Monday, July 12, 2010

This summer:10: Ahhhhdventure :)

FINALLY I got to get my adventure on. :)
People kept warning us that Misawa might be boring since it's so far away from anything. But I guess it's the country girl in me, because I absolutely loved it.

Picture mainland Japan as a banana.
Misawa is at the top of the stem.

Saturday: We flew in from Tokyo on the most nauseating plane ride of my life. Luckily no barf bag was needed, but man was I glad to touch ground. When we landed it was already pretty dark and the sea fog had rolled in, so after a tour of the base, Charles and I hit the sack.
Sunday: Sunday was pretty chill. There were some 4th of July festivities around base, but all in all, that day was pretty chill. I was hoping to watch the fireworks at the beach, but alas, the elusive sea fog spoiled those plans, and the fireworks were rescheduled.
Monday: We didn't have camp on Monday because of the holiday, so we spent the afternoon prepping for the rest of the week. After that, our POC Lynn invited Charles and I to dinner in a town an hour away, and of course we obliged. The drive ended up being 2 hours (!!!) but through the most gorgeous countryside. I loved to watch the breath-taking mountains, coastline, farms and faces pass by the window. Dinner was fun, and it was cool to watch the base's fireworks from the highway on our way home.
Tuesday: Camp began. I also decided to rent a bike this day. BEST DECISION YET. This was the first time I was able to get a pass that would grant me the ability to travel on and off the base by myself. HEAVEN. This was the first time I have felt like I was able to actually explore and be free.

When I saw this sign, it all clicked:
I realized just how important it is for me to have this kind of freedom. I was going nuts being stuck on the base or right on the side of Charles or our POC. It was so wonderful to just ride around Misawa and do my thing. I need balance between my job and my me-time. This makes me so much more like myself and much less like angry monster Audrey. whew! Luckily, Charles and I were able to talk about this and both decided "Audrey's Solo Exploration Time" is a good idea to allow each day. Bring it on!

Wednesday: This day Lynn and her husband John took Charles and I to a shrine where we were able to walk around and take pictures. It was really beautiful and quiet--much better than the temple in Tokyo we went to before that was so commercialized. Then we went to the super market, laughed at the funny English translation on tshirts, and had the most tasty dessert of all--crepe cones. Observe the creamy deliciousness complimented by kiwi, strawberry and banana:

After the supermarket we went to the SUPER market... That's right, we went to the fish market. It was seriously a piece from my perfect day. We just walked through the market, and I tried SO MANY crazy foods. Every stand had multiple sample bowls where you would take the chopsticks and drop the bizarre food into your other hand before eating it. I ate squid ink pastries, tons of dried fish, dried fish skin chips, several types of salmon eggs, chewy tentacles and much, much more. haha It was so awesome. The vendors kept laughing at me because I was so excited to try everything. One woman that spoke English told Charles that I could travel anywhere with the enthusiasm I had eating that food.
The funniest thing was after eating so much fish, I wanted something sweet to wash the taste out of my mouth, so I bought what looked like a fruit roll-up. Yeeeaaah... It turned out to be a squid roll-up. So nasty, but I ended up eating the whole thing so that I didn't have to smell it in the car anymore. haha Why on earth would they put squid candy next to the gum at the register?!? Silly Japan.
Thursday: This was our Family Camp day. It was so perfect! Honestly, this was the Family Camp I look forward to having in Heaven. It just went so well. We sent our RSVP invitations at the beginning of the week, and ended up having a great turn out. The night was full of non-stop laughter, and even the Lieutenant Colonel cracked a smile. :) It really makes me look forward to our future Family Camps now that we have a seemingly successful formula.
Friday: We finished up camp and staff training then headed to the Oirase Gorge. I was really hoping to get a little bouldering (rock climbing) in, but alas, my climbing shoes stayed in by bag. It was alright though, because we got to see some really cool waterfalls and mountain sights. I was surprised how much the forest looked like the woods in southern Indiana and Kentucky. The ridges were a little steeper, but for the most part it was a good reminder of home. :)
On the way home from the gorge, we stopped at a Two Turtles. This is one of those conveyor belt sushi restaurants that you see in the movies. It was so, so fun. I would just see some funky-looking thing roll by, and I could grab it and eat it! haha As usually, you get some stinkers and some gems, but the experience always wins out over the flavors. :)
Saturday: This morning we had to leave at 9am to catch our plane, but I was determined to visit the ocean. So, I woke up at 6am, hoped on my rental bike, and rode through the rain on my search for the sea. A girl at the youth center told me all I had to do was drive out the gate and keep going. I rode and rode and rode for half an hour and still didn't reach the ocean. It was still such an amazing ride though. I passed by tiny farm houses with chickens clucking from their barns; I passed a secluded shrine tucked in a patch of tree; ...I also passed a man peeing in the street. ha It's socially acceptable for a man to just go for it right in the street, which I found rather shocking, but mildly hilarious at the same time.
I was about to turn around and head back when I thought I heard waves crashing over the sound of rain! YAYAYAYAYA! I made it to the ocean, but I had to keep searching to find an access point that wasn't covered with threatening looking signs. Eventually I found one that at least looked like no one would be able to see me going back to the beach. I remembered hearing how expensive it is to own a gun in Japan, so I figured I would chance it and take that path. I walked though what looked like a Christmas tree farm and wound up on a beautiful dark sand beach. It was stunning. I took a few minutes to run around on the beach and sing and laugh and twirl in the rain. Then I realized some people were watching me, so I gave them a wave then high tailed it out of there. :)
The perfect end to a great week.

Well, that was last week! Keep it here for updates on this week at Yakota Air Base back in Fussa City!

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