My Favorite Bookstore

This isn’t a secret at all, but I’m a huge bibliophile. I love reading, I love books, I love bookstores, I majored in English literature… it’s pretty much been my “thing” my entire life. So, naturally, I have favorites! And today I’m going to share my favorite bookstore: a tiny, hole-in-the-wall place in Salem, Oregon, called The Book Habit.

The Book Habit

The Book Habit!

As I’m sure you can tell, The Book Habit is a used bookstore (the best kind of bookstore). It’s at the bottom of a very steep flight of outdoor steps, a little bit tucked away, and inside it’s small and crowded. It’s the kind of place where everything is cheap, to the tune of $3 paperbacks, but you have to do some digging because the shelves are not very well-organized and are often packed two rows deep. I go there every time I’m in Salem and always emerge with something, usually something I wasn’t expecting to find. It’s a fantastic place.

Address: 390 Liberty Street SE, Salem, OR 97301


Photo Post: The Oregon Coast

Last summer, just a few weeks after I came back from Japan, my friends and I spent a weekend at the Oregon coast. We rented a beach house near Tillamook and used that as our base camp while we went to a few places in the area. I don’t have a lot to say, but I do have pictures to share! And I can tell you how to get to Tillamook from Salem (and I suppose Portland, too, for practicality’s sake), to make this somewhat informative, as well.

Sand Dunes

Sand dunes! The sand was really hot, but we ran all the way to the top anyway.

Dune Trees

Trees at the top of the dunes.

The Sea

The sea!

Crab Races

Crab Races?

Oregon Coast

The coast at the edge of the world.

Sea Lions

Sea lions! There are a lot of them at the coast.

Access: You have to drive and it’s kind of far.

From Salem: Get on OR-22 W. After about 4 miles, turn onto US-101 N/Oregon Coast Highway. After about 25 miles, turn right to stay on the Oregon Coast Highway. About 14 more miles and you’ll hit Tillamook. Travel time: roughly two hours.

From Portland: Get on US-26 W/NW Sunset Highway via the ramp to the Oregon Zoo. After about 20 miles, turn onto OR-6 W. Follow OR-6 W for about 50 miles and you’ll hit Tillamook. Travel time: roughly an hour and a half.

Photo Post: Willamette University

I’m back from an excellent weekend in Salem, spent with my best friends doing fun things like laser tag and watching Legend of Korra, and now I’m going to break with the Japan theme for a day to do a US photo post. Salem is the home of my alma mater, Willamette University, and I took a bunch of pictures on Friday afternoon that I want to share.

Willamette University

Welcome, from the corner of Winter and State.

Willamette Clock Tower

The clock tower.

Willamette Eaton and Waller

The State Street side of Eaton and Waller Halls.

Willamette Walton Hall

Walton Hall. I had all my Japanese classes here.

Willamette Waller Hall

Waller Hall, home of the admin offices. Fun fact: it’s the oldest building west of the Mississippi that’s still in use.

Willamette Mill Stream

The Mill Stream, looking towards Goudy Commons (the dining hall).

I hope you enjoyed this little visit to my very small (~2,000 students) liberal arts university in the Pacific Northwest. WU has a beautiful campus and I love it.


Taking a break from the Japanese info posts to do a pic spam from my recent trip to Disneyland. My sister and I went for three days to celebrate her graduation from high school and, even though it was super hot and we got sunburned (her more than me), it was an awesome trip.

Waiting for Star Tours. We’re so cool.

Disneyland Castle

The castle is so pretty at night.

Disneyland Parade

Belle in the parade was super sweet and posed for my camera.

Disneyland Teacups



Fantasyland from the train.

We rode Autopia three times in as many hours.

And we went to Downtown Disney before heading to the airport. It was a good way to end the trip.

In conclusion? I adore Disneyland.

Don’t fear, I Haven’t Gone Anywhere

Back in Seattle!

Long time no update! I don’t have much to report, really, aside from the fact that my JET contract did, in fact, end on 7/29 and, on 7/31, I returned to the United States. So for the next while, probably a year or so, I’ll be blogging from the Seattle area about my Stateside adventures. It won’t be the same sort of interesting as Japan was, but I’ll try to keep it from getting too heavy on the minutiae of daily life in the Pacific Northwest.

Currently, I’m unemployed, but I’m sort of taking the month of August as a holiday, so that doesn’t worry me yet. I’m seeing friends, spending time with my sister, and getting some stuff sorted out before I start properly job hunting. I’m also not aiming for long-term, career-like employment, so that broadens the field somewhat. I just need to make some money and have something to do until I figure out my next move. I’ll get back to you on what exactly that move is going to be.

So far, aside from just enjoying being back with my family, the most exciting thing that’s happened is a day spent with one of my two high school best friends, Hannah, who I hadn’t seen since 2007. She went to university in New York City and has stayed over there, so it had been a while since she’d made it back to the west coast. But her family came out here to have a holiday in the San Juan Islands and we spent Saturday the 5th together.

