Choosing Adventure: Safe Travel in Dangerous Places book by Greg Ellifritz

As one of Greg Ellifritz’s Patreon supporters, I received an electronic version of his new book Choose Adventure: Safe Travel in Dangerous Places as a benefit of patronage. But Greg was good enough also to send me a hard copy when it became available recently.

At first glance, I am not the natural audience for a book about traveling in dangerous places. Although I love to travel (I have been to every state in the US except North Dakota and Alaska), I have not traveled outside the United States very often. My few international trips have not been to the kinds of “dangerous” places Ellifritz writes about (i.e., the “third world” or “developing world”).

Having gotten into Choose Adventure over the past week, it is now clear that I am a natural audience for this book. So is anyone who wants to travel safely, whether your destination is Kansas, Korea, Kazakhstan, or Kenya.

I love seeing new places, but I also have a strong aversion to uncertainty. Although a fundamental principle of the book is choosing adventure not routine, going into global travel with my eyes wide open does reduce some of the stress of the unknown.

Choosing Adventure is an amazing guidebook to making good decisions while traveling — or in the case of some topics Greg covers like prostitution and drugs, making better bad decisions. Advice about dealing with scam artists and criminals, surviving natural and human disasters (e.g., riots), and using travel and improvised weapons are applicable in 200 countries on 7 continents from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

Even something as basic as food is treated very astutely here. If I had read this book prior to my trip to Mexico, I would have likely avoided getting food poisoning in a restaurant in Mexico City. And if I had read it before going to Ghana, I would have been able to enjoy some of the amazing street food that I assiduously avoided while there.

Photo of Greg Ellifritz courtesy of Greg Ellifritz

Greg Ellifritz is not only a very experienced traveler, he is a student of the magic that the world has to offer. This shines through brightly in Choosing Adventure.

If you want to get a free taste of Greg’s travel insights, he posts occasionally about his travels on his blog. Of the dozens of posts I have read over the years, one of my all-time favorite was the account of his trip to Jordan last year.

Greg Ellifritz at the Temple of Hercules in Jerash. From

Visiting Alley 6 Craft Distillery, Healdsburg, California

Toward the end of a visit to Napa Valley, my mind turned from wine to whiskey, so on our way home we passed by Silver Oak and Jordan in the Alexander Valley and stopped at Alley 6 Craft Distillery in the Sonoma County city of Healdsburg.

The Story: A distillery amid hundreds of wineries is a unique niche. Krystle and Jason Jorgensen founded Alley 6 in 2012 after Jason worked a dozen plus years as a bartender. As he tells it, he wanted to find a way to drink cheaper.

They are committed to being a true craft distiller, selling only “grain to glass” liquor made entirely on-site (milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling, barreling, and bottling). They now have two 123 gallon Alembic Copper pot stills that they bought from the larger Sonoma Distilling Company down the road.

The Liquor: Five liquors are offered for the $10 tasting (1 of our 2 tasting fees was waived because we bought a bottle).

The Single Malt Whiskey was aged just over a year. The “heavy charred” American oak 10-15 gallon barrels help accelerate the aging process, but the spirit still had a young taste.

The Rye Whiskey was my favorite. Although aged less than 2 years, the 22% malted barley and sub-90 proof take some of the rough edges off this spirit.

If I had more space and money, I would have gotten a bottle of the Apple Brandy. Being in California, it reminds me of John Steinbeck’s drinking “California calvados.”

The Spiced Peach liqueur, we were told, was supposed to be a peach brandy but it got over-oaked and so was salvaged with sugar and spice. The result was pleasing as it is sweeter than a peach brandy but less sweet than many peach liqueurs.

Finally, the Harvest Gin is grape-based (an easy choice in wine country) and adds distinctive local laurel and wild fennel. If I wasn’t limited to one bottle, I would have gotten one of these, too.

The Visit: The distillery is located in a metal building in an unassuming industrial office park off the main road. You enter the cozy tasting room through the main door.


The Poet’s Corner stained glass piece behind the tasting bar was salvaged from a bar in Colorado. Nice touch.


We asked if we could have a “tour” of the facility but were told initially that it was a mess because they were setting up for an event later. I said all working distilleries are messy, to no avail.

During our tasting, owner/distiller Jason Jorgensen came in and we asked if we could get a photo with him, and when he opened the door to the distilling area hit him up for a tour. He gladly welcomed us to see where the magic happens. I’ve seen a lot messier distilleries, so hopefully the host won’t be as reluctant to let future guests poke around. That’s half the fun, after all.



