Well, my summer plans are finally coming together. There's still a couple things that could potentially derail them but that's really always the case. I mean, you never know where there could be a big natural disaster or something. I've just couple a couple of less exciting possibilities as well.
That aside, here's what I'll be doing if all goes according to plan. First, I'll be here in Colorado for two more weeks. Then I'm going with my family to Los Angeles. Not entirely sure what, if anything, I'm going to do in LA itself (my dad and brother are going for a conference), but we're stopping at Vegas on the way, so I'm taking advance of that to go to a Cirque du Soleil show.
Anyway, that trip is about a week and then I'm flying out of LA to...Tokyo! Yep, I'm going back to Japan, though this time it's mostly for a vacation, rather than a full on job. I'm making it a working vacation though, like my trip to Hawaii last summer. In other words, I'll be dividing up my time between working on my various projects (that story for SOE, Aurora's Nightmare, the summer classes I'm teaching, etc.) and having fun in Japan. So I won't be out touring all the time, but hey, it worked well in Hawaii and I got to do a ton of stuff on my previous Japan trips when I was only free on weekends and holidays, so there should be plenty of time for fun. I'm going to be based in Tokyo, but there's a lot of places I can get from there in a day. Plus, I've also got at least a couple of overnight trips planned and I'm thinking I'll get in one longer excursion (probably a week or so) to areas I haven't been. Hopefully I can hang out with some friends as well. Naturally, I'll do a travelogue so you guys will be able to read all about it.
I'll be in Japan just about five weeks, and then it's back Colorado for another three weeks, followed by a brief trip to New Mexico for a friend's wedding. Summer break will be almost over at that point, so it'll be time to head back to Florida. Though, if I can find decent flights, I may be stopping in Baltimore for a few days on the way to attend Otakon.
I had originally considered working Hawaii in as well, but I wanted to spend a bit more time in Colorado and I've been to Hawaii a lot lately so I opted to just go to Japan instead. Besides, it's cheaper only doing one destination (though, if money was my only concern, Hawaii would have been a much cheaper trip than Tokyo). My dad was thinking of going to Japan with me this summer as well, which would have been fun. Unfortunately, he's staying behind due to some health issues (he should be fine, but doesn't want to go on such a long trip until he's sure completely recovered). But I've had plenty of fun on my own in Japan before and I can do it again. I've also got a number of friends over there who I can hopefully meet up with. All in all, it's looking like a pretty awesome summer.
As usual, there's a new voter bonus comic. Between the holiday and getting some stuff done for my parents, it's been a busy week, but things should calm down now, at least for the rest of the month. After that... Well, we can talk about that next week. For now, here's a write-up and some photos of some of the places I've been since the start of vacation.
March 5 - 15: Enjoying Colorado
While my recent travels here in Colorado don't really need full day by day write-ups, I figured an overview and some photos would be nice. As I mentioned before, my brother wanted to do a bit of touring in the Eastern part of the state (looking for potential places to start a practice when he graduates from chiropractic school). So instead of flying home to Grand Junction, I met them in Colorado Springs. I haven't been there in years, but we used to go a lot when I was a kid. I really don't remember the city much, but it's got some pretty awesome attractions like Garden of the Gods (a park with giant rock formations), Cave of the Winds, some neat museums, and one of my favorite zoos. Unfortunately, we didn't go to any of them this time around, since we were mostly looking around different neighborhoods my brother wanted to see. We did tour the Olympic training center though, which was interesting. Colorado Springs is pretty nice, it's actually one of the larger cities in the state, but you have the mountains right there as well. We stopped to do a quick hike, which was nice, but reminded me that going from around five feet above sea level to five or six thousand requires some adjustment time.
While in the area, we also stopped by Old Colorado, a nice old fashioned touristy street, and Manitou Springs. Manitou is another place I have really fond memories of. First off, it's a very pretty little town with lots of shops and restaurants. There's also a collection of natural springs you can drink from. But the parts I really loved as a kid were the giant playground and the old arcade. The arcade is even more awesome now that I know my video game history. Want to play an original Asteroids machine? Space Invaders? Donkey Kong? Pac-Man? Q*bert? Frogger? They have a very impressive collection of classic arcade games plus a lot of older coin-op machines including pinball, gun games, and even older stuff. There aren't many arcades like this around (the only other one I've seen is in San Francisco), and it's worth a visit for anyone with an interest in video games.
The next day we went to Fort Collins. It's a college town with great views and very nice and surprisingly large downtown area, which was fun to walk around. It's hard to say whether I liked Fort Collins or Boulder better. Boulder has a reputation as being a bit of a hippy town, but it's up in the mountains, has an awesome shopping street, and some really cool stores. Celestial Seasonings (the tea company) is there too and they have a nice tour (complete with a room full of mint) and free tea tasting.
The rest of the trip was spent in Denver itself. It's not one of my favorite cities, but it's got some nice areas. We went to a Rockies game one night and my mom and I went to the Museum of Nature and Science (another place I remember from childhood) another day. It's a huge museum and the animal, dinosaur, and rock exhibits are especially impressive.
After a week in Eastern Colorado, my parents and I (my brother had to return to school), drove across the state to our home in Grand Junction. It's a very scenic drive, passing over the mountains and through towns like Glenwood Springs (which I wrote about last year).
While it's not strictly related, a few days later my mom, a friend, and I hiked up Mt. Garfield. Mt. Garfield is something of a landmark in Grand Junction, but it's also one of the more difficult hikes around. For some reason or other, I never actually did it, but I've been wanting to. While it's only two miles each way, you ascend 2000 feet, so it's a really steep hike. Plus, to make things more interesting, a lot of it involve loose dirt and/or rock and very narrow trails with sheer drops. You get to walk along a ridge too. That said, assuming you're careful and in fairly good shape it's safe enough, and the views are spectacular, especially when you get to the top. It's not all straight up though, there are some flat areas before you reach the top and a surprisingly amount of plant life and even some animals. Lizards are the most common, though my mom and Vita said they got a glimpse of a coyote (I missed it, unfortunately). From a challenge perspective, going down is probably the hardest part (though certainly not as strenuous).
Gotta say that all of this has really reminded me of how much I love Colorado and this part of the country in general. Florida has its good points but, in my opinion, it really can't compare. It's also given me some ideas for when I'm able to have more say in where I live. Colorado in general has long been one of my top four places (along with Honolulu, Phoenix, and Tokyo), but now I think I could narrow that down to a few specific parts of the state.
After a week of traveling around Eastern Colorado, I'm back home. That is to say, at my parents' house. It's one of two or three places that really feel like home to me, even if I'm not actually living here anymore. Anyway, now that I'm here things will be calming down...at least for the rest of the month. Haven't quite figured out what's happening after that yet, though I hope to have that all worked out by the end of the week. I'm also almost caught up on comics.
As a note, there will be no PV update this Wednesday since it's the holiday of Shavuot. It will, however, update Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I'll try to have a few pictures and maybe a basic write-up or something of my trip ready for Friday as well.
See you then!