Hope I can remember the rest

March 31, 2010 at 10:23 am (General Life Updates)

Ok, so it is Wednesday. I’ve been back from my trip since Sunday night. But it feels like I just barely got settled because of all that has been going on since my return. But I figured I need to write down the rest of the trip before I forget – of course it won’t do justice to the actual experience. Hopefully what I do manage to write down will trigger the actual memories for me in the future. I have Wednesday through Sunday to record and I’m afraid I’m already going to have to ask my SIL for reminders. Here we go.

Tuesday night we watched Big Fish. Weird movie. It was ok I guess – had some funny parts.

Wednesday we woke to cloudy, rainy day, just as predicted. Which is why we’d gone to the beach two days in a row. I was burnt from the second day, but it was worth it. We got ready and headed out for Shurijo Castle, a restored old Japanese castle. It was so neat, with different sections for the royalty, the concubines, the tea rooms, the throne room, and the religious guys (whatever they’re called in the Japanese religion). The royal rooms were dark red with gold and statues. The tea rooms were the look I think of when I think of Japanese architecture – with light unstained wood and open rooms leading to one another through sliding doors with white opaque squares in them that would probably cast shadows of the people in the room if the light was shining just right. The floors were the same unstained wood and it was all open and airy. So beautiful. There were hallways with pictures and historical information – we read some of it and skipped some of it. Sometimes I’m not a very good tourist. We were there for an hour or so, maybe more because of all the pictures we took and bathroom breaks and then browsing the gift shop at the end of the self-guided tour.

After there, we went to lunch. And now I’m trying to remember where we ate. I think it was the Thai in the Sky place. A gorgeous simple Thai restaurant on a hill overlooking the ocean with green gardens and lots of trails and benches for sitting and enjoying the view, and an open, airy dining room where we had a family-style Thai meal. I really enjoyed some of the dishes, like the PadThai (sp?), but I didn’t get much of it because that was the kids’ favorite too and we had to make sure they had enough to eat that wasn’t too spicy. The two chicken dishes we got were tasty, too. Some of the dishes, such as the salad and the soup were too spicy for me to really enjoy them. I think my brother got some pictures of the gardens – I’m going to have to get those from him, along with a lot of other pictures he took with his professional camera all week.

After lunch, we headed back to the house so that my bro D could lay down while his daughter J napped. The rest of us, including little B, went shopping on one of the army bases for souvenirs. After much agonizing (shouldn’t have been so hard but I’m not used to spending money on frivolous items), I got a jewelry box for P with a cute Japanese cover over a mirror, K2 a stuffed shi-sa dog that squeaks, myself some really cool bowls – set of 4 (great for oatmeal!!), and a jade shi-sa dog necklace. I couldn’t figure out what to get K, nor was I able to pick a kimono robe, so I knew I’d have to go back a different day.

I think Wed night was the night we went to a Japanese restaurant called Genka (or something like that). And had sushi. Or they did, and I had one brief bite and then tried to just eat the cooked parts of dinner.

Ok – if that WAS the night we had Genka, it was the night we went to a bath house. Mineral pool almost as warm as a hot tub, colder pool that was beautiful but that I had no desire to get into (it was cold and windy), hot tub, saunas, a “naked zone” where you could sit in another mineral pool and then shower Japanese style sitting on a bench or stool. I didn’t go in the naked zone – had no desire to have my pregnant junk out for all the little Japanese ladies to see, though they probably wouldn’t have cared. But the mineral pool was blissful and even though it hurt my sunburn for the first few seconds, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In the front foyer before we got in the pools, we experienced “Doctor Fish”, where you sit around a little rectangular foot pool and put your feet in for the little fish to eat off the dead skin from your feet and lower legs. I lasted about 10 seconds – it tickled so bad! And the idea that a little live fish was trying to get the dead skin between my toes was too much.

After the bath house, we headed home and then the girls headed out to go to Yogurtland. Yum. American, but yum. That is, IF that was Wednesday night and not Thursday.

Thursday, what the heck did we do Thursday???? Geez. I’m going to have to update this after texting my bro later today. I don’t want to text now just in case he’s still asleep, though I don’t know why he would be at 9 AM.

