Wednesday, April 15, 2015

15 April 2015 - Part Deux or Just like deja veux all over again!

Jack is back home after his trip.  The miracle of the trip home is that he had finished lunch here on Wednesday before he left Okinawa on Wednesday.  

Jack made ANA 2158 no problem to Narita, landed there, got his bag and made his way to the International Terminal.  Kurt Thomas and Jack, like ships passing in the day, so to speak, missed each other at Narita.  Kurt came in to the International Terminal at the same time and made his way to the Domestic Terminal Jack had just vacated.

Miso at the Gate

Miso Chicken
Once Jack scoped out the gate, he had Miso Chicken and an hour or so later got Seat 48A on Japan Airlines Flight 65 headed to San Diego.  

Almost halfway!
Coasting In

On final for KSAN
An hour or so late departure was compensated for by 147 knot tail wind and into San Diego at 1144L!

Short Finals
Hap picked him up at the San Diego airport, back to the office for a nice lunch, a bit of going through his files and home!

Happy but tired traveler

A special welcome home by Dru, Angie Cat and the horses, then off to a celebratory dinner at Descanso Junction!   First burrito in two weeks for Jack!

We are grateful for Jack's safe travel and blessed to have him home.  Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

15 April 2015 - Homeward Bound

Jack spent most of the night wishing he were asleep, then once he checked in with Current Operations explaining why he had not slept.   Mary, Jaiden, Emme and Wayne dropped Jack off at Naha Airport (ROAH - OKA) at about 0900 or so.  He checked in with ANA and found a seat on the plane to Narita Airport (RJAA - NRT) - All Nippon Airways 2158.  As this is being posted, he should be boarding.  1+52 flight time, then to find JAL and get a seat!

14 April 2104 - Last Day in Okinawa for this trip!

I am enjoying my last full day on Okinawa. I have enjoyed my 2 weeks on this beautiful island with a wonderful host family and awesome friends. I am going to very much miss this island and people. It has been an outstanding experience every minute and every second and a trip I will treasure for ever. I got to visit neat locations and even got a dive in. Sadly I did not get to dive as much as I wanted to, but that is alright. I will dive more next time! The one dive I did was awesome! This was a new experience for me in that I got to spend Easter with the Thomases and their friends! With awesome food and company it was a blast!

Emme Mae was so upset it's my last day here, she had to give me a parting gift.  Baby Bear will travel with me back to Descanso to his new home.  He will wait patiently for Emme to come back.  Baby Bear was a gift from Pat Griffin 4 years ago and Emme's very favorite friend!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Friday Night Dinner at Arin Krin

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11 April 2015 - "Exploring the North"

11 April 2015 - Saturday

I woke up early this morning so that I could be up and ready for a 0815 departure to Kadena to join the ITT tour "Exploring the North."  We would be going up North around the town of Nago which is 3/4 the way up the western coast of Okinawa.

After having our coffee, I got changed for the day and soon it was time to leave for Kadena! After a nice 20 minute drive, though the weather was 68 and cloudy,  We arrived at the Community Center at 0844 where our bus was awaiting.

I showed my travel voucher to our tour guide who then let me on the bus. A lot of people showed up at the last minute so our departure was slightly late at 0905.

After an introduction by the tour guide Ayumi, she told us where we would be going today. First we would be going to Najkijin Castle Ruins, then we would go to have lunch at Fruit Land, (Japanese BBQ), then tour Fruit Land and Pineapple Park, after that we would go and blow our own Ryukyu Glass, then conclude with a tour of the Orion Beer Factory.

The drive up to Nago took us about an hour. Driving through the scenic countryside was a true joy. I loved seeing the pretty green scenery.  One thing is for sure, when you see a lot of green, you know it rains a lot!

We arrived at Nakijin Castle around 1020. We were told to return to the bus no later than 1120. With that in mind, we stepped off the bus and hot our tickets for the ruins and the Castle museum from our tour guide and then we set off to tour the Castle!

It was an amazing experience! The castle was made from these limestone rocks which themselves were formed out of coral, hundreds if not thousand years ago. The walls were extremely tall and the whole castle complex was amazing! I saw the riding field, where the Ryukyu Lords trained their horse for war! I saw also where their court held sessions and religious ceremonies! It was absolutely an epic experience to say the least!

I walked around the castle for around 45 minutes and then headed to the museum. The museum was interesting with a lot of very neat artifacts, but none of the signs were in English! Oh well! The highlight of the museum for me was seeing pictures from the Battle for Okinawa, pictures I had never ever seen before! Those demanded a bunch of photographs!

After I was finished with the museum, I returned to the bus around 1110. We departed Nakijin around 1130 to head to Fruit Land for lunch. When we arrived, we were shown the way to the restaurant. At the table, we had our own grill with a covering of foil on it, which had oil for cooking the food. On plates, there was pieces of raw beef and chicken to cook, as well as bean sprouts and vegetables. Also there was a cup of salad and a jar of soup with cups for each of us. And a cup of rice!

It took me a few minutes to figure out that this was a cook it yourself meal. But once I figured it out, I had a blast! It was extremely delicious! After I had my lunch, I picked up my tickets for Fruit Land and then Pineapple Park. I hung out with an older couple from North Carolina and their family who they were visiting. They were very nice!

