Archives for category: travel

Through my seemingly endless perusal of Hawaii hotels on Tripadvisor, I have noticed an alarming trend within the traveling community.  It’s a trend that may make you question a journey to the islands, or even the purpose of humanity.  What I’m talking about are people who take pictures of their feet:

Nearly every resort hotel review page on TripAdvisor is peppered with similar pictures.  The one above is from the Four Seasons on the Big Island.  As far as these pictures go it’s not terrible.  The color and composition are nice, which distracts from the feet.  The feet are okay looking–sort of well-groomed with flip-flops so the feet are not so present.  This one below (also from the Four Season’s review page) is far more typical:

Here the photographer is burdening us with an uneven, poorly lit shot…and his feet make him look like he’s a cadaver being wheeled around some tropical morgue.  Also, way too much leg…the viewer feels like they’re sitting on this dude’s lap.  Not a comfortable feeling.  The cliché continues on many other resort pages.   Here are some more corpses roasting in the sun at the Sheraton on Maui:

Also from the Sheraton page, see below. At least this person looks like they expended the energy to sit up for the shot:

This is from the Hyatt Maui page:

Also on the Hyatt page was this grossness. Feet and PDA…barf:

The below image is from the Napili Surf Resort in Maui, which apparently turns your legs into large beached fish:

 

From the Grand Hyatt on Kauai:

Ditto:

Okay, okay, why is this all so very wrong? Here are a few reasons:

1. It’s a contrived cliché

Considering the sheer amount of these types of pictures I’ve encountered, it should be pretty clear that there’s nothing original about the feet-up beach shot.  Why go through so much effort to show you’re relaxed?  Are you really that relaxed when you’re wondering how to best demonstrate your relaxation to friends and strangers back home?  This is right up there with people holding up the leaning tower of Pisa.  The picture is so staged that instead of creating envy, as it’s likely suppose to do, it forces viewers to question the taker’s insufferable lameness. Why bother?

2. TripAdvisor pictures should help others judge the hotel property

When I go through the effort of clicking through all the pictures on a TripAdvisor page, it means I want to see a hotel’s rooms, its views, its beaches and its other facilities.  I am not hunting for pictures of strangers’ feet.  Really, why post any pictures of yourself on TripAdvisor–we are strangers–we don’t really care to see your deformed body parts lounging about on the sand. If you must share such pictures, please inflict them on your Facebook friends.

3. Feet by themselves are pretty gross and weird-looking

There are few body parts that are as  unappealing as feet.  Although there are many people who love feet, there are whole cultures in which feet are offensive.  This blog is one of those cultures.

When I went camping, I took some pictures.  We camped in a state park called Wyalusing, which is one of Wisconsin’s oldest and I would guess probably one of the most popular.  They have group sites there so many local schools will take students there for a few days for nature education (I did this in middle school).  What always made the park so memorable were the amazing views from its bluffs.  And they were even more vast than I remembered:

Meeting of two waters

In the above photo you can see where the Wisconsin River (that’s the run moving  from the front  right of the picture) meets with the Mississippi (if you look closely you see it running in front of the far bluff).   Many historians think this big water convergence might be the root of the word Wisconsin (which could mean the meeting of waters in some of the native languages).   The other bluff in the picture belongs to our good friend. Iowa. They are across the Mississippi.

Incidentally, our bff, Minnesota, returned some islands back to us.  Apparently we lost them a few years ago and assumed they belonged to Minnesota.  This is how islands are like  $5 bills.

Then we met a cave

It looks like the human-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.

We explored the surprising wealth of the Dousman family:

Villa Louis

And were followed around by some staff people with keys

Time to close the museum

On the way home we met Dinky in Fennimore

Dinky

Then these windmills worked hard to turn on lights for us

Don Quixote also met windmills. That's all I know about him.

Tonight, I say good bye to a friend whose company I have enjoyed this summer.  As I type, I am finishing my last Stock Ale from the Mill Street Brewery in Toronto.  I was in Toronto over Memorial Day weekend and, for nearly three months, have savored my souvenir Stock Ales up to this last orphan.

This beer certainly won’t change anyone’s perception of what beer can be.  But it’s a crisp, smooth beer with no excessive, bitter  finish–perfect for a summer evening.  Yet, it never feels light or watered down.  It really has a full body.  In the brewery they said that this beer is what Ale would have tasted like 100 years ago. Uncomplicated, but almost creamy.  I tried maybe six beers before I found this one (and to the bartender–thanks for your patience!).

This trip was also my first time in Toronto, and Canada for that matter.  The whole experience was great– the people were hospitable and funny, the city livable but cosmopolitan.  Here are some of my favorite pictures.  Enjoy!

Last August I had an opportunity to visit Japan for the first time.  It’s hard not to travel to a new country without preconceived notions of what one might encounter–and the more different a culture is from our own, the easier it can be to latch on to generalizations in order to understand the new situations we’re faced with.  To that extent, Japan fulfilled many of my expectations.  So many people were unabashedly warm and generous towards us–something I had hoped I would find after several wonderful experiences with Japanese people in the U.S. and in my other travels. There were many things I had seen referenced before in our pop culture (vending machines! little buildings! electronic everything! gorgeous landscape! unique religious practices! manga! inappropriate old men!) and on and  on and on.  But for every expectation fulfilled, a whole new set of questions would often open up.  To try to understand another culture is so often to understand only that it will never be understood…that is what I re-learned in Hiroshima.

I went to Hiroshima to understand war–but left knowing that it (and the things it drives people to do to one another) can never be understood.  Perhaps the terrible, uncertain narrative of war is why the facts become so tenuous.  In Hiroshima’s museum dedicated to the nuclear attack, the reason given for the United States’ use of nuclear weapons is cost. The argument is made that Americans wanted the bomb to be used because it had  already cost too much to make it–this certainly does not match how most Americans and many historians understand this shared history.  With lingering controversy over the purpose of and need for the bombing, it is hard not to question  the facts of August 6, 1945.

Today, for the first time since the bombing of Hiroshima, a U.S. envoy was present at the annual peace ceremony in Hiroshima to remember the victims of the atom bomb.  This visit reaffirms that even if our countries can not agree on the facts of that day and how we place responsibility, we can at least agree that a horrific amount of lives were taken, that our histories are united in that painful moment, and that those lives that were lost must be commemorated.