Recharged!

My posts and updates to the site have been a little spotty in the month of June and while it may seem like I have been slacking off and the project may not get done, nothing is further from the truth. June has seemingly flew by and July and another holiday are almost upon us. I spent the first part of June really working on some exterior shots for the motion comic so I could get them rendered over the vacation, which was much needed. I went to the Black Hills in South Dakota and did some hiking and really unplugged for 5 days. I didn’t use the internet and just set my computer up to render and let it go (as you can see in the picture below of my makeshift render station).

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While the scenes rendered, I enjoyed some time in the outdoors. The west river side of South Dakota has some great hiking if you ever get the chance. This is the view from the top of Harney Peak, which is over 7,000 feet.

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I have covered the importance of unplugging from your computer a few times, but it is always worth repeating and always fun sharing some of the things I unplug for. It is nice to step away from the computer and get out in nature and into the real world. I also have to do what I can to spread the word about an awesome area to hike and you can check out Mt Rushmore too.

The time away from the computer allows me to mentally recharge and give my eyes a break from looking at pixels. A small break can act as an instant refresher to your creative batteries and allow you to get back to things 100% when you do get back to a computer. Be sure to check back on Monday and see what I got done this week. 😉 One last picture for the weekend!

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Hiking Road Trip!

If you checked out the Production Update from earlier this week, you will see that I took a long overdue trip back to Minneapolis to hang out with some friends, work on a new top secret project and also to go hiking. If you haven’t been to Minneapolis before, it is one of the best cities in terms of outdoor activities, there are lakes everywhere and plenty of places to go hiking. On this particular excursion though, we ventured into Wisconsin and hiked one of our favorite trails that we haven’t hit up for a while, Kinnickinnic Park.

I enjoy these “creative hikes” with my friends, because we spend the time talking about projects we are working on, things we are learning and any questions we have for one another since we come from a range of backgrounds (web, mobile, app development and animation).

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It’s great to have a group of friends that can push you along and make sure you are still creating and not slacking off. At the same time, it is great to see how they have grown over the years and evolved as artists and creators as well.

On this particular hike a friend and I were able to discuss details about a future project we are going to be working on and I look forward to sharing more with you all as well. Of course, no hike would be complete without a slip up, and that came in the form of me slipping off of a log and getting my shoes soaked. I chalk that one up to the first hike of the year. The first of many I hope!

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Wet socks must be the worst thing in the world, let’s hope that this won’t happen again for the remainder of hiking season.

 

Production Update 67

Not much to report on the Cosmic Rage front this week. I am sure most of you expected that since I skipped the usual Thursday post last week. I have things lined up for Thursday posts, but I put in good workload on the freelance project this past week and we had a beautiful day on Saturday so I needed to unplug the majority of the day and go hiking.

IMG_2840(One of the trails in Oakwood park near Brookings, SD)

I have made some great progress over the week on the freelance project and should be able to get into Cosmic Rage a bit this week. The other freelance project has been sent in and is complete.

I can not express how thankful I am that you all continue to read up on the blog as production and updates have been a little slow over the last month. I assure you that will turn around over the next couple weeks and I will be back into the swing of it. Thanks again everyone and stay tuned for more!

Random Post- What I have been up to

One thing I have always enjoyed about blogs when I get a chance to catch up on some of the ones I follow, is the random post that just says whats currently going on. So that’s what I thought I would do today.

Outside of all the work on Cosmic Rage, I have been in the process of a move which I promised I would go more in depth about as soon as I can. Currently I am caught up on some of the anime I have been watching, but I have a few series I still have laying around that I haven’t watched and reviewed yet. The next title I have planned to watch is Tsuritama. Not 100% what it’s about, other than fishing, and I fished a lot when I was younger so I thought I’d check it out. That review should be up some time later in September.

I have also been working on my presentation for this year’s SGMS conference. This will be the third year I will be presenting at the conference and look forward to seeing some of my Minneapolis friends again. I am also really looking forward to this presentation this year 🙂

With the move and finishing up some freelance work, I have had to put my Japanese language studies on hold for now. I am hoping to pick back up on them in the next week or so. I am afraid I am going to be rusty 😦

I am currently reading the Flowers of Evil manga since I enjoyed the show so much. I am afraid it won’t get an animated ending so I decided to read the series now as well.

