The view from the 14th floor. What a fantastic downtown.
Today was an eight-hour drive from Carson City, NV to Los Angeles, California. We thought we were going to encounter rain and possibly snow showers, but the drive couldn't have been more beautiful and perfect.
Today is our last day in Nevada and it was a cold, rainy and mostly rainy one. Oma and I did manage a workout class and then we took the kids to see Oma's friend's baby chicks. Needless to say the kids loved the chicks and Sky is especially keen to get some chickens when we move into our house in Virginia. I said, maybe to chickens, but no goats.
Cousins (ages 12 - 15), together again at Opa's birthday dinner, after not seeing each other for four years.
The neighbors have a trampoline and my kids are having a blast. They loved our trampoline so much when they were little. When we moved to Tampa, we exchanged our trampoline for a backyard pool and the littles were NOT happy. Eventually they came to love our pool, but they always missed the trampoline too. Sky was super excited to show me the new flipping skills she acquired while spending a month in Bali with her friend, Audrey.
The almost full moon, peaking through the grand pines, that Opa wanted me to photograph. It didn't quite work out but I love it anyways.
Oh, did I mention that our anxiety-ridden dog also gets car sick? Well, he does. We've figured out some tricks to hopefully prevent him from puking in the car, having his head out the window is one of them. The other, which we just learned on this drive from Sacramento to Nevada, is that he seems to be relaxed and happy in his tiny dog bed. So YAY for no dog puke thus far BUT we have an eight-hour drive in a week. Wish us luck.
We drove from San Francisco to Sacramento to see my Mom. Another awesome hotel room on the 22nd floor with this fantastic morning view of downtown Sacramento. Nothing like the glow of a sunrise with the view of a vibrant full moon.
Hard to believe we're back in America, to stay and that this is not just a holiday trip. We ended up spending two days exploring San Francisco and visiting friends, which was awesome. We had a beautiful view from the 9th floor of our Marines Memorial Club & Hotel room. And what an awesome hotel, dedicated to the Marines and military in general.
A funny note: Our dog has MAJOR separation and travel anxiety. Needless to say, he's been through quite a lot over the past week. Well, we did attempt to leave him once in our hotel room when we first got there and wanted to grab a quick lunch. Well, bad idea. He whined and barked and scratched at the door, so when I walked in, the floor was covered with chips of paint. From that point on, the dog was never not with us.
On our way! Tokyo, Japan to San Francisco, USA.
SUPER LUCKY for us, our flight to America was only about one-third full. That meant that the littles each got their own row and Steve and I shared a row, with Charley secretly in the seat between us.
My Love Letter to Japan...
Where do I start? How can I put it all into words? Japan, you are so beautiful, kind, giving, respectful, clean, hard-working and overall pretty darn magical. I remember the day the kids and I arrived, like it was yesterday. Steve had already been there for four months, but was leaving on deployment three days after we arrived. There was so much to learn, process and try to understand. I had to learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road, take the written driving test, navigate my way from base to the house, and figure out the train system, google maps and the toll ways. The list goes on. Having never lived in a foreign country before, I was a bit nervous. The fact that we couldn’t speak your language provided an additional challenge, but we quickly learned to communicate with a lot of hand gestures and head nods. I also have come to master the look of being confused and not understanding, during our time with you.
Days went on and feelings of loneliness and missing friends and family began to seep into the cracks, but we continued to fall more and more in love with you and those cracks began to fill with the joy of embracing our present. Over the past two and a half years, we have been gifted with so many incredible experiences and adventures: jumping off cliffs and waterfalls, visiting snow monkeys, climbing Mt Fuji, walking through thousands of Torii gates, visiting a variety of shrines and temples, going to a Japanese baseball game, watching sumo wrestling, visiting a trick art museum, packing our own ramen noodles, visiting an owl and falcon cafe, seeing the winter illuminations, riding four world record-breaking roller coasters, trying cow tongue, rock-climbing in Izu, sleeping on futons, feeding the holy deer of Nara, jumping in the lake from a rope swing, swimming with a whale shark, visiting the WWII Japanese underground headquarters and visiting the Peace Memorial museum (just to name a few!). You also allowed us to explore so many fascinating sister countries: Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia and India.
I never dreamt that I would one day live in Japan and now I am forever grateful for the opportunity. Japan, you will always have a special place in my heart. I’m not sure when I will see you again, but I know that one day it will happen. Until then, I will relish in the awesome memories you have left me with. Thank you for being you and being so lovely. Until the next time…
Sky waiting in the bunk bed. Me taking advantage of the pretty light in our Navy Lodge room.
I can't post today without sharing how amazing the Japanese movers are. This is a photo of one of the movers getting our heavy queen mattress, which was lowered down from the upstairs bedroom window. They did in eight hours what it took Tampa movers four DAYS to accomplish. Our house is now all packed up and we are checked into the Navy Lodge for our last few days in Japan. So far, so good with everything. Timing and luck have definitely been on our side this move (our last military PCS out).
There's very strict requirements about pet transfer to and from Japan, so today was Charley's final vet check-up and paperwork completion. But wait, no...the paperwork is not done. There's still another form that has to be completed, scanned and emailed to the airport's quarantine services for their review. They are then supposed to email us a time to meet with them prior to our flight, to do another paperwork review and inspect Charley. I should also note that Charley is the WORST traveler ever, stricken with major anxiety. PLEASE let this go smoothly and let him survive another international trip.
Two days before our house gets packed up and I made a mad dash to the store to buy a bunch of flowers and get this vision out of my head. From the store-bought flowers to the many potted flowers almost every home owner has in front of their house, flowers are so loved and appreciated here in Japan. I mean even 7-11 has the most beautiful bouquets of flowers; I've never seen anything quite like it. But, 7-11s here are pretty darn awesome in general.