Pilgrimages to Japanese-American World War II Internment Camps and Isolation Centers

This page collects all of my previous posts about the interment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and provides a home for my (hopefully) growing list of pilgrimages to the sites of internment camps and isolation centers.

Previous Posts


Pilgrimages to Sites

Recently, I have made an effort to visit the sites of the internment camps and isolation centers when the opportunities present themselves. As of July 2017, I have visited one camp and two isolation centers, which are linked below.


Internment Camps

Gila River War Relocation Center, Arizona

Granada War Relocation Center, Colorado (AKA “Amache”)

Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, Wyoming

Jerome War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Manzanar War Relocation Center, California

Minidoka War Relocation Center, Idaho

Poston War Relocation Center, Arizona

Rohwer War Relocation Center, Arkansas

Topaz War Relocation Center, Utah

Tule Lake War Relocation Center, California


Citizen Isolation Centers (for those considered to be problem inmates)

Moab, Utah (AKA Dalton Wells)

Leupp, Arizona (see directions to the site here)

Fort Stanton, New Mexico (AKA Old Raton Ranch)


Justice Department Detention Camps (housed Nikkei considered to be disruptive or of special interest to the government)

Crystal City, Texas

Fort Lincoln Internment Camp

Fort Missoula, Montana

Fort Stanton, New Mexico

Kenedy, Texas

Kooskia, Idaho

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Seagoville, Texas

Forest Park, Georgia



Directions to Leupp Isolation Center (World War II Japanese-American Detention) Site

As noted in my previous post, there is no official historical marker for the Leupp Isolation Center for Japanese-American detainees during World War II. Nor is the location marked on Google Maps (though I submitted a request that Google add a marker).

For anyone wanting to go see the site, here are the directions I used. Please be mindful that a family does currently live in the Superintendent’s House and locals do use the roads.

The site is in the area known as Old Leupp, which lies southeast of the current town of Leupp. I began at the gas station (Pic-N-Run) at the center of Leupp and proceeded as follows (3.6 miles total):

  1. From the gas station in the new town of Leupp, travel east on Indian Route 15/Leupp Road for 1.9 miles to Old Leupp Road
  2. Turn right (South) on Old Leupp Road
  3. Continue 1.7 miles on Old Leupp Road past Indian Road 6933 to arrive at the old Superintendents House (on map above).

Indian Route 15/Leupp Road is a paved highway, but Old Leupp Road is a graded dirt road with lots of washboarding, so take your time.

Old Leupp Road toward Leupp Isolation Center site, July 1, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The best way to orient yourself is using the Superintendent’s House and the Presbyterian Church. They are easy to find if you match up this Google Map satellite image of the area with the drawing of the site provided below:

Drawing of site from online book Confinement and Ethnicity:



Pilgrimage to Leupp Isolation Center, Arizona

On April 27, 1943, Harry Ueno and other inmates at the Moab Isolation Center at Dalton Wells in Utah were moved to an abandoned Indian boarding school on the Navaho Trival Land in Leupp, Arizona. Ueno and four others were “forced to make the 11-hour trip confined in a four by six foot box on the back of a flat-bed truck,” according to the Confinement and Ethnicity. The book continues, “The prison atmosphere at Leupp was enforced by four guard towers, a cyclone fence topped with barbed wire, and the 150 military police who outnumbered the inmates by more than 2 to 1.”

Inmates at Old Leupp isolation camp outside the old boarding school, 1943.

Leupp isolation center was open slightly longer than Moab, from 27 April 1943 until 2 December 1943. It housed over 70 inmates at its peak, when the detainees from Moab were joined by inmates from Tule Lake (California) and Topaz (Utah). When it closed, the 71 remaining inmates were transferred to the incarceration center within the Tule Lake Internment Camp in far Northern California.

Claudia Katayanagi has recently completed a documentary called “A Bitter Legacy” about the internment which has a considerable focus on the Leupp isolation center.

The fact that my wife and I drove through the Navajo Nation Reservation and the Hopi Reservation from the north to get to Leupp was not lost on us. Leupp is on Navajo land and the connection between Japanese-American detainees and members of the Navajo Nation has been observed by others.

There are no permanent or temporary markers identifying the site of the Leupp Isolation Center and only a few buildings, like the Superintendent’s House and Presbyterian Church, remain. Using the map provided in the National Park Service book Confinement and Ethnicity (reproduced below) we were able to find the site by orienting ourselves to Indian Route 6932 running north/south and the levee to the east.


