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Accidental Trip to Hawaii

Posted by Heliocentrism on September 12, 2014

August 31 – September 2, 2013
(In crossing the International date line I lost a day.)

All Pictures

My Mom having Fun on Stilts

First World Problems

I was sitting in the living room at my mom’s house. We were talking about how much she is enjoying her retirement. My mom worked as a comptroller for a non-profit organization. My mom speaks both English and Spanish fluently so throughout her life she has been asked to do some translations.

My mom was born in Belize, an English-speaking country. (In fact, when my mom was born she was a British citizen.) But as a teenager, my mom joined the Adventist church and wanted to go to an Adventist college to study. The closest one to Belize was in Costa Rica. So at 18 my mother, who spoke no Spanish up to that point, moved to Costa Rica for school.

My mother told me that her first semester was tough, but she quickly picked up the new language. By the time she graduated, she spoke Spanish fairly well. Then she married a Panamanian and moved to Colón and eventually Panama City. After several years of living in Panama, her Spanish improved even more.

She moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands after living in Jamaica and Grand Cayman. She worked mostly in accounting and used her Spanish-speaking skills whenever needed. At first she just translated for visitors in church. Then she started to translate the sermons from Spanish into English while on the pulpit. Then she was asked to translate meetings at work at first from Spanish into English, then from English into Spanish.

By the time she moved to Miami, she was well-known for her translating skills. She can translate, rehearsed, as the person is a translating for is speaking. But as head comptroller she didn’t have time to do as much translating as she does now. These days she is retired and is the go-to Spanish-English/ English-Spanish translator. Every time I call her she is in the Bahamas, Cayman, Venezuela, Australia, or somewhere else translating meetings or seminars, either from a booth or on stage.

She was telling me all about the upcoming translating assignments she had for the next few months. For a retired person, my mom is quite busy. Then she said the most first-world-problems thing I have ever heard. “I travel a lot and I’ve accumulated all these frequent flyer miles. But, I never get to use them because every time I fly someone else pays for my flight!”

That sucks!

Being the dutiful daughter that I am, I offered to help. “You can use them on me, mom. I promise to not let anyone pay for my ticket.” …And then she said, “Okay.”

I went online to look for a flight back to Japan. I chose a flight and was ready to get the ticket. My mom came by and asked if she had enough miles to get me all the way to Japan. “Mom, you have more than enough miles. You could even send me first class if you wanted to.” …And then she said, “Okay.”

me – “Okay, what?”

mom – “Get a first class ticket. Why not? I’m never going to use the miles.”

So that’s what I did. I got first class tickets from Columbus, Ohio to Fukuoka, Japan. Since this ticket was bought with mileage points I could not get a direct flight. But I didn’t care. It was free and in first class.

I had to choose between a Columbus, LAX, Seattle, Fukuoka or a Columbus, LAX, Honolulu, Fukuoka route. I chose Honolulu. Even though I would not be leaving the airport, I thought that Honolulu just sounded like a better place to wait for a flight from.

That’s me; first class all the way!

Columbus to LAX

I left Ohio in the evening on Friday. I would spend the night in LA and fly to Hawaii early the next morning. My plan was to either sleep at the international terminal or find a cheap hotel. When I got to LAX I was very hungry. Online, the consensus was that the international terminal was a better place to eat, use the internet, and even to sleep, so I went there.

After eating way too much Chinese food, I found some wi-fi and started looking at hotel options. When evaluating the price of accommodations from an airport, one must factor in the cost of the taxi ride to and from the airport. Taxis charge extra when there is an airport involved and this can make the cost of one night’s stay much more expensive. In fact, it might even be cheaper to stay at an expensive hotel that offers a free airport shuttle than a cheap hotel where you have to pay for your own taxi.

There were many great hotels with free shuttles to choose from, but when I tried to make reservations online, I would get a message that the room I wanted was just taken. After an hour of this I looked at a clock. It was almost midnight and my flight was for 7:30 the next morning. I would have to be back at LAX by 5:30. I gave up on finding a hotel and went to a nice waiting area, found a sofa, and fell asleep.

Goodbye

Flying first class was nice. The food was great, the extra space was great. It was nice being one of the first on the plane. But what I really liked about first class was the little things. The flight attendants learn your name and calls you by your name, or nickname if you prefer, for the whole flight. They also make small talk with you. They take the time to explain the menu, “The salmon comes from Alaska and it is served in a white wine sauce…” Something like that. It was not like a servant\ boss relationship type of thing that I had imagined, but more like a friend who is having you over at his or her house.

I LOVED it. It didn’t make me feel rich; it made me feel like a person. It’s not like back in coach you’re treated like cattle. But there a huge difference between having someone say, “Here’s your coffee ma’am,” and, “Here’s your coffee, Josie. Have you been to Honolulu before? You mentioned earlier that you love goofy tourist sights; you should visit…”

The middle of the airport in Honolulu — Yup they put a garden in their airport, because… Hawaii!

Once in Honolulu

I landed in Honolulu and the first thing I did was to find the gate for my next flight. Once that was sorted out I headed to a restaurant to spend the rest of my US dollars and eat the last plate of buffalo wings I would have for a long time. I also bought an overpriced drink and give a heavy tip, — ’cause what am I going to do with a 20 dollar bill in Japan?

Just before it was time for my flight, I made my way to the gate and I heard my name being called. I got to the counter and the lady there asked me to see my ticket out of Japan. I didn’t have one. I explained to her that my husband works in Japan and once in the country I would apply for a dependent visa. She said that that might be okay for Japan, but for the airline, they cannot take me to Japan unless I have an outbound ticket.

She recommended buying a ticket and then cancelling it later. I thought that was a good idea. But I didn’t have time to buy the ticket and make the flight. “No worries,” she said, “tomorrow’s flight is practically empty. You can have the same seat on that flight. Just come back the same time tomorrow with the outbound ticket.”

Waiting for my hotel shuttle

The lady apologized over and over and explained that it was the airlines policy. She and her co-workers kept going on and on about how well I was taking not getting on the flight. I accepted her apology trying to not look so damn delighted that I was spending a day in Honolulu. I walked over the passenger pickup area and found an inexpensive hotel near the airport that also had a free shuttle.

I got to the hotel and asked about an atm. I needed cash. (Why did I give such a big tip!?) I could pay for hotel and even meals with my credit card, but if I wanted to explore I would need to take the bus and the bus takes only cash.

Kitty doesn’t care about gas prices.

I walked several blocks to a Safeway where I could buy some water and get cash back. It was an hour of walking there and another hour of walking back. That’s when I noticed that normal people in America do not walk anywhere. Walking is just for the crazies. Non-crazy people drive or take the bus or at the very least use a bicycle. After I got back from the store I vowed to never walk in America again.

at the beach!

The next day I got up early in the morning and caught the first bus to Waikiki Beach.  I walked along the beach and waded in the water. I could have visited Pearl Harbor if I planned everything right, but I decided not to take a chance. I relaxed at the beach a bit before going back to my hotel showering and making it in time for my flight to Japan.

The next flight was first class on Hawaiian Airlines to Fukuoka. It was another great flight. The only question is how am I ever going to fly coach again?

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Waikīkī Beach

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 21°16’34.5″N 157°49’38.1″W

Address:

Waikīkī Beach
Honolulu, HI 96815
USA

Websites:

Cost:

  • The beach is free
  • There are several foot washing stations that are free to use.
  • The hotels on the beach are quite expensive.
  • Parking might not be free.

Hours:

  • always available

Videos:

Notes:

  • NTT DoCoMo users from Japan can use their phones in Hawaii.

Map:

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The Buckeye State

Posted by Heliocentrism on September 5, 2014

August 3, – September 1, 2013

All Pictures

Love the legroom on JAL!

One way ticket back home

After finishing my 3 years of working at 2 high schools in Japan for the Jet Programme, the Japanese government bought me a flight back home. My mom moved from Miami to Columbus, so I headed to Ohio, the Buckeye state. (I’m not sure what a buckeye is. I think it’s a type of fruit that is poisonous to Wolverines…)

Malcolm and me

The first thing I noticed was how big everything was. The roads are wide even though there wasn’t much traffic. (My flight landed at 20:00 on a Saturday evening.) The median, well… there was a median! There are very few medians in Japan and when there is it’s either on a toll-pike or you get those dinky little poles that won’t give any protection from someone crossing over to the wrong side of the road.

My mom passed a bank on our way home. It had a huge lawn for no reason. It wasn’t a park. No one ever walks on the lawn or even by it. Someone just thought, “Hey, a lawn would be nice here,” and they put a lawn there. They have space like that. I wasn’t in Japan anymore.

Stilt walking

I didn’t travel much when I was in the US. I mostly spent time with my family and did lots of shopping. I dumped all the clothes I had for the past 3 years in Japan, and bought all new stuff, in my size! I bought sun block (it’s cheaper in the states), deodorant, my favorite lotions, medicine (there is no throat antiseptic spray or neosporin in Japan), and chocolate bars.

