Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tough times but push forward

Hey everyone!
So been a little while since I last just posted about life, mostly because I have had so much to post about my trip to Japan and all my side trips from home. The other day I had gone back to the mountains with my dad so I have more photos of places that I actually just posted about haha. The mountains were great, we did lots of hiking and went to the two highest peaks in the park and had great views. The temperature was in the mid 70s (22°c) all day which gave us a nice haven from the humidity and heat down below in our flat lands.
Also it will probably be the last time I return to the mountains for a long time here. The annual pass that I used was given to me by a friend that had to go to Ecuador to teach children English so she gave it to me since she wasn't going to be around. Also the pass expired today. I hope I can make it in the fall some time but when the fall colors really come out in the mountains here in Virginia, especially because of this really hot summer it will probably be early November or mid-November till we see a lot of color change.
This Summer has been intense for our country indeed. The heat has been high and the humidity has been up as well. About half of the country was under drought conditions for a while and we still are, high probability of forest fires to spread especially in the west. The heat has been crazy and even abnormally strong thunderstorms over in the east coast. I can only hope it can cool off a bit and lower humidity soon because it is tough to go somewhere to walk and just burn up and sweat. It's uncomfortable! haha
Not only is the weather and such been bad but our economy has been off as well. I am a graduate from College and it is still difficult to find work here and there. It is frustrating when you want to move on to the next part of your life and you try hard to get a full time job to earn money and a living and move on to the next adventure. I'm glad some of my friends have had better luck indeed in finding jobs. I hope I find something just to hold me over as we all have school loans to cover now that school is over. I am still not interested in going back to school for graduate level work yet as it isn't me. I have had a small job for two weeks contracting at Dominion Power which is a major company that provides power and supply. It would be great to get a full time job with them as you get great benefits. I recently been applying to some photography gigs around the area to make some on the side as well and I may try out being a host at a restaurant but not sure. I guess I can't be stingy as I need something and soon. I have stuff to pay off and I bought a car as well that needs to be covered! Life can be complicated but I knew the difficulties that were to come once school was over. Home work, papers and projects now end and that is off my mind and now bills and finding something to carry me floods my mind.
Now that I have said that, even though I am trying to find a job to hold me over, I am planning on leaving the country at least by the end of the year. It might be for short time but I would love it to be longer then that. I have been looking into working abroad for a while now and it is something that I really want to do. There is someone too that I want to see. Lots to think about but things that I am serious about doing as I will go.
I also want to create a more professional portfolio site for my work, not like this as this is my blog that I will always continue with. A site that I can show my talents and my profession experience in the world, a front I could call it that can get my name out in the world. I must first start with deciding how to go about it though haha.
I also have been spending some extra time learn Chinese and Japanese with free time and more about photography, plants and Photoshop! Yeah Photoshop is mind boggling but it is something that I would love to learn. Yeah I know that school is over but I love learn about new things, reading article that I put in my posts and Wikipedia. You should try it.
Also my family is seeing sometimes as apparently we are not getting any help with school for my sister and such so it is difficult for us but I guess it is for a lot of families now.
Another interesting thing is that I feel weird at home, like something is missing. I had left something behind on my trip and now I somewhat feel empty. I look outside in my back yard at my garden that I loved and now I look at it and I don't get what I got out of it before. It's weird because I love plants but I look at it and immerse myself in it and it still doesn't sway me. It might be a sign that it is time for a new adventure a new place to see and travel. That is why I can't wait to travel again and again. Don't get me wrong, this is my home and always will feel like that. I grew up here and lived here all my life. A home that you know you have  will always hold a place in someones heart I think. Something to think about and remember where you were once or who you are and what made you. It's just I'm ready for the next part and my family now knows that and backs me up fully.
Things might tough now but I am pushing forward because I have high hopes for myself and I know what I can do and prospects of what I can become.

