the book during my recent trip to Alaska, but didn't get very far into it. I'm trying to finish it up now, and when I came across this segment, I just though, "Yeah... that's it exactly."
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Monday, September 06, 2010

Blogging Frustrations

Apologies for the little hiatus recently. I've had some unexpected frustrations with my blog here. I'm still deciding exactly how to resolve them. Watch for updates here soon.

Again, my apologies....

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