I think Thursday night might have been the evening we had a fire on their upstairs balcony in a grill and made smores? Not sure!!! But whichever night that was, it was fun once I got over the spider webs ringing the balcony and the wind shifted so the smoke wasn’t in my face. 🙂 And the company was excellent!

Friday, we headed to the north end of the island. First we stopped at the pineapple village that I’d been looking forward to all week due to all the talking up my hosts had done. You start out riding in a little automated golf cart with a huge fake pineapple on top of it. The cart takes you on a tour around the pineapple gardens where the pineapples are actually growing, or at least some of them. There are also some pretty gardens. Then you get off the cart and walk through a little museum of sea creatures – shells in display cases of all kinds of aquatic animals, skeletons of sea cucumbers and all kinds of funky stuff. Pretty cool. Then there’s a shop where you can buy the picture the system took of you and your group in your cart. We skipped through that (can you say expensive?). Then you head into the part that had been raved about – the shop where they sell the pineapple products – and you can eat free samples of everything! It starts with the pineapple wine, which we skipped since we don’t drink. Then pineapple vinegar and juices – YUM! I almost splurged and got some pineapple vinegar – would’ve been a cool think to have on salads instead of balsamic vinegar. If my group had lingered in there any longer, long enough for me to commit my money, I probably would have. But we continued on. Pineapple cakes, cookies, pies, shortbreads, more shortbreads, more cakes, pancakes, chocolate (mixed with white I think) and so on. We tried pretty much everything – some of it more than once. And once again, if my group had lingered longer I probably would have picked something to buy. Maybe.

After the pineapple village, we drove to Beach Rock Village and Cafe. It is a WWOOF site, Willing Workers on Organic Farms, where the people that run the farm, the cafe, and the gardens live there for free in tents and teepees and huts, and they’re work is the payment they give for their lodging. There was a little rectangular gazebo of sorts with a bench facing out over the jungle vista where we sat on the floor in front of the bench to eat our pizza from the cafe. You can eat inside the main teepee, but we chose to eat outside. While waiting for our pizza we explored – walking up the wooden walkway to the tents of the residents, a dog pen, and some of the gardens, climbing into one of the big tree houses, after sliding down the little slide you can use to get to the main platform. My bro took pictures of all this, I’d left mine in the car. I’m lucky I remember it even happened! Sheesh. Lunch was good, though there wasn’t a ton of it between the 5 adults and two kids. The view was awesome, but it was kind of weird all facing the same way and not getting to really face each other and interact. I guess I’m a kill-joy, but I kind of like sitting on a chair and getting to see my dinner companions. 🙂 But I wouldn’t give up the experience!

After lunch, we walked down one of the jungle paths to the other tree house, which looked way too precarious for me to venture up it. The very top was a beehive like structure made out of colored glass and plexiglass, even the floor. It was pretty, and I’ll take some of my brother’s pictures to remember. But I wasn’t climbing up there with my belly and all – no way no how. After that, we walked back up the car and headed for our destination for the night – Okuma base where my SIL had reserved some rooms for us right on the beach. Unfortunately, it was so windy and cold, we basically shacked up for the late afternoon and evening, though the plan had been to go kayaking that afternoon. D and his daughter J took naps, we watched some movie on the TVs, and T and his girlfriend went for a walk in the cold. I hung out, read my book, and watched TV. Not really eventful, but it was nice to relax for a while. After a while, SIL A started dinner with all the supplies she’d brought. She made green curry and rice with eggplant, kombucha squash, shrimp, zucchini. It was so good! After dinner, we hung out some more and then we put the kids down, set up the baby monitor, and headed to the second room where T, his girlfriend, and I were going to stay (me and the girlfriend in the bedroom on the two queens, and T in the living area on the pull-out couch. I was basically their chaperone:) to watch a movie. We watched Pure Luck, on the condition that none of us quoted it or pre-laughed since T’s girlfriend hadn’t seen it. That was her condition, and it kind of took the fun out of watching it with my two brothers since we’d already been quoting it all week and it is one of our favorite family movies just because of all our history of quoting it. I couldn’t even stay awake through it all and dozed off so much I finally got up and went to bed toward the end – about 9:30. And then I slept until 8. Wow. Had to get up a few times to pee – stupid toilet was as loud as a typhoon, but it had to be done.

