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Blogging Geography Military Travel

Yunnan China

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. This month I’m virtually visiting 5 continents in 5 weeks. Last week I wrote about Luxembourg in Europe. This week it’s eastward to Asia.

Asia is a vast continent that spans over 17.2 million square miles (over 44.5 million square kilometers). That’s almost 9% of the total surface area of the world, and about 30% of the total land area. About 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia.

I’ve only set foot in one small part of Asia, and I actually lived there for a couple of months – in Saudi Arabia during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991. On the eastern end of the continent my Mom was born in the Philippines in the mid-1940s.

When trying to figure out where I wanted to write about for this edition of #TravelThursday I chose a unique physical location rather than somewhere I’ve been, or somewhere I’d like to visit someday (such as Tokyo, Seoul, or Singapore).

I took my current latitude (roughly 25.5° north), and I extended it to the longitude that is 180° from my current longitude (roughly 80.5° west). That places “the other side of the world” – at 25.5° north latitude and 99.5° east longitude – or in far-southwestern China very near the border with Myanmar. It’s near the village of Maliaotian (or Ma Liao Tian) in the county of Yongping in the autonomous prefecture of Dali Bai in the province of Yunnan.

Yunnan has a population of over 48 million, and the land is mostly mountainous and rural. The capital and largest city of Yunnan is Kunming – also known as Yunnan-Fu – with over 8 million residents. Its new and modern International Airport is actually one of the busiest in the world – serving millions of tourists – particularly from nearby India. It’s known as “The City Of Eternal Spring” and “The Flower City”. It stays mostly cool year-round despite its latitude near the Tropic Of Cancer, as it’s a high mountain valley city (over 6,200 feet above sea level).

Kunming Yunnan China

From Asia to Australia. Next #TravelThursday I’m visiting my favorite city in Australia that I have a unique 25-year connection to – Perth. I’ve never been there, but I feel like I know the city. I’ll explain next week. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Career Military Music Radio Travel

Luxembourg

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. It’s the start of a brand-new month – September. With this new month it’s all about the continents. I’ll be writing about a place in a different continent each #TravelThursday this month. That’s 5 continents in 5 weeks – starting with – Europe !

Today I’m visiting the curious small country of Luxembourg. Interesting story: Back in the mid-1980s when I was living in Gloucestershire England serving for the USAF and living in the dorm on-base my weekly hobby of writing down my favorite songs of the week was in full force. At one point it was up to a Top 50 chart. I also tracked the BBC-Gallup U.K. Top 40 and the Billboard Magazine American Top 40 amongst other pop music charts and weekly music-based shows on the telly. (This is starting to sound like an edition of #RetroFriday.)

Let’s get back on-track with #TravelThursday. One day I was scanning the AM (“medium-wave”) radio dial. That was by far the dominant radio band (over FM) back then in the U.K. and Europe. I discovered what is known in the radio frequency business as a “blowtorch” – a powerful station from afar with crystal clear reception. They played really good pop music, so I stayed tuned. It was Radio Luxembourg !

It was broadcasting at 1440 AM (208 MW), and it was known at the time as “Planet Earth’s Biggest Commercial Radio Station”.

So what’s a “Luxembourg” ? I had never heard of it at the time. I had to do some research – 1986-style (no smart phone, no Internet).

Luxembourg is a small country located in northern Europe surrounded by Belgium, Germany, and France. It’s just shy of 1,000 square miles in area. That makes it over 200 square miles smaller than Rhode Island here in the U.S. It’s 1 of the 30 smallest countries in the world. Its population is just under 650,000, and the south of the country – known as the “Gutland” (or “Good Land”) – is more densely populated than the north. Per capita it’s 1 of the 3 richest countries in the world.

Luxembourg City is the capital and largest city with about 20% of the nation’s population.

I’ve never been to Luxembourg – the country or the city. The closest I’ve come is about 2½-hours away by road (140 miles / 224 kilometers) in Brussels Belgium to the northwest. If I ever get the chance to tour Europe during my upcoming retirement then Luxembourg needs to be part of that itinerary. It’s the country that I discovered simply by turning the radio dial some 36 years ago.

VISIT LUXEMBOURG

From Europe to Asia. Next #TravelThursday I’m visiting a province in the south of China. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Career Military Travel Weather

Phoenix Arizona

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Yesterday was the 30TH anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s destruction of Homestead Florida – my home of almost 5 years at the time. After 19 months of living in Maryland, Virginia, and Central Florida (Melbourne and Tampa) – I returned to Homestead in March 1994, and I’ve been here since. That’s almost 35 years (minus 19 months). When I first arrived here in Homestead – I was 20½-years-young. Now I’m 55.

I don’t think I’ve told anyone this before – other than my coworkers at the time in Gloucestershire England – but in July 1987 I actually received vague military orders for my next assignment / duty station to Phoenix Arizona. (Those orders were inexplicably replaced 3 months later with orders to Homestead Florida.)

