Checked my FedEx tracking number and all the documents were received on Friday. Now it’s time to just wait for my notification for date to interview Korean Consulate and find out flight date. Pretty anxious to find out what airline I’m travelling on and what their bag check policy is, until then I can’t find out how much bulk goods (clothing, books, etc.) I can bring with me.

   Which is why my current brainstorm is orbiting the planet of Compact Prepack. If I can’t plan out the big stuff I can focus on the little, such as future weekend itineraries (Part I) and data driven hometown relics (Part II).                                                                                          

My thoughts revolve around what ideas to bring.

Oh the Places I'll go, Oh the Multimedia I'll bring!

   Planning out weekend escapades and sightseeing has a double-feature drive in style awesomeness. Not only does it let me discover more about and become further enamored with the potential of Korea but it also helps me pass the time and foster patience instead of constantly checking my gmail for word from my recruiter. Spring has sprung over here and I guess this has had an impact on my current adventure planning. I’ve been scouring blogs and travel books planning out hiking trips. This has always been a pursuit of mine and the beautiful area I grew up in has a lot to do with this.

   The trails behind my house growing up in the foothills of North Bend, WA on Rattlesnake Ridge are home to some of my cherished childhood recollections. Scrambling with my cousin Blake and brother Nichelas through backforest trails intersecting ancient elk runs down to the nearby Rattlesnake Lake to watch the Bald Eagles soaring on the thermals and roosting on large lakeside arbor sentinels is pleasantly branded into the retina of my memories. TV was a societal lure we were not ensnared by back then because our imaginations, giant trees to climb and forts to not only plan but make dominated our daylight pastimes. It was not uncommon for us to be perched at the crown of a 60+ foot evergreen (sometimes during windy days) and I can only imagine the amount of paper spent on designs of forts varying from simple lean-tos to the more extravagant underground tunnel systems with hidden trap door entrances and intricate connected tree forts in the fashion of Ewoks from Star Wars. 

Blanchard Mountain overview with college friends.

  This trend continued in college where Bellingham offered not only amazing alpine hikes up to mountainside glaciers such as the panoramic Skyline Divide but also an outstanding Interurban Trail. Starting within the municipality and following the coast on piers and madrona peppered forests up into the only highlands in Washington were the Cascade Mountain Range touched the beauteous Puget Sound at Blanchard Mountain aka the Oysterdome.

   Those not wishing to go up could stay lower in altitude as the winding road (Chuckanut Drive, one of my favorite vantage filled roadways in all the world) that hugged cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean offered numerous access points to the many parks with their sprawling rocky beaches below. Clayton and Larrabee Parks as well as the less known Teddy Bear Cove were host to numerous guests and offered attractions ranging from seafaring kayakers, people handcasting crab pots from the sandstone terra jutting out into the Sound and the hidden “hippie rock garden” featuring small flower gardens and whimsical rock art. Beware said secluded spot on a bright sunny day as its isolation brought forth many an unclad granola out basking (not criticizing, just the last scenery I myself was not trying to observe on a sunny day). Chuckanut Drive is featured in many a movie and its breath-taking view of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Peninsula is iconic of the Pacific Northwest.

   Looking through many of the images of the landscape of South Korea I feel a deep resonance. The craggy mountain hikes take me back to epic hikes around the Mt. Baker wilderness area and the terraced, shelf-like hillsides of the low-lying agricultural valley are very similar to the view from the Alger lookout that surveyed all the farmland of the Skagit valley. Jack Kerouac once described this valley as the most fertile place in the entire United States. Though I’m no Dharma Bum it’s good to know the freewheeling, live to burn brightly beat was a fan as well.

Can't wait to ascend this rocky path.

   Though I do not know of any similar Thoreaufare in Seoul like the Interurban Trail in Bellingham there will be many an oasis of wilderness for this county raised boy to seek sanctuary from the city bustle. Having been raised in a rural setting in early childhood, suburbs as an adolescent and teen and living in an uber-green college town as a young man I foresee at least a few times where the concrete jungles and bustle of packed in people will cause me a little claustrophobia. Haha, at least I’m prepared!

  The parks throughout Seoul seem indicative of the Korean people love and respect for nature and incorporating it into their cityscapes. Numerous spots such as Namsan Park offer an outlet for those wishing to escape the city in a small forest fortress of solitude. I look forward to visiting them and describing them in detail as well as the introspective reflections I’ll have in this blog in the near future.

   One of the other great opportunities I’ll have to pursue will be visiting the numerous Buddhist temples throughout the capital city I am to be a future resident of. Though I was raised Roman Catholic (my father was brought up in a large traditional Irish Catholic farm family in Eastern WA) I was taught by my Pops to always respect the teachings of other religions. He studied with the Jesuits for some time and always emphasized the strength he was given for not only his own but all religions. I’ve been strongly encouraged to observe the services held within mosques, Buddhist temples and synagogues while I am a young man. My father can truly be commended for nurturing my desire to be a world citizen by helping me to respect the numerous different cultures that I share this Earth with. 

Zen Autumn

*Part II soon to come!