By July 4 of this year I will have seen:
10 National Parks
U.S. Virgin Islands
Mesa Verde *
*Also a UNESCO site
11 Wonders of the World:
The Panama Canal
Olympia (Site of the Statue of Zeus)*
Bodrum (Site of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus)
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Empire State Building
Ephesus (Site of the Temple of Artemis)
Leaning Tower of Pisa*
* Also a UNESCO site
36 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
The Statue of Liberty
Tower of London
Pompeii and Herculaneum
The Giant’s Causeway
Historic San Juan
I've also been to Costa Rica and Singapore, besides the countries which provided the above locales.
This June I'm stepping out of the States for the first time since living abroad in 2011. Going to see San Juan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Panama City, Panama. We'll be returning on the third of July. As such the italicized items above are the sites to be seen.
Still, that leaves quite a lot. 49 National Parks to go. 17 Wonders of the World. A host of UNESCO sites from Petra to Uluru to the Galapagos (not that I intend to see all of them, but at least all of the U.S. ones - 15 to go).
Having eventually gotten a bus out of Izmir, where I was trapped at the station from 10 to 3 in the morning, I initially crashed upon arrival at my hostel in Bodrum. The next day I first went to go see the underwater archaeological museum, housed in a castle from the Crusades. After this I wandered the winding streets of the Mediterranean sea-side town. I got lunch - a chicken breast from an exasperated server - and read at a local cafe. Then I slowly followed my map to the column clear-cut that once was the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Not knowing what else to do, I sat upon a column, and had a Turkish mother photograph me.
* * *
A day trip, usually, from Kyoto I decided to spend two nights in Nara, exploring the sites. Nara has a climate not unlike the Sierra Nevadas in California, full of evergreens, picturesque slopes, and higher altitude air. I wasn't entirely sure why the Kasuga Taisha shrine was famous, but all the sites were in easy walking distance of each other. There I met a Japanese man who had some serious photography equipment. After walking around the temple, like a tourist, sort of idly gazing at the painted walls and turning aspen trees, I asked the photographer to take a photo with my camera - an old manual Canon, to which he happily complied, and complimented me on not switching to digital. Nowadays I always have to look for either serious photographers or older people to take my photo when I have my camera bag, seen in the photo.
* * *
Two years after I learned to rock climb I went to high school in Colorado. There I was re-acquainted with a fellow, who was at that time teaching U.S. History, but whom I had known as a rock-climbing instructor at Pinnacles National Monument (now Park). It was a school camping trip that took me there. I was proud to have borrowed my mom's tent, with poles, and been able to set it up. I especially remember an occasion, as the Spring light faded to dusk and twilight, sitting around a campfire, doing a comedy show. We called our bit the Psychologist Sketch, and I was a patient so tedious the psychologist jumped out the window. The first thing I improvised on the couch was "It all began when I was five. The mass murders, anyway..." These were the first real comedy lines I ever created. I have no idea who took this shot, but a good guess is my English teacher.
* * *
It was March break, and I had a month off from Leeds. My classes were going well. I was studying David Hume, the Peloponnesian War, Cultural Geography and Religious Philosophy. My sister was working in Ireland, living in Dublin, and came to visit. We made our way north, taking a bus through the early Spring blizzard to Scotland. Our family had history there, and growing up in the Bay Area we'd frequently visited our grandparents in Inverness, California - and wanted to see its namesake. In our first stop of Edinburgh my sister snapped this without my knowledge, of me looking out at the Firth of Forth.
* * *
I was in bed, in college, when I heard a knocking at my door. A few scattered footfalls could be heard in the hall, and I rose to see. People, not many, were walking downstairs, quietly, and outside. I watched them go, and after dressing joined them. Outside our dorm, on the soccer field, people were laying on blankets and looking up at the clear, starry Vermont sky - blurred with pastel oceanic hues of the aurora. We lay, gazing at the shifting ribbons of light through the predawn sky, not speaking.