Tag Archives: travel

Hey Canada! by Vivian Bowers and Milan Pavlovic

Hey Canada! by Vivian Bowers and Milan Pavlovic: Alice, Cal, and Gran are taking a road trip across Canada, visiting every province. Their journey is documented primarily by Alice (“reporting from the backseat”) with tweets, poems, and other interjections from Cal and Gran interspersed. I loved the often subtle humor (especially Gran’s selective deafness) and I found the brief overview of each province both informative and enticing. Aside from a quick trip to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls almost two decades ago, I’ve never visited our northern neighbors, and this book made me want to. I don’t know how much a Canadian child would get out of this text, but this ignorant American thought it was just delightful.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

The Glue Stick Tourist

I’ve started another blog, this one devoted to my somewhat unusual hobby of gluebooking my travels. You can find it here: http://gluesticktourist.blogspot.com/

I’m on the “post once a day until I run out of things to post, then have a big lull until I have something new to share” schedule, so there’s a fair bit of stuff up there while I work my way through my existing pile of journals. I thought about just making it another feature here, like on Wednesdays or something, but decided I’d rather make an entirely new blog devoted to just that. I’ve never done a themed blog before (this, despite evidence to the contrary, was never meant to be exclusively a book blog), so it’s a fun experiment. Enjoy!

The Japan Journal

In March of this year, my husband and I went on vacation in Japan. I brought a special journal just for the trip, made special from CafePress with art from the first issue of BS/OD on the front. I’m not a huge fan of CP, but this was the only place I could find with decently-priced, customizable, unlined, spiral journals. (But it could be that I’m just too picky.)

Note: I have since discovered the joys of Vistaprint, which often runs free+shipping deals on their custom journals.

Partly it was because I’d never taken a trip like this before and I thought it might be nice to try out travel journaling. Partly it was because I’d heard that many JR and Tokyo Metro stations have unique rubber stamps (like these). Since my regular diary is lined (by necessity – my handwriting is out of control), I decided to get something special just to drag around Japan to record the many experiences we were bound to have.

Train stamps from Osaka

It turns out it came in handy when putting together both my own recap but also my husband’s own blog posts. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you forget unless you write it down that moment.

One of the Sanrio Puroland spreads

But of course a week’s worth of vacation isn’t enough to fill an entire journal, so I glued in a print-out of my recap, then used the rest as a gluebook for the various flyers, brochures, ticket stubs, and other paper matter I collected during the trip. It took a long time. I started by separating everything into categories: Akihabara, Parasite Museum, Sanrio Puroland, capsule machines, Osaka Castle, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, capsule hotel, Ghibli Museum, transportation, food, and miscellaneous. I went through and cut out all the pictures/words I wanted to include in my pages, then arranged them on the page, then glued them down. I did it one page at a time, keeping the categories together and generally working in chronological order. Whenever I finished a category I would take any leftover clippings and put them in their own container. (Clear plastic sheet protectors work remarkably well for this.) At the end, I did a few miscellaneous pages using the leftovers. I still have quite a few pages left, but I think I’ll leave it alone for now. I’m just so pleased to have finished this somewhat major project – and it only took three months! :)

For more on our trip to Japan, check out my husband’s series of videos: people, Sanrio Puroland, animals, and trains.


Unexpected Cemetery

Old Graves

I have a confession to make: I’m not actually all that interested in history. I am an active member of Markeroni, and yet I don’t generally read the markers I snarf until much later, if at all. What motivates me are 1, fierce competition with a good friend (okay, so it’s not actually even remotely fierce), and 2, an excuse to explore. See, history happens everywhere, and I have found that the more remote the location, the more likely it is to showcase its history (mostly because it lacks any other claim to fame).  A few weeks ago I decided to blow off the SketchCrawl in Washington, DC, in favor of wandering the northwestern reaches of Loudoun County. My route took me all around the Virginian countryside. I photographed several markers and historic properties, but the most memorable parts of my day were the stops not on my map.

Outside looking in

On my way to Mt. Olive Methodist Church in Gleedsville (now a Unitarian church), I passed by a tiny sign pointing the way to Gleedsville Cemetery. I love cemeteries. I find them endlessly fascinating. So after snarfing the church, I turned onto the “road” which was actually just two graveled ruts between overgrown trees. I hastily declared my Honda Civic to be an all-terrain vehicle and prayed I wasn’t actually traveling on a private driveway.

