Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wow, this rig is getting expensive

DH and I drove over to Sequim yesterday. Sequim is on the Olympic pennisula and what a magnificent drive, we drove thru the forests, we drove along the sound and the road twisted around thru quaint little towns. It rained some, but not alot.
The whole purpose of the trip was to locate Eric's RV and Service. It was recommended to us by another RVer and we drove over there to check on the price of Headers, leaverlers, (sp) a dish, solar and the bill got up to about 12,000. I almost gaged cause I need to get tires also.
So, I think we will take the dish and solar off the list for now and see what Camping World wants for the levelors.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tacoma Museum of Glass

Tacoma? Noted for art?
Today, friends and I went and checked out the new exhibit at the Tacoma Glass Art Museum and I was not disappointed at all. I went a few years ago and thought it was good, but this time, I found it to be fasinating and interesting, and of course the glass was amazing.
We first checked out the "hot room' where they actually blow glass. Last time we just watched, but this time, they talked about what they were doing and why and how. It was fasinating.
OOOh and there is a glass organ there which is on loan and will only be there a couple more days. The glass blower/engineer made an organ with glass tubes and fire and it actually plays eerie notes and a magical sounds comes forth. It was worth the entrance fee alone.
Next time you come up to Tacoma, lets plan to go there. I could go over and over again and never get tired of it, it's so wonderful. I know that you will really enjoy it.
Our friend is up from Portland and it has rained every day since he came. He is use to the rain but I would really like to show him something other than rain clouds and dark skys. Tomorrow we plan to ge to Mima Mounds and play in the mud. Also Ft Lewis has a nice small museum that is well worth the trip.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Casita is coming home

The motorhome has been in storage for the past year and today Roy and John are going to go get it and bring it home. Sitting hasn't done alot for the old girl and so I know we have tons of stuff to do to her, just to get her on the road. She is going to get new tires next week and levelors and headers and thats just a start cause there are probably other things that she needs done. I know there are other things that she needs done.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


WE MADE IT, not without trails and troubles, but none the less we made it home and spent the first day sitting on our couch, looking for something to watch on TV. For those of you who are in Japan and think you have nothing to watch on TV, we have a 100 channels of nothing to watch on TV.....Never complain, at least you have a couple decent movie channels.

SOOOOO, we get to the airport on Tuesday night, thanks to Bev and Berry who graciously took us up there and delivered us at the airport hotel. It was a very luxorious hotel and worth every penny to stay there and not have to take a 0430 train that might or might not get us on time to the airport. BUT we went down to dinner and they had a western side and a Japanese side and as Western on our last night in Japan was unconcievable, we went to on the japanese side. Well, the waitress must not have had foreigners in there before as they were so gracious and helpful ( and didn't understand a word) but we ordered the Special Set thinking it would be cheaper than the regular menu. WRONG answer. First of all the set came with raw fish. (I see your nose Sallie) but while I was perfectly willing to eat Roys, he did manage to eat it. There was the obligatory rice, cut in the shape of a star, there was an egg drop like soup which was very pretty but tasteless. There was also this snotball, tinted orange, the was perfectly discusting, which I had to try, and there was about a half dozen other tidbits. Our bill though, almost made me faint 6832 yen. OMG Then we went upstairs to bed and it was like sleeping on rocks, hard wasn't exactly the word, hard and lumpy. Neither of us got much sleep.

The next morning we were on the first shuttle to the airport and the gal at the ticket counter looks at me, my passport expired in July. My stomach suddenly was naucious and racing, trying to decide what to do. I pulled out a copy of my orders and military ID which expired today and hoped that that would work. She faxed the copies to someone in Tokyo and told me to check in with the ticket agent when I got there.
So I stayed in panic mode until I got to Tokyo and tried to see the ticket agent. They don't open until 1130 and its like 0930. More panic. I'm thinking I can probably go to the Embassy in Tokyo and get it there for lots of money.

Finally 1130 comes around and the ticket agent shakes his head at me, and calls the State Department and because I am on military orders and a US citizen, he or she said to let me on the plane and that was the last time anyone noticed that I had an expired passport. Even the immigration office at SeaTac didn't look at it.

The plane ride was smooth and because of the lumpy hard bed in Japan I slept thru most of it. The food was nasty but you knew that. We made it thru customs in about a blink and then after a short wait, got the shuttle and then got home.

There was a little mouse sitting on the livingroom rug waiting for us.