In the morning, it was warmer and less windy. We got packed up after we had some oatmeal for breakfast, and headed out for some adventures before we drove back down to the south end. We dropped T and his girlfriend off at Hiji Falls for them to hike up (none of the rest of us felt up the hike), set a time to meet to pick them up, and headed off to find a wildlife conservatory that D and A had seen signs for on previous trips but had never experienced. We found it, but unfortunately it was full of men with their shoes off painting it – it was either being renovated or still being built but it was very obviously not open for business. D was disappointed, but we decided to head to a park they’d been to before for me to see it. It had a campground, some really cool cabins and off-the-ground huts that were shaped like teepees on stilts, and a playground. The playground had this roller slide that was really fun, and we played there for a while with the kids. I’d seen video of them going to down similar roller slides, so it was great to get to experience it first hand. D and I also walked to another side to get some pics overlooking the ocean and jungle. After potty breaks, we headed back to pick up T.

A little Mexican restaurant (4 tables, 2 of which we had to use for the 7 of us) in a couple’s home was the next stop. D and A had heard it was the best, most authentic Mexican on the island. It was kind of a challenge to find, and it was a little weird because it was so small and we were the first people there. But it was good food, and probably my most filling meal in a restaurant the whole week. I had the enchilada “set”.

After lunch we headed south, stopping briefly at a pretty waterfall that wasn’t as much of a hike as Hiji. We took pictures and then headed out again.

We arrived at the house, I checked my email to make sure K hadn’t requested a specific present, and then A, T’s girlfriend, and myself headed back to the gift shops. Unfortunately, the shop that A wanted to take us to was closed, but I still managed to get K a t-shirt (which he doesn’t even really want), K2 a ninja headband, myself a gorgeous reversible kimono robe (pink with small lotus flowers, and then black with a gold embroidered dragon), and the kid bowl set that I had so admired the first afternoon of shopping. And a Cinnabon. 🙂 Quick stop at the commissary and gas station, and we were off to the house for our last evening in Japan.

D and A had a dinner group meet-up planned for Saturday night, so we went with. A made this yummy braided sandwich thingy from Pillsbury crescent roll dough, BBQ sauce, rotisserie chicken, cheese, and onions. Mmmmm. It was potluck, and there was two types of noodle salad, jello salad, rye bread with spinach dip, and brownies. A’s contribution was by far the yummiest and didn’t last long. I was only slightly bored as we talked with their friends – its kind of hard for me to engage when I know I’m never going to see someone again. But as usual I enjoyed my siblings’ company and the people were very nice. On the way home, we stopped at another FamilyMart so I could buy some Japanese chewy candies to bring back to the kids.

And then it was the house, to pack, to check into our flights online, and to sit around and chat for the last few minutes before bed.

Sunday morning came too early. I got up intending to work out really quickly to get the blood flowing in preparation for sitting for so long on my flights, but I couldn’t get their DVD drive in their computer to open. So I did the T-Tapp BWO from memory, which was actually plenty of workout and all I really had time for. A quick shower and last bits of packing later, scarfing down the yummy scones A made for breakfast, and then we were loading up to take T and GF to the airport. Then D and I headed for some time-killing site-seeing. We found a temple D had never been to, which led us to a beach and garden he’d never been to, and then drove down a commercial street in downtown Naha. Then back to the garden went to on that first day to finish looking at it (we’d had to leave quickly when D got called into a work for a brief). I’m glad we went back because the parts we missed were pretty cool.

And then the airport. The check-in line was pretty long, and D stayed with me as long as he could until I had to go through security to the waiting area. I said good-bye quickly so that I wouldn’t cry, and we parted. I hope it isn’t another 3 years before I see him again!

The trip back was uneventful. Long, didn’t get much sleep. Little Korean lady on the long flight kept hogging the area with her elbow. Finished my third book of the trip. Watched Blind Side (great!) and Fame (lame). Tried to get up to pee a lot, but they weren’t distributing as much water as the flight there, and I only got up the guts to hit my attendant button once. So I swelled – big time. By the time I got home my ankles and feet were ridiculous. Paced a lot in Seoul airport to try to help my sore butt, and tried to sleep a lot in San Fran airport.

