“If everything seems under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” – Mario Andretti
Believe me. We are going fast enough. As Trace’s stockpile of speeding tickets from around the world clearly shows. And we must apologize to her long-suffering parents, who STILL continue to pay them off today (they somehow always get sent to Australia…) Happy 44th anniversary to the Taylors by the way! They should have known following the dramatic and poignant coming-of-age commemorative handover of the heshen bag full of tickets at her 21st that they would eventually be returned. As they have been. Most still outstanding. So we continue the story-telling with our A-Z of travel capers, today celebrating the road and all things freedom. We’re up to I – hitting the open highways through Canada and Japan. From glaciers to waterfalls and the kindness of strangers at unimaginable fireworks displays. If you’ve missed previous installments check out A, B, C, D E, F, G and H here while we pay tribute to entire bags of white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies. The only way to travel.
Alberta, Canada. One of the world’s most spectacular mountain highways. Unsurpassed mountain scenery paralleling the Great Divide, including the Columbia Icefields, Bow and Crowfoot Glaciers, Athabasca Falls and Peyto Lake. Grizzly and black bears, moose, caribou and other large wildlife. The splendour of the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) can hardly be overstated: a 230-kilometre road from Lake Louise to Jasper through the heart of the Rockies, it ranks as one of the world’s ultimate drives. Its unending succession of huge peaks, immense glaciers, iridescent lakes, wild-flower meadows, wildlife and forests – capped by the stark grandeur of the Columbia Icefield – is absolutely overwhelming. Fur traders and natives who used the route as far back as 1800 reputedly christened it the “Wonder Trail”. Our memories: wildlife everywhere, the big black bear who lumbered in front of the car, our inability to film the big black bear due to bear panic and lots of excitement, finally getting the lens cap off the video camera and the cookies out of our hands to film his departure only to find that we had forgotten to press ‘record’, severe bear warnings everywhere, dizzying photo ops everywhere, Dee stalking a photographer at Peyto Lake, ‘awesome’ Alan, drinking 300 year old water off the glacier, taking in the most spectacular sunrise at Lake Edith Cavell, wondering who Edith Cavell was, just soaking up the amazing scenery. (We might add those photos in the next installment when we feature Jasper in J…)
Japan. The Tsuchiura All Japan Fireworks Competition in Ibaraki. We experienced a night of making friends, the kindness of strangers and loads of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’. It was also a night spent with 700,000 others, port-a-loos, and superb yattai. Pyrotechnists from all over Japan come to Tsuchiura every Autumn to compete for a highly respected award and to showcase their new creations. Mayor of Tsuichiura, the venerable Mr Nakagawa, said it like no one else; “I am sure that those who love fireworks in the whole country will enjoy the Japan No.1 fireworks literally”. How true… We were dazzled by two and a half hours of unbelievable colours and patterns that lit up the sky. More than 20,000 bursts kept us truly entertained (as did the English translation of the official program). The fireworks were all given simply fabulous names. The much anticipated “A golden hamster” – a fizzler. The simply titled “A rainbow” and the more abstract “To the world of glittering stars” – definite winners in our opinion. “The creation of the galaxy” seemed a little overly ambitious but the truly Japanese, “A color change and brocaded chrysanthemum of triple pistils in weeping willow shape and with a wave sound at the end and a rising effect attachment” was tremendous. Just when we think we’ve had enough of living here, we have a weekend like this one. You (almost) forget the endearing nuttiness when you’re watching the sky, friends by your side, snacking on okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Memories: too many to write about. But will make mention of our new troop of 70 year old camera friend buddies. We are self-inducted honorary members of the gang. Life is grand.
Japan. These photos reflect pre-March 11the Iwate. The Iwate that we have loved, have travelled through and know will once again renew itself into the beautiful coastline it is. It’s been ravaged by tsunamis in the past and most probably will be again in the future. But we remember today the Iwate that we know and love. We had been attracted to Iwate by promises of it’s scenic beauty, namely the Rikuchu Kaigan National Park (陸中海岸国立公園,) – extending for 180 km from north to south along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. Spectacular views, sheer cliffs, and 200-meter tall precipices are just some of the features of this spectacular coast. And just a short drive from where Trace’s cousin lives. How lucky to have this as your back yard… The northern part of Iwate exhibits stunning views of keen-cut cliffs and a row of oddly shaped rocks. It is characterized by the dynamic Kitayamazaki Point with cliffs that rise sheer from the surf. The center of the coastline offers moderate scenery with many picturesque beauties. Jodogahama Beach gives a beautiful contrast between long, white beaches and precipitous oddly shaped rocks as well as fresh green pine trees. On mysterious Namiita Beach, the waves come in but never go out. Memories: the kind staff at the hotel, the 20 staff on duty for us when we were the only guests staying at the hotel, almost being taken out to sea while taking stormy photos, caves and underground lakes, Luke & Nori & Kai, the weird Morioka ramen (hot noodles and watermelon) which strangely enough tasted pretty good.
Japan. Izu Peninsula 伊豆半島. Located south-west of Tokyo – looks like a spearhead projecting from the foot of Mt. Fuji into the Pacific Ocean. Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Noted for its beautiful coastal scenery and hotspring resorts. And it always helps when a friend owns a house in Shimoda. House-guests anyone? Memories: big cliffs, swinging bridges, Atami, the Sex Museum (really. We do have a dizzying array of photos – but the ones of us riding the giant coin-operated penis ride may be better left to Facebook), riding a chairlift up a volcano, lots of wasabi flavoured things – Izu being one of Japan’s biggest producers of wasabi (don’t care for wasabi icecream), the waterfall hiking trails, getting lost in the bamboo, the insane amount of hotels in Atami, fantastic views of Mt Fuji, sunburn, rainy season, nights of scrabble and Moet.
Dee & Trace