So, we get home and the phone that I have given everyone the numberto, is disconnected. The kid that stayed here probably didn't want to pay for both lines so now I don't have a phone. I am hoping that we can get it reconnected. (Turned out to be a broke line with Roy repaired in a flash.
Also, to Roys massive frustration, the kids girlfriend gave him a computer keyboard and moved the letters around to spell I LOVE YOU JR, so Roy can't use the computer because he looks when he types. LOL serves him right.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Promised you pictures that you don't normally see and this cute fellow is a temple "gate keeper". Carved in wood and painted in gold this fellow is probably over 100 years old.

This last week has really flown by, and in 4 days I will be back in the US. But tomorrow we go to see the last sumo match of the season. I am so excited as Kotooshu, the big guy from Bulgaria (big and cute and tall and handsome and narry an inch of fat on him) has done great this last bascho. He beat the yokosuna in one of the most exciting matches of the year. Tomorrow there is really nothing to descide as Assashoriu has already won, but thats okay. I might get another doll. Did I mention I collect sumo dolls?

Sallie, Roy and I have been going out to eat just about every night. Tonight I had tofu salad which is delicious. Going to eat in the States just isnt going to be the adventure it is here.
First we order food from pictures on a menu as most menus are only in Japanese (as it should be) Tonight Roy ordered a noodle dish and it was cold, and had squid in it. He didn't mind the squid but the cold noodles wasn't to his liking.
I remember going to eat and ordering a sandwich once It turned out to be a potato salad sandwich with catsup. Actually it really wasn't bad. They also have strawberry cream sandwiches. Squid ink is popular pizza choice here in Japan. It looks just about like you would think it looks, black. ( I haven't tried Squid Ink anything)
One of my favorite places to go get a good cheap meal in Japan is at 7/11. Yep, same folks as in the US, but not the same food. We stop every Tuesday night after pottery. Charla got corn soup in a can and it smells absolutely delcious. You can get canned goods either hot or cold. They also sell bento boxes which is tidpits of assorted foods. I am going to miss 7/11 also. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This is our famous Kintai Bridge, and about the only tourist attraction in Iwakuni. It was build in the 600s but has been rebuild often, and actually most of the wooden part has been all replaced since we came here. Posted by Picasa
Every home in Japan has a garden, it might be in pots along side the road, it might be a 3 foot square under a window, but they all have one thing in common, they are beautiful
Roy and I found this beautiful pink plant along side the road. It just made us smile and Roy took a picture.
I have so many beautiful pictures of Japan that I would like to share so as I download them I will share them with you.

We are in a hotel now, out of quarters and just waiting for the big day. My friend told me that I will probably be bored. I don't think so, I have to much to do, friends to visit, a house to deal with, and the motorhome to get into shape. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Chogen no Sato is a reconstructed antique village in the mountains above Yamaguchi and we were lucky to arrive at the same time they were having the Momiji matsuri (fall leaves?) festival.
This village was originally built in 800 something by the same Buddhist monk who settled Mt Koya. He came looking for lumber to build more temples.
There are craft shops to make paper crafts, bamboo crafts and much more. We watched them make paper and Roy was fasinated by the wood shop, ofcourse.
The trip was sponsored by the City of Iwakuni so half the participates were Japanese and there was one family from the Netherlands. Now picture this, they had us singing songs on the bus, some in Japan and some in English. We sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and I think in all the years, I never knew there was more than one verse to Twinkle Twinkle. There are three. We also sang Row Row Row Your Boat in round, but it was pretty bad.
It was a great trip and we enjoyed the new friends that we made. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Anyone want to guess what this is? Posted by Picasa
Steam locomotives are still in use in Japan but mostly for the tourist trade. We took this train to the apple farm. What a nostalgic trip that was, just listening to the whistle brought back so many memories. Posted by Picasa

Apple Picking

We had a great time picking apples. Fuji apples are large and sweet and beautiful. Japanese like to peel off the skin on apples so when you arrive at the farm, they give you a knife and a bag. You can eat all you want off the trees, but you have to buy the take home ones. I bought 4 and they cost 730 yen, about $7.00 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Next Adventure