We met up at Pike Place Market and had a leisurely sort of lunch at a random cafe. She hadn’t been in Seattle for a few years and I hadn’t spent time there for about a year myself, so we just picked a place that looked promising. It was nice – fairly quiet and relaxed and perfect for chatting and catching up. We also went into Border’s, since the company folded and everything is massively on sale, and then went to meet up with her father and half-brother at their hotel.

A mediocre photo of Pike Place Market.

It was really nice talking to her dad, actually, because he also did JET (in 1989) and speaks Japanese, so we talked in Japanese a bit and also talked about Japan and the program and whatnot. I’m really worried about losing my Japanese, which is pretty good after a year on Shikoku, so the chance to use it like that was great. I also saw her grandparents for the first time in years (I stayed with them when I visited her in New York back in 2006) and it was just really pleasant.

Then I got a bit of a good surprise when I was offered a ticket to Porgy and Bess at the opera house at the Seattle Center. I didn’t know much about it, but I do like opera well enough and was definitely happy to accept the invitation. Hannah’s brother’s friend also came with us, so it was just the kids, so to speak. I had a really good time and it was so nice to spend time with Hannah again. We’re going to try to keep in touch better and this was a good start.

A night at the opera.

And so far that’s been my major excitement. But this weekend I’m heading out to Whidbey Island for the Coopeville Arts and Crafts Festival, next Thursday I’m seeing Les Miserables with my friend Dana, next weekend I’m off to Salem to spend time with my friends down there, and at the end of the month I have a trip up to Canada to visit family, so stuff is happening. It’s very good to be home.

Whidbey Island!

Me and my sister at Fort Casey

This was actually a week ago, but it took me a while to get around to blogging about it. Last Friday, my mum, sister, and I went out to Whidbey Island, here in Washington. My mum grew up on Whidbey, so, similar to Canada to visit family in Vancouver, we’ve had one or two trips to Whidbey every year for my entire life. It’s out in the Puget Sound, not too far by ferry, and there are two possible trips for us: Coupeville and Fort Casey, or Deception Pass and Rosario. This time around it was Coupeville and Fort Casey. Coupeville, which I didn’t take any pictures of, is a town from the 1800s in the middle of the historic reserve and Fort Casey is a military fort from the 1890s that was active through WWII. I’m a history dork, so this is sort of thing is right up my alley.

On the way to the fort

It was a beautiful day and there weren’t very many people there, which was fantastic. Fort Casey is a popular place to visit, unlike Fort Flagler (where we’ll be going on Wednesday – never underestimate my ability to be entertained by old stuff), so it was pretty lucky to be there when it was quiet. We ended up wandering around for a good two hours, walking through some of the bunkers, which are all concrete and often very dark and creepy inside, and up on top (where the first picture with my sister was taken; we were sitting on a gun turret), and finally down to the beach for a few minutes before checking out the lighthouse and moving on.

Looking back at the bunkers with the lighthouse in the distance

It’s a really nice place to walk around, even if you aren’t into the history. We’ve been there so many times (my mum went there when she was a kid and my sister and I have wandered around the bunkers a lot), so we didn’t do a lot of in depth exploration, but it was just cool enough that we didn’t feel like we were broiling, and my sister and I did end up finding a place we don’t remember going to before: a flight of stairs that led down to a sort of platform that hung out over the water. It was really cool and there was literally no one else around, so we took some dorky pictures and it was really fun. I love being able to explore places without sharing it with random strangers. It’s more fulfilling that way.

Out on said platform

After wandering down to the otherwise deserted beach, we walked out to the lighthouse that’s sort of visible in my photo of part of the fort. It’s sort of half-museum half-lighthouse now, because it’s no longer in use, and my mum and I went up to the top. My sister passed because she’s really afraid of heights and the stairs were kind of scary. Actually, the spiral staircase only went halfway – after that it turned into what basically amounted to a glorified ladder.


It was really hot at the top of the lighthouse, about 10 degrees hotter than in the stairwell or downstairs, so we didn’t stay long. But it had a good view and I felt like an intrepid explorer after making myself go up the ladder and back down without any bodily harm or years taken off my life. Finally, right before heading back to Coupeville to eat the most delicious blackberry ice cream in the world, I wanted to go down to the old fallout shelters and my sister (somewhat grudgingly) went with me.

The entrance to one of the shelters

You can go inside all of the shelters (there are… three sections, I think, or maybe four) and they’re more or less just big U-shaped tunnels. They had electric lights back when they were still considered necessary, but I wouldn’t want to be closed up inside one. There’s only one that you can still walk all the way through – the others have a wall halfway because only half is considered safe enough to enter. My sister and I have gone through that full tunnel exactly once ever, because it’s really dark and there are birds and bats living back in there. I took a picture of the interior of one, to show the fallout shelter sign that’s still pretty clear on the wall, but I didn’t actually go in and I chose the above photo instead because the exterior is more interesting to look at.

