• Exterior of a multiple-story building with text inside a green box that says, "My experience at Hotel Matsumoto Yorozuya."
    hotel review,  Japan

    My experience at Hotel Matsumoto Yorozuya

    For a recent trip to Matsumoto, my wife and I wanted a hotel with Western-style rooms close to the train station and the city’s popular tourist attractions.  Hotel Matsumoto Yorozuya is about five minutes from Matsumoto Station, but also has a parking lot.  It is 12 minutes from the city’s main attraction, Matsumoto Castle, and a five-minute walk to either popular shopping street (Nawate or Nakamachi) in town.  Additionally, the hotel is five minutes from Honmachi Street, which has several restaurants. Double room Traveling with my wife, we chose a double room.  Like many hotel rooms in Japan, the 15-square-meter room (approximately 160-square-feet) is the epitome of form following function. …

  • Overview of a storefront with large wooden sign above windows that says, "Black Warrior Brewing Company." Text across the windows says: "A pint at Black Warrior Brewing § Tuscaloosa, Alabama."
    Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Black Warrior Brewing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

    People are quick to associate Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team.  However, there is a lot more to the city and its history than an iconic football team.  The landscape includes several local landmarks, which the ownership group of Black Warrior Brewing wanted to bring front and center when they opened their brewery in 2013. Brewery’s history In 2011, three friends who worked at the BFGoodrich tire manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa and shared a love of homebrewing and mountain biking decided to open a craft brewery.  While perfecting recipes, Joe Fuller, Eric Hull, and Jason Spikes met Wayne Yarbrough, who became the fourth member of…

  • Overview of a bar top with a white text box covering the image and text inside that says "A pint at Druid City Brewing § Tuscaloosa, Alabama."
    Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Druid City Brewing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

    There are a lot of ways to measure when a town “has made it.”  For Bo Hicks and Elliott Roberts opening a craft brewery in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was their way of putting the city on the map.  In 2012, the pair opened Druid City Brewing in a refurbished butcher shop.  Several years later the brewery continues to be an integral part of the community. Brewery’s history Co-owner Bo Hicks began working in craft beer at Hales Tavern on The Strip.  Eventually Hicks and Roberts started homebrewing together.  Like many homebrewers, the duo joked about opening a brewery together.  Eventually Roberts had a friend draft a business plan and the pair…

  • A man kneels next to a stack over-sized clothes with a text box to the left that says "My weight loss journey en rote to lose 50 pounds."
    fitness

    My weight loss journey en route to lose 50 pounds

    Weight loss can be a touchy subject for people.  In a world shaped by body image, weight loss is very personal.  My weight loss journey began when I moved to Japan in 2018 and has led me to lose 50 pounds.  For a long time, I debated about sharing my story, but the past few months have given me a different perspective on health and fitness.  Like many people, as I got older and finished college I settled into a sedentary lifestyle.  I never hated exercising, but it was not a priority in my life.  However, after I moved to Japan things dramatically changed, which led me to lose 50…

  • Collage with multiple face masks surrounding a dark blue box with white text outlined in red that says, "Staying safe with Minor League Baseball Face Masks."
    fitness

    Staying safe with Minor League Baseball face masks

    As cities and states across America enact or extend ordinances requiring people to wear face masks in public places, baseball fans looking to support Minor League teams have a variety of options.  From California to Maine and several places in between, Minor League Baseball fans have plenty of options when seeking face masks. Updated: October 8, 2020, at 1:00 a.m. EDT California League The Modest Nuts have two face masks with humorous takes on the year.  Each mask costs $9.99.  One features the team’s primary logo and the other has the team’s Copa de la Diversión logo.  The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes have a mask with the team’s primary logo for…

  • Photo collage with six photos, five showing a man and woman standing together. Text in the middle says, "Lessons from running in a virtual race series."
    fitness

    Lessons from running in a virtual race series

    Like many runners, my running goals and plans for 2020 were thrown for a loop due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.  I started participating in virtual races and challenges, which helped me stay on track.  Most recently I undertook a virtual race series, which has made me think about my running and what I learned from running in a virtual race series. Fusion Racing organized the Don’t Worry, Be Hoppy Virtual Race Series.  It was five races of five different distances over the five weekends of May 2020.  I decided to participate for two reasons.  First and foremost, I had already signed up for the Hopping Across America virtual challenge,…

  • Black-and-white photo of a mixed-use building with a restaurant on the first floor. Text across the image says, "A pint at Mazama Brewing at Orenco Station § Hillsboro, Oregon."
    craft beer,  Oregon

    A pint at Mazama Brewing at Orenco Station in Hillsboro, Oregon

    Mazama Brewing at Orenco Station is a year-old gastropub.  However, there is a lot more to the taproom and New American restaurant.  It is part of Mazama Brewing, a family-owned brewery in Corvallis, Oregon, that opened in 2013.  The current location opened in April 2019 with an emphasis on contemporary food and craft beer.  Despite the name there is no beer brewed at Mazama Brewing at Orenco Station, although it serves an extensive list of Mazama beers. Brewery’s history Jeff and Kathy Tobin began homebrewing in the 1980s, but did not initially plan to open a brewery.  After a trip to Belgium in 2011, the couple decided to pursue opening…

  • Overview of a large corner bar with a opaque white box with green text that says "A pint at Vertigo Brewing § Hillsboro, Oregon."
    craft beer,  Oregon

    A pint at Vertigo Brewing in Hillsboro, Oregon

    It is difficult starting, building, and maintaining a small business, let alone a craft brewery for over a decade.  However, that is precisely the story of Vertigo Brewing in Hillsboro, Oregon. Brewery’s history The tale of homebrewers turned commercial brewers is nearly as old as the beer industry itself, but that does not make the story any less interesting.  Mike Kinion and Mike Hanes worked together in the tech industry for nearly 30 years and brewed beer together for several years before entering competitions for feedback on their brews.  The pair honed their brewing skills through trial and error with feedback from these competitions over ten years before opening Vertigo…

  • Black-and-white photo showing a bar with a digital drink menu in the middle of the wall. Text overlays the image saying "A pint at Ridgewalker Brewing § Forest Grove, Oregon."
    craft beer,  Oregon

    A pint at Ridgewalker Brewing in Forest Grove, Oregon

    It takes a team effort for any business to succeed.  That is especially true in craft beer, which is why the partnership behind Ridgewalker Brewing in Forest Grove, Oregon, has done so well. Brewery’s history The team behind Ridgewalker Brewing includes Chris and Jason Cirlincione, Jeff Farrar, and Justin Marble.  Chris and Jason Cirlincione bring a background in real estate and flipping properties to the team, which was critical in overhauling the brewery’s main property, the 1921 Public House.  Their experience also allowed the team to find and renovate the city’s former post office and convert it into an event space known as The Mail Room.  Farrar’s experience in food…

  • Multiple empty glass bottles on their sides on a wall with text overlaying that says "An ochoko at SakéOne in Forest Grove, Oregon."
    Oregon

    An ochoko at SakéOne in Forest Grove, Oregon

    In 1992, SakéOne (note not SakeOne) began as a saké importer.  Eventually in 1997, the company expanded its operation and began brewing saké.  Today the brewery produces four lines of saké ranging from the innovative Moonstone to the traditional Momokawa.  Note that both sake and saké are appropriate spellings of the Japanese liquor made from fermented rice. Visiting the brewery On the southern edge of Forest Grove, SakéOne is about 25 miles from downtown Portland.  It is a 30-minute drive in ideal traffic conditions.  The brewery is in an industrial area of this Portland suburb with ample parking. The tasting room has plenty of space for small or large gatherings. …