I have noticed that I have been looking into the sky quite a bit recently, more then I did during school. I don't know why I look up, perhaps it is because I have been dreaming more about life and been thinking a ton on what to do. I also looked up a lot on my travels at buildings, structures and the sky. Especially when I was thinking and enjoying the air. I really do love clouds and I have been taking more pictures of clouds as well Here is a picture that I took two days ago when I went to the mountains with my dad. It was on top of Hawksbill Mountain which is the highest point in the park. the clouds were great that day and was perfect for thinking and dreaming for what ever reason. Time to site and reflect or to enjoy what nature gives. Peace.

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Cup Noodle Museum - Yokohama, Japan

Hey!
So while in Tokyo staying at the Sakura Hostel in Asakusa, the staff members walked over to me and handed me and my friend tickets for free admission into the cup noodle Museum that is located in Yokohama. I was hesitant at first about it and it was a day trip away from Tokyo to go. She was already planning a trip outside of Tokyo and she asked me and another girl there if we wanted to go to Yokohama with her. I said why not and go to the museum while we are there! The staff at the Sakura Hostel in Asakusa are very nice and I thank you guys!! Also thanks to my friend Ari, for if he didn't leave with his fiance to northern Japan then I wouldn't have the tickets given to the girl and I! Anyways, I will have a separate post on my day spent in Yokohama, here goes the Cup Noodle Museum!


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Lucky me, there was a book in English!

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So we actually paid a little more, I think it was 300-400 Yen to do the "My Cup Noodle Factory" where you design your Cup Noodle cup, pick out the seasoning, four toppings to go in and then seal it up for eating later! Check out the cup you start with!

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Moon Crossing Bridge (Togetsukyo Bridge) - Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

Togetsukyo Bridge, the Moon Crossing Bridge, is a wonderful bridge to get your eyes on in Arashiyama. I hear it is perfect to go when the mountains are changing in the fall and when the Cherry Blossoms are in bloom. 
I spent the day with a nice couple that I had met earlier the week at the place I was staying at in Kyoto. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day of weather!

The scenery in Arashiyama is great, spend a day there if you can or more!

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The Oi River snakes through the mountains here and does under the Togetsukyo Bridge...

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dark Hollow Falls - Shenandoah National Park

Dark Hollow Falls is a great water fall to check out if you are in Shenandoah National Park. The parking lot for it is a few hundred few north of Skyline Drive from Big Meadows! It is a really popular hike/walk so the path is well maintained and generally always free of debris. Also I think it is one of the trails that you are allowed to take/walk your dog along!
Also enjoy more photos from the trip at Big Medows here and storms of the valley here
Anyways enjoy the walk down to the main falls but the hike back up might make you tired. 

The nice mountain water is still really cold...

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Tons of plants grow along the banks and we even saw a deer in the stream eating wild plants...

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Boss Coffee, Coffee for Bosses

Hey everyone!
So while I was in Japan you will notice a lot of vending machines that might say "Suntory BOSS is the boss of them all since 1992." BOSS is a brand of Coffee from Suntory and there are many different kinds that you can try! I don't like straight black coffee so that is why I went with the two shown here in the pictures. 
The iconic logo of a man with a mustache and a pipe is pretty awesome and always caught my eye when I needed and espresso. I only tried these two among many flavors and I would say  that the White Expresso is my favorite and smooth. All of them are vended cold of course! 
So when you see the Boss of them all, grab one and throw it down the hatch!


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Shoseien Gardens - Kyoto, Japan

These garden's are nice and small and near the central area by Kyoto Station. As you can see the picture below that Kyoto Tower is not to far away.
This Garden was presented to Higashi Hongan-ji Temple in 1641 to the third Tokugawa Shogun. The garden was completed in 1657. Fires had destroyed the buildings of the gardens in 1858 and 1864 where it was rebuilt in 1865 to 1868. It costs 500 yen to enter so go take a look!

Not that far of a walk from Kyoto Station or the tower. I went here after checking out Higashi Hongan-ji Temple where it was presented in 1641. That post is here

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The pond is lovely to walk around and enjoy. There are also plenty of koi swimming around. On the other side you can see a Sochinkyo which is a tea ceremony house.