Finally, I have been looking into planning a trip to Colorado sometime next year. I am researching hiking Pike’s Peak. I love hiking and I have been looking for a new peak to climb to since I climbed Mount Fuji last year.

I am also planning on attending Sogen Con this weekend and really looking forward to making it to a home grown con.

So those are some of the things I have been up to outside of Cosmic Rage. Have some really fun stuff to show for Monday’s production update as well as an updated image.

Japan Adventure Day 10 & 11

Days 10 and 11 in Japan were solely focused on hiking to the top of Mt Fuji. We slept in that morning because the plan was to start hiking Fuji in the afternoon, sleep on the mountain and then get to the summit in time to see the sunrise. This method is pretty much the norm among hikers and we were hiking during the busiest week of the year. My friend and I stopped at a Subway (yes the sandwich place in the states) and had breakfast. We also stopped by a nearby convenience store to grab a few extra eats and some water for our trek.

In my pack I had a pair of pants, a hoodie, 2-2liters of water, spare socks and some food. *Spoiler alert* Notice the above paragraph and notice the lack of certain things packed, such as a light and more clothes.

The morning was spent train hopping a bit until we got to the place where we were to switch to a bus. At this point it was the middle of the afternoon. Our originally planned bus was actually canceled so we didn’t board the bus to get to the base of Fuji until almost 3PM. We grabbed another quick bite to eat and boarded the bus.

The next hour and a half was spent on the bus driving through fog, and clouds to get to our base station. We got to our starting point around 4:30, we were already a couple hours behind where we wanted to be at in terms of time. We purchased a couple walking sticks so we could get wood burnings in them as we reached certain stations.

The base of the mountain was pretty wooded and the trails were pretty easy to hike. Certain areas of the early path was even paved for hikers. We kept up with our fluids and took small snack breaks every so often to keep up our calorie intake. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to have to suffice on granola bars and bananas too much, so I wanted to keep kind of full as I hiked.

As we hiked through the woods, we would find some outlook points where we could look back and see down the side of the mountain and get a peak at the peak as well. It was a little unbelievable at the time to think we were going to make the journey. The clouds were really moving by the peak and the summit would clear at one point and then behind the clouds and fog another.

At this point we had put on our extra clothes since the elevation had made it drastically cooler than we had experienced before we got on the bus. The air was a lot cooler and humidity wasn’t a factor.

We reached our first check point and got our first wood burnings as well. We sat at a table and took a little bit of an extended break. We were making pretty solid time as we were making our way to a hut that we had reservations for that night.

The next section of trail was again wooded but trees were starting to thin out a bit. As we made our way out of the trees we were now hiking in the wide open space and night time was starting to creep in. We made it to another checkpoint and my friend was starting to get tired.

After a long break we started our journey again as night time fell upon us. It was now pretty dark, the lights in the cities below the mountain were starting to turn on. A little time passed after we started hiking again and my friend couldn’t go any more. We formulated a plan where he would go back down to the station and we would meet up tomorrow. There was a distinct trail we were on so we knew if we stayed on the trail we would meet up the next day.

I continued to climb up the mountain solo, for all of the things we read online about the busy season, we didn’t see a whole lot of other hikers. I reached another check station and got my second wood burning.

I tried to make up for some lost time, so I had a brief stop and kept pushing on. As the night sky continued to get darker, I could see fireworks from cities below having their festivals for the season.

It was starting to get cool out, so I hiked to stay warm. The night sky had gotten so dark that it was hard to see in front of your face without a light. With no place to rest at I pushed on through the night.

Between the hours of around 1AM to 4AM I had several thoughts of climbing down the mountain to the station where my friend was staying. These 3 hours were some of the mentally challenging times. I had no light to see the path and the temperature was well cooler than hoodie weather. At this point I had used my bandana to cover my mouth from the wind and I had used my spare pair of socks as mittens. I would sleep outside a check station for less than an hour before I was so cold I had to move, in which I would hike to the next station to warm up and repeat the process.

At each check station i would look for the station our reservation was at to sleep. After not finding it at a few stations and with the hours winding down to when I would have to start my ascent I decided to bypass the hut and just hike. At around 4:30 in the morning I reached a checkpoint where two paths merged and it was jam packed with people. Hikers filled the entire camp, finally I saw the amount of people I read about online.

Hikers had started their ascent to the the top, there was so many people, that there was a line of people hiking towards the top. The line of hikers was so long that by the time people were preparing for the sunrise you could not hike to the top because it was full.