Well, orders have arrived, tickets are purchased and we will be home, the same day we leave here. This weekend, we went out and shopped, getting some things for the motorhome, gifts and Roy found another clock for our mantel. (That makes about an even half dozen, but what can I say, the man likes old clocks.) At least this one was made in Japan. The last one he bought here, is German I am sure. None of them work very well.....
I am very disappointed. I ordered a Buddhist Chant off ebay, won it for $4.99 and the guys said that it was returned damaged from the post office. What a bunch of crap. I bet he never had it in the first place or found another buyer. Oh well, I will keep trying.
So most of our time is going to be spent cleaning out and sorting and getting ready for the big move. We do have three more trips planned. We are going on a day trip with the City of Iwakuni, (Its a Friendship trip) to a little town that is noted for its crafts. We are also going apple picking next week and going to ride in an antique steam engine/train thru the mountains and best for last, we are going to go to our last and final Sumo match. I am going to take lots of yen so I can get some great sumo stuff, to go with my great sumo doll collection. I have 4 or 5 dolls now and I love them all.
And then we will be home and busy with the holidays. My bud is coming up for Christmas and we have a lot planned for when he comes. I am thinking about throwing a Retirement party for myself at the same place that we had a goodbye party for me in 1995. It would be fitting.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

This is a picture of our room, at night the futons were laid out by the staff. A snack was waiting for us when we arrived, cookies and hot tea. Posted by Picasa


Kukai, known as Kobosaishi through his posthumous honorific name, sailed to China at the age of 31 in the year 804. Posted by Picasa In the ancient capital of Chang'an, he studied Tantric Buddhism under priest Keika and was granted a master title. After returning from China in 806, he had been spreading the Shingon (True Word) Sect of Buddhism.
He founded Mt. Koya (Koyasan) as a religious retreat in 816, when the then Emperor Saga granted him the land. It is said that this was the start of Kongobuji Temple.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The Taste of Mt Koya

Buddhist are vegetarian and so our three meals were all vegetarian. I must admit that by the end of the trip, I was thinking about big juicy hamburgers and carnage. But the meals were very good.
Dinner (pictured) was about 10 different items, maybe even 12. The tofu, which is generally made from Soy beans was made from Sesame seeds and had a very creamy taste and texture. (Well, as much taste as you can get from tofu) I bought some dried to bring home and if it doesn’t get confiscated by customs, we will have it at home. The tofu was served in a soy sauce and with the obligatory wasami. There were pickled things and noodle dishes, and some were delicious and others just okay, and still others not edible to my tongue. Of course there was the rice bowl and the green tea. That was funny, for just at $6.00 you could by one large beer or some hot or cold sake. That’s expensive beer, but those who order it were not disappointed. Dessert was melon and a slice of persimmon that is grown in that area and just delicious. I was more than full and the only thing that was difficult was sitting on the floor. The paper cone that you see is a hot noodle dish with mushrooms and veggies and it boiled right in the paper. It looked pretty but not much taste.

Breakfast was about the same except we had Miso soup. This miso didn’t taste like the normal soup that I have had in the past and the interpreter said that it was because Miso is generally made from fish sauce and this was not. It was good and I wasn’t disappointed and enjoyed all my meals. (But you know me, I try anything once and sometimes more than once.)

(Just to tell you about the cost of living in Japan, I went out and bought some Persimmons and 5 cost me just under $5. but they had some better ones for $10.00. $2 a piece for a persimmon. Amazing. I am going apple picking next week and if its anything like last years, the apples which are Fuji's, are sweet, juicy and also about 2 bucks each. I spent $12.00 on a bag last year and I am sure this year will be no different. )

The Sounds of Mt Koya

We got to attend a Buddhist something, ceremony might be the correct term. We were led into this darken room (and in the back were some chairs which I took advantage of) A young Buddhist priest (or novice, I am not sure which as he was dressed in blue and not the normal orange) spoke for awhile but not speaking Japanese I could only listed and look around at the peaceful room. Then the lights went out and only three candles on the alter lit the room and a priest came in and the two started a chant, many of the other participants also chanted, and bells rang, and gongs sounded and a feeling of peace enveloped us. It lasted about a half hour and then we were awarded certificates for attending. (Needless to say, I went to ebay and ordered a copy of some Buddhist Chants.)
That wasn’t the last time we were treated to chanting, it was just our first experience. Later that night, after dinner, we were taken to an auditorium and again treated to Buddhist music and chants and again, I loved the feeling that came over me. This time the chants were accompanied by a cello, violin and different percussion instruments. Sunday morning we were also again treated to a morning service and again listed to the beautiful chants. We even got to participate in this one, and I found out why, there was a collection box there (See I guess all religions are pretty much the same.)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Sights of Mt Koya