My nephew always finds a reason to take his shirt off.

We did take a trip to Kentucky to drop off an exchange student to college. She had been living with my family for the past year and got into an American college. This lend to an unexpected visit to the home of some friends of my sister-in-law. They asked if we wanted to ride on their ATVs for a bit. Well, why not!?

Late comers to dinner

My family ate dinner together while everyone talked about their day. I felt like I was in the Waltons. I made dinner for everyone one night. It was cold noodles with ginger and soy sauce for dipping. They seemed to like it. But, my brother liked it more after he microwaved his for a couple minutes. He likes his food hot and his drinks cold.

Saturday night jam session

My brother and his kids played music. I listen and wondered where all this talent came from. The last time I saw most of them they were snot-nose kids who asked a lot of questions and were alway hurting themselves roughhousing. Now they were grown men who drove me around until I got a new American driver’s license. They took me shopping and waited patiently while I tried things on.

I remember arguing with these kids about bedtime. Every night’s argument ended with a, “Okay one more story, but then you have to go to bed.” Now even the youngest one, my niece was a person I could talk to about books and other interesting topics and not just about why she should finish her broccoli and brush her teeth.

My niece proving to her brothers that she is just as strong as any of them.

Kids huh… One day they’re little brats, the next they are fine upstanding adults. Crazy!

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Slate Run Living Historical Farm

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 39°44’57.4″N 82°49’51.4″W

Address:

1375 State Route 674 N.
Canal Winchester, OH 43110

Phone:

  • InfoLine 614.508.8000
  • +1 614-833-1880

Websites:

Cost:

  • Free
  • You can buy products made here like jams or heirloom seeds.

Hours:

  • April and May: Tue-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm(Memorial Day, noon-6pm)
  • June to Aug: Tue-Thu 9am-4pm, Fri-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 11am-6pm  (July 4, 9am-6pm)
  • Sept to Oct: Tue-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm (Labor Day, noon-6pm)
  • Nov to March: Wed-Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 11am-4pm

 

  • The Farm is closed:
    • on Mondays
    • closed on Tuesdays from November to March
    • Thanksgiving Day,
    • Christmas Day
    • New Year’s Day

Map:

Posted in Columbus, Ohio, United States, The | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

One of Japan’s Best 100 Sunsets

Posted by Heliocentrism on July 27, 2011

July 16 – 17, 2011

All Pictures

Of course I brought the wrong camera for sunset photos…

Finally!

I have blogged about Mark’s and my many attempts to see the sunset at Matama beach. This is supposed to be one of the most beautiful sunsets in Japan and we, up until this time, have always managed to miss it.

This time we showed up a good 4 hours before sunset. We ate at the restaurant on the beach, then sat in the water until the tide came in. When it was almost sunset we got out of the water and sat on the cement steps leading to the sea.

They didn’t notice me fall.

Right before the sunset I noticed that my shoes were a bit sandy. I wanted to rinse them off in the ocean water before I put them on. I stepped on the last step above the water, which was beginning to get flooded. There was a patch of slick moss under my foot and before I realized that I was falling, I was on the ground with one leg under me and the other awkwardly reaching out into the water.

I got up and I felt no pain initially. In a few seconds there were streams of blood running down my right leg. I rinsed it off with the salt water so I could see the wound. It was not too bad. I enjoyed the sunset as I bled.

Enjoying warm shallow water

Japanese Lesson for this situation

So, I’ve been living in Japan for almost a year now and that’s a total of almost 2 years of my life spent in Japan. But still I speak very little Japanese. Don’t feel bad Japan, I grew up with 2 Spanish-speaking parents and still have no idea what the heck Speedy Gonzales says. It’s not you, it’s me.

I basically learn just what is needed for me to survive. This is why I can order food in Korean, I can say, “Fill-her-up,” in Japanese, and say bad things about your mother in Spanish. But I can’t ask about the weather in any language other than English.

And for the record, my parents did not teach me to say bad things about your mother in Spanish. …And tu madre es una dama simpática.

I will put here, for future reference, for me or whoever else needs it, the vocabulary needed for this situation.

Rubbing alcohol 

  • 消毒用アルコール
  • (Shōdoku-yō arukōru)
Topical antibiotic cream (Like Neosporin in the US, or Fucidin in many countries)
  • 抗菌外用薬クリーム
  • (Kōkin gaiyō-yaku kurīmu)
  • Make sure to ask a pharmacist about this one. Not all topical antibiotic creams are for wounds, most in Japan are for rashes.
  • This one might be hard to find.
  • 絆創膏
  • Bansōkō

or in my case

  • 大きい 絆創膏 (Big band-aid)
  • Ōkii bansōkō
No need for sentences. That will just give me more things to forget.

Guards of Scotch

Typhooie!

Before we went to Matama beach we pitched our tent and Mark sprayed it down with Scotch Guard to make it more water proof. The last time we were camping, the tent leaked so this needed to be done. Before we left the apartment we saw that a typhoon was heading our way. The storm would hit Oita Monday night, so we didn’t cancel our trip. The Scotch Guard would help us if it started to rain a couple of days before the storm.

Just to get something straight before I continue. I do not recommend camping during a Typhoon, or even a tropical storm. A tent is not good shelter from anything other than mild rain. We checked the weather forecast before heading out and we knew that we were good for camping until Monday evening. By then we were safely back in our apartment by Monday night.

St. Croix

Mark –  “What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?”

Me     – “Geography”

I grew up on the island of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As a kid I loved hurricanes. It usually meant that my parents would let me stay up late to see what was going on. The electricity would sometimes go out, and my mom would bring out her kerosene lantern.We would sit in the living room listening to the radio. I would curl up in a blanket on the sofa next to my mom or dad as the wind whistled outside. The reception on the radio would crackle as the fire in the lantern danced about. I loved the sound of the radio snow over the howling of the wind along with the smell of the burning kerosene. I would go to bed hoping that school would be cancelled the next day.

Usually, nothing more than a couple of trees or telephone polls would be knocked down. Most of the time, I and many other kids, would be in school the following morning making up tales of people blown away in the winds. The hurricanes, would either just miss us and only dump rain on us, get down graded to a tropical storm, or turn away from us completely. My first real hurricane was Hugo. Few people on the island were prepared for the disaster Hugo would bring.

The aftermath

You haven’t seen a real hurricane yet!

The morning of September 17, 1989 I was excited. It was a Sunday. Not only was my piano lessons for that day cancelled because of the hurricane, but so was school the next day. I hated piano lessons!

My family and I went to the crowded grocery store where everyone was buying the hurricane essentials, batteries, water, canned food… I, for one, was thrilled. The air was filled with hurricane anticipation as everyone, excited about the hurricane, talked about what they thought about the storm.

The afternoon we and all our neighbors prepared for the hurricane. I remember my parents arguing about some sand we had in the back yard. My parents were fixing up the house, so my father bought some sand with which to make cement. My father said that it wasn’t necessary to cover the sand with tarp. “Would you cover the whole beach with tarp?”

Mom – “No but the beach gets its sand from the ocean. If some sand gets blown away, more will wash up on shore the next day. I’m telling you, if you don’t cover the sand, it will be gone by tomorrow.”

My father covered the sand, but it and the tarp would be gone by the next day anyway.

My mother was the only one, who seemed uneasy. Everyone else was looking forward to a little excitement and a day off that Monday. This would be the biggest hurricane the island had seen in over 60 years, so schools and businesses had already announced that they would be closed on Monday.

My mom walked around like Cassandra warning people that this hurricane would not be any fun if it did hit St. Croix. She lived through hurricane Hattie when it hit her home town of Belize City, Belize. “We were excited, just like you are now.” My mom made my dad take extra precautions. They parked the cars closer to the house and away from the trees in the backyard. They took in anything that could be taken indoors.

The size of my island compared to hurricane Hugo

I didn’t know wind could do that!

The hurricane was supposed to hit late that night, so I was surprised, when at 6:00 pm I could see the bushes in the yard in front of ours laying down because of the wind. “Wow, I didn’t know wind could do that!” My mom dryly replied, “This hurricane hasn’t even started yet.”

I wanted to stay up, but my parents made me go to bed around 9:00 pm. I’m not sure how long I was asleep, but sometime that night my father woke me up. “Come, we have to go to the living room.” I was a little groggy, but I got up and followed him. He seemed worried and agitated. As we passed my bathroom, I stopped. “Can I used the bathroom first?”

I asked, only out of respect. I didn’t really think  he would say no. He hesitated, looking back down the hall where we had just come. He seemed to be thinking it over. “Make it quick.”

I didn’t understand what was going on. I was a kid and I was too sleepy to care. When we got to the living room my mom was sitting on the floor with her flash light. The electricity was out. I started to remember the hurricane. “Are we camping out in the living room?” This seemed like fun.

“No”, my dad said, “It’s… it’s… ”

“Just show her,” my mom interrupted.

My dad took my hand and a flash light and led me back down the hallway. My parents’ bedroom door was closed. “One quick look, then we have to go back to the living room.” I could not imagine what could be in their bedroom that would cause them to spend the night in the living room.

