Notes and Quotes: Short visits to small places


Sunset. (Photo by Matt Phillips via Unsplash)

Tom Morrow

This week, columnist Tom Morrow continues his series about “Following the Sun” to the West.

During my many years of “Following the Sun,” there were interesting and historic encounters scattered around the globe. Many of these experiences were not big stories in themselves but memorable snippets out of my charmed life.

Here are some cities I either visited for a quick change of planes, an overnight rest or a few days acting as a tourist:

I spent a month “down under” in Australia. I took in all four of that continent’s big cities: Sydney, New South Wales; Melbourne, Victoria; Perth, Western Australia; and Brisbane, Queensland. If your time is short, do visit historic but bustling Melbourne to take in a “footie” (Australian Rules football) match and sip a “Victoria Bitter.”

Notes & Quotes by Tom MorrowIf you don’t relish a 12- to 13-hour flight from our West Cost to Australia, you might consider stopping off for a day or two in Honolulu (five-hour flight), one or two overnights in Auckland, New Zealand (seven hours), then a four-hour jaunt on to Melbourne. Jet lag will be minimal and you’ll visit some nice places for not much more cost of a long, nonstop, boring flight against the jet stream.

On my many global adventures, I visited London, Paris, Marseille, Nice, Vienna, Geneva, Frankfurt, Munich, Reykjavik (Iceland), Tegucigalpa (Honduras), Mexico City, Guatemala City, El Salvador, Cancun (Mexico), Rome, Florence, Siena, Vancouver, B.C., Victoria, B.C., Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Anchorage, Alaska, Tokyo, Manila, Naha, (Okinawa), Agana (Guam), Venice and Zurich.

Here in Uncle Sugar, I visited 48 of our 50 states (not Vermont or North Dakota), just about every major city and lots of Podunks along the way across the U.S.A. Here are five memorable global stops I made “Following the Sun:”

Hatfield House

The “Virgin” Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite palace before she was crowned was Hatfield House located just north of London. I attended an authentic English banquet-dinner where the trappings were interesting historically, the entertainment authentic, but the food was terrible.

Gordon Ramsey was just a teenager when I attended this dinner circa 1984. I seriously doubt Britain had any decent cuisine until Ramsey came on the celebrity culinary scene. He’s changed everything.

Iwo Jima

This is a volcanic rock void of any foliage 500 miles from nowhere. “Iwo Jima” is Japanese for “Sulfur Island.” The strong smell of sulfur is heavy in the air and its black soil constantly warm to the touch. In 1960, the U.S. Air Force had a small contingent there manning an emergency airstrip.

During World War II, our Marines paid a heavy price capturing this miserable dot in the Pacific. Our two-hour stay to deliver an aircraft engine was more than enough of a visit.


It wasn’t Wake or Midway, but Kwajalein is as remote. I spent one week on this coral atoll during a search operation for a downed British fighter pilot. He later was rescued by a small fishing boat, but with no radio we didn’t know he was safe until a couple of weeks later.

Of historical interest, our Marines paid a high price retaking Kwajalein from the Japanese during World War II. There is a giant mound alongside the airstrip that is a mass grave of some 5,000 Japanese soldiers.

At the time of my 1969 visit, the U.S. Army manned a missile facility on Kwajalein. At least the weather is tropical instead of cold and bleak like Iwo Jima.

Saudi Arabia

Jobs were tough to find in 1976, so I took a construction job in Saudi Arabia. This is a country you wouldn’t want to visit … a tourist destination it isn’t.

“The Kingdom,” as it is known, is Earth’s giant sand pile. The only thing of value is Saudi’s oil. The country is highly religious and is vice-free (no alcohol). I spent six boring weeks in a workers’ camp, which was under construction near Al Khobar on the Persian Gulf.

The Israelis should have no fears of an attack as the Saudis are too busy squabbling among themselves.

Dawson City

Growing up during the 1950s, we kids followed the adventures of “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.” The Canadian Mountie always got his man while urging his canine companion: “On King, on you Husky!” It was the TV series starring actor Dick Simmons.

It was 1986 when I was invited by the Canadian tourism bureau to visit the Yukon territory to write some travel articles. I was advised ahead of time I’d be going to Dawson City, the small village mentioned so many times on the radio and TV show. I knew Dick, who lived in Carlsbad. I told him about the trip, so he gave me some old publicity photos. On my visit, I presented them to the mayor of Dawson.

The trip took me from LAX to White Horse by air and then by car 250 miles to Dawson up on the Yukon River. It was great visiting two nice towns with very friendly people. And, it was fun watching the July sun turn hazy daylight into dusk as ol’ sol bounced off along the horizon … sunset was close to midnight but popped up again around 3 a.m.

Tom Morrow is a longtime Oceanside-based journalist and author who contributes to OsideNews.

Columns represent the views of the individual writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the North Coast Current’s ownership or management.