I mentioned below that our Buddhist Adventure was a treat to all five senses. Not only were the eyes blessed with beauty and interest and ok, so we also got some rain in them, but our other senses were also stimulated beyond the norm.
I need to tell you first about the drive UP the mountain. Thank goodness we had a excellent bus driver because Japanese roads are well, narrow might be an overstatement. This road would hardly qualify as a one-lane road in the US and this bus was huge, but our bus driver took those switchbacks with a skill that I wish I would possess. He was good. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the top, I was sick and I was sitting at the front of the bus, those in back were turning shades of green. We were glad to get out, even in the rain.
We by the way were a lot of great folks from Iwakuni Marine Corp Base. Sallie was there; Belinda, our librarian; teachers from the school; Marines from HQ and of course Yugi our tour guide who admitted to being a little nervous for this one. (I don't know why, the man has never lost anyone yet, but this was a first for IT&T)Did I mention Saturday it rained, and rained and rained, but we all had umbrellas so it didn't seem to matter a great deal, we got a little wet but that was fine. We were out of the bus....We first toured Kongojuii, a huge Temple that was built by a warlord for his mother. It is absolutely huge and the gardens were raked gravel and rocks, my kind of garden, that’s for sure.From there we went across the street and from there our ears/hearing sense took over.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Buddhist Adventure

We are home from our Buddhist Adventure and I have so much to tell you, I feel absolutely overwhelmed. We saw and did so much; one letter couldn't do it justice. Each sense was stimulated. The sights were magnificent, the sounds were serene, the smells were not of this earth, the tastes were different and the feel was calming and stimulating all at the same time. We went to Mt Koya, a Buddhist RetreatMt Koya is to Buddhist in Japan, the pinnacle of the religious pyramid. First I know you know this about the Japanese and religion. Japan has two major religions, Shintoism and Buddhism, with Christianity following a distant third. If you ask a Japanese person if they are Buddhist, they will tell you they are, but they can and often are also Shinto and even Christian (This must really drive Christian missionaries nuts, as they think they have a convert and find that really don't) They do not believe that you just must practice one religion exclusively and they don't even understand that concept. They marry in the Shinto church, they bury their dead in the Buddhist tradition and celebrate Christmas all at the same time, and it is all very logical to them.Anyway, Mt Koya is a beautiful mountaintop, where Esoteric Buddhism is practiced. (I hope you don't want an explanation of that, because while I learned a lot about the practice, I didn't learn anything about the different nuances of Buddhism, that study would probably take the rest of my life)Esoteric Buddhism was started by Kukai, (Kobo Daishe is what he is called now) 774-835. Kukai was from an aristocrat family but turned to Buddhism while in University. Basically, he went to China to study Buddhism and returned to bring his teachings to the Japanese. Upon arrival in Japan he was met by a young man with two dogs, a white dog and a black dog and the young man told him the dogs would guide him to the mountain, which they did, they took him to the base of Mt Koya and there he met an old woman. (I don't really know if I understood what the old woman had to do with the story, but it is significant in some way)Kukai turned out to be a great leader and he attracted a large following and now Mt Koya has many temples, cemeteries, monasteries, etc. His mausoleum is there, as he wanted to be buried along side a river deep in the mountains. Now his mausoleum is at the top of a huge cemetery where most of Japans great and near great families have their monuments. The older part of the cemetery consists of old Samurai families, the newer section has monuments from the wars, Nissan has a huge monument dedicated to employees who died of injuries on the job, and just rich families who can afford it. There are over a half million monuments at this cemetery, which gives you some idea of the Japanese economy. I understand that what they do is divide the ashes of the deceased and one part is buried on Mt Koyo and the other part is buried in a cemetery in the person’s hometown.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Weekend Mt. Koya Trip

LOL, Recieved the following memo from the group that is sponsoring this weekends trip to the Buddhist Temple

Temple Lodging Information
We will stay at one of the temple lodging facilities on
Mt. Koya. These temple lodgings have been opened recently for tourists because
fewer Buddhist monks want to experience Ascetic (very stict) practive these
days. Therefore there is no strict discipline to follow (We heard about
the Monks hitting folks with sticks)
however, there are few important things to
keep in mind.