He opened the door. I could hear the wind outside screaming around the house, but everything looked normal. He closed the door. “What? I didn’t see anything.”

He opened the door again, but this time he turned on the flash light. I followed the spot of light with my eyes. It moved from the floor, onto the bed, then up the wall. There was a gap between where the wall ended and the roof began. The roof was moving up and down. “Wow! Do you think that could happen in my room?”

My room was across the hall from my parents’. “It is happening in your room. That’s why we woke you up.” I didn’t believe him. I was asleep in that room not more than 10 minutes ago. If my roof was dancing, I think I would have noticed. He open my bed room door to show me. Sure enough, the roof was bobbing up and down like a play thing of the wind.

I felt sick. I sat in the living feeling cold on the inside. The roof of my bed room was being pulled off the house as I slept. I was right under it and I didn’t even know. What if my parent slept as deeply as I did?

We tried to get some sleep. Just when I had calmed down I heard a crash. The chandelier on the living room ceiling came crashing down inches from my mom’s head. I began to think how lucky that was. If she have been hit, there would be no way of getting her to the hospital any time soon. After that I could not sleep.

I sat there rocking myself as my parents tried to sleep. My mom kept telling me that everything would be okay. From her tune of voice, I knew that she didn’t believe what she said. My stomach didn’t feel so well.

Sometime after that we heard a big woosh sound. My dad went to look at the rooms down the hall. I followed too. My parents let me. I guess they thought that my imagination was too active and I would be less afraid if I saw what was going on, then if I didn’t.

We looked into my parents’ bedroom. The roof was gone. The bed, clothes, and other things in the room were spinning around as if being stirred with a giant invisible spoon. “This can’t be good,” I said to myself.

We all went back to the living room to wait out the rest of the storm. No one tried to sleep now. I don’t know what was going on in my parents’ heads, but my mind was buzzing. “What is tomorrow going to be like? My parents will have to sleep in the living room until the roof over their room is fixed. Maybe we’ll have to get a new house.”

Sometime after that we heard the woosh sound again. It was the roof over my bedroom. We just sat there. We did not feel the need to look. I knew that all my things were gone.

Later the winds died down. My dad went outside the check on the cars. He wanted to walk down the street to see what happened to the neighborhood, but my mom wouldn’t let him.

“The hurricane is not over. This is just the eye.” She told us.

“What? You mean there’s more?” I asked.

“That was just the first half. Now the wind will come in the other direction. We should really move to the other side of the house, but…”

I had never heard of an “eye of a storm” before. I don’t think I was the only one, because later I heard stories of people going out during the eye thinking everything was over, only to be caught outdoors when the second part of the storm began. I don’t know how true any of those stories were. Maybe they thought the eye would last longer than it did and didn’t have enough time to get back indoors.

Hurricane Hugo

When the storm started again we sat in the living room. No one spoke a word. The winds roared outside mocking us. It moved like a monster trying to rip open our home to get at us.

I looked up at the roof on the other side of the room. “Mom, this roof is going to go.” My mom shone her flashlight where the roof and wall met. It looked normal. There wasn’t even a crack on the wall. “I think it will be fine.”

“No mom. This roof is going to go.” I insisted.

“You’re just scared. Everything will be fine.” she said.

I muttered to myself, “That roof is going to go!”

Half an hour later, as I was staring at the roof, it just lifted up. It broke apart in the air and disappeared into the dark windy night. It even took the lighting fixtures with it. I don’t remember the sound it made. I just sat there, looking at it go, blown away like paper. The blackness of the night came in my house and it brought rain. I was getting wet.

My parents grabbed me and took me to the middle room. They closed the door and we sat on the bed.

I felt really sick and I really needed to pee. Even though the bathroom was right across the hall, my mom would not let me leave the room. There was an orange tub that she used to bathe me in when I was a baby. She gave it to me and told me to take it to the closet and pee in it. I went to the closet and sat over the basin, but I could not pee. I was just really scared.

My mom did not want to be trapped in the house. She and my dad started to think of things they could do to ensure our survival.

“If this house catches on fire, something crashes down on this roof, or this roof goes, we’re trapped.” My mom said.

“If only we had a basement.” My dad put in.

Houses in the Caribbean don’t have basements. Under our houses, we have cisterns, where we keep the water from the rain that falls on the roof. We use this water to flush the toilets and for showering. I did hear of a family who, after losing their roof and most of their walls, spent this hurricane standing in their half empty cistern. They must have opened some sort of lever to keep the water flowing out the cistern so it would not fill up and drown them all.

“But, Mr. Ash, has a two-story house. We must go to Mr. Ash’s house.”

Mr. Ash was our next door neighbor. I had been over to his house countless times to play with his oldest daughter Kizzy. The family lived on the second floor and Mr. Ash worked on the first floor.

He made and improved houses for a living. He had his own business. He designed his house. The first floor of the Ash house was his office. It looked like a smaller version of a hardware store. There were tools, machines, and equipment on this floor of the Ash residence. Kizzy, her sister and brother, me, and all the other kids in the neighborhood were never allowed on the first floor. So of course, we were always trying to get in.

The family lived upstairs. There were steps that went from their front garden to the second floor, completely bypassing the ground floor. I don’t even think there was a way to go from the first to second floor without going outside.

The Hess Oil Refinery on the Island

I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of walking out in the storm. The dangers of that only occurred to me years later. I didn’t want to see the living room without its roof again.

In the spare bed room, nothing had changed. It looked like it did before the hurricane. Its roof was still on. Its floor was still dry. Everything in the room was as it should have been. Outside the room was complete disorder. And the storm was just about halfway passed.

Later we would find out that the hurricane was moving very slowly. Although the winds were moving at 140 mph the storm itself was moving at about 3 or 4 mph. I remember my dad using his car to show me how fast 3 mph was. “I can run faster than this!”

My parents each held onto one of my forearms. I was given a hat and jacket and was told to cover my face and keep my head down. The wind was so strong, I remember, that it stung my face. It was very hard to walk because the winds made putting my foot on the ground almost impossible.

We got over to the Ashs’ house and their gate was latched but unlock, like it usually was. They had 2 big, mean looking dogs, Blackman and Whiteman, that guarded the house, but they were indoors for the storm. We opened the gate and closed it behind us. We got to their downstairs door and started yelling and banging on the door. My mom prayed that they would hear us. We stood out there for a minute or two wondering if we had made a huge mistake. When the door open, I fell in.

The National Guard was called into St. Croix.

I sat on the floor in complete shock. I could not stop shaking. I threw up and kept throwing up even though my stomach was empty. I saw Kizzy and her brother and sister. They looked scared too, but they were not in the state I was in. Mrs. Ash, kept bringing me water and asked if I needed anything, but I just wanted to be alone with my vomit bucket. I move to a corner where I fell asleep.

The next day I woke up on the floor. My bucket was gone and so were my parents. I sat there thinking, “I’m homeless. I don’t have a home anymore. Where am I going to sleep tonight?” Mrs. Ash told me that my parents went to do something for the house. She tried to feed me cereal, but I could not eat.

The upstairs of the Ashes’ house was heavily damaged. Parts of their roof had been damaged, but it did not come off like the roof of my house.They spent the next couple months living on the first floor until the upstairs was completely fixed.

When my parents got back they took me to see the house. “Is it safe? There is a lot of water; what about live wires?”

“There is no electricity on this island. No stop lights. Nothing is working.” My dad said.

We walked through the house. It did not look familiar. Everything was thrown about and wet. The only glimmer of hope for me was that, among all the soaked and bloated items floating around our house, was the piano. Well, it didn’t float.

My mom sat on its bench which sagged a bit and threatened to give out. She stood up and tapped a key. It groaned like a dying cat. “Oh no, not the piano. I wanted to have at least one child learn to play the piano well.” Days later when we loaded up a borrowed truck of our things to be taken to Anguilla, the dumpsite, I happily tossed part of that piano bench in. Did I mention that I hated that piano?

We went to the back yard. “There’s our roof! Can we just put it back on?” I asked.

My parents looked at the roof suspiciously. It was a completely intact roof, laying galvanize side down. All it was missing was the rest of its house. “That’s not our roof.” my mom said.

I looked at the thing. It was smaller than our house and it was the wrong shape. Besides, we didn’t lose our whole roof, just the bits in the front and the bits in the back. Many of our neighbors roofs were missing but none had a roof like that.

Mr. Ash came over, along with other neighbors and they butchered that roof. Parts of it went on our house, Mr. Ash’s house, and other neighbors’ houses to keep the rain out. There was a small tropical storm coming and it rained the entire next day.

The tropical storm was Gabrielle, formally hurricane Gabrielle, but by the time she got to us, she was weak and old and only delivered rain. She would have never even stayed in my mind, if my house had a roof. But when she came every Cruzan was listening to the weather forecast on his or her radio like it was the latest gossip.

