A Photo a Trip (2019 edition) - An Abandoned Article

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This is an abandoned article, because it was a bit too difficult to find good photos for every trip, and write about them years later. I've published the paragraphs I've already written and the photos I've already selected so that the world can read them. Why? I don't know.

Start of Main Article

I travelled a lot in 2019. I've decided to pick a picture I took from each long-distance trip and write about it so that I have an excuse to write at length about something not related to work.

The Year in Review

My travels were mainly done by plane, train and transit. I flew 90,000 miles (140,000 kilometres) to five countries from my San Francisco Bay Area home, and made multiple trips on Amtrak.

Map of my flights in 2019

At the beginning of 2020, using gcmap.com, I generated this graphic depicting all the places I had flown to in 2019. 2019 was my first full year of being a "real adult" with a "real salary", and even looking at this graphic now, I can't believe I had the energy to make all these trips.

While writing this article, I became curious about the carbon impact I had with these flights. I calculate I had a carbon impact of 29 tons of carbon dioxide in 2019. I feel bad, especially considering the number of short-distance flights I took, so I've offset my emissions with Less Emissions, a Canadian company offering offsets which go towards Canadian environmental projects.

Trip 1: Returning from Canada

Destination: Toronto
Itinerary: Round-trip flight between SFO and YYZ by Air Canada

Faded lottery winning posters from Markham, Ontario

I guess this first trip is kind of cheating, since it started in 2018. It did end in 2019 so it counts in my mind. As had been normal for the past couple of years, I had returned to home in Markham, Ontario, Canada for the Christmas holidays. As usual, I ended up going to a bunch of places that I had gone to as a high school student. One of these places is Denison Centre, a shopping centre with a Shoppers', a grocery store and a food court. It was a five minute walk from my high school, so I ate lunch here pretty often. There used to be a great Chinese place here called For Heavens Gold; unfortunately it closed as a part of recent renovations.

For Heavens Gold was located directly behind the lottery stall pictured above. This lottery stall was literally just a counter where all you could buy were lottery tickets, and maybe transit tickets. They might have also sold cigarettes but I don't smoke so I have no idea.

The picture itself shows some of the winning results posters this place had. The poster on the left shows a result from 2003! I was amazed that this place had been open for at least sixteen years continuously, so I took a photo of the poster.

I'm not actually sure if this place was bulldozed along with For Heavens Gold, but if it was, there goes another sixteen years of history.

Trip 2: China

Destination: Guangzhou, China
Itinerary: Round-trip flight between SFO and CAN by China Southern

Tall buildings in Longgui, Guangzhou

This trip was my third time to China, where my grandparents live. My parents tried to visit every year or so pre-COVID, and I joined this particular trip. If they had gone in the summer, I definitely would not have joined them. I do not enjoy sweating at all times of day.

Every time I go back to China, I'm amazed by how dense neighbourhoods are, even far out from the city centre. My grandparents all live around 龙归站, at least forty minutes away from the centre of Guangzhou, yet look at the buildings in the picture above. Every building is a least two stories tall, and believe me when I say that everything behind the commercial buildings is apartments at least four stories tall.

Trip 3: Coast Starlight

Destination: California
Itinerary: One-way flight from SFO to LAX by Delta; one-way train ride from LAX to OKJ on the Coast Starlight

Rolling green hills around San Luis Obispo

I love the scenery on the leg of the Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and the Bay Area. You get to see industrial areas of Los Angeles, endless beaches around Santa Monica, awesome hills around San Luis Obispo (pictured above) and picturesque farmlands up through to Salinas. This trip was the first of many times I rode the Coast Starlight in 2019.

Trip 4: Hills of Southern California

Destination: Burbank, California
Itinerary: One-way flight from SFO to LAX by Delta; one-way flight from BUR to OAK by JetSuiteX

Houses around the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve

I honestly have no idea what inspired me to fly down to LA, rent a car and stay at an AirBnB in Burbank, just to walk around the Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve. This is exactly what happened though. Funnily enough, I relied on Google Maps to navigate the park and got myself lost like an idiot. Thankfully it's not that hard to backtrack a well-used trail in the desert hills and I got myself back to my car pretty easily. Pictured above are some very nice houses I saw while I was lost.

After my adventures in nature, I drank the worst boba I ever tasted. The drink was from some local place, and it contained many interesting ingredients, none of which I appreciated. I also had Wendy's for dinner; Wendy's is the best fast food chain in North America, no questions asked.

Trip 5: Salt Lake City

Destination: Salt Lake City, Utah
Itinerary: Round-trip flight between SFO and SLC by Delta

Antelope Island with the Wasatch mountain range in the background

I spent a weekend in Salt Lake City. On the first day I visited the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol. The Museum had some cool pieces, and Temple Square was interesting to check out. The State Capitol offers some great views of the surrounding area and being able to go inside was pretty cool.

The picture above was taken from Antelope Island, a state park northwest of Salt Lake City. The views of the Wasatch mountain range and the Great Salt Lake were breathtaking, and I will definitely come back to Antelope Island one day.

Trip 6: Mt. St. Helena

Destination: Mt. St. Helena, California
Itinerary: Rental car from San Francisco

Landscape shot from the top of Mt. St. Helena

Maybe not so long-distance a trip, but I went to climb up Mt. St. Helena with a close university friend and also some people I didn't really know but my friend knew. There were some cool views from Mt. St. Helena, but honestly I don't think this trip left that much of an impression.

Trip 7: Seattle

Destination: Seattle, Washington
Itinerary: Round-trip flight between SFO and SEA by Delta

Looking at my photos, I'm pretty sure this was one of my transit-only journeys. AKA I went to Seattle to explore the Link light rail (rode it end-to-end) and the Capitol Hill streetcar line, and riding these lines was the main purpose of the trip. Thinking back on it, this trip was probably a massive waste of carbon emissions and time.

Landscape shot from the top of Mt. St. Helena

I also did some walking around the Montlake neighbourhood and took a picture of this highway-side bus stop. I think this was my first time seeing a highway-side bus stop that was so integrated into the street interchange. I took the GO Bus (intercity transit agency in Toronto) to travel between my university and my parents pretty frequently, and the local bus would have to exit the highway and make slow turns to get into park-and-rides to access stops.

I'm sure these highway-side stops are much faster. On the other hand, I wonder how much risk to pedestrians and vehicle traffic these stops pose. Mixing pedestrians and stopping vehicles with 60mph/100kmh traffic doesn't seem very safe to me.

Trip 8: Japan

Destination: Japan
Itinerary: Open-leg journey between SFO, KIX and HND by United

View from a room in the Ryokusuitei

On this trip, I travelled to Japan with a good friend of mine. We haven't spoken much recently, but I'd like to think that I was a good guide for him on this trip. We mostly did touristy things since it was his first time here, but I think the best part of this trip was the ryokan we stayed at for a night, the Ryokusuitei (緑水亭). There was an in-room bath with a great view of Lake Biwa which I took full advantage of. The picture above shows the view from our room and the bath.