1) There is no specific dress code. However it is
not appropriate to wear short sleeve shirts or short pants.

2) The rooms are separate for men and women (even for
married coples).

3) Meals (dinner, breakfast and lunch) are only
vegetarian food with tea or water. However, you can order Sake or Beer for a
charge at dinnertime (Soft Drinks are not available)

4) Dinner starts promptly at 5:30pm and Breakfast
starts promptly at 7:30am. Everyone is expected to eat

5) You are allowed to bring your own sacks (snacks?)
and drinks (there are no vending machines). However these items may only be
consumed in the privacy of your room.

6) While you are having dinner, employees of the
lodging facility will make your bed (Futon)

7) The public bathing facilities are only available
from 1600 to 2300 (there is nothing available in the mornign) Women and men's
bathrooms are separate. Please bring your own shampoo, soap, toothbrush,
and bath towel.

8)Both Japanese and Western style toilets are

9) Zen practice (meditation) is held early in the
mornng, 30 minutes before breakfast. Your nightgown, pajamas, or the Yukatas
provided by the lodging facility are not appropriate for this

10) There is no safety box for your valuables
11) Silence Time is from 2300 until the next morning
around 0500.

12 The Yukata (night wear ((robe))) furnished by the
facility is for use in your room only. Please leave it in your room before
checking out.

I am really looking forward to this trip, but a little worried. I am not much for public bathing.... so we will see how that goes. I might just pack a bunch of wetwipes and forget the whole thing.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Maybe I need to explain about the roof tiles

I spoke below about roof tiles and thought that maybe I should explain why Roy is fasinated by them. It seems that the old families in Japan each had their own roof tile design so that is why there are so many different ones. Above in another design from Iwakuni families.

I am not sure this qualifies as an interesting picture, but there are few blogs that feature roof tiles so may be I can class the picture as unique if nothing else

This tile adorns a thatched roof.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Just hit me

OMG, I just read another persons travel blog and okay, if mine get that bad would someone please hit me. The first word of every sentence was "I". It was scary, and the pictures .. Pretty.. But much the same.
Pictures... We all take pictures and what do we do with them all?. All right, raise your hand, how many of you have a shoe box full of pictures that you never look at. Roy just bought a $1000.00 camera and is talking about buying a $1000 dollar zoom lens to go with it. So, what are we going to do with all those pictures and who is going to look at them and how many sunsets can a person take AND when its all said and done, in a year from now, heck a month from now, heck tomorrow, there will be another sunset and I won't know one cloud from another. LOL Dear daughter, it looks as if your going to not only inherit the mess in the garage, but your going to have to dump a million pictures of stuff that you don't even know what or where or who they are.) As it is, he takes picture of stuff and I haven't a clue what they are when I get home. "Roy, what is this a picture of?" "Oh, that a roof tile, isn't it cool"? But I thought we had enough pictures of roof tiles?" Well, this one is special cause its on a roof that we haven't taken a picture of before"! Actually, I am kidding but we do have a dozen roof tile pictures.
Okay, I promise, if I post a picture, it will be of something that you have never seen before, or something truly remarkable. No sunsets. No pictures of pretty mountains or Aunt Tillys back yard, or a wild flower surrounded by rocks, or rosy rear end or even roof tiles, regardless of how interested you are in roof tiles. Also, kill me if I start to post pictures of our motorhome or worse the inside of our motorhome. (I suppose if I have one of those $150.000 dollar mansions on wheels then I would post a picture of it, but ours is Ms Cheapo Casita and hopefully she is camera shy but if you want to see a picture of her google Pursuit by Georgie Boy and check it out. Better yet, call me and we will come and visit and I'll give you a private tour. (Yep Cousin Linda, you're my first visit....)