Thankfully, our radios still worked. They were our only connection to the outside world. We had no electricity and the phones were down. The day after Hugo we stay glued to the radio as we tried to clean up what we could. I remember that the governor at the time, Alexander Farrelly who lived on St. Thomas, got on the air and told the world that the US Virgin Islands were all oaky.

Those of us on the island of St. Croix were shocked. Apparently, the island of St. Thomas was not hit as severely. But since we, on St. Croix, had no electricity or any means of contact to the outside world, the governor assumed that no news was good news. Later he would have to retract his statement and ask President Bush, not only for aid for St. Croix, but for soldiers to put the island under Marshal Law. There was wild looting, fighting, and all around chaos in the streets for days following Hugo.

My parents were a few of the lucky people who were able to collect their insurance money. Many insurance companies went bankrupt. It took people months, some years, to repair all the damage. Some of them had to pay for the repairs all on their own.

Within a year, our house was completely fixed. The new roof that was put on, not only had 3 new sunroofs, but was designed to withstand any hurricane. The roof had smaller eaves and was connected to the bottom of the house. The builder told us, “For this roof to go, the walls must go with it!” As far as I know the house is still there.

All Pictures


 

Japan
(日本)
(Nippon)

How to get there:

You can enter Japan by plane or boat. Though, the number of boats going to Japan from other countries has gone down significantly.

Americans get 90-day visas to Japan at the port of entry. Check with your nearest Japanese embassy or consulate for visa information.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

  • Be careful what over the counter drugs you bring into Japan.  Actifed, Sudafed, Vicks inhalers, and Codeine are prohibited.
  • InternationalATMs are really hard to find; more so if you aren’t in a big city. Many places in Japan do not use credit cards. Take cashandcallyourbanktoaskwhatATMs or banks in Japan will work with your cash card.
    • ATMs have opening hours. Usually 9:00-18:00 (They have better work hours than most business men and women here.)
  • You can get a Japan Railway, pass which saves you a lot of money on the trains, but you can only buy it before you get to Japan and you cannot be a resident of Japan. (I don’t have more information about it because I’ve only ever lived in Japan. I’ve never been a tourist.)

Matama Beach
(真玉海水浴場)
(Matama Kaisuiyokujō)

How to get there:

  • 33°37’20.9″N 131°28’23.3″E

From Oita by car –

  • Take route 10 North.
  • When you reach Hiji town, you can stay on route 10 or take route 213
    1. If you stay on route 10 at Hiji town, you will get on route 213 in Usa. Be careful because the turn is at an odd angle making it a little easy to miss. This is the shorter way.
    2. If you get on route 213 in Hiji, stay on route 213 until you pass the beach.
  • It doesn’t really look like a beach when you’re driving by. It is mostly a cemented area with lots of parking across the road from the “beach”.

Address:

〒872-1101 大分県西国東郡真玉町2144-12

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • always available

Notes:

  • There is a little restaurant at the beach that sells drinks, snacks, and meals.
  • When we went, the water was not deep enough to swim in. But I don’t know what it is like at high tide or at other times of the year

Nagasakihana Resort campsite
(長崎鼻リゾートキャンプ場)
(Nagasakibana Rizōto Kyanpu-ba)

How to get there:

  • 33°40’55.9″N 131°31’29.3″E

From Matama Beach –

  • Get on Route 213 heading east.
  • You will pass 4 tunnels.
  • After the 4th tunnel you will be in a little town. You will need to make a left onto a little road that is opposite to a pedestrian tunnel. The first time you go, it will be a little tricky, because you can’t really see the pedestrian tunnel when making the left. But if you reach a 5th tunnel, that is kind of long, turn around and you will be able to clearly see the pedestrian tunnel.
  • Take the road across the little one lane bridge and take the biggest road up the hill.
  • You will pass a rape field and a sunflower field.

Address:

4060 Mime, Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture 872-1207

Phone:

  • 0978-54-2237

Websites:

Cost:

  • 1,000YEN per tent   &
  • 300YEN per person
  • The second night they only charged us for the tent. I don’t know if they always do this, or they just liked us.

Hours:

  • Open year round
  • Reception hours are 9:00 to 17:00

Notes:

  • They also have cabins, some with AC.
  • There is a beach at the campsite.
  • There are free electric bikes you can borrow.
    • 1 person – 1 hour max
    • 2 people – 2 hours max

Map:

Posted in Bungo Takada 市, Japan, Kyūshū, Matama 町, Oita 県, St. Croix, United States, The, US Virgin Islands | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

The First Goodbye

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 20, 2010

September 8, 2003

All Pictures

smoking trees

Smoky?

They are called the “Smoky Mountains” for a reason. The trees smoke. When you go there, the park rangers can explain it to you in more scientific terms. But, basically the moisture in the tree evaporates a lot. Even on cold days you can see steam, vapor, whatever you want to call it, coming out of the trees, giving the mountains a smoky look.

tired

The Last American Days

This stop was the beginning of the last trip I took in the US before moving to the UK. I planned to go to school in Manchester, England for a year and wanted to see my brother and sister before I left. My brother came down from Ohio to meet me at Gatlinburg, Tennessee to say his last goodbyes.

After this, my mom and I drove to Colonial Williamsburg and then to my sister’s place. We toured Washington D.C. and my car was sold. I left for England from Dulles Airport via Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. But all those photos are lost.

at Clingman’s Dome

What, me scared?

I was excited about living outside the US for the first time in my life. I’d traveled to other countries before, but never alone. Everyone else in my family had lived abroad. In fact, I’m the only one who was born in the US.

My mother is from Belize. She went to college in Costa Rica and lived there for 2 years. She worked in Guatemala for 2 years. Then she married a Panamanian and lived in Panama for 5 years. That’s where my brother and sister were born.

My family leaving Panama.

The family moved from Panama to the Cayman Islands and spent 2.5 years there before moving to Jamaica. After 3 years in Jamaica everyone moved back to the Cayman Islands for another 2.5 years. In 1979, they moved to St. Croix. One month after that move, I was born. That’s when the family decided to stop moving.

So, I’d never lived outside the US.

This is my sister driving somewhere in DC

So was I scared to move away from all my friends and family? No. Well… not in Gatlinburg.

The fear started to creep in the day I left for Manchester. My sister was driving me to the airport. We were on the Rock Creek Parkway when it hit me what an insane thing I was doing.

In my head I began to think. “I don’t know anyone over there! What if I get sick? What if I get hit by a bus and die? Would I be buried over there in an unmarked grave since there would be no next of kin to identify me? What do I do when I need money?”

My sister looked over at me and asked me if I was okay. I told her I was feeling a little scared. “What if this is the worst decision I would ever make in my entire life?” I felt like I was about to cry.

She kept her eyes on the road and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. Once you get over there and start making friends you’ll be fine.”

The view from my dorm room in Manchester

I did make friends very quickly. There were a couple ladies on my flight from Chicago who were also attending the University of Manchester. I would end up seeing much of England with them. We hung out for most of that first day.

Americans in England

What? No Really, can you say that in English?

Because of jet lag, my new friends decided to go take naps and left me on my own shortly after I got to the university. I needed to get some water so I walked to a nearby corner store before heading to my dorm to take a nap myself. I picked up a bottle of water and asked the clerk how much it cost.

Clerk: ????????

Me: “What?”

Clerk: ????????

Me: “What?”

Clerk: ????????

Me: “What?”

Clerk: ????????

Me: “Can you write that down?”

He typed the price into a calculator. Apparently he was used to dealing with the foreign exchange students who spoke very little English. But come on, English is my first language! …my only language.

I could tell that he was speaking English, but I had no idea what he was saying. His words sounded like fast mumbling. “Will all the British sound like this?” I wondered. “How will I pass my classes if I can’t even understand what the teachers are saying?”

I went up to my dorm room and cried for a good hour. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be back in the US where I can understand people when they speak. Then it hit me that I didn’t know where to go to buy things.

In the US if I need a hammer, I’d go to Home Depot or Lowes. Where do I go here? If I need medicine I’d go to CVS or RiteAid. Where do I go here? If I need an oil change I go to Jiffy Lube. Where do I go here? (But really I could just go to Wal-mart and get all those things done.) Then I cried some more.

“I don’t have a car anymore!” More tears.

Then I stopped. Going back was not an option. I had already paid for my return ticket to visit my sister at Christmas and started paying for my tuition. There was no money left for me to turn back now. I washed my face.

The thing I needed most was more friends. When you’re in a new country, the one thing you can’t have too much of is a social network. So I went downstairs into the courtyard and socialized. I spent the rest of the day hanging out with Irene from China. She was a great person.

My sister was right. By the next day I was fine!

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The Great Smoky Mountains

How to get there:

From Gatlinburg –

  • Take I-40, exit 407 (Sevierville) to TN-66 South.
  • At the Sevierville intersection, continue straight onto US-441 South.
  • Follow US-441 through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge into park.

Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone:

  • (865) 436-1200

Website:

Downloads:

Cost:

  • FREE!! This is actually the only free national park in the US.