As seen from the entrance

But no, the path eventually opened up into a large field lined with headstones. It was an odd mix of old and new graves, including some clear sites (that is, the ground was decidedly sunken) that were completely unmarked. Most of the center of the clearing was completely empty of stones, and there was a lone wooden cross just to the left of the entrance with a trampled metal marker with decals (the sort one would put on their mailbox) spelling out the name of a man who died in the 1930s. This was not the first time I’d seen something like this, but it was by far the oldest grave labeled thus.

One of many sunken, unmarked graves

I didn’t know at the time that Gleedsville was actually a rather important settlement by ex-slaves from nearby Oatlands Plantation, many of whom would probably not have been able to afford a stone marker. There is a good chance that the open space in the center of the clearing is full of graves, their signs long gone.

One last look

Upcoming Farewell Blog Tour

Linda Raven Moore, professional writer and founder of my much-beloved Markeroni, is hosting a Farewell Blog Tour for her book, A Little Twist of Texas. I read it a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It’s basically a motorcycle travelogue with BookCrossing, Markeroni, and serendipity thrown in. Besides a month-long blog tour throughout October (of which Utter Randomonium will be taking part), Linda is offering copies of her book at a serious discount. I would love to buy a box, go on a road trip, and release them all along the way, but alas, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Anyway, stop by her blog, pick up a copy, participate in the blog tour, and watch this space for an upcoming guest post!

BookCrossing Through Middle-Earth by Skyring

BookCrossing Through Middle-Earth by Skyring: A memoir about two trips to New Zealand, twenty years apart: first for Skyring’s honeymoon, then another trip with his wife and two teenage children. This is a fun and friendly narrative, with plenty of rich detail. I especially enjoyed the little historical anecdotes, like the toilets on ships and the Maori’s sound defeat of the British. Skyring’s side comments, particularly when dealing with language, are often quite funny. (One such example: his assurance that Wakatipu is not widely pronounced “Wakkity-poo”, especially by locals.) As an American, Australia and New Zealand are quite closely connected in my mind, but Skyring’s adventures reminded me that they are indeed two separate countries. However, amidst all the humor, there is no mistaking Skyring’s abundant awe and respect for the beautiful land and people he encounters. I nearly salivated at some of the scenery he describes. I would recommend this thin book to other BookCrossers, of course, but also to anyone who enjoys travelogues. This certainly whetted my appetite for New Zealand.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

Brief Hiatus II

I’m off to Amsterdam to attend the 2010 BookCrossing Convention. I’ll probably have at least intermittent email access, but I won’t be doing any blogging while I’m there.

And before you ask: no, I’m not concerned about robbers seeing this because (1) you don’t know where I live, (2) my dear husband will be home the whole time, and (3) I don’t own anything worth stealing. Well, unless you count all the tons of books I give away for free. :P

Brief Hiatus

I’m off to Japan for vacation. I’ll probably have at least intermittent email access, but I won’t be doing any blogging while I’m there.

And before you ask: no, I’m not concerned about robbers seeing this because (1) you don’t know where I live, (2) I’ve duped my friends into house-sitting, and (3) I don’t own anything worth stealing. Well, unless you count all the tons of books I give away for free. :P

In honor of my trip, here are some terribly trippy (and somewhat nauseating) animated stereograms of old Japan. Enjoy.

Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony

Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony: This was a gift from my sister, with the note “Long live your sense of adventure!” It’s a marvelous collection of travel games, from the simple (take the first left turn, then the first right turn, etc.) to the complex (a couple showing up separately at a foreign place and seeing if you can find each other) to the plain old bizarre (traveling while wearing a horse head mask). Each game is accompanied by a description of “laboratory results” (that is, someone who actually did it), most of which are beautiful and funny. One day I’ll try some of these. If nothing else, it’s a very entertaining read, and makes me want to explore.

Young Female, Traveling Alone by Anne-Marie M. Pop

Young Female, Traveling Alone by Anne-Marie M. Pop: Feeling unaccountably miserable living the life of a successful Westerner, Anna decides to leave it all behind to backpack around Asia. This book is comprised of many very short chapters, more like a series if memories than a cohesive narrative, and told in the blunt style of a personal diary. As someone who has never seen any of the places Anna visits, I would prefered a lot more detail and description, but I still learned a lot about the life of the solo backpacker.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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