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This is Tairitsu-seki which is a tea ceremony house. It is so nice to see all of these tea houses through out the gardens. The doors are all closed up.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Calm leads to Storms - Shenandoah Valley

The weekend that I went with my two good friends into the mountains of Shenandoah National Park there were some stormy skies that had befallen on the valley below. We were fortunate to not have storms at our campsite except for a light rain.
More pictures of Big Meadows can be found here from our trip and Dark Hollow Falls here

We got up there on a Saturday and the skies were majestic to gaze upon from the cliffs of the mountain side. the clouds were fluffy white and gliding along with no true destination but to float on.

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Wasn't till later that the clouds started to turn heavy and dark for the valley to endure 

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The cool artificial Island of Odaiba - Minato, Tokyo, Japan

Hey!
Odaiba is a huge artificial island that is in Tokyo Bay. You can find many things to do there for all ages and is just fun to walk around at! I walked around a lot for an entire afternoon but still wasn't enough!

From the Island you get a great view of Tokyo and the Rainbow Bridge. If you wait to the evening when the sun sets you can watch the sun set behind the huge city!

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Before I crossed over I did some walking since someone told me that it was really nice to walk the Rainbow Bridge over but I ended up deciding to get on the rail over since I was already tired of long walks haha

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Lots of great things are over on the island and they are still building it up. This is Fuji Television Headquarters that was designed by Kenzo Tange. It is really unique in the way it looks! Also it is big when you get up close!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Crowded beach of Myrtle Beach - Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Last Monday I had left with my mother, sister and my sisters friend for Myrtle Beach. It was last minute but I didn't have anymore work to be done so I decided why not another chance to travel. It had been since the 90's that I was last at Myrtle Beach and it had changed a lot from what I remember it.
It is really built up but it has been for a long time now. It was super crowded and driving was a nightmare!
Also it was a little dirty, I was surprised to not see a seagull at all on the beach but just pigeons and also cockroaches?!?!
Yeah....
Don't get me wrong if you have never been here, love shopping, want to see some shows and hit up some seafood all you can eat restaurants then go by all means!

Glad the weather was great for us while we were there!

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Our view from our hotel, which was called Landmark Resort. This place had 17 pools but that counted the hot tubs as well

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We stopped at a pier one night just to get a view of the beach before we headed on out to eat some great tasting seafood. We ate at one of those calabash Seafood's all-you-can-eat and it was awesome! I ate so much food

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Yogen-in Temple - Kyoto, Japan

Yogen-in Temple! It is near the Kyoto National Museum and across the street from Sanjusangen-do temple! I didn't go inside as I had spent a lot in that day visiting other places and everything was in Japanese so I enjoyed walking around the grounds before continuing my never ending walk.
This temple was established in 1594in honor of Nagamasa Asai, Nagamasa's buddhist name is Yongen'in and that is where the name of the temple came in.
I just found out that inside the temple that the ceiling uses flooring from the Fushimi Castle and still shows blood stains of Mototada Torii and other samurai who fought to defend Fushimi Castle where they also commited suicide since they failed to protect the castle. It was moved because they felt that it would please their spirits. That is why you hear about the "blood ceiling."


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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Field of Gold - Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park

Hey Everyone! 
Last weekend I went camping with two of my really good friends. I had inherited the year pass from another friend that was leaving the country for Shenandoah National Park in Virginia along the Blue ridge Mountains. I figure why not get two friends and make it a weekend in the mountains! 
I have posted about Shenandoah National Park before since I love going up there. From Richmond along Interstate 64 it is about 1.5 hour drive give or take to the southern entrance of the park. For entrance for a private car though it is like $15 and its good for yourself and 3 others in the vehicle with you and its good for the week or just get the year pass for $30-35 I think and its good for a year!
Anyways this is one of many posts that will be popping up because my friend and I were taking loads of pictures with our Rebel's haha
We stayed at the Big Meadows camp ground along Skyline Drive in the park. This is actually the most expensive campground up there per night because all the others are $15 and this one is $20 for the night. Also, we didn't know this but bring quarters with you because the showers take quarters and it is $1 per 5 minutes in. We were cheap and pasted on it and got fire wood instead!
Well on with taking pictures of the actual meadows!
Also check out the other photos from my trip with Dark Hollow Falls and the Storms in the valley

Our weekend had some rain and clouds through out. When we took our walk in the meadows and shroud of mist and fog started to engulf the area...