Hours:

  • Open year round 24 hours a day.
  • Closed only for bad weather

Clingmans Dome

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 35°33’46.0″N 83°29’54.5″W
  • Turn off Newfound Gap Road 0.1 mile south of Newfound Gap.
  • Follow the 7-mile-long Clingmans Dome Road to the large parking area at the end

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Clingmans Dome is open year-round.
  • The road leading to it is closed from December 1 through March 31,
  • It is also closed whenever weather conditions require.

Notes:

  • It is a long hike up to the dome, but not so difficult that an average semi-healthy person could not make it up there eventually. But it is not as easy as it looks.
  • This place has an amazing view of both Tennessee and North Carolina, but not on foggy days. Check the weather forecast before you hike up there for nothing.
  • The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome.
  • It can be 10 -20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler up Clingmans Dome than the rest of the area.
  • It was named after Thomas Lanier Clingman.

Map:

Posted in Cherokee, England, Gatlinburg, Manchester, North Carolina, Tennessee, United Kingdom, The, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Malcolm’s Boat

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 19, 2010

August 30 – September 2, 2002

All Pictures

Malcolm lets one of his friends take the helm.

I’mmmmm Sailing A-Way… 

I had just graduated from college with that bachelors I never put to use. My brother called me one day and told me that I should move to Columbus because there were jobs to be had in his city. I didn’t find one, but I had a great time hanging out with my brother for a couple months.

My brother used to have a boat. He loved that boat. He went boating every chance he could get. One weekend he planned a trip for some of his friends and he invited me to come along.

Truck & Boat Combo

Mountain Momma

I’m not sure of the exact dates. I’m guessing it was labor day weekend because Malcolm had time off from work and I don’t remember it being cold.

When not in use, the boat was kept at a storage place in Licking county, Ohio. The boat had to be pulled by Malcolm’s F250, a monster of a truck. This boat and truck combination was big and heavy and took a lot of gas to power. That is probably why the truck had two gas tanks.

Malcolm showed off his driving skills through the narrow streets of Parkersburg. The boat was wider than the lanes we were driving in. He used some poles with red flags attached, to help him see where the boat ended.

Malcolm makes sure everything is just right.

I got to see a boat being launched for the very first time. My brother did it almost single-handedly. In case you don’t know what it means to launch a boat, it’s basically putting the boat in the water. The key is to not lose the trailer or submerge your muffler.

But that sounds too easy. There are many things that can go wrong during a boat launch. Sometimes, people forget to detach the boat from the trailer or to not detach the trail from the truck, causing the trailer to be launch as well. Trailers don’t float and should never be submerged. Sometimes the boat can get away and set sail without you.

walking on the boat

We went sightseeing during the day, some days, but we mostly stayed on the boat and docked on islands in the Ohio river. We did spend an afternoon on Blannerhassett Island, but I have lost the photos of that part of the trip.

We lived on the boat. The boat had 2 main bed rooms, one towards the front and one in the back. You couldn’t stand in these rooms, but they did give privacy. In the middle there was a kitchen, bathroom, and a living room area, which could be used as another bedroom. This is where you could stand; there and on the top deck.

I always know where my towel is.

I’m no hick! I’m from Ohio!

We spent the second day just boating around, going up the river then down, wasting gas and having a great time. Malcolm and I had spent a night on the boat already, just the two of us. This day Malcolm’s friends arrived and would spend the rest of the time with us. There were 6 of us total and there would have been enough room for everyone if some people didn’t snore.

To solve this problem, some of us elected to camp on what ever island the boat was dock near that night. When evening approached we started to look for a nice island.

Following boating/camping manners we didn’t pick an island with inhabitants, if the island was too small. Most of them were, with boats already docked on them. Then we found one with a small day fishing boat; the kind with a single lawn-mower type engine at the back and no top.

A man and his boat

They were obviously not spending the night, so we decided to dock there. We came ashore. It was a group of two brothers and a girl. The guys came over to talk to us. We had a good little conversation going with them.

They were from the nearby area and spending the day fishing, though we could tell the girl would have rather been anywhere else. She spent the rest of her time there on their boat, alone; she did not come over to talk with us at all. They were really planning to go home before sunset, but since we showed up they thought they might stay the night.

They kept making a point of the fact that they were from the Ohio side of the river, not the West Virginia side. “No. We’re not hicks!” This insistence made me feel that they were in fact hicks. I was excited. I had never met a real live hick before!

They were almost drunk and very friendly… a little too friendly. When it was time to make dinner my brother, Malcolm, got some wood to make a fire. The boys wanted to help and brought us the cardboard boxes their beer came in. They also went to get us some more wood. The younger brother wanted me to go with him to a “special” part of the island that had great wood, but I declined.

passing through one of the many locks

Malcolm started the fire and his friends were ready to get the cooking started but the boys protested. The brothers thought that our fire was too small and set out to get us even more firewood. They came back with a forest of wood and piled it on our fire.

That thing whooshed up like something from the pits of hell. There was no way we could cook anything on that. It would singe the hair on our heads and arms if we got too close.

The brothers, extremely drunk at this point, kept heaping wood unto our fire. I headed for the boat. The younger one kept making eyes at me and he just gave me the creeps. We all found some excuse to go back to the boat. We were going to wait it out. After all, their boat had no top; there’s no way the three of them could sleep in that thing.

They kept drinking and we could hear them stumbling around on the beach. The girl still sat in the boat. Then they started to yell at us. “Why’d you all go away? Don’t you like us? Aren’t we friendly. We don’t even mind that you’re black…”

Then they proceeded to pee on the side of the boat, which was a really dumb thing to do since they had to stand thigh high in the river to do it. Unfortunately for them the boat was too big for them to pee on a part that wasn’t already in the water.

“You guys don’t like us ’cause we’re white! That’s it. It’s reverse racism. You’re a bunch of racists! You think we’re hicks. Is that it? I’m no hick! I’m from Ohio!”

Malcolm loves being on a boat

My brother went out to talk to them. He calmed them down and assured them that their color had nothing to do with us not liking them. In fact, we didn’t not like them. We were actually a bit afraid of them.

“Why would you guys be afraid of us?” The fire was still blazing in the background. The rest of us got off the boat and stood next to Malcolm. My brother explained our fears to them. They were strangers, they were really drunk, there was a huge fire they kept building up, and they seemed to get angry easily.

“What!?” one of the brothers yelled. “We’re not angry? Why would we be angry? …because you’re black and you have a nice boat and I’m white and I have that?” He pointed to their little day fishing boat. The girl was slouched over in it. I could tell she was completely over this whole trip and just wanted to go home.

The brothers wanted to know what job Malcolm had to afford such a grand boat. “I program computers,” my brother said. “You have a college degree!?” one of the boys asked a bit surprised. “And a masters,” Malcolm replied.

“I never got to go to college. I had to work since high school,” the younger brother mused. The older brother walked closer to Malcolm and asked him, “Don’t you think your going to college took away the chance of someone else going to college, just because you’re black?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Well, when I was in high school I studied very hard. I started college at the age of 15. I was living in the Caribbean at the time and the college I went to was predominantly black. Later I was recruited to join the master’s program at Ohio State University. But if you didn’t get into some college, it’s not because your spot was given to someone else. Colleges are there to make money. You don’t make money by turning people away because you’re too full. If you didn’t get into a college, it’s because you didn’t meet that college’s standard, either academically or in some other way that makes the college board feel like you will not complete their program.”

Eventually they went home. I think the girlfriend drove. At least I hope she did.

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The Ohio River
(by Parkersburg)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 39°15’54.3″N 81°33’32.7″W

Take I-77 to US-50

Ramp at Kenner St. off Rt 47

Address:

Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau

350 7th Street
Parkersburg, WV 26101

Phone:

Greater Parkersburg Convention & Visitors Bureau

  • 800-752-4982 or
  • 304-428-1130

Website:

Notes:

I took this trip back in 2002. My brother did all the planning so I remember very little of the information.


Blennerhassett Island

How to get there:

Go to US-50 in Parkersburg

Address:

137 Juliana St.
Parkersburg, WV 26101-5331

Phone:

  • (304) 420-4800

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • It’s free to just go to the island, everything short of breathing costs money.

Hours:

  • Mostly 10:00 – 17:00
  • Times varies for each activity and holiday.
  • Hours

Notes:

You can buy old time style homemade apple butter and other treats.

Map:

Posted in Parkersburg, United States, The, West Virginia | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Farewell Tour

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 19, 2010

August 11-15, 2010

All Pictures

It’s a long ways away

The Long Drive Home

Since I’m going to Japan soon and Mark isn’t, we dropped him off in Flint and made our way south. Don’t worry, Mark is coming to Japan. He’ll come shortly after I get there.

It’s a long drive from Michigan to Homestead so my mom and I made several stops along the way. Mark found a great website and gave me the link. It’s called RoadsideAmerica.com. There are lot of interesting things to see out there!

Not everything was worth a blog entry. Some of our stop was just entertaining enough to break up the monotony of a 3 day car journey. I will just talk about the more interesting ones here.