I was one check station below the summit when the sun started to rise. Hikers were cheering as the sun rose and many were taking photos. A storm started rolling in and clouds were blocking the sun at points as they rolled in and out quickly.

After the sun rose people started to descend the summit allowing for others to get to the top. I reached the summit and got my final wood burnings in my hiking stick. I slept at the top of Fuji for a while in a big shelter.

The wind ripped through the summit and clouds rolled over the top that you could see them. The other side of the mountain was even more foggy then the side I climbed.

Our original idea was to climbdown the other side of Fuji but I had to go back to find my friend. The plan we devised last night I was to wait at the top for a few more hours for him. With it being so cold at the summit, or me being so underdressed, I headed back to find him.

As I worked my way down the mountain the fog started to roll in and it started raining. I hiked down to the station he was staying at and didn’t see him. I figured he headed back to the bus stop because we had to be back to the bus my mid afternoon.

The rain continued to fall and the descent trail was soft, loose dirt that filled my shoes as I tried to not fall face down in the dirt. Some hikers were running down the mountain in the dirt, some people slipped and some used the guide rope to stay upright.

I reached the bus station at the base and found my friend, who was dry and was able to stay out of the rain. We hopped on the bus back to the train station and slept for most of the way. As soon as we arrived at the train station we boarded and slept some more.

That night we hung out and talked about our hikes. My friend captured some beautiful sunrise pictures because he was low enough on the mountain he was between cloud layers. My pictures were blocked by clouds.

We grabbed some beef bowls that night and crashed to recover from our hike. I was pretty sure I was going to get some kind of sickness, at least a cold if not pneumonia from that hike, but I actually came out unscathed even when I got back to the states.

It was an awesome hike and it pushed me farther in mental toughness. I was well prepared on the food and water front of the hike but under prepared in terms of clothing. Which is good to know for next time. I had my hiking light and such laid out to take to Japan but they were forgotten at home. I really want to hike Fuji again and hope to get that opportunity again someday 🙂

*(First image is the path pointing us to the trail, second is the wooded area that we hiked in, third is looking up at the summit through the fog and clouds, fourth is a look back at the foot of Fuji, fifth is the same thing only later in the day as night started to fall, sixth is the hike up in the foggy morning, seventh is my clouded sunrise shot, eighth is a shot down at the cities covered by clouds, ninth is the line heading to the summit, tenth is how foggy and cloud covered the summit was, eleventh is how foggy it was at the start of the hike down, and finally the foggy trail further down the mountain).

Japan Adventure Day 7

Day 7 was another travel day. We were leaving the countryside from our 3 day retreat of relaxing at the ryokan and enjoying the onsen and heading back to Tokyo. I had such a great time at the coastline that I decided that I was going to wake up and catch the first train back to the coastline and was going to meet up with the group at a train station outside of Tokyo. I wanted to explore and hike more for a few hours since there was such a large area and we were only there for a couple hours. I fell in love with that countryside over the course of 3 days.

The first train of the day started at around 5AM in the morning so I got up early and snuck out of the ryokan ninja style and made my way to the train station. The trains had a brief stop at another station where I was suppose to get off but failed to. So I had to take the train again and only lost a little bit of time before I made it down to the coast.

I was able to hike around the area for a few hours, it was very calm with almost no other travelers or hikers around. I did see a lot of fast and small bugs on a trail but I didn’t get a chance to take a picture to find out what they were.  That morning was a little wet and rainy, one of the few days it rained while we were there.

After I got my hiking in, I made my way back to the train station and met up with the group several stops down the line. Some of them were pretty surprised I woke up so early to go out hiking. As the train made its way closer to Tokyo, the rain started to subside and the sun started to peek through the clouds and shine.

Our first destination was to head to Odaiba. Odaiba was having a giant fireworks display that night, but Comiket was also going on. Comiket is a super huge comic convention. So needless to say there were thousands and thousands of people in the area and everywhere was extremely packed with people. We worked our way through the crowds at a mall and went shopping at the Shonen Jump store. I was hoping to score some Dragonball Z stuff, but it was mostly relegated to just some manga. The store was packed with One Piece and Naruto stuff.

