Thursday, July 02, 2015

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling, Keep those Doggies Rolling!

I believe that I have covered the highlights of our trip to Okinawa. I returned from Okinawa, went to work for three days, flew to San Angelo, helped pack Daughter #1's stuff in her SUV, drove to Colorado Springs, and then flew back to Tucson! Daughter #1 had asked for company on this drive to her next clinical as part of the DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) program at ASU. We jokingly refer to this as the "good" ASU (Angelo State University). I will fly back to Colorado Springs in mid August and reverse the trip. Rolling........

After that quick run, I really was having a bit of travel lag. There seemed to be a longer adjustment period to get accommodated to the normal sleep schedule. This is probably because I was up longer on the return trip from Okinawa. I was up the entire trip and we arrived back in Tucson midday. I think that I stretched the trip time an additional 6 hours or so making for a grand total of 32 hrs awake. Just a bit to long for this cranking old man.

I had no real lag problems going to Okinawa. We stayed up the whole trip there, arrived about 9PM, got a bite to eat and went to bed. Easy.

I see that the McMann Roadrunner Gun Show has a new venue in Tucson, Sabbar Shrine. It is July 11th & 12th. I will be in Chandler on the 10th & 11th for the Red Cross of Constantine Southwest Regional meeting. Rolling......... That means that I can go to the show on the 12th as we will return to Tucson that morning. Rolling.....

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Okinawa Day 12 - 14

We went South to go to the Naval Underground (Japanese Headquarters) and then to the Peace Memorial Museum. 
 The Naval Underground was interesting in that it was the last bastion as the Japanese retreated South from US forces. The headquarters was formally more central in Shuri. They used the Okinawans as forced labor to excavate the tunnels. It was all done by hand.

 Then we were off to the Okinawa Prefectural Peace Memorial Museum. Photos were not allowed in the museum proper.

There is a field of monuments with the names or the people (including the Americans) who died during WWII on the island. This was a proper lead in to our Memorial Day.

Okinawa– Day 13
Pack it up. We also went over to the neighbors for dinner. It was enjoyable. It finally decided to rain steadily. We have been so lucky in that the weather has been agreeable the whole trip.

Okinawa– Day 14
Off to the airport. I understand the Japan had a 5.2 earthquake about the time we were landing in Narita. We did not even feel it so we were probably in the landing process.

We got the house about 4PM Tucson time and everything was fine. I ran off to the grocery store for lunch supplies after unpacking. I needed to get a few things before I sat down and passed out!

Okinawa Day 11

This day was a loaf around day. We went to the mall for dinner at the Kunigami Fisherman’s Wharf. I had the one person seafood course that had Salad Bar, Garician Boiled Octopus, Seafood Sausage, Seaweed and Anchovy Focaccia (bread), Kunigami Fresh Seafood Paella, and Homemade Teppan Crepe Suzette with Vanilla Ice Cream. All the courses were great! The chef decided to give me extra ice cream helpings probably figuring that I would have help. He was right!

Every so often, I would some teenager snicker behind me as I walked through the mall. I'm not sure why. Couldn't be the hat or that I am 6'7".

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Okinawa Day 10

 The Ocean Expo Park was our next stop which contains the Churaumi Aquarium, Manatee Pool, Sea Turtle Pool, Dolphin Lagoon, Native Okinawan Village, and Tropical Dream Center.

There was a large flower shark and many other displays put together with flowers of other sea creatures. Not to worry, I broke that shark so we could ride him around.

We started out heading for the aquarium which is huge and is the only one that is big enough to house whale sharks. 

There are divers in the tank with the rays and whale sharks. One was filming and the other was cleaning the acrylic surface. I wonder if they draw straws to see who scrubs? The big whale shark is 8.5 meters long. The acrylic is laminated to about 60 cm thick. The aquarium introduces an open system in which sea water that is scooped from the ocean enters the aquarium tanks and then is returned to the ocean once again.
 Another aquarium section was the Journey to a Coral Reef which had sections on the Coral Lobby, Life in Inoh (touch pool), the Coral Sea, the Sea of Tropical Fish, Coral Reef World and Freshwater Life.

 No petting the sharks.

Journey to the “Kurosh” exhibited the Shark Lab, the Kuroshio Sea, and Aqua Room. Journey into the Deep Sea was the last exhibit area for the aquarium building with sections for Deep Sea Gallery, Small Marine Life in the Deep Sea, Deep Sea, Ocean Planetarium, Aqua Lab and the gift shop (of course!).

