*Thanks to Hanes for sponsoring this post* Colorado has 4 distinctly awesome national parks.  I saw 3/4 of them in 1987 when my folks drove my brother and me from Nashville in a two-toned ’83 Suburban, and I’ve wanted to go back with my own family and explore the diverse national parks of Colorado ever since.  We finally went this summer. Of all the parks we were slated to see, I was most excited about returning to Mesa Verde National Park.  It’s my mom’s favorite of all the national…

We were on the Shinkansen bullet train before 8am on Saturday and walked up to Himeji Castle at 9:30am. I checked in on Swarm and saw that there are free guided tours in English that are excellent, and I’d no sooner declared that we should find out how to get one when an older lady heard us and walked up to lead our tour.  Later in the tour, another guide told us we had the best of all the guides, and we couldn’t disagree.  She was passionate about…

Friday morning about 9:45am, we set off from our AirBnB and discovered a place called Cafe Green Door in a residential area, just a couple blocks from our home, which was a nice change from the previous days’ meats on a stick for breakfast.   We had eggs and coffee to go as we walked to the station and boarded a train for Nara, where we’d scheduled an AirBnB experience involving a bike tour of Nara park, where the deer are plentiful and friendly (and will bow to…

Thursday, June 14, we rode a series of trains until we met Eric, a quad-lingual KKday tour guide originally from China who lives in Japan and was our guide for the “romantic” train taking us to a horse-drawn carriage taking us to a wooden boat taking us down the Hozu River, where 5th and 6th generation boatmen with wooden poles and oars guided us through whitewater rapids, and it was awesome. The level of skill these men had was incredible.  I’ve canoed down the Chattahoochee and kayaked down the…