In reflecting on the experience recently and looking at Google maps of the area, it dawned on me that there is no river to the EAST of the levee. The isolation center is to the WEST of the levee, and WEST of the isolation center is the Little Colorado River. So, the isolation center clearly lies in a flood plain, and it turns out that is one reason the original Indian boarding school was closed.

Other than the few buildings that remain standing, walking the site is basically an exercise in imagination to envision what once stood in these ruins. Even a marker like the windmill and tank that was photographed as late as 2008 no longer exists:

Remains of the windmill and tank, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The Old Leupp Trading Post, which once sat on Old Route 66, then and now:


Remains of Old Leupp Trading Post, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The parts of the site that were actually used to house the inmates — I am guess this is the area marked as “boarding school” on the map near the watertower — have been cleared so that little evidence of its existence can be found.

Historic picture of Leupp Isolation Center building and water tower from

We were able to identify the foundations for the teachers’ residences and dining hall near the windmill.

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Some parts of the site are only vaguely marked on the map, like this sidewalk leading to the area marked as “posts”:

Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane


Remains at Leupp Isolation Center, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Although it’s not clear whether the nurses’ residence behind the Superintendent’s house was used for the Luepp isolation center, the remains give a distinctive feeling for the condition of the site.

Remains of Nurses’ Residence, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

The view from the remains of the nurses’ residence conveys a sense of what the inmates would have seen during their time at Leupp isolation center.

View from Remains of Nurses’ Residence, 2017. Photo by David Yamane

Pilgrimage to Dalton Wells Isolation Center, Moab, Utah

The resistance to the unjust authority felt by Japanese-American citizens who were forcible evacuated from their homes and imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II went beyond the organized efforts against the loyalty questionnaire I discussed in an earlier post. And the resistance was not without consequence.

One of the best known detainees at Manzanar was Harry Ueno, the “Manzanar Martyr.” As head of the Manzanar Kitchen Workers Union, he was identified as a “troublemarker” for helping bring to light the theft and sale of inmate supplies like sugar by Manzanar authorities. Later arrested and at the center of the “Manzanar riot,” Ueno and 15 others were taken from the internment camp and moved to an “isolation center” near Moab, Utah.

The Dalton Wells isolation center was the site of a former Civilian Conservation Corp camp some 13 miles north of Moab. Lying hundreds of miles from any major city at 38.5667 lat and -109.5333 lng, it was “the American equivalent of Siberia.”

The Moab Isolation Center at Dalton Wells was only open from 11 January 1943 until 27 April 1943 and housed at its peak just 49 Nisei and Kibei “troublemakers” like Harry Ueno.

On a trip through the National Parks of Utah, my wife and I made the (short) pilgrimage from Canyonlands National Park near Moab to Dalton Wells. There we found little evidence of the existence of the Moab Isolation Center beyond the marker placed there.

Marker at Moab Isolation Center, Dalton Wells. Photo by David Yamane

The previously mentioned National Park Service book, Confinement and Ethnicity, provides a drawing of the site as it existed in 1943.

From National Park Service book, Confinement and Ethnicity, available at

My wife and I found some concrete remnants marking the entrance drive, a few concrete slabs, and some stray posts. Like many former internment and isolation camps, nothing has been built at this site to replace what was once there. There was a reason these places were used as prisons.

The sense of desolation at the site today no doubt pales in comparison to what the inmates must have felt when they arrived and during their short stay.




Pilgrimage to Manzanar Internment Camp

For my wife’s birthday last November, we traveled to California to visit family and tour some of the national parks in Southern California. After visiting Joshua Tree National Park, we headed north to Death Valley. Not exactly between Death Valley and Pinnacles National Parks, but not too far out of the way, is the site of the Manzanar internment camp.

For reasons outlined in posts on my discovery of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II and its history, we made the pilgrimage to Manzanar.

The first internment camp to receive detainees, Manzanar was opened on 21 March 1942 and remained open for over three years, closing on 21 November 1945. It’s peak population was 10,046, housing prisoners from Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, and San Joaquin County in California, and Washington’s Bainbridge Island. In the shadow of Mt. Whitney’s 14,500 foot peak, Manzanar is 200 miles from Los Angeles, but felt like 1,000 miles from nowhere when I visited.

Manzanar is also one of the best-known and best-documented of the 10 permanent internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. It drew the attention of photographers like Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, among others.

“Street scene in winter, photographer Ansel Adams, 1943, Manzanar concentration camp, California.,” Densho Encyclopedia

It has been a California Historical Landmark since 1972, and was designated a National Historic Site when President George H.W. Bush signed H.R. 543 into law in March 1992.