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The alone birch tree in the field of green...

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The most lush looking grass in the meadow

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Wild orchid called Laddies Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

This Spring we had the Laddies Slipper return to our woods! This is a wild orchid that can be found in eastern parts of the United States and as far north into Canada and near the arctic circle. The scientific name is called Cypripedium acaule and it gets the nick name Lady's Slipper because the single flower (the pink part in the pictures) forms a pouch and it looks like a slipper or a moccasin. 

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The reason behind this species forming a pouch with a sweet smell is to get insects to climb inside and have a hard time climbing out of the pouch because of it's slippery nectar walls. They do not however do  this to eat the insects but get them to climb out and passing there staminode where they collect pollen or deposit some. Nifty!
These are really nice to see when you get the chance to find one. I haven't seen one in a long time and then out of no where I counted 100 individual ones in our woods this past spring. Some states see it as endangered but other states see it pretty common like New England and parts of Canada.
Also if you pick this flower it will have a hard time regenerating and also if you try digging it up and you accidently cut the roots it will not be easy to replant.
This plant likes acidic soils and loves pine groves but you can find it in deciduous forest as well like mine. Also there is a specific fungus that is needed around it for this plant to grow. For all of these reasons it is really hard to grow this specific "wild Orchid" in your every day garden. Just leave it wild and enjoy it!



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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Good Smile Cafe - Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan

Hey everyone!
So while I spent my time in Tokyo I decided to stop by akihabara a few times since it was on the way back to the place that I was staying at. One day that was raining I figured that I would try to find the Good Smile Cafe in Akiba to have a lunch! Luckily I had found it and got myself a seat. I was some what out of place being the only foreigner in there and the only person that came alone. There were mostly guys that were eating in there and one couple I guess and we are free to wander around and look at the figures and displays!
Also pretty much everything was OK to take pictures of so that is what I did!


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The food was ok, I had spaghetti and the sauce tasted like Chef Boyardee sauce haha

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There was a stage in the room where I guess there might be shows, musically performances by miss Miku here or for events like Danny Choo's Culture Japan Night...

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Anyone get the Project Mira game for the Nintendo 3DS?

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Higashi Hongan-ji (Eastern Temple of the Original Vow) Kyoto, Japan

This temple is under construction but is really a great one to stop by especially if you are near the Kyoto Station or the tower.
Higashi Hongan-ji Temple also known as the Eastern Temple of the Original Vow and there is another temple that is dominant like this one called Nishi Hongan-ji which is the Western Tempe of Original Vow. This temple though is the head temple of Kyoto and the current collection of buildings have been there since 1895.
Also Higashi hongan-ji was presented Shoseien Gardens back in 1641, you can find that post here

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This was on of the larger halls but it is under construction and could not be seen :/

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Standing near Kyoto Tower, the built up part for construction on the hall is actually one of the larger and taller buildings in the area if you look at it from Kyoto tower

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info from Wikipedia

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Yodabashi Camera - Kyoto, Japan

I love Yodabashi Camera store, there are a few through out Japan and they are mainly electronics but some larger stores have more then just that inside. The one that I went into quite a bit was Kyoto Yodabashi which is right across the street  from Kyoto train Station and behind Kyoto Tower & Hotel. Great location to get on the train or metro or even bus so you don't have to carry your purchase to far. I had that problem and I carried some things with me on the subway. From where I was staying off Kitayama and the location of Kitayama station it was quite a walk with full bags. 

On the floor with all of the toys which I believe it was the 3rd or 4th in Kyoto they have an area for capsule machines...and yeah I got a few things
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I was surprised that old monsters that are like 50 years old are still really popular, there is a whole wall of old school monsters!

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Tons of models, I am surprised that I walked out of there with out buying a Gundam

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This guy was playing really hard with his cards, it was intense

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Thanks for dropping by!
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