When we first move out of metropolitan USA in 1974 we moved to Ft Leonardwood MO. I had never lived in a town without at least 2 million people and suddenly I find myself in rural American. I might as well have been in Mongolia because while we all spoke almost the same language, I just didn't know about rural life.. I remember one day Jean and I were reading the local paper and I was almost in shock because the big stories of the day was that Trudy Jones had company over for Sunday Dinner and she served chicken and rice. I was laughing so hard I nearly pee'd my pants. I'm sorry, in San Francisco or LA or even Guadalajara, the big story would be a crime or a politician or even some gossip about a famous person, but that anyone served chicken and rice would never have made any page of the San Francisco Chronical...
Now Jean was a new friend that I made when I moved to Missouri and she spoke some "rural". She taught me about 'cracklins and boiled peanuts (Expect I thought she was saying bald peanut and that made no sense to me at all. What was a bald peanut?. She had to buy me a bag and of course I became addicted immediately, and you can bet I am going to time my next visit to bald peanut season) and I taught her about tacos and French bread.
Were was I going with this. Wow, old age is horrible, brain fart, I have no idea what the point was going to be. Maybe that some of the travel blogs that I read are like rural Americana and I should just keep my mouth shut. I just don't want to sound like a second grader.... and I know that If I tried to keep a running log of our travels you would hear a lot of boring stuff. "Today we put 30 miles on the rig and visited "big tree" and boy was big tree, a very very big tree with pretty green leaves"! Stick my finger down my throat.

Now I know that your all excited to hear about our trip to Mt Koya and the stay with the Buddhist monks next week. I hope I make the bus as it leaves at 0500. Grrrr.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

End of Summer

Great and beautiful day today. The weather has gone from hot and humid to warm and beautiful. School has started so the streets are quiet for most of the day and I've got a stack of great books to read. Sallie, my engineer friend here on base told me she was reading Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series and I remembered how much I loved them, sooooo I went to (What would I do with out Amazon?) and ordered book one thru 6. I'm reading three, the Mummy Case and its fun reading. The first book, she is a spinster who is traveling the world and while visiting Egypt, she meets and falls in love with Radcliff Emerson, a noted archeologist. The second book is just as good, they get themselves into some different mysteries, which together they solve. Now the third book, their young son Ramsey has joined them and he stays in trouble, falling into a sand pit, stealing a lion cub, etc....
Also, sadly in some ways, I am packing up and getting ready to return home. Leaving Japan will be so hard, for I have made some great friends, and we have had some great times. Roy is also dragging his feet as he doesn't want to leave either. He was even offered a great job here, where he would make lots of money, but we're ready to come home. We need to break in the motor home, we have guests coming for Christmas and I have been tapped to go on a disaster assignment as soon as I am ready. I don't think I'll be ready right away.
Anyway, I really love fall. Its my favorite time of year and Japan is beautiful

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Sumo is over for the September Basho

Vickie, did I tell you that Sumo comes to Las Vegas in the fall. Meet me there next year (06) cause I won't be home in time this year. BUT, I will be going to Fukaoka in November to watch the last night of the last basho of 05. I don't care that I can only afford seats in the "nose-bleed" section and I don't care that Kaio, my favorite, favorite will probably be retired, I just want a glimps of Kotooshu, and I want to get a calendar and maybe a signed autograph and oh, another sumo doll to add to my collection.
This was a great match. Kotooshu, the big Bulgarian with beautiful blue eyes and not an ounce of fat on his body did an outstanding job, winning 13 of the 15 matches. He was just promoted to Sekiwaki, thats like the third level and he made history, beating just about everyone. Unfortunately, he didn't beat the Yokosuna, (top dog) so he didn't become champion but he still did an outstanding job and made history. There is always next basho.
I am going to miss Sumo. Its been a great part of my Japan adventure and I thank Vic for turning me on to it.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Can you do Japan on a dime?