The National Park Service runs the site, which includes a replica of one of the watchtowers, a visitor center in the restored Manzanar High School Auditorium (including exhibits, gift shop, movie theater), reconstructed barracks, the archeologically excavated “Pleasure Park,” and the iconic monument at Manzanar cemetery.

It is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in this and related aspects of our nation’s history. For those who can’t make it, following are some photos that may give a feel for the place.

Sign at the gate of Manzanar War Relocation Center. Photo by David Yamane

Replica of one of the guard towers positioned at the perimeter of the internment camp. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit superimposing names of detainees at Manzanar on photo of the camp. Photo by David Yamane

20 detainees named “Yamane” among the 10,000+. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit listing names of individuals who entered the U.S. Army from Manzanar internment camp and/or had immediate family interned at Manzanar while they served in the U.S. military. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit of reconstructed barracks. Photo by David Yamane

Exhibit showing condition of barracks upon initial arrival in 1942. Photo by David Yamane

View from window of barracks exhibit. Photo by David Yamane

“Pleasure Park” marker. Photo by David Yamane

Excavated bridge and ponds in Pleasure Park. Photo by David Yamane

“Turtle Rock” at Pleasure Park. Photo by David Yamane

“Soul Consoling Tower” (Kanji inscription) monument at Manzanar cemetery, just outside the barbed wire fence of the internment camp. Photo by David Yamane

Chains of origami cranes left at Manzanar cemetery monument. Photo by David Yamane

150 people died while interned at Manzanar. 15 were laid to rest in the Manzanar cemetery, and 6 remain including “Baby Jerry.” Photo by David Yamane

Discovering Japanese-American World War II Internment Camps

I don’t know when I first became aware of the forced removal and internment of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast of the United States during World War II. But I remember learning alot more about it for a paper I wrote back in 1989 when I was an undergrad at UC-Berkeley.

The Bancroft Library at Berkeley is a repository for a large number of primary documents that are part of what used to be called the Barnhart Catalog of Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Documents. I will never forget sitting in the library going through box after box of letters, memos, diaries, essays, speeches, high school newspapers, and other ephemera of people living their everyday lives under extraordinary circumstances. I was transported back to a time I hardly knew existed in the United States.

Screen cap of The materials I examined were from the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS) and the War Relocation Authority (WRA). JERS was conducted by social scientists from UC-Berkeley from the time of the early evacuation until after the closing of the last relocation center.

My paternal grandparents were Nisei, second generation Japanese-Americans, born in Hawaii. So my father is Sansei, also born and raised in Hawaii. He was 11 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Because there was such a large population, there was no mass incarceration of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii at the time. So none of my immediate family were interned.

But thanks to the National Archives’ Database of Japanese American Evacuees, I was able to search for last name “Yamane” among the 109,384 evacuees listed. The search yields 179 results, including some from the San Francisco Bay Area, where I was raised.

To produce the screen cap above, I added the search term “Tanforan.” When I was growing up in the Bay Area in the 1970s and 80s, Tanforan was a shopping center in the city of San Bruno. Before that, however, it was a horse race track. And, as I came to learn in my studies, it was used as an “assembly center” — a temporary jail pending the construction of the permanent internment camps.

“View of barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center, California, June 16, 1942.,” Densho Encyclopedia

Even though I learned alot about the internment through my class paper, I still had alot to learn. In the summer of 1991, I worked with my father or a few weeks in Wyoming, around Worland. I remember driving along one of Wyoming’s many sparsely populated highways one day, seeing a mailbox, and noticing the name on the mailbox was Japanese. It wasn’t until we passed 2 or 3 more such mailboxes that I made the connection to the Heart Mountain Internment Camp, which was outside of Cody, Wyoming.

“Young girl near guard tower, May 31, 1944, Heart Mountain concentration camp, Wyoming.,” Densho Encyclopedia

Obviously the reality of these camps is an important part of American history, but I also think of them as part of my personal history. It is only because they lived in Hawaii rather than California that my father and his family were not rounded up and imprisoned.

In addition to posting more about the history of the internment, I am also going to create a landing page and individual entries for the camps and centers that I have already visited and will visit in the future. Stay tuned.


Post-Paris Reflection: We are PROBABLY Safe, but Not CERTAINLY Safe

Following the picture below is some text that was originally posted on my Gun Culture 2.0 blog last Saturday. I thought to re-post it here today because I am leaving for Washington, DC in a couple of hours and have been thinking about the advisability of the trip in light of the Paris attacks.