Post-Shonen Jump store, a couple of us made our way to the Gundam Plaza to see the RX-78 gundam. Who doesn’t like giant robots? The Gundam activated and did its thing, after that it was on to an arcade. I played a few crane games and won myself some Pokemon from the machine. I am a sucker for toys that look cool, such as an Axew. Unfortunately, I ran out of 100 Yen coins and someone won 2 toys that I got close to winning from the machine. It’s all good though, they went to 2 little kids that were pretty stoked to get a toy that day. i think my favorite aspect of the arcades is that the crane games are completely winnable, lots of us won toys from machines. When you win at a machine people working at the arcades will announce it over the speakers in the arcade so others know that people are winning and on what machine.

After the arcade we grabbed some eats and headed to our tarp for fireworks. The fireworks display was solid and lasted well over an hour. The trains were packed leaving Odaiba.

As we approached our hotel again, some of us decided to sing some karaoke. We went to a karaoke bar and got a room that fit all 14 of us in and we proceeded to drink, sing and have a great time. Next weeks Japan adventure day is one of the sole reasons I went to Japan, stay tuned 😀

*(first image is of the sunrise outside of the ryokan, second is an image of the rainy day from my seat on the train, the third is a cool building I saw on the way to the coastline, the fourth is the Shonen Jump store and how packed it was that day, fifth is the Gundam Front, finally is the crowd that was there for fireworks that night).

Japan Adventure Day 6

Breakfast was provided by our ryokan again in the morning. As usual it was a large 2 platter breakfast, but most importantly we had fresh fish caught by local fishermen  that morning. We had our usual grills that morning so we grilled our own fish. I am not sure what the fish was but it was delicious. It was important to have a good breakfast this morning because after breakfast we were headed to the coast to do some hiking.

We stopped at a convenience store before we got on the train and to my surprise I found some special Pepsi cans that had featured Gundams on them for the Gundam Front in Tokyo. I found a few more cans throughout the trip, but I was pleasantly surprised because I had read an article online before we left on the trip and knew they were going to be out when I was on the trip. I was able to bring a few home.

The Jogasaki coastline was amazing. The ocean water was such a bright blue color it was unbelievable. You could see to the horizon in almost 180 degrees, it really was one of the highlights of the trip. There was even a bridge to cross over part of the ocean too. The wind blew the bridge a little, which added to the feeling of being free and in nature. We hung out in the area for a couple hours and I shot quite a bit of video and seeing how close I could get to the water without getting wet.

One of the interesting things, at least in my opinion, was that I found several bugs and they were all very bright yellow. Caterpillars, spiders and even some other bug I never seen before were all black and a very bright yellow.

We walked back to the train station, and we had a conversation about all of the bigger and more western style houses in the area. We found out they had these bigger homes because there was more room outside of the city to build bigger homes. There were lots of homes that had landscaped their yards and had neatly trimmed trees and bushes.

After we arrived back at the ryokan, we were able to relax in the onsen again and we had a few hours in the afternoon to hang out, relax and to do what we wanted before we headed to our fireworks destination. We arrived at the train station and it was already starting to fill up with people. Little did we know how packed this event was going to be.

We arrived at our destination and the city was filled with people everywhere. Everyone split off into groups and went to find some food before the fireworks display that night. There were even more food vendors out than there was the last couple days we were in the area. I had to have Takoyaki one last time (deep fried breaded octopus) and it had to be topped with japanese mayo and green onions 🙂

After finding some food, we headed to the beach to find a place to set up our tarps for fireworks. We found a spot and hung out before the display. We had a few drinks and shared some stories. As night time started to set in, test fireworks were fired into the sky. Soon we discovered that there was going to be fireworks launched from several sites in the bay.

The ensuing fireworks display was the best display I had ever seen. It lasted almost 2 hours and the spectacular at the end lasted almost ten minutes with the sky being so covered in fireworks that it was as bright as day in the bay.  After the fireworks there was a giant sea of people headed to the train station to get home. We were fortunate enough to get to the station and get back to the ryokan. On the walk back to the ryokan from the station, we learned that last year they missed the first train and were at the station for over two hours.

That night I went to bed a little early because I wanted to go for a hike the next morning back at the coastline.

*(first image is the delicious fish we had for breakfast on its grill, second is the coastline where we went hiking, third is a shot of a random beach on the train ride, fourth is the packed train station when we arrived for fireworks, fifth is our spot on the beach for the fireworks, finally the sea of people after the display heading to the train station).