One last game of soccer

One Last Goodbye

Our first Mark-less stop was in Columbus, Ohio. I have one more chance to see my brother again and to try to talk him into visiting me in Japan. His second son, Alex, and my mom will be spending Christmas with me.

I played a game of soccer with my brother and his boys. It reminded me of the year I lived in Columbus. This was where I learned to play basketball and where I started exercising. This game also reminded me of how out-of-shape I am. I do need to start exercising again.

JV #55

You play Basketball!? ha ha!

In high school I was far from what anyone would call athletic. I had never ran without cause to. I never lifted weights, unless I was trying to retrieve something. But I was, and still am, very tall.

I moved to a new city and a new school. I was going to spend one year with my brother and see what life in the states was like. My mom wanted me in a private christian school. After weeks of searching my brother picked Tree of Life High School for me.

One day a man approached me as I was walking in the hall. “You’re new aren’t you.” he said as he sized me up. “If you want to make some new friends and play basketball, come see me. My office is in the gym.”

At dinner that night I told my brother about my odd encounter. He rolled over laughing. “They think just because you’re tall you can play basketball. You play basketball!?” He fell on the floor holding his sides.

I thought it was funny that anyone would mistake me for a potential basketball player, but I didn’t think it was that funny. “You don’t think I could make the team?”

Malcolm: “No. Have you every played basketball before? Would you even know what to do with the ball?”

Me: “Wouldn’t they teach me?”

Malcolm: “They would if you could get on the team. But you have to get on the team first.”

Me: “Alright. I’ll get on the team. Then they’ll teach me to play. Then I’ll play!”

They misspelled my name… and I changed my major. Biochemistry!? What was I thinking?

The next day at lunch I went to the athletic office at school and signed up to be a Lady Trojan. I was put on the JV team and played my heart out. I never became a fantastic baller, but that was never my goal. I did however, manage to go on and earn a basketball scholarship for college.

Think of all the goodies it can hold.

The World’s Blankiest Blank!

The next stop was to see the world’s biggest basket. It’s actually a 7-story office building and headquarters of the Longaberger basket company. When you go inside it looks like you’re outdoors. There is a piano that plays itself and many cozy rooms with examples of how you can use your Longaberger basket.

in Ottis’ cell

Well I’lllllll Be!

The next day we went to Mayberry. This was my first visit to a fictional town. Well, it’s actually Mount Airy dressed up to look like Mayberry. Mount Airy is where Andy Griffith is from. So to capitalize on his fame, the town recreated Mayberry in it’s downtown area.

This is the actual boyhood home of Andy Griffith. There is a statue of Opie and Andy in the town. You can see the shops, stores and other characters in the town, but the most popular one is Barney Fife. He now has a cafe and his likeness is seen all over the town.

World’s biggest fire hydrant

If we were just driving without unnecessary stops we could have made it home with only one overnight along the way. But how boring is that? Besides when will I have the opportunity to see the world’s biggest fire hydrant again?

one log you say…

One of our stops was in St. Augustine, America’s oldest city to see a home built from one single redwood log. It was very hot inside since there are no windows. But it comes complete with a kitchen and fridge, a bed room, dining room and sitting area. But where was the bathroom? A sign near the house said that “business” was done outside…

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The World biggest Basket

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 40°03’49.1″N 82°20’46.7″W

By Car, from Columbus –

  • Take I70 East, exit 132,
  • then turn left onto State Route 13 north.
  • Follow State Route 13 north to State Route 16 East and turn right.
  • From State Route 16 East, turn right onto Dayton Road.
  • Turn left onto East Main Street.
  • The Home Office is located on the left.

Address:

One Market Square
1500 East Main Street
Newark, Ohio 43055

Phone:

  • 740-322-5588

Website:

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Most M-F 8:00 – 17:00

Notes:

  • This place is an office building. You are welcome to come in, ask questions, and take pictures in the visitor’s area only.

Mayberry
(Mount Airy)

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 36°30’06.3″N 80°36’24.8″W

By Car from I77

  •  Take exit 100 to Hwy. 89 East.
  • Turn left onto Pine St./Hwy. 89.
  • Follow Pine to Renfro St., turn left.
  • Follow Renfro Street and take a left onto Independence Blvd.
  • You will see the Blue Signs that say Visitors Center.
  • Once you turn onto Independence take the next left onto Main Street.
  • Follow Main Street until you see the Big Granite Building located beside Barney’s Restaurant.
  • This is The Chamber of Commerce Building and the Visitors Center is located in the Chamber of Commerce Building at, 200 N. Main Street.

Address:

200 North Main Street
Mount Airy, North Carolina 27030

Phone:

  • 1-800-948-0949

Website:

Downloads:

Notes:

  • There is free parking behind the Old City Jail on the intersection of Moore Ave. and Renfro St.
  • You can go camping in this area.

The One Log House

How to get there:

  • Coordinates 29°53’58.5″N 81°18’48.8″W

Go to the old down town of St. Augustine in Florida.

Address:

19 San Marco Ave.
St. Augustine, FL

Phone:

  • 904-824-1606

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • The log house is in the parking lot of the Ripley’s Believe it or Not. You don’t have to pay to see it.

Map:

Posted in Columbus, Florida, Mount Airy, Newark, North Carolina, Ohio, St. Augustine, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Surrounded by Falls

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 18, 2010

August 7, 2010

All Pictures

The Horseshoe Falls

WOW!!

Niagara Falls is the name of the cities on the US and Canadian side of Niagara Falls. They are two different cities in two countries with the same name, but they are right next to each other.

This was amazing. I cannot describe how wonderful this was. I would take this ride several times a year if I lived in Niagara Falls, New York or Niagara Falls, Ontario. All I can say is go and take a ride on the Maid of the Mist!

On The Maid of the Mist

The Canadian Side 

When you go, try to be the first to stand in the front of the boat on the top-level. That way you have a clear view of the falls. You will also be able to take pictures without being in anyone’s way or having anyone in your way since there is not enough space for too many people to get a good view. And you will be able to look down on the people on the lower level and watch them get drenched.

Rain ponchos, you have no power here!

There was too much water so I had to put my camera away. I stole Mark’s photos for this blog entry. He has a water-proof camera. There isn’t so much water that you will get very wet, but it is not good for a non-water proof camera.

me at 10 maybe….

Once or Twice Before

This was not my first time at Niagara Falls. My family took many trips here when I was a kid. But I don’t remember much of them.

I know that we did go on the Maid of the Mist, because my mom said we did. I also know that we saw the falls from the Canadian side with my sister and brother. I remember that I hit him and he picked me up and put me in a trash can that was raised off the ground on a pole and I couldn’t get down.

My mom on a tour walking under the falls

But I don’t remember the falls themselves.

Tourists

All Pictures


 

Canada

How to get there:

You can enter Canada by land, air, or sea. But you’ll probably fly in unless you live near the border.

Go to the US and head north. Well, sometimes you will need to head south.

Needed Documents:

As a US citizen you will need either:

  1. a passport
  2. Passport Card
  3. Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Technically, you need one of these documents or just a passport to get into Canada, but in actuality the Canadian border control doesn’t always check them. You will need one to re-enter the US.  The US border control does a thorough check on each and everyone coming into the country.
  • Be prepared to wait in a long line to get back into the US.
  • You are not allowed to carry fruit from one country into the other.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Maid of the Mist

How to get there:

  • Canada – 43°07’05.3″N 79°04’15.4″W
  • USA – 43°05’11.0″N 79°04’05.0″W

Remember to bring the required documents if you are crossing the US/ Canadian border.

Address:

Prospect Pt,
Niagara Falls, NY 14303
USA

or

5920 River Rd,
Niagara Falls, ON L2E 3E4
Canada

Phone:

  • US 716-284-8897
  • Canada 905-358-5781

Websites:

Cost:

US

  • +1USD elevator fee
  • Adult: 13.50USD;
  • Kids (6-12): 7.86USD;
  • under 5: free

Canada

  • Adult: 16.60CAN;
  • Kids (6-12): 9.57CAN;
  • under 5: free

Hours:

  • Varies based on date and weather

Notes:

Canada

  • There is a bathroom on the dock before you get your poncho but after you use the elevator.
  • Ask to have the Tourism Improvement Fee taken off your bill anytime you pay for anything in Niagara. Just look out for any odd looking taxes on your bills.

Map:

 

Posted in Canada, New York, Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls, Ontario, United States, The | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Back In the Beltway

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 18, 2010

August 2-3, 2010

All Pictures

My friends and I (from the USVI) spending time in DC area along Sligo Creek

Destined for DC

Since I was a little kid, I knew that one day I would live in the DC area. My sister was the first in my family to move there when she enrolled at Columbia Union College* in Takoma Park, Maryland. Then my brother. I attended CUC about 10 years after that.

* A few years ago the name of my old school was changed to Washington Adventist University.

While my siblings were in college, my parents and I would visit Maryland. I loved Maryland. There was always something great to do in DC. And, Virginia has some wonderful nature trails. So, when it was time for me to go to college I didn’t even have to think about it.

My sister’s college graduation

I lived in Maryland for about 5 years, with the exception of the time I packed up all my stuff and moved to Walla Walla, Washington. That didn’t last long and I moved back to DC to finish my degrees at CUC. But, since I moved away I had only visited once and that was over 5 years ago.

my 6th grade graduation

Since Happy Apple

My first evening in Maryland I had dinner with Janel. I first met Janel in Happy Apple Day Care in St. Croix, where I grew up. I don’t actually remember meeting her. I’ve just always known her.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost many of the pictures that were taken of us together. Many of the photos I use of myself as a little kid, actually belong to my brother. My mother doesn’t really keep track of photos. Janel is somewhere in the picture above. You can find me easily since I was the tallest person in the class that year; even taller than the teacher.

Janel and I have not really kept in contact. We used to email each other regularly when I first moved to England. But our lives have both been busy. Janel earned a masters, works hard, and she got married last year.

It was great to see her again. But for some reason I forgot to get a picture with her. I don’t know how I managed that since I am the type of person to snap a photo of any and everything!

My tallest nephew. (My sister said that he has since gotten even taller!)

Museums for free!?

My Sister, Audrey, her kids, my mom, Mark, and I all went to sight see in DC. This was Mark’s first time in the area. We saw memorials, statues, and museums. Mark was surprise to see how many museums in DC were free. (almost all of them.)

Mark, my mom, and my sister’s 3 boys

After leaving DC, I was shocked that most museums in the world charge an entry fee. “Who would pay to see a museum?” I thought. Well, not Washingtonians. Not only are the museums free, but they are all very fabulous. I spent many a summer afternoon in them when I had no money and wanted some AC.

The tomb of the unknown soldier

Arlington

Our last stop on our tour was at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. This is the place where 2 presidents, John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, are buried. The tour we were on gave us lots of information about some of the thousands of people buried at the cemetery, but it was too much too quickly.

JFK’s grave

When you stand in Arlington Cemetery you get an overall feeling of sadness. Most of the people there died while in their early 20’s. There are so many graves; too many graves. It’s so big, we needed to ride a bus to see it all.

Mark and his friend Jeff

DC is known for its Ethiopian food.

I was the one who requested it. I just could not leave DC without having some Ethiopian food. I love the stuff. You eat with your hands. There are no utensils; just pick up your food with a piece of bread. Sampling your neighbors’ food is encouraged… at least when I’m around.

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

The FDR Memorial

How to get there:

  • 38°53’00.5″N 77°02’34.7″W

Orange and Blue Metro Line stops for the Smithsonian are closest to the Memorial, but it’s a good walk from the station.

Address:

1850 W. Basin Drive SW
Washington, DC 20037

Phone:

  • 202-426-6841

Website

Downloads

Cost:

  • Free
  • Most attractions in DC are free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  •  Parking is available along Ohio Drive, SW, between the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. This is a great place to park when sightseeing in DC, because it’s free and there is a higher probability of finding a space here than anywhere else.
    • The earlier you get here the better.
    • The parking is technically only for 3 hours. We parked here all day and did not get a ticket, but there was a risk of getting a fine.
  • The memorial was designed for people, dogs, and kids to play in the water. But then the water got really dirty and it also became a safety hazard, so it is no longer legal to play in the water.

The National Mall

How to get there:

  • 38°53’22.4″N 77°01’22.9″W

-By Metro:

  • Federal Center SW (Orange and Blue Lines)
  • Judiciary Square (Red Line)
  • Archives/Navy Memorial (Green and Yellow Lines)
  • L’Enfant Plaza (Green and Yellow Lines and Orange and Blue Lines)
  • Smithsonian (Orange and Blue Lines)
  • Federal Triangle (Orange and Blue Lines)
  • Farragut West (Orange and Blue Lines)
  • Foggy Bottom/GWU (Orange and Blue Lines)

Address:

From 1st Street NW to 14th Street NW, between Madison and Jefferson Drives, and from 14th Street NW to 23rd Street NW, between Independence and Constitution Avenues.

Phone:

  • 202-426-6841

Website

Downloads

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • There are some free, public, parking available along Ohio Drive, SW, between the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials.
  • Metered parking on some DC streets is restricted to two hours.
  • There are commercial garages downtown, north of the Mall.
  • Sometimes it is easier to park at a metro station in Maryland or Virginia and take the metro to DC.
  • This is a great place to celebrate 4th of July, the Cherry Blossom Festival, and many other events. One summer they did free outdoor movies. It was great!
  • You can also park for free by the capitol building on weekends. It’s reverse parking only.

The Smithsonian Institute

How to get there:

  • 38°53’22.4″N 77°01’22.9″W

-By Metro:

  • L’Enfant Plaza (Green and Yellow Lines and Orange and Blue Lines)

Address:

Smithsonian Museums
SI Building
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Phone:

  • 202-633-1000

Website

Downloads

Cost:

  • Free. Yes. All of them are absolutely FREE!

Hours:

  • About 10:00 – 17:30
  • The time varies for museum to museum

Notes:

There are more Smithsonian museums around DC and in New York and Virginia.


Arlington National Cemetery

How to get there:

  • 38°52’42.2″N 77°04’06.6″W

By Metro –

Address:

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, Virginia 22211

Phone:

  • (703) 607-8000

Website

Cost:

  • Free.
  • There is a tour bus that cost 7USD.

Hours:

  •  Open everyday Apr – Sept: 8:00 – 19:00
  • all other months closed at 17:00

Notes:

  • The park is free.
  • Paying the 7 bucks for the bus tour is well worth it. It’s a long walk up hill to see Kennedy, the unknown solider, and other graves.

Addis Ababa Restaurant

How to get there:

  • 38°59’33.4″N 77°01’25.8″W

By Metro –

Silver Springs Station is the nearest subway station

Address:

8233 Fenton Street
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4503

Phone:

  • (301) 589-1400

Website

Hours:

  • Open F-Sa 11am-2am;
  • also open Sun

Notes:

  • Metered parking.
  • Free parking on weekends and after 18:00.

Map:

Posted in Arlington, Maryland, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, United States, The, Virginia, Washington DC | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Take Your Personality with You When You Leave the Train*

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 18, 2010

July 29-31, 2010

All Pictures

fun on an @

Demelza is coming!

Did I ever tell you about DD? I’ve known her for years. We met in the first grade and have been in the same class from then until 10th grade. You know her. Or at least you know some of her work. She used to edit this blog, in her spare time.

The last time I saw her was back in… 1996. I was on spring break from high school and flew back to St. Croix to see my mom. We went kayaking and swimming one day and had a great time. Unfortunately, I can’t find any of the pictures we took back then.

She came up to see me for a weekend. It’s funny, but when you have a good friend that you haven’t seen in a long time and then you meet that friend again, it’s like the time and distance melts away. I felt like I had last seen her a few days ago. And she looks great! Other than her being taller than she was the last time I saw her, she looks the same.

I wonder what skin care product she uses…

Free Metromover

Bienvenidos a Miami

Since I had to drive into Miami to pick Demelza up, I thought Mark and I could see some of the sights downtown. We parked by Bayfront Park and walked around. Then we saw the Metromover trolleying around above our heads.

We had already paid for 2 hours and had more than an hour left. We hopped on the mover to see where it would take us. The Metro Mover is completely free and there is no driver; it’s all automated.

We got off at the Freedom Tower. There was a torture exhibition there, but I didn’t feel like paying the entry fee. So, we got back on the free mover and returned to our car. Our next stop was South Beach.

South Beach in Miami

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for a swim. It took us 20 minutes just to find parking. We walked along the shore for about 10 minutes then headed back to the car, then to the airport to pick Demelza up.

dinner at a diplomat’s house

It’s in the eyes; yes, the eyes.

The JET Programme hosted a pre-departure orientation at the Japanese consul’s home. It was actually the orientation for group B which was leaving the next day. I am in Group C, but I am the only one in group C. So rather than having me go solo at group C’s orientation I was invited to the earlier one.

Miami’s Japanese Consul General and me

It was splendid. I got to meet some of the teachers who would be in my area. One of them would turn out to live in the same building that I will be moving into. I met the Consul General and had a great dinner. There was only one thing wrong.

Mark eating Indian food at the Japanese Consul General’s home in Miami

Demelza was in town for only a few days and this orientation took half a day of my time. I was allowed two guests, but they had to be strictly family and significant others only. Mark, my boyfriend could come as my significant other, but Demelza could not.

My mother, the stubborn woman she is, would not let me go to the orientation without Demelza. “You can’t just leave her at home after she came all the way here to see you!” So Demelza came. I wasn’t going to mention anything about who she was to anyone there. I’d never seen any of these people before and most of them, I would never see again.

my “half-sister” and me

Everything was going great until a lady, one of the JET’s mom, asked, “How are you two related?” I stood there just blankly staring at the woman. I’m not a very good liar. She continued, “I just know you two are related. Are you cousins?”