Judy emailed me that she and DH are coming to Japan for a visit. Unfortunately she will be here when the cherry blossoms are out and I will not be here to show her around. She asked if I had any tips for doing Japan cheaply as she posted in another blog and the only comment she got was "Japan ain't cheap"
That person is right Judy. Japan isn't a cheap vacation. If you want cheap, right now some of the best places to go are Vietnam and China. Both places are great places to visit, and both can be done on a budget.
But there are some tricks to keeping prices down in Japan also.
1) The Bullet Train is the best way to get around Japan and you can get a two week pass and go just about anywhere with it for a bargain price. Make sure you get the pass outside of Japan cause it isn't available here in country. Japanese are good about helping and much is written in English. Just remember, they leave on time. Period.
2) There are youth hostels just about all over, and elder hostels also. While I have never stayed in one, I have seen the one here in town and it is in a beautiful park like area and quiet.
3) Food in Japan is expensive, but you can get some great meals from places like Family Mart and 7-11. They sell bento boxes for 3 to 5 dollars, juice boxes, soft drinks, coffee, etc. Bakery's sell delicious baked goods but be careful, some might have bean paste or potato or even bacon and egg or cheese. Also the fast food restaurants are a good deal and they are just about in every big town. Don't expect to get hamburgers, you'll more than likely get a rice bowl with meat, or noodles (Ramen) Dont eat in hotel restaurants, they are very expensive unless you get breakfast with your room rent.
4) Hotels are expensive so go online and spend some time looking around. If you only have a week
5) If you only have a week or so, fly into Osaka and take the local train to Kyoto. It is the best, most beautiful city with both history and lots to see and do.
6) We stayed at the New Kyoto Hotel or Hotel New Kyoto, something like that. It cost about $123 for two nights, and the room as a twin bed, table, chair, TV (All Japan TVs have pay porn, so if you think its a movie channel, think again. Its porn) bath, shower and they have slippers and a robe for you to wear. The robes are not to leave the hotel so don't think they are gifts.
In the lobby of the hotel you can get a daily bus pass for 500 yen. Its a bargain and you will soon find the tourist buses. When you have see all that Kyoto has to offer, check on some of the outlining areas for more great things.
The golden pavillion is a must. Nijo Castle with its nightengale floors is worth the price, great museams, craft stores, and the Ginza is not to be missed.
Anyway, Judy girl, you can do Japan on a dime , well lots of dimes maybe. But you will come back with a smile on your face.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sophie Sale

We had our last fund raiser of the year and my last fund raiser, period. It was a lot of fun and of course, we were some of the biggest customers. Sophie sells antique furniture, replica furniture, baskets and stuff.
I bought two beautiful, hand carved window shutters, one for each child. I know RB will love it, but might not be Bets taste at all. Also, purchased each a little chest with hand carving on the front. Then Roy won a 19 century red and gold cubboard. Again not my taste, but its very old, hand carved and I am sure one of our friends will love it, or maybe our new S-I-L would like it.

Sophie, the lady who sells the antique furniture and Nye, the Persian Rug guy, and so fun. Sophie is Chinese and just built a house in Bejing. She has invited us to come visit and we are thinking about it as it would be an adventure of a lifetime. Nye is from England but he is Indian by nationality and unfortunately, he got very sick while here and had to be hospitalized. I really feel sorry for him as he speaks only a small bit of Japanese so he doesn't even know what is happening to him. Sophie speaks Japanese, many of the Chinese dialects, English, and many of the middle eastern languages. I guess you have to be fluent when you travel like she does. She also owns a home in London and one in Okinawa. She is a citizen of the world.

Speaking about being a citizen, I am down to 2 months and one week before I retire. I am so excited. We have already made plans to have our buddy from Portland come and spend Christmas with us and then we are off Oregon, Calif, Arizona and New Mexico, Utah and Nevada. That should take us at least a year, but if I never get home that will be find also.

Still not feeling well, but think it must be bad diet, stress and just the crude.

Tonight is pottery class again. Haven't been in a month as the typhoon cancelled the last class. I hope my vase shows up, and the pot I was working on.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Its been a week.

All week, I have come here trying to think of something profound to write about and nothing has come to mind. I haven't been feeling well. Nothing that I can point to at all, just feeling bad. The problem is that, when I can't identify whats wrong, I get anxiety attacts ever since I returned from Iraq, plus I'm a hypocondriac, so put the two together, and I am a real mess.
Monday I started water arobics and ooooo, the water felt so good. I didn't want to get out at all.

See I have nothing to talk about and this is boring and dull. Maybe I'll come up with something next week.

Friday, September 09, 2005


1) Well one wimpy typhoon turned into a monster in the community. There was a lot of flooding and even more damage than we thought. I watched the Japanese news and it was scary.

2) Roy loved the idea of staying at the Buddhist Temple in October so he is going to sign us up today. Did I mention the price, $200 dollars per person for one night......

3) I think I am going to change the name of Casita to something Japanese and will decorate it with my beautiful Japanese art.

4) Pottery class was cancelled this week due to the typhoon and my poor half pot is rapidly drying out.

5) Two months and 3 weeks to retirement.

