Derek Ray

Derek became enraptured with visiting strange, new places during a Eurail adventure shortly after his graduation from UCLA. He has subsequently journeyed throughout Europe, Asia, Latin America and the U.S. As an educator, he believes that travel encourages a better understanding of and appreciation for other cultures. He also believes in packing light. Derek has been contributing his travel stories and photos to the Reader since 2009.

You can follow him on Instagram.

Articles by Derek Ray

Japan: a land of contrasts

By far the phrase I used most often was “Arigata gozaimasu”: I appreciate it.

I stare out at Mount Fuji: bright, clear, stately, basking in the morning sunshine. Cherry blossoms frame my view alongside the stunning Chureito Pagoda in the foreground. My timing was implausibly fortuitous. The previous day ...

Finding the iconic West in Monument Valley

Tour this rich desert landscape on the Utah-Arizona border with a Navajo guide.

“Be still and the earth will speak to you." ~ Navajo saying Monument Valley. Just the name conjures up images of the majestic, iconic buttes and classic western landscape so often seen in movies and ...

The Canadian Rockies: Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks

Among the most stunning slices of natural wonder in the world.

“Keep close to nature’s heart….and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” ~ John Muir The stretch of Canadian Rockies encompassing ...

Huntington Library & Botanic Gardens: L.A. day trip

The cultural oasis has an impressive art and manuscript collection, too.

Looking for a hidden gem of a day trip from San Diego? The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, a private nonprofit organization located in tony San Marino near Pasadena, is one of the best possible ...

Another side of Havana

The number of visitors may have doubled last year — but the time to go is still now.

Late afternoon in Havana: Local schoolboys are playing soccer in the central square of the recently renovated Plaza Vieja. Colorful, historic buildings ring the plaza. A warm tropical breeze wafts through the air and the ...

Antelope Canyon, #nofilter

Instagram's favorite red-rock slot canyon can be done in a long weekend.

Nestled about halfway between Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, Page, Arizona, has some knock-your-eyes-out-jaw-dropping natural phenomena of its own. A small, nondescript town in northern Arizona, Page highlights its proximity to Antelope Canyon ...

Lesser-visited China: Suzhou & Tongli

The day trips are a welcome break from bustling, smoggy Shanghai.

Shanghai is the most populous city in the world, and it can become a bit overwhelming for both visitors and locals. If you’re living or visiting here for any length of time, you’ll welcome a ...

America's largest park: Death Valley

Make the 5.5-hour drive now for the El Niño superbloom, while it lasts.

A visit to Death Valley can be a wonderful opportunity to clear your mind of some of the mental clutter we accrue in our daily routines and enjoy a digital detox while soaking in some ...

Road-trip Washington State's national parks

Must-sees in Olympic, Mount Rainier and North Cascades.

I paused on the winding Hall of Mosses Trail in Olympic National Park's verdant Hoh Rainforest. Gazing at the oddly shaped trees that seemed concocted out of an imagination meshing Tolkien and Tim Burton, I ...

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