After wandering the world for a year, I yearned for home. The one place that tugged on my heart strings most was Mackinac Island and I planned a trip there months before I returned to Michigan. I have never lived there and the only thing it houses are memories. This magic island however, encapsulates the things I love most about the USA and the state I grew up in. It is a perfect slice of American pie that satisfies a soul searching hunger in me every time I return.
I recently spent a few days in Joshua Tree upon my return to the USA. Coming from Japan, it was surreal to be walking through the Mojave Desert. I was suddenly in the old west full of cacti and cowboys. The land is bright and the views vast.
When I was a child, my parents gave me a small porcelain statue of a geisha. It belonged to my father’s mother who passed away before I could form a memory of her. The statue was all white with pale blue and pink markings. The geisha knelt with a small drum beside her as if she were about to play it. Her hair curved high above her head in a beautiful sweep and a small dab of color formed tiny heart shaped lips on her face. That one impression of a beautiful culture so different than my own, planted a seed in my child’s heart, growing a love for all things Japanese.
My time spent in New Zealand was like a peaceful dream on this journey. I started living with such ease that I didn’t want to leave. Time slowed and the beauty of the country settled in. I spent one month on each island and traveled by car, bus, plane and boat. I also rode a horse into the ocean.
The recipe for the ultimate summer’s day includes sunshine, blue skies, the sea, a sailboat, running barefoot through long grass and laughter in good company. My friend Sonja and I had just that when we bought our two tickets for a day on the sailboat Gungha in the Bay of Islands.
I traveled north in New Zealand to see the giant Kauri trees that grace the Waipoua Forest there. They are the oldest and largest trees in the country, some aging over 2,000 years. Being the tree lover that I am, the Kauri Walk was one of my favorite walks during my time here.
Last night at Hopewell, five of us braved the cool sea and swam out into dark waters. Each person jumping off the jetty and giving a gasp or yelp as the crisp coldness enveloped our bodies. Soon the temperature was far from our minds as we marveled in the miracle of bioluminescent phytoplankton surrounding us. Their light activated in the movement made by our splashing and each person soon joined in a chorus of oohs and ahhs.
Imagine if we all took our talents and applied them to a cause, something to make this world a better place. If we did something not for the glory and fame, not for the likes on social media, but to help others. I know a young woman doing just that.
I once saw a photo of Kura Tawhiti, or Castle Hill in New Zealand. A man walked between huge boulders at sunset with mountains fading into the light. The scene looked like something out of a dream. I decided then to make a special trip to see it while on the South Island.
We ride off into the morning light, the sun’s rays golden over farmer’s fields with an occasional palm tree jutting out of the horizon. The air is cool for a change and I wrap my scarf around my shoulders and neck to shield myself from the wind. A few motorbikes pass us and an occasional farmer. Fifteen minutes later and we are at the admission gates for Angkor Wat.