Beaver County Times Summer Internship

After driving 2,400 miles from Spokane, Washington to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I began a five month internship just outside of Pittsburgh with The Beaver County Times. I met fascinating people, made photos that I’m proud of, realized that I hate humidity, and now I am excited to head north to begin a six month internship with The Ann Arbor News in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here are some of my favorite images I made during my time in Beaver County. 

My Last Full Day In Okinawa

Today started like any other, noodles and dumplings for breakfast, a short walk on the beach, and onward to Camp Foster to shoot the men’s basketball teams practice at the field house. Besides getting a photo of head coach Mark Few smiling (a rare sighting), this was uneventful. I was told that I’d be able to shoot the team shooting at the firing range, but shortly after I was informed that ESPN isn’t letting any media onto that tour.

So after editing some photos, I decided to finally listen to all of the hotel employees and my mom and go to the ‘world famous’ aquarium on the northern end of the island. After about an hour and a half in the car, driving through quant little villages and popular resort destinations, I finally reached the aquarium. I took one look at the price of 2,500 Yen and decided my time would be better spent talking around the town of Bise instead of looking at glorified fish tanks. All along the pristine white sand beaches that lined the town were large groups of schoolchildren in their uniforms taking selfies and pushing each other around. I walked about 15 minutes and came into a small somewhat rural part of Bise, where a man was walking his ox and old men were playing card games in the street. I walked into a small restaurant called Cahaya Bulan, a place full of stray cats, and whose menu consisted of one page of food and the other 10 full of various teas and local drinks. And once again, I found myself in a place with people who didn’t speak English. However, the people there were unbelievably friendly and helpful. So I pointed to what I wanted to eat and drink (thankfully the drinks at least had pictures), ordering a strawberry and what I think was seaweed smoothie and a dish that I still don’t fully understand what it was. Though it taste fine, it was a cross between unsettled rice jello with chicken, all together costing a mere $8.15.

I walked a ways and hopped into a cab asking for the fastest way back to my hotel. The driver knew I couldn’t understand him, and he took full advantage of that—driving me through the mountains of Motobu and weaving our way through the streets of Nago, a city of about 62,000. Even though I was already frustrated that my meter way being run around in circles, this area was absolutely stunning. Small family tombs adorned the hillsides at every corner, tropical trees covered as far as the eye could see and the buildings and houses of humble people sat in near ruins packed so tightly next to each other. An hour later and an extra 800 Yen to take the Expressway I finally returned to my hotel, tired and mad that I just paid $100 for a cab ride.

After a little shopping for some Japanese whiskey and colorful boxes of items unknown until I open them, I went to a small sushi restaurant called Kouwa. I attempted again to eat the raw fish, but after the second bite of tuna sashimi I had to call it quits. However, I remembered that any food left on your plate in Japanese culture is very disrespectful. So unfortunately, I choked down the other two and a half pieces of fish followed by a large glass of Orion, an Okinawan beer, and walked about 30 minutes to a small restaurant near my hotel. I got absolutely delicious shrimp tempura and sake and held a small conversation with the chef who spoke the best English he could. And for the last time, I returned to my room and called it a night.

Tomorrow is the whole reason I came to Japan, the matchup between Gonzaga and Pittsburg. Even though it has been disappointing being unable to follow and shoot the team like I was told, it has given me two more days of exploring than I planned. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to finally be able to shoot this once in a lifetime basketball game at Camp Foster. 

Well, I Finally Tried Japanese Sushi

Today was a stressful day to say the least. It started off with me walking around for nearly an hour trying to find this restaurant after my cab dropped me off in the wrong location, followed by the possibility that I wouldn’t be able to shoot the Gonzaga v Pittsburg game (the entire reason why I am in Japan), but ended with me eating sushi.

Due to an unfortunate mix up with my media and base access credentials, I was not able to enter Camp Futenma this afternoon to take photos of the Gonzaga basketball team getting tours of various airplanes. I was informed a month ago that everything was clear with my media pass, but in fact, I didn’t have anything that I needed. While waiting to hear from my contact I decided to explore some more if the island since that was far better than sitting in my hotel room.

I had a cab driver drive me to a few locations on the island that interested me, one was a local fishing location, and the other a tourist trap. First stop: Cape Maeda. There was no information on this place and I only saw photos but I wanted to go anyways. I should have known it wasn’t a very well known place when the driver had to use a physical map to find it. However, after about 40 minutes driving we found it and it was absolutely stunning. Sharp rocky cliffs stood out over the crashing waves, and in the distance, a group of men fishing. I carefully walked along the most intense rocks I've come in contact with (I know this sounds dramatic, but these rocks were something else) and stood next to three men fishing. They didn’t speak English but they couldn’t wait to show me what they were doing. For about 30 minutes I interacted with them and took their photos. After this, I went to Cape Zampa, where a prominent white lighthouse stood on the edge of 40+ foot cliffs over the sea. This was unlike Cape Maeda and had plenty of people and information. There were multiple couples taking wedding photos at sunset, and food trucks lining the parking lot. Despite all of the people, this outcrop on the East China Sea was absolutely gorgeous. I was only set back about 6,000 Yen or 50.00 USD for about two and a half hours of driving around the island.

I came back to an email from my media contact telling me to meet someone at the Kitamae entrance to Camp Foster to pick up my media credentials. In celebration for finally having access to the base and the team I decided it was time for sushi. I walked to a small restaurant and picked out something that looked decent (I say this because I hate sushi). I tried it, and though it was good, I ordered food I would actually eat as well.

Another day in Okinawa was done, and the more I explore the island, the more time I want to spend here and truly immerse myself into the culture. Yesterday and today were polar opposites—the bright lights of the city yesterday, and the small rural life of the north central coast today. I have no idea what the rest of my time here holds, but at least I can say I tried Japanese sushi.