We first headed to Pineapple Park. It was a very interesting experience! Lots and lots of pineapple ! And interesting info about pineapple! It was not until the 80's-90s, that Okinawa got export licenses for pineapple! We then toured the gardens there, which had key lime plants among other things. We then toured the shops and I sampled pineapple wine, pineapple sponge cake, pineapple cookies, pineapple filled pancakes and pineapple juice!

After we finished in the shops, I bought myself a pineapple ice cream cone! It was extremely delicious! Then we headed back to Fruit Land! It was an interesting park filled with a lot of fruit trees, such as dragon fruit, papaya, macadamia nut and guava! We also saw a lot of beautiful birds, macaws, parrots, and hawks! It was a bit of a maze to get out, but we managed and were back on the bus by 1350!

We departed Fruit Land at 1400 and headed to the Ryukyu Glass Factory! We got there and they each assigned us a number, we then were herded into sections and sat on chairs. There we received our gloves and arm band coverings as well as the paper cones we would use to blow our glass!

The process itself was simple, but a bit tricky. I took my paper cone and put it on the blower. You have to blow softly and first then blow a bit stronger until it fills the hole. You are then taken over to a chair and sat down and shown how to roll and shape your glass! In your right hand you have what appears to be like a pair of giant tweezers and you use that to shape how large or small your hole is while rolling the glass around with your left hand.

It was truly an awesome experience! We then got to tour the gift shop! I found some nice little glass items to bring home as souvenirs. I had my picture taken during the glass blowing, by one of the members of the tour, a lovely young lady named Brittany. We went across the street to a drink machine and I got a cold latte, which was absolutely delicious! 

We were on the bus by 1435. Our bus left around 1500 to head to the Orion Beer Factory. We arrived at 1510. We made our way inside the building marked "Orion Beer Happy Park". We all got green badges and the children in the group got green badges with dots. The tour itself was fascinating! We were first shown the ingredients that make up the beer.

We were shown an overview of the process, which is simply, mashing of the ingredients, the fermentation, maturation, and filling and then distributed. We were then led along hallways where we could see the machines that perform these processes. It was an epic experience! It was cool to see the fermentation process on video screens and the beer bacteria forming! One of the amazing facts of the tour is they produce 1,200 cans of beer a minute!
At the end of the tour, we were led to the beer tasting room. You got two tickets if you were beer tasting and one ticket for a soft drink. I went with the two tickets, planning on giving one away. They also gave you nuts to consume with your beer. The nuts were absolutely delicious! I am not a huge beer or any sort of alcohol drinker, but the Orion beer was the best light beer I have ever had! It had a nice smooth quality to it! All of the Orion beer production is done here on Okinawa, with parts of the distributing process done elsewhere!

After the beer tasting, we headed back to the bus for our ride back to Kadena. We were on the bus at 1615. We departed around 1630 for Kadena. It was a beautiful drive back down the coast to Kadena! We arrived at Kadena around 1720. I said my farewells to the tour members and awaited pickup by Mary. 

Mary picked me up at 1735. We headed to Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ to meet Angie and Greg for dinner. It was a really nice meal! It was just like Stir Fresh at home, except they didn't have as many vegetables as Stir Fresh but it was just as delicious! My first serving with noodles was huge!

I had a smaller second serving. Dinner with Angie, Greg and Mary was outstanding. Shannon C stopped by, which was very nice and we talked with her a bit. There may be a chance we might dive on Monday. We will see, keep our fingers crossed. I was given a surprise by Angie, beni-emo Kit-Kats! Yum yum! After dinner, we began walking out to our car when I realized I had forgotten my backpack! Oh no! I ran back and got it!

We had a nice and quiet drive home. When we got back, I stayed up a little bit and then got ready and went to bed. It was an extremely extremely epic day! Looking forward to seeing what today (Sunday) brings!

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

8 April 2015 - Okinawa World!

8 April 2015

Okinawa World!

Today was the day we would be going to see Okinawa World, which is a cool theme park with a large underground cave, a kingdom village and a Habu snake museum. I had my usual morning coffee and then I had a small amount of cheerios for breakfast.

We left at 0830 to pick up some friends who would be joining us for Okinawa World. We arrived at Okinawa World at 0952 after a beautiful scenic drive through Southern Okinawa. 

Arriving at Okinawa world was an experience. As we got of our cars in the parking lot, funky Okinawan music blared from the speakers. The park was an incredible experience.

Our first stop after seeing the turtles and Habu snakes on display, was to see the dancing show in the Eise Plaza. It featured two sanchin players, two drummers and some actors with face masks. The Okinawan music and dance was extremely captivating and enchanting! 

Our next stop was the underground caves which were incredible! They spanned the length of the park, and the stalagmites and stalactites were really awesome and amazing! It sure made you wonder if any Japanese soldiers hid here during the Battle for Okinawa!

After the underground caves we visited the Habu snake museum! It was fascinating to see the python snakes, and habu snakes! They are beautiful creatures! A little airplane trivia here, The SR-71 Blackbird's nickname by the Okinawans was "Habu" 

After the snake museum, we then got ice cream! I had the beni emo flavor, which is the Okinawan sweet potato! It is a purple color! It is very delicious! We then left the park and had lunch with the gang in our cars. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich which was delicious! We also had salted potato plum chips which were absolutely delicious!

We then returned home after dropping off our friends and exchanging farewells, and had a delicious dinner. I was tired so I went to bed early! It was the end of another awesome day on Okinawa!

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