Mysteries of Buddhism Tour

Wait til you read about our next adventure. Its called the Mysteries of Buddhism tour and we leave on the 15th of October at 0500 and travel to Mt Koya. Mt Koya is north of here (well actually we've had this discussion about my sence of direction ) Its above Osaka actually, about a 5 hour drive.
Once we get there, we will have a half-day guided sightseeing tour to the Temples and around the area. Then we check into the Temple for a traditional Monk's lodging (males and females separate, of course) We have a half hour lecture on Basic Buddhist Concepts and then a traditional vegetarian Monk's dinner, followed by a concert by a Shingon Buddhist Monk. Sound fun so far? The night is going to be interesting. Males and females sleep separately, there is a public bath and toilet, but not in the room. Meals are, of course vegetarian and we will sleep on a Japanese tatami floor with a futon. We need to bring our own soap, shampoo, towels and toothbrushes.

Day 2 is Morning Zen Meditation, followed by a traditional monks breakfast and after breakfast we will visit yet another Temple and participate in the "Goma" Fire Ritual and more meditation.
I am really excited as it sounds like a great time. I just hope we can find a few more folks to join us as minimum 15 people are needed to do this trip.

I will certainly tell you all about it and hope that I can take pictures of everything.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


While the US has been recovering from Hurricane Kathrine, we in Japan had our own Super typhoon to deal with yeasterday. Actually, while there was some flooding and a few deaths, Japan was very lucky. It was classed as a Super Typhoon, a 4 or 5 on the US scale, but it only glanced off Okinawa and by the time that it got to us, had lost a lot of its punch. The winds gusted at about 50 MPH which is nothing. Today it went back out to sea to see if it could regroup but I think the cooler waters in the north just killed it off completely

Last year, we had three typhoons hit and the year is still young, so we will have more I am sure.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Kyoto, Japan

Its my birthday and what a way to celebrate. Saturday morning, Sallie, Berry and Bev Nelson and Roy and I loaded up a van and headed north to Kyoto. The weather was outstanding but we did hear about a Super Typhoon brewing in the south. Nothing we were going to worry about.
We have all been to Kyoto before and we have all loved it, but before we had taken a tour with ITT and this time we were on our own.
We had a lot of trouble finding a hotel that could accommodate us all. We needed two doubles and one single and we needed parking. Parking it turned out was the hardest thing to find. Some had no parking at all, some changed hourly, but finally we found one with free parking, and the price was right.
Well, okay Japanese hotels are expensive. If you can find something for under a hundred a night, you can consider yourself really lucky. The Kyoto New Hotel, (which I don't think is very "new") checked in at just $100 a night for a double and that was a great deal. It had two beds, a refrig, a pot to make hot water, and like all hotels, robes and slippers.
The trip up was about 6 hours long with all of us taking a turn at driving, and we arrived before check in time so we started sighseeing right away. The first stop was to a handicraft place where they showed how textiles were woven, wood was carved, pottery turned, etc. It was fasinating, especially the textiles. We spent a good three hours just wandering around looking at all the Japanese crafts.
Our Hotel wasn't hard to find and like most Japanese hotels, the rooms were small and clean. The beds have to be the hardest in the world, and the pillows are all rice husks or barley or some sort of bean. Also, you can always find porn on Japanese television so I always tell folks not to let the kids channel surf in Japan cause they will get a great education.
We all decided that Italian would be a great dinner and we found a restaurant a couple blocks away. Have I mentioned that Japanese food is expensive. For 33.00 Roy and I had a plate of noodles and some garlic bread and drinks.
Sunday morning, we went downstairs for breakfast and I ordered the Japanese Breakfast for 12.00. I got a green salad, a raw egg, a slice of smoked fish, miso soup and a bowl of rice. I mixed the egg in the miso to cook it a bit. The others only groaned when they saw me eat it, but it was better than their watery scrambled eggs with catsup and corn soup.
We hopped a bus and went to the Silver Pavillion. They were doing some construction but the grounds were beautiful. From there we walked along the river on the Philosophers path, past a half dozen or so temples, like the one above. They are so beautiful, but like castles, temples are all starting to look like, so we headed to the Kyoto National Museum.
I am telling you, it was probably the most interesting one that I have seen in a long time. There were huge Buddas carved from wood dating back to the 15 and 16th century. There was pottery dating back to about the 1st century and examples of kimonos that were just awesome. It was an amazing museum.
Lunch for 4, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and ice tea. 30.00 dollars
Our final stop was the Kyoto Handicraft Gallery where they make and sell everything Japanese from pearl jewerly, laquare ware, woodblocking, textiles, etc. We bought a music box for a friend of mine in Washington and some pictures of Kyoto for us. While we were shopping, the rain started and it didn't let up for the rest of the trip.
We certainly lucked out for dinