Around the World in 18 days

This was the trip of a lifetime. I literally traveled all the way around the world in 18 days. Even in the midst of the trip I could not believe how blessed I was to be embarking on it. Total route started with Salt Lake City to Honolulu for a couple days. Next, it was on to Tokyo and a bullet train to Kyoto. Another train back to Tokyo and off to a layover in Bangkok on the way to Milan for a week in the Italian Alps. Finally, then back to the U.S.A into Chicago by way of New York and Detroit for a celebration, and finally coming to a rest back in Salt Lake City. All in a total of eighteen days. However, by now I am rather late in completing this post. The pictures have sat in the post for weeks now. I was supposed to have completed it a long time ago. When I got home from the trip I was eager to write about the adventures. However, fate took a turn on me. Literally when I was at this computer having just pasted in the pictures when my wife, Christine, called from the doctor's office where our young son Amos was in for an appointment about some small red dots on his chest, being really sleepy all day, and restless at night. She picked me up, lap top still open on the desk with this post on it, and we rushed down to Primary Children's hospital at the request of his pediatrician. For nearly three weeks, this post sat unfinished, while we waited for that diagnosis. Amos has recently, as of the time of this now completed post, been diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. It is called Acute Monoblastic Leukemia. For a few weeks I could not even think about trying to relive this trip in order to write about it here. The words would not come to me. All I could think of was my son. However, Amos recently began chemotherapy, and he has been improving each day. We are almost a month into the ordeal by now and my wife, Christine, and I are starting to get used to what our lives are going to look like fighting this war with him. We are settling into taking each battle one at a time. We are getting used to our emotions floating right at the surface. I have always been a spiritual and emotional guy that lives with great appreciation for everything that has come my way. Once I was able to wrap my head around my son's situation the words began to come back to me. The trip began to come back to me. My appreciation seemed to be coming back to me in abundance as a result of Amos' improving health. He shut down for a while, but lately every time he cracks a rare smile it is like the greatest gift I have received. His first giggle in nearly a month was like a ray of sunshine busting over a mountain ridge at sunrise. The recollections of this trip began to come back like the waves crashing on the beach in Hawaii, which was stop number one on the adventure. 

^Honolulu, Hawaii was not in the original plan for this trip. Christine and I have been trying to travel to Japan together for quite some time. However, the week before we were set to leave for Tokyo the weather report for the island showed an awful lot of rain in the forecast. I had a thought come to me, "Why not stop in Honolulu for some sunshine for a few days on the way?" We rearranged some flights and before we knew it we were sipping cocktails to the sunset over fresh seafood.

^While the rain was pouring down in Japan we were laying down in the sand with Diamond Head Peak on the horizon. It was a real treat especially because it was not even on our radar. The tropical sunshine felt like a warm reward to flexible travel thanks to the travel perk of my night job with Delta Airlines.

^We took a day to go the Pearl Harbor memorials. The USS Arizona memorial was so much more special then I was ready for. To hear this old veteran explain the details of the battle and the brave men memorialized here touched me in a way that I was not ready for. We became so captivated by the emotion of the site that Christine and I missed our boat back to the launch and nearly missed our tour bus. 

^The watery grave of so many fallen heroes aboard the USS Arizona.

^The entire scene of all of the amazing history at Pearl Harbor was such an eye opening and surreal experience. I could not believe the conditions that these brave men lived in aboard these ships and submarines. The tight quarters and long tours they endured amidst the toils and fears of war. It is beyond my comprehension. I have a new appreciation for the men that lived aboard these vessels. I have always had a deep respect for the "greatest generation" simply because it was instilled in me, but now touring these memorials and floating museums simply brought it to life for me. It was an unreal experience that is still beyond my scope. Maybe even more now then ever.

^Stopping in Hawaii for a couple days may have saved us from some jet lag in getting to Tokyo. Breaking up the big flight over the pond worked out for us pretty well. We both seemed to agree. 

^After just a brief stay we were on the Shinkansen, bullet train, off to the south to Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto is a cultural center piece of Japan and loaded with a lot of the sights many people think of when Japan comes to mind. 

^I have spent some time now in Japan traveling there to ski over the years so the kindness of the locals is of no surprise to me now. They seem to understand that being nice to foreigners is good for them as well as us. This woman Kio spotted me trying to decipher subway signs and maps in the Kyoto Station. She asked if she could help us and she proceeded to escort us all the way to our hotel lobby. We were fortunate that she lived just around the corner from our hotel. Folks in Japan are stoked on "selflies" and she obliged my request to take one with her. It was a rather gracious gesture from a very nice stranger. 

^Of course we ate and drank like no where else.

^We visited Shinto shrines and Buddist temples.

^I know.

^We drank from the fountains, prayed at the shrines, rode tour busses, walked in the woods and packed streets… 

^...and I sank a rather marvelous shot with a coin on the fly into a tiny bowl at a fountain in rushing by the Golden Palace. Kyoto is an unreal place. We decided on a return with Amos some day to do more time getting deeper in the mountains of Kyoto with a three of four day tour through the trails from shrines to temples and to small Ryokan inns and onsen baths. Put it on the list.

^Mt. Fuji from the Shinkansen bullet train window. 

We spent our last night in Tokyo at a country onsen and restaurant surrounded by rice patties in Narita. It is relatively near the airport, called Yamato-No-Yu, and I think it will be my go to spot from now on my first night in Tokyo laying over on the future travels. We watched the sunset from the sushi bar after a long hot soak in the onsen baths.

^Christine and I parted ways in Tokyo. She went back to Salt Lake City and I got on another set of flights from Tokyo to Bang Kok and on to Milan, Italy. I was going there to test products for a Norwegian skiing company, Moonlight Mountain Gear. The young company produces the most powerful headlamps on the market, as well as a line of lightweight backcountry skis. Moonlight is also now beginning to produce a brand new binding that can be skied as a telemark binding or an alpine touring binding with all the backcountry touring benefits of the Dynafit tech toe piece. 

^Driving up to the snow was an adventure all it's own with sights, smells, italian traffic and a heavy footed spanish driver, yet reluctantly restraining himself, for my sake as a passenger who can get motion sick. The driver, Angel, became a good friend to me, and he was rather kind to me on the drive up. 

^The sights helped.

^The snow made me feel all better. Eric Tollund hikes to a quality spring conditions kind of line in the Italian Alps at Passo Del Stelvio with the Moonlight set up strapped to his bag. I was stoked to make some new friends with Bjarte and Giunluca, the owners of Moonlight as well as reunite with my of my longest friends in my ski career and a mentor to me, Stephane Riendeau. Stephane took me on my first film trip to Jackson. My first trip to Alaska. I did a lot of amazing things with Stephane. I was especially excited to make another classic memory with him in Italy. 

^Some of the Moonlight rigs.

^Photoman, Steve Ogle, from Canada was there to work in some camera time as well as test out the gear. The folks at Moonlight invited photographers and filmers to take advantage of the marketing potential of gathering a bunch of pros and industry insiders to make some marketing material as well.  

^With a burned up nose, a smile from ear to ear, and plenty of material for Telemark Skier Magazine I boarded another set of flights from Milan to Tokyo, to Detroit, and into Chicago. I was rendezvousing with Christine again to celebrate the marriage of her college roommate Tanya to her fiancĂ©, Courtney. 

^The Chicago skyline.

^Two proud papas.

Courtney and Tanya.

^Some of the girls getting a little crazy. 

Obviously I did not know very many people. However, Christine and Tanya's friends, her family, and Courtney's family made us feel all too welcome with their party shoes on. The wedding and celebration were beautiful, inspired, enjoyable, and so fleeting. Often it seems some of the most enjoyable moments are like that. It is so much fun and excitement that it just flies right by with the speed of a blink. As life for Christine and I with our boy Amos turned in a blink, it seems so too did this once in a lifetime trip. Weeks now after it transpired, and after finding the space inside me that would even allow myself to recall some good times, it seems the whole trip happened in just a blink. I often think and talk about life as peaks and valleys and enduring the long hikes up to the elated high elevations as well as descending into the lows lands of the shadowy valleys. With Amos' condition now it seems we are enduring a trudge through a dark part of a valley of life, but it sure makes the walk easier when you can recall peaks like these with great people and good friends in order to keep pushing to the next one.