To finish this up, I’ll give you a picture of the Ferry House, which is the oldest structure in Washington State, taken from the side of the road because it’s private property. No one lives there, but it is owned and not open to the public. And, of course, if you want to check out all my photos, the link to my dotphoto is in the sidebar and I post everything over there in albums.

The Ferry House

As a final, historic note, the Ferry House has kind of a dark history – it was first occupied by Captain Ebey (the beach it’s close to is called Ebey’s Landing) and Ebey was killed by the local Native tribe because the settlers had killed a significant tribal member and Ebey was perceived to be an equivalent member of the white community. So they killed him to make things even (they didn’t touch anyone else in the house) and Ebey’s family went back to the mainland because, understandably, they didn’t want to stay. And that is the sort of arguably useless information you pick up when you really like history. I think it’s pretty awesome, myself.

Salem Trip: Part Two

I know I said it would be “tomorrow” (and by tomorrow I mean two days ago), but I had trouble finding the time and motivation to sit down and blog. It’s been really hot finally here in the Pacific Northwest (it actually hit 90, or 32C) and I’ve been enjoying the summer while also lamenting my lack of any sort of A/C. The weather isn’t going to hold, so we might as well get the most out of it while it lasts, right?

Anyway, previously in the Salem Trip ’10 recap, Thursday through Saturday was covered in reasonable detail. This leaves Sunday and Monday, which were definitely epic enough in their own rights.

Ash, Annie, and Alex at Ellies place

Sunday was pretty chill during the day – Annie and I went to the mall and I found two pairs of pants on sale, then we ran through the fountain at the Capitol because it was hot and humid and we wanted to be five for a few minutes. We screamed for dramatic effect and it was exactly what we needed to keep our energy up for the rest of the walk back to her house. And, you know, it’s always great fun to be the adults getting right in there with the elementary school children for a minute. Later, in the evening, we went to Ellie’s house for a 4th of July (well, not really, but that’s what day it was) dinner and mini-party before going to Riverfront Park for fireworks. The food was delicious and, as you can see from my handy picture up there, we played Apples to Apples. Yes, again. Somehow, Apples to Apples is just the standard party game when this particular combination of people gets together or something. More than one person owns it and someone always suggests pulling it out.

After the food and the game and a beer for those who drink, we piled into cars again to go to the aforementioned Riverfront Park. I went with Annie and Alex (you may have noticed that we have an A name trend – there are four of us) and we got there at about 7:00 to stake out a spot. For some reason, we thought the thing started at 8:00, but we were actually wrong and the fireworks didn’t start till 10:00. But it was cool because the park got super packed by about 8:30 and we had an awesome spot really close to the river.

The sky over the river, from our blanket.

I wish I had photos of the fireworks… but my camera died not too long after sunset and about an hour before the show started. So that didn’t happen. But it was fab – pretty long and with some great combinations. Definitely worth waiting three hours for, especially considering it was three hours spent in great company. We all really enjoyed it, even if it was windy and kind of cold after dark. I was thankful for the blanket I stole from someone and held onto for the rest of the night to avoid having it reclaimed. It ended up being kind of a prolonged perfect moment, while the fireworks were going off, my last major American holiday in the States for a while, spent with friends in a familiar place. I was really happy to be there.

Sunday night saw root beer floats, thanks to a late-night trip to Safeway, and we all crashed at about midnight because extreme exhaustion was setting in. I’m just not enough of a partier to handle a whole weekend of it, and Annie and Alex weren’t doing any better.

But the weekend ended on a high note of its own! We got up and, at eleven, everyone had come back over to Annie and Alex’s to make brunch and hang out. The food was great again – waffles, cheesy potatoes, bacon, and eggs – and, despite being tired and just completely worn out, it was still good to spend that time with my friends. Then, however, with about two hours left until I had to be at the train station to catch my bus out of town, we decided to play a game.

No, not another round of Apples to Apples.

The worlds most cutthroat game of Monopoly.

This game of Monopoly was no joke, man. We were ruthless. There were under the table property trades, there were bribes, some borderline extortion, weird deals were struck, exorbitant amounts were demanded for individual pieces of property… it was so great. Ultimately, we did a bunch of mergers to speed the game along: I ended up merging with Ellie, Alex and Ash joined forces, and Nikki and Josh merged as soon as it was easiest for them to screw over Alex. There was a lot of that going on, actually, and I’m not entirely sure why. Except maybe that Nikki likes messing with Alex.

Ellie and I didn’t win (Alex and Ash did), but it was so fun. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a game of Monopoly that much in years. At the end of the game, I had to leave, which was sad, but I have to say, it was a fantastic way to end the weekend.

And, as I said to everyone at the time: be well and I’ll be seeing you. For real.