On the one hand, part of me thinks that I am not in any more danger now than before. I am just more realistically aware of the possibility of a terrorist attack than I was a week ago

On the other hand, part of me wonders whether we are entering a new, escalated phase of terrorism, in which case I am in more danger now than before. Especially traveling to a city which has to be higher on terrorists’ hit lists than a mid-sized city in North Carolina.

In any event, I am going and hope to avoid all of the dangers I will face over the next 5 days — probable and improbable alike.

_86686544_afp_heartIt is disgusting but not shocking to hear about terrorist attacks in Paris last night.

This morning I received an email from my university’s office of communications and external relations reassuring our community that university officials “have not heard of any student who has been harmed or is in danger . . . All are safe.” Furthermore, there is no indication that any faculty or staff member “has been harmed or is in danger, either, in France.”

Although it was good to know that no member of our university community had been harmed, I was surprised to read that the university also believed that none were “in danger” and that they “are safe.”

The very fact of the terrorist attack that created the need for the communication suggests that no one in Paris, no one in France, no one anywhere is safe and out of danger.

At the same time, as people ratchet up concern on social media and the 24 hour news cycle kicks into high gear, I remind myself of the work of Steven Pinker showing that we live in the most peaceable time in human history.

So, we are probably safe, but not certainly safe.

I think about Pinker also as I prepare to travel to Washington, DC for a conference this coming week. Washington, DC seems like it would be a major target for terrorist activity, and yet I try to remind myself that I am more likely to die in a car crash driving to DC than I am to be a victim of a terrorist attack. I’m more likely to die from the saturated fats I will consume while I am there. More likely to die from the work-related stress of preparing for my presentation. More likely to die from the exercise I won’t get because of the conference. Even more likely to die from being attacked in a city with a high rate of violent crime and limited civilian access to the means of lethal force for purposes of self-defense.

risks.0The infographic above is for the UK, but the risk factors for death are very similar in the United States. In the end, I’m afraid that in so many ways we are our own worst enemies.

Goodbye Rome, Hello Home: Trains, Plains, and Automobiles

After a great trip to Assisi and Rome, Italy, I had to get home and back to family and business. I was up early and left my hotel for the short walk to the Termini station at 7:00am. I caught the 7:22am Leonardo Express train to the Fiumicino airport. I was there by 8:00am. Because I was flying on U.S. Air, I had to go to the new “Terminal 5,” which is not actually a terminal but just a processing station for those flying on US airlines. So, I caught the shuttle bus to Terminal 5, checked in, cleared customs, and then took a shuttle back to the actual terminal from which we would depart.

I was at the gate by 9:15a for my 11:15a flight, so I did a bit of duty free shopping, trying to use up my Euros so I wouldn’t have to exchange them. I spent my last 23 Euros on a jumbo two pack of Campari (with gift glasses), which is an essential ingredient in three of my favorite drinks: Campari on the rocks, Campari and soda, and Negroni (Campari and gin). I didn’t realize this, but apparently Salma Hayek likes Campari as much as I do — though she gets paid to like it, and for me the opposite is true.

The flight from Rome to Philadelphia was on time and uneventful, though extremely long (9 hours) and on a stupid Airbus A330 with absolutely no leg room. Thankfully, it had personal entertainment systems at each seat so I was able to watch “State of Play” (Ben Affleck still cannot act and was wholly unconvincing as a Congressman) and “Julie and Julia” (made me really like Julia Child and want to punch Julie Powell in the face).

Unfortunately, in Philadelphia I had to claim my luggage, re-check it, and go back through security screening for domestic travel, so those two jugs of Campari I bought at duty free had to be packed into my suitcase, which took a good 20 minutes.

By the time I made it through security screening again and got to my gate, it was 4:30pm (10:30pm Rome time) and my 6:30 flight was delayed because of bad weather in Charlotte. I called home to find out that there had beena significant storm on Friday and even worse was expected Saturday.

We boarded the plane and were told that we would not take off until 8:00pm at the earliest because of weather in Charlotte. We did get out of Philly and landed in Charlotte around 9:30pm. I collected my bags and caught the shuttle to the long term parking lot. I was on the road by 10:00pm.

The roads were suprisingly clear, and I was looking forward to being home around 11:20pm — which would be 5:20am Rome time. A long day. About 15 miles into my 70 mile drive home, snow and ice started appearing on the interstate and then traffic came to a complete stop. After 15 minutes, traffic started moving again, but it was single file on ice and snow covered roads the rest of the way home. I never got above 30 MPH again.

It took me three more hours to get home. I pulled into my driveway at 1:30am — 7:30am Rome time, or 24 hours and 30 minutes after I left my hotel the previous day.