Arrived in DEN 20 minutes early, got my baggage, and waited for my ride, trying to put my feet up. Checked nothing had broken in transit and was very relieved that everything was intact. It was so great to see my little ones!! P was so excited to see me and looked so pretty, and K2 was kind of shy with me for the drive home but warmed up soon after arriving at the grandparents’. Mom had made a lasagna with the timer on the oven, and we had a late dinner and I decided to stay up there since Dad said my kitchen was still dismantled from his tile installation and that the main floor of my house was a mess. So we put the kids to bed, and I followed pretty quickly after them after washing my feet in Mom’s bathtub (they were gross from my flip-flops, flights, and airports for 16+ hours). Slept pretty darn good.

I’M BACK

Monday dawned – still felt so tired. Mom and Dad had already gone to work – the kids and I slept until a little after 7. We slowly got up, went upstairs, watched a little TV, had breakfast, and then I slowly got us packed up and loaded into the H3. We left Monument at about 10:30 and drove home. And Dad wasn’t kidding when he said my house was a mess. So we spent the morning upstairs unpacking and getting settled back in. Then I let the kids watch a little TV, put K2 down for a nap, let P play on the computer, and went to bed myself. Oh, after doing finances which totally depressed and stressed me out. Yay for being home from vacation.

Mom and Dad arrived after work around 4:20, which is when K2 and I got up from our naps. And we started trying to put the kitchen back together – or Mom and I tried to help Dad put it back together. Or stay out of his way. 🙂 Bottoms of cupboards were caulked, floorboards put back on, fridge, stove, washer, and dryer put back in place. Trap door to crawl space painted around edges. So at least I could get to use my kitchen and do laundry. Mom and I ordered pizza and by the time dinner was done and all the work was finished, the kids had barely been put to bed, and the parents left. I texted K a whole bunch and then took a blissful shower in my Western bathroom. Watched some TV in my new robe. And went to bed way too late – around 12:30. Then I couldn’t get to sleep. The kids had both woken up multiple times at this point – getting used to being home and missing their dad, and having achy legs. I didn’t get to sleep until almost 2, though I dozed before then. Then K2 woke up at 5 and needed medicine and comforting. And then I couldn’t get back to sleep! I got about 1 hour more before it was time to get up for P’s school.

Tuesday, Dad came down to finish up the work. He put the toilet and sink back, put the rest of the floorboards on, put a cover over the transition between laminate and tile, and finished packing up his tools. The floor looks amazing!!!!! While he was busy doing that, I was taking care of K2, picking P up from school, and going to the JP office, where they’d messed up our paycheck. So I had to go back after going home, making lunch (egg and hashbrown burritos – need groceries bad), letting the kids play outside for a bit, and then putting K2 down for a nap. I left P doing homework under Dad’s supervision while I went back to JP, got the corrected check and stopped at the requisite two banks to cash and deposit. Then home again.

Dad left around 3:30. P finished her homework and went outside to play. K2 got up shortly afterward to join her and I made sure the neighbors were ok with my kids being over there and then relaxed for a bit before starting dinner. We ate around 5:30 and then the kids played in the backyard for a while and then bath time and then bed. I got sleepy watching TV around 9:30, but didn’t go to bed until about 10:30 after eating leftover pizza. Stupid. Oh, well. I’m still recovering from jetlag, but at least last night my sleep was pretty normal.

Phew. This is SO long! Today has been kind of normal so far. Though I turned off the TV 20 minutes ago, which isn’t normal. I need to finish this post so I can play with K2 some since I’ve cut him off from his usual TV until P gets home. I’m trying to do better on the TV front, especially after they didn’t watch much at Grandma’s while I was gone and I was inspired by how little TV my niece and nephew watch in Japan.

I’ll write about getting the house on the market later – I can’t type anymore right now. Geez. Should have written some of this down sooner but there was so much it was daunting. I’m glad its done for now. Caught up.

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