“We’re half-sisters,” Demelza spoke up. “Yes. Half-sisters,” I repeated with a cordial smile. “Half-sisters,” I said once again to make sure the lady believed me. “I knew it!” the lady said, “I could see it in the eyes; yes, the eyes…”

The Miami JETs

She left, no doubt to brag about her astounding ability to spot relatives. Demelza turned to me and whispered, “I practiced that on the ride over here in case someone asked. I hope I was convincing enough.”

“We love public transportation!”

Traveling With the Masses to See the Fishes

Mark and I had been using my mom’s mini van to get around. But this day she needed her van. Staying at home all day didn’t seem like any fun, so we opted for public transportation. Our destination? The Miami Seaquarium!

I was excited. I had never used public transportation in Miami before. Outside the US, I’m all about buses and subways. In the states, I  either have or borrow a car.

The buses in Miami come with free wi-fi.

I looked online and the cheapest option for us was to get a 5USD day pass. We could have gotten an EasyCard, but since it would only be used for one day, the EasyTicket was the better choice. Online there is a list of places where the EasyCards and EasyTickets can be purchase. The one nearest us was at a Sedano’s grocer.

The next day my mom dropped us off at the bus stop. I felt like I was 12 again. All that was needed was for my mom to kiss me goodbye, tell me what time I had to be back, and to warn me not to talk to shady looking characters.

Mark is cool today.

We had no trouble getting to and from the Seaquarium, partly because as we were waiting for our bus in Homestead we overheard a conversation. There was a guy in a distinct blue shirt and he was telling his friend that he was going to Dadeland South Metro Station. That’s was our first stop. So we just got off when he did.

To our surprise, he and his uncommon shirt was on our return bus. It was raining outside and in the darkness of night we couldn’t see out the bus. But, we knew we had reached our destination when Mr. Blue-Shirt made his way to the back door of the bus. He, without knowing it, helped us get off at the right stop once again.

Mark getting friendly with a stingray

The Seaquarium was great. We made a point to see every show that was offered. It took us 3 hours to get there by bus, so we weren’t going home without seeing everything!

Demelza and I after being splashed by dolphins

That’s how Floridians roll.

Here is a little insight on the behavior of Floridians. Floridians love to be in control of the weather. Take a Floridian up north, no matter what time of year, and he or she will complain about how cold it is. Put that same Floridian back in Florida and he/she will breath a sigh relief for surviving the cold then proceed to turn the AC to max power.

I haven’t gotten to the truly astounding part yet. When the Floridian has cooled down, the knob on the AC will not be changed. Instead the Floridian will search in a purse or backpack for an “emergency” sweater and put it on. If you ever see a person driving around in their car in the summer with a sweater on, that person is most likely a Floridian.

I am now a Floridian. The Seaquarium is outdoors except for a few cafeterias. It was very hot. The day started out with us making sure to sit in the non-splash zone at shows. Then towards mid-day I wanted to stand right next to the water so that I could be splashed. I needed to cool down and the dolphins did not disappoint.

All Pictures

* The Metro Rail announcement as I heard it.


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Bayfront Park

How to get there:

By Public Transportation –

For driving directions click the link on “How to get there”.

Address:

1075 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, Florida 33132

Phone:

  • 305-358-7550

Website

Cost:

  • The park is free to enter.
  • Events might have entry fees.
  • You have to pay for parking.

Hours:

  • sunrise to sunset

Notes:

  • You have to pay for parking.
  • There are many public parking spots across the road from the park.
    • It cost 6USD for the first 2 hours and 3USD for every hour after that.

Freedom Tower

How to get there:

Address:

600 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Phone: 

  • (305) 237-3010

Website

e-mail:

  • truth@freedomtowermiamimural.com
  • freedom@freedomtowermiami.org

Cost:

It depends on the event

Hours:

  • Tu-Su 12:00-19:00

Notes:

  • You can park along Bayfront Park and walk or take the Metro Mover to the tower.
  • Events

South Beach

How to get there:

  • 25°47’41.2″N 80°07’32.2″W

There is no address but here is what Wikipedia has to say about its location:

“It is the area south of Indian Creek and encompasses roughly the southernmost 23 blocks of the main barrier island that separates the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay.”

Website

Downloads:

Cost:

  • Free, but the restaurants and bars here are a bit over priced.

Hours:

  • You can’t close a beach this big!

Notes:


Miami Seaquarium

How to get there:

  • 25°44’03.4″N 80°09’53.2″W

Address:

4400 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Fl 33149

Phone: 

  • (305) 361-5705

Website

Cost:

  • 3-9           28.95 USD + tax
  • Adult      39.95 USD + tax
  • Parking  8.00 USD
  • Buy online and save 2.00USD
  • There is a 50% discount with an IATAN ID card.
  • If you are driving, please remember that there is a 1.50USD cash toll fee to get on to the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 18:00 Everyday
  • Last show starts at 14:30
  • Ticket Booth closes at 18:30

Notes:

  • This is one of the places in Florida where you can swim with dolphins.
    • The fee is about 90USD. Check out the Seaquarium’s website for the details.
  • You may want to bring your own lunch; it is allowed. The food here is not that good and grossly overpriced.
  • If your bring your own water bottle you can fill it up for free at any of the many water fountains around the Seaquarium. Otherwise, purchase one bottle from a machine (3USD) then refill that at the water fountains.

Map:






Posted in Florida, Miami, United States, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Conch Republic

Posted by Heliocentrism on August 9, 2010

July 27, 2010

All Pictures

Big People

West in Spanish is Oeste.

First off, the name Key West has nothing to do with its location. I used to think that since it was the island in the keys that was the furthest west, it was called Key West. But it’s actually a misunderstanding.

The name was Cayo Hueso, or Bone Key. The Native Americans who lived in the area used this island to bury their dead, so the Spaniards called it Cayo Hueso. This could be translated to Key West by any English speaker who flunked 9th grade Spanish.

Mark is looking for a fight.

How the West Was Won

This island has the craziest history stories. No wonder writers come to Key West to become inspired. Of all the tales I heard on this trip, the one I enjoyed the most is the one about the Conch Republic.

It is a well known fact that many Cuban immigrants come into the US by way of the Florida Keys. The United States Border Patrol decided to put a stop to this and illegal drug import. In 1982 they put up a checkpoint on the road out to the keys.

7-mile bridge

If you’ve ever driven down to the keys, you may know that one little car accident or one slow driver can cause a huge back up. There are only 2 roads going into the keys and then eventually only one. Both of the roads had only one lane going in either direction back in 1982.

Oscar the cat and his trainer

The inspections at the checkpoint caused many delays to visitors of the keys. Many tourists didn’t think that the keys were worth the hassle and stopped going further south than Florida City.

delicious street smoothies

The people of Key West were unhappy. They needed tourists with money to come in and spend senselessly. They asked the government to stop. But they were ignored. Then they changed tactics.

They seceded from the union and made themselves a new nation, independent of the USA. They called themselves The Conch Republic and as their first act as a nation, they declared war on the United States.

They threw Cuban bread at some naval soldiers working at the checkpoint then quickly surrendered. Since the war was over and they were on the losing end, the Conch Republic asked the US for foreign aid. Hey, why not?

waiting for sunset

All Pictures


 

The United States of America

How to get there:

You can enter my country by land, air, or sea. But I think flight would be your transportation method of choice.

I have no clue how to get a visa to the US or who needs one. Just assume that you need one if you are not American or Canadian and check with your local US embassy.

Phone:

  • Use 911 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance
  • Use 411 for information (This might cost money.)

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • It’s a big country. You’re going to need a car.

Key West

How to get there:

  • 24°33’18.4″N 81°46’48.2″W
  • Website directions
  • Take US 1 south and don’t get off.
  •  Key West is at Florida mile marker 0.

Phone:

  • Tourist Information in many languages – 1-800-771-KEYS (5397)

Website

Downloads:

Hours:

Notes:

Parking is hard to find, but whatever you do, do not park illegally. If you do and you just get a ticket, consider yourself lucky. This is not a good place to get your car towed.


The Conch Tour Train

How to get there:

  • 24°33’32.4″N 81°48’24.1″W

Go to the north end of Duval street.

Address:

Phone:

  • 1-888-916-8687 (TOUR)

Website

Download

Cost:

  • Adult – 29.00USD (Buy online for a 3USD discount)
  • 12 and under – Free

Hours:

  • 9:00 – 16:30 daily.
  • Train tours departing at least every 30 minutes.
  • Closed the last Saturday in October (Fantasy Fest)
  • All tours are subject to change. Call to make sure there are no changes.

Notes:

  • This is not a hop-on, hop-off tour. There is one stop at a gift shop where you can eat and use the restroom.

Southernmost Incorporated Place in the Contiguous 48 States

How to get there:

  • 24°32’47.3″N 81°47’50.9″W

It’s on the corner of Whitehead St. and South St.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available.

Notes:

  • It’s free to visit and always open.
  • It’s not really the southernmost part of the US, but it’s pretty close.

Map:

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