Next we were off to the Manatee section, Sea Turtles and then the dolphin show.

Lastly, off to the Tropical Dream Center! The entrance/gift shop is the Stained Glass Hall.
This is the ceiling!

This is one wall inside the hall.

The grounds were impressive with all the tropical flowers and displays. It rivaled the Botanical Gardens but in a different way as this was a much more intimate arrangement that invite leisure and contemplation.

The view from the top of the Observatory was impressive as it is about 6 stories tall and is already up on a cliff. You did not realize that the courtyard area flowers were in a heart shape until looking down at them.

This was a long but wonderful day.

Okinawa Day 9

It is raining a bit this morning and mom is still sleeping. We will most likely blow off the Oceanic today and go to a museum to stay out of the rain.

We made it over to the Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum. It is split into two section with individual fees for each. 

They had a Disney section on the art side that was quite comprehensive. No further pictures were allowed in the Disney or the art exhibit.

There was also an exhibit on how some of the prints are made using a one-time mold of plaster. The steps involved were interesting:
·       Take a block of plaster
·       Carve it
·       Color with oil based crayons
·       Paint with oil paint
·       Set the plaster in water to loosen the oil
·       Remove from the bath and press the paper to it
There was a large expo on one of the famous artist that used this technique. There was another exhibit that was more permanent featuring a variety of artists.

The other side of the museum covered archeology, mythical, history, and other items of Okinawa. This was very interesting and some pictures were allowed.

Gods that visit villages!

We then went off to Gen to have sushi. They have a whole bunch of Shisa on the roof who all appear to be drinking or partying.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Okinawa Day 8

I haven’t found a formal name for the sports park we visited today. 
Daughter #2 goes there to walk the dog, feed the fish and collect coral/seashells. It was large and quite nice.

Time to water the dog.
We cleaned up and went over to the commissary followed with a trip to the AEON Mall Okinawa Rycom. This is a five story large mall with the fifth floor being all restaurants and great views. The mall has everything except large clothing. I have yet to find a t-shirt or anything that I can wear. Largest size is XL in most things. Waist size goes to 38. There were the usual plethora of women’s shops so Justin & I found a restaurant with a bar and had very nice hot Hakutsuru sake at Red Lobster. I don’t know if that is supposed to be a good sake but it hit the spot. Yes, go figure, Red Lobster. I understand that the food is not good compared to the other restaurants. The upside to the restaurant being empty was that the bar was also empty!

We then proceeded to see if we could walk all the floors of the mall. I think that we succeeded! The girls were quite busy shopping. I finally found something to purchase.
Awamori is a distilled version of rice wine that has some black mold in it. I had no idea if any of these will be good. We sampled the one on the right and I do believe it is an acquired taste!  

Trying to do a selective decipher from a translation app.
Middle bottle - Mizuizumi old wine 43%
Left bottle - Rui Izumi Shofuru – serve at 25 degrees.
Right bottle - Rui HR Izumi 30% recommend to dilute with hot or cold water. We forgot to dilute it!

We had dinner at the Wild Ocean Grill & Bar at the mall which interestingly enough had more steak than seafood. I had the Atlantic Salmon which was done very nicely. That was the best offering but seemed odd as we are surrounded by the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Oh, well. I also had some corn and potato wedges that came with it. I haven’t had either of these since August on my Diet of Nope. They really tasted good!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Okinawa Day 6 & 7

Day 6 (Sunday) was a lazy one. We went to the new five story Aeon mall and got to drive around it as all the parking lots were full.
It was a beer and barbeque day.

Now, day 7 was a bit busier as we went to Shurijo Castle in Shuri overlooking Naha and the bay. This castle was fairly trashed in WWII and has been and still is being restored to original condition. This was THE seat of power for the RyoKyo Empire for centuries.

Traded cameras with an Okinawan gent so we could take pictures of each other.
Long winding trail on the palace grounds,

Castle entrance

I found some new friends on the roof!

More pictures to browse. Password = Okinawa

One fantastic place after another!

Okinawa Day 5

Someone was a bit tired after hiking up and down the hills at the botanical so we went for easy today.

We went to the beach to hang out. The floaties are for the jelly fish net so that there is an established swim area. Most did not seem to car if anything was posted or not.

I found some rally large jacks along the breakwater. The ends of these "jacks" are about 6' in diameter. Some of the more adventurous teenagers were hoping from one to the next. I peeked over looking at them and you could definitely fall through gaps and become trapped. Hmmmm. Natural selection in progress. Nice artwork on the wall along with some graffiti. 

The sunset was cloudy but still nice.

The company was great!

On the way back we stopped at Tenkaippin for some traditional Ryokyo ramen noodles. Yum!
I found someone game enough to let me take a picture in the prop outside of the restaurant!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Okinawa - Day 4

Day four was a trip to the Southeast Botanical Gardens. On the way I spotted this, a Masonic Lodge not far from base. They are everywhere!

The botanical gardens were beautiful. Take time to smell the flowers! It was a series of one outstanding area to the next. They had an area to go view and play with some of the animals there. Pure tourist but still fun.

Daughter #2 found a new friend.
Password is required for this folder. Password = Okinawa
Enjoy the photo album. Don't worry, there's more!

Friday, May 15, 2015


Konnichi wa!
We are in Okinawa enjoying ourselves. Daughter #2 and her Marine husband are living here for another 1 1/2 years so we came to visit. The travel here was fairly uneventful. We made a mistake in terminals at LAX but had plenty of time for correction. I think that the US airports and airlines could take lessons from the Japanese on courtesy and helpfulness. Immigration and customs involved the a wait in line but it wasn't bad as it was only about 15 minutes. They were well staffed to move the crowd through. I remember waiting well over an hour in Santiago for the two rude men to process everyone.

We left the 11th and arrived the night of the 12th as Okinawa is 14 hours ahead of AZ. Our return is on the 25th, so we will arrive the same day. Our daughter wanted us to stay with them as they have an extra bedroom in their dwelling at Camp Foster. Mama and I we pretty tired from the travel but it quite nice to have someone pick you up.
We stopped at CoCo Ichibanya (Japanese curry house) in Chatan for some carry out on the way to the base. You can get your curry with a heat level rated 1 through 10. I was warned to try a lower number so I ordered #3 heat. The 24 hour temporary passes we needed were obtained on the way onto base. Once we unloaded every, we had a nice meal. Spicy! Glad I did not order a number 7 even though I like hot food.

The first day we went over to get our real visitor passes and stocked up the pantry by going to the Commissary and then offsite to a local grocery store (San-A). I spent time gawking around at the myriad of things I haven't seen before just like typical tourists then returned and just visited as we haven't seen out daughter in about a year and a half. I will have to find someone that can read Japanese to find out what this says.

It was in the section that looked like sake and tasted like sake. This department/grocery store had everything including a 100 yen section (think dollar store). I picked up a few veggies that I had no idea what they were along with recognizable stuff. I have a book on Japanese vegetables. Now I had to actually look at it!
The same goes for books on Japanese for Dummies and Japanese Phrases which I did not time have to look at prior to departure. The usual guesses at what the veggies were turned out to be pretty close. So we did not pick up something thinking that it was dragon fruit and find out it was some stinky ole thing.
This store had very little in English so you were on your own.

Day two was still pretty laid back as far as the tourist things went as Mama was petty tired, probably with a little jet lag. So she slept in while I set my alarm figuring that I will get on local time asap. A late lunch was procured at Sushi Go Round, a local restaurant where the food comes around on a conveyor. If you see something you want to try, just take it off the belt and go for it. Your bill is totaled up by the color of the plate.
Note the one plate sitting on top of a bowl. That is something that someone ordered special and you should not take it.

You use the touch screen to order drinks and special items. Drinks and soup are the only thing delivered by a waiter/waitress.

I started with a clam miso soup that was very good and had the best salmon and tuna ever. I tried a few other items and all was good except I have never developed a tasted for the bean past stuff (aside from miso) and probably won't. We spent two hours there and were pretty full by the time we left. Most items on the belt had a leading placard with English subtitles if you couldn't figure it out. The touch screen for special ordering had language choice. The screen would announce when your special order was nearing so that you could watch for the plate on top of the bowl. Slick! This concept is of delivery by conveyor is not unusual.

Yes, there are a few plates there and they aren't mine. We left with the equivalent of a $50 bill for four people. Very inexpensive compared to the US.
There are some higher end shushi joints that are substantially more expensive.

Day three was a trip to the Southeast Botanical Gardens. I will post that separately as there a lot of nice photos to review.

I will probably be head bowing for a week after I get back as I have already gotten used to it.
Ja mata.