I’ve never been to Phoenix – “The Valley Of The Sun”. Someday I’ll probably visit. I wonder how much different my life and career would’ve turned out had I gone to Phoenix instead of Miami / Homestead. There would’ve been no hurricane to drastically change my life 7 years into my military career. Maybe I would’ve stayed 20+ years on Active Duty. Maybe I would’ve fallen in love with Arizona – much like I’ve fallen in love with Florida. Maybe I would’ve never gone on a Caribbean cruise.

I know that I would’ve thoroughly explored much of what there is to see and do in Phoenix and beyond. I’ve only stepped foot on a small part of Arizona – the northern part from Hoover Dam to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. That was part of a family excursion out of Las Vegas in January 2002.

I grew up with hot and humid summers up in the Washington D.C. area, so South Florida’s weather wasn’t such a shock when I first arrived here. It just lasts much longer here than there. British weather was similar to Maryland and Virginia weather in the wintertime. Of course winter weather lasted much longer in the U.K. I generally don’t do good with dry desert weather – whether it’s sizzling hot in the summertime or freezing cold in the wintertime. I guess if I made that move to Arizona I would’ve gotten used to it after a short little while.

As a creature of humidity – even North Texas (where much of my family lives) – is too dry for me. My nose and skin don’t like arid-extra-dry. South Florida air always feels refreshing after returning home from a week or two in Texas.

Next #TravelThursday let’s visit Luxembourg. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Driving Food History Military Travel

Naples Florida

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last Friday July 08TH 2022 I did something very rare. I drove out of the local area for a short one-day road-trip, and I returned home later that same day !

The fun started at the crack of dawn, or near the end of nautical twilight for you astronomy buffs. That was at 6 AM local time. That’s when I got on the road with no bags – no luggage – just exciting plans for my day in Naples.

I got on Krome Avenue (Florida State Road 997). Its origins date back more than 100 years. Up until just a few years ago it was a narrow 2-lane rural road that ran along the western fringes of Miami-Dade County. Starting in 2015 and continuing for the next 6 years it was modernized and widened to 4 lanes with a median. Now it’s a major thoroughfare with heavy rush hour traffic northward (towards Miami) in the morning and southward (towards Homestead) in the afternoon. On weekends it’s congested in both directions.

I picked-up U.S. 41 (Tamiami Trail) from Krome Avenue, and I also picked-up a yellow box truck right in front of me. This was definitely a test of patience for me, as for exactly 58 miles it never quite reached the posted speed limit. It stayed about 5 MPH below, and occasionally as much as 10 MPH below. I never passed it, but dozens of other drivers behind me didn’t have that patience. Every single one of them passed me and that truck. Even an 18-wheeler truck passed us by. As for me – my day-trip to Naples didn’t necessitate a death-defying act of passing on a narrow 2-lane rural road. I am thankful for patience – produced by the Holy Spirit within.

The truck turned left at Collier County Road 29 towards Everglades City, and I continued westward into the Naples area. Naples is quite unique in that it’s 1 of only 3 incorporated cities in Collier County. It’s the most-populated of those 3, but that’s not saying much. It’s got less than 20,000 residents; yet, the Naples metro area (essentially the entirety of Collier County) has a population of over 375,000. Naples contains the downtown area that serves much of the county, but it’s not the population center, and it’s not even the county seat.

So out of every 20 people that call the Naples area home – 19 live outside of the Naples city limits.

I’ve been visiting Naples for over 30 years. It’s about a 2½-hour drive from Homestead. Usually I visit (or drive through) Naples on the way to and from Estero or Fort Myers Beach in neighboring Lee County. There are a lot of attractions and parks and museums in and around Naples. I’ve probably visited the Naples Zoo more than any of them.

After a hearty Breakfast at Perkins (the closest one to my home at 109 miles away) – I ventured over to the Collier County Museum at Government Center. I’ve been there a handful of times, and it’s always interesting, and there’s always something new to see. It’s an interior and exterior museum with displays outside in a city park-like setting.

My next stop was a small military museum located inside the terminal building of the Naples Airport. It’s got a small footprint, but there’s a lot of memorabilia packed into it. I think that most of their visitors are waiting for a flight, or arriving from a flight, or waiting for their rental car. I don’t think that they get too many visitors who go out of their way to specifically visit the museum.

My next stop was the Naples Depot Museum – another Collier County-operated museum. It was my first visit in just a little over 10 years. It’s the former Naples train station – with lots of exhibits inside, and a train car and a caboose that you can walk through outside in the rear parking lot.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll continue my recap of my day-trip to Naples with the highlight of my day (another museum), and the finale of my day at a historic shopping and dining district along the riverfront that’s been there for over 100 years. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp