over the past year or so i’ve found my social circle expanding to include an awesome group of twenty somethings.
until i moved to thailand i had no idea that people actually did that kind of thing – the move to a foreign country thing. okay, i knew people moved countries – what i probably mean is i had no idea i could do that kind of thing and i was totally ignorant of the fact that it was possible for 20 somethings to do such a thing all on their lonesomes. but these guys have all done it. they are all here on a temporary basis – different lengths of temporary – and most of them are still trying to figure out just exactly what they want from life.
they are beginning their journey back to america – one at a time – to figure out the when, where, and how of the next phase of their lives. i am almost certain that they have no idea how much their friendships have meant to me. this whole year has been overshadowed by my first born leaving, moving to another country (not a strange and foreign country, but still not the country i’m in). i am constantly questioning and doubting the job we’ve done preparing him to take on this next challenge. life without his parents. there are so many things he’ll have to make happen. and every time i’ve found myself a little (or a lot) overwhelmed i’ve been able to look to these guys and want what they have for him. and for him to get there he has to take this first step.
i would be proud for my kids to be like these guys. i want to encourage them to head out and do the unknown. to take risks. to live life and live it big. that’s what these guys are doing and they are doing it amazingly well.
whatever this is i’ve got hasn’t had me feeling like doing much of anything, but we finally got out of the house to do something that wasn’t running an errand. we went to a baseball game – the colorado rockies vs. the san francisco giants. i enjoy a baseball game, but i do find they can go on a bit long. i’m not the only one who feels this way because our group decision was that we would arrive sometime after the game had started. we were shooting for second or third inning, but ended up arriving at the bottom of the fifth. still plenty of game to watch. and look how awesome our seats were. (i even zoomed in a little.)
rockies were up 1-0 when we got there, but pretty quickly the giants tied it up. it was still tied as we went into the bottom of the 9th inning and i was a little worried we were in for extra innings. i really couldn’t complain too much, it was a beautiful day – 82 degrees. however, a run was batted in and our team won.
i’m really a texas rangers fan. the rockies our only my team when we’re in colorado. or when the rangers aren’t playing in colorado. after the game there was a mercy me concert. and both of these things happened at the same time.
those speakers were loud, but he still managed to snooze.
after the game and concert we needed to eat. we were undecided on where we wanted to go until we saw the sign for five guys burgers.
five guys was on the list of must eat places because not too long ago the kids came across this on you tube (i can’t figure out how to actually embed the video – i’ve tried several tutorials, but no luck.) the guy in the video is right. these are good burgers.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
by the time we got to colorado springs we were sure that lady liberty’s message was directed to us. we were tired, cranky, hungry, and stinky. knowing we were going to need to get here and there and everywhere while we were in colorado springs i had taken a little time while we were in tokyo and found us a deal on a rental car. my only requirements were that it be able to seat five. i didn’t even care if it could seat five comfortably, i just needed for five us to be able to sit in the car – legally. here’s what i had reserved.
except i had forgotten something. there was no way all five of us and our luggage were going to fit in that car. .
when michael went to pick up the car he was able to get us an upgrade.
and now we’re living the american dream in our mondo big s.u.v.
once the car situation was sorted we headed to the house of some friends who were putting us up for the first several days of our trip. (spoiler alert: this is where we learned that monica can not plan both a vacation to tokyo and a trip to america.) we rang the bell and no one answered. odd, but we managed to come up with several scenarios that had them out of the house at the moment we were due to arrive. rather than wait around we figured we’d go grab dinner. as we headed to dinner we realized we were gonna be awfully close to some other friends and we decided to stop by there first. plus it would give me a chance to check my email to see if there was an update from our friends that weren’t home. my email didn’t give me any new details, but it did answer our questions with some old information. i’d penciled in the wrong dates. oops. rereading the emails i discovered that the friends who weren’t home weren’t home because they were out of state. luckily, the friends we were visiting are kind and generous and all around amazing because they went ahead and put us up several days before we were due to arrive at their house.
and we spent almost the entire first week in america kicking jet-lag and trying recovering from a bad case of undiagnosed nastiness.
we left tokyo and headed for america. (i’m pretty sure the slow boat to china would have gotten us there faster – if we’d been headed to china that is.)
you can follow along on the handy dandy map below… we all started together at point a. haneda international airport in tokyo. but we didn’t stay together long. michael, a16, and s13 left at 23:55. they flew to point b – kuala lumpur, malaysia. from there they went to point d – bangkok, thailand. they were well into their journey when chan and i left from point a – tokyo, japan – and headed to point c – singapore. from singapore we flew to point d – bangkok, thailand. that’s where we all met up and got on the same itinerary. we had an overnight layover with an early morning start. after a little less sleep than we wanted and in less than high spirits we headed back to the airport and left from point d – bangkok, thailand – and landed at point “nearly-the-same-as a” – narita international airport, tokyo, japan. yep, we were back to very, very close to where we’d started and it had only taken 36 hours and 30 minutes to get there.
we boarded the flight in tokyo – point a – and were finally headed for america. point b – san francisco, california was our point of entry and where we’d get to go through customs. never a fun experience. also, i don’t think i’ve drawn the flight path correctly on the map below. the correct path goes north and then south. i did learn about lambert conformal conical projections while trying to figure that out.
from san francisco, california – now point a and not my favorite airport – we were headed to denver, colorado – point b. about 1/2 way into our flight we lost power to the cabin. they eventually announced that there was some problem with an oven and the only way to deal with it was to turn off the power, but they assured us all was good. which we believed until we landed. we were greeted on the runway by all kinds of emergency vehicles. they followed us all they way to our gate. and then they boarded the plane and we had to sit and wait until they gave us the all clear. which they did, eventually. we got off the plane and got ready for the very last leg of our flight. point b – denver, colorado – to point c – colorado springs, colorado. just a hop skip and a jump away. we boarded the small plane, not personal plane small, but small enough. after the flight attendant gave all the required plane information and warnings including that we could turn on our electronics after we were “airborning”, for real she said “airborning”, the plane pulled away from the gate. and then stopped. and then pulled back into the gate. after a few moments the pilot came on and said there was nothing to worry about. they just couldn’t get the engine to start properly so they needed to plug in again and then we’d give it another go. (not very confidence building.) we did eventually take off and land at point c.
and that’s how you take 58 hours to get to america.
i hadn’t really made a plan for our last day in japan. we needed to be out of the apartment by 10am and michael, a16 and s13 weren’t due to fly out until 23:30 or so. we could store our luggage near the apartment, but that would mean getting back to the luggage and then to the airport which seemed like it could be a headache. and we had a lot of luggage. a quick internet search and i learned that we could leave our luggage at the airport. so we were up and out and headed to the airport. the kids were only slightly embarrassed to have to lug the suitcases through the streets of japan and from train station to train station.
on our last trip through the train station i saw that i had missed out on a great opportunity. i’m thinking i could have ditched the family and enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the housewives hall. or i guess it’s possible it’s also where they do housewife training. i think i’m okay not taking that gamble.
we made it to the airport, took a little maneuvering, but we managed with no big problems. once we got there we suddenly had a lack of motivation to do anything else. for a few of us the lack of motivation looked a lot like napping. so we wondered the airport a bit.
while we were wondering we found another thing that was on the eat this while you’re in japan list. the tokyo banana. of the giraffe variety.
what’s a tokyo banana? it’s sort of like a twinkie. with banana custard filling. it was okay, but not earth shattering. and i’m not sure the giraffe theme helped.
we did finally end up leaving the airport. the kids saw another pokemon center that was close to the airport so we figured that would be better than nothing. turns out it was the exact same pokemon center and no longer photo worthy.
then we were off in search of dinner. we chose japanese curry since it was our last opportunity. while we were searching we came across this. the thai beer was tempting, but not that tempting.
back to the airport were we said good-bye to michael, a16, and s13.
then chan and i snuggled down for our wait – our 7 hour wait – and we met up with the rest of them in bangkok.
we made it to america and i still have a japan wrap up post to write, but it has pictures to go along with it and right now photos are proving to be a bit of a challenge.
one of the first things we did after finally arriving in colorado was drop off my laptop at the mac store. and they couldn’t fix it so it had to be sent out and is not due to return for another day or two (or three). i am now limited to an ipad and they aren’t so friendly with the pictures.
speaking of colorado – they should totally change their state motto to “the land that lacks moisture and oxygen” (or something witty like that). also, almost immediately upon landing i was struck ill. i was convinced i’d brought back some tropical japanese type disease, but have changed theories now and am pretty sure it’s just allergies. jet-lag plus allergy fuzzy headedness equals misery and also has the added bonus of making one a pretty lack luster contributor to any social situation. unless the social situation is improved by the presence of nasty flem-y coughing.
turns out two is not too many ramen noodle museums to visit in one day. we didn’t eat any ramen noodles at the cup noodles museum we just created some to eat later, but at the shin-yokohama raumen museum we had every intention of eating some fresh ramen soup. i’d read that you went to this museum for the eating – the museum part is secondary. while the museum part did create some nice ambience, there wasn’t really much to it that a quick walk through wasn’t enough for. i wonder how close to 1958 japan it really comes.
after our walk through it was time to get down to business. we decided to split up to sample ramen from two of the eight shops located in the museum. these eight shops were chosen from the 10s of 1,000s located through out the country, so they should be pretty good.
chan and i chose sumire. they make a miso soup from soybean paste with chicken, pork, seafoods, garlic, and ginger as ingredients. we both chose pork.
michael, a16, and s13 all had ikemen hollywood. it’s tonkotsu ramen with soy sauce as the basic seasoning and pork, garlic, and ginger as ingredients.
everyone was satisfied with what they chose and everyone cleaned their plates (bowls), so it’s hard to say which was better. but all that really matters is that everyone was happy.
we finished up and were ready to head back when this happened. we’re still not sure just what it was. but it involved dancing. and acting. and cup stacking. and juggling. where do they find that kind of talent?
whatever it was it was certainly worth the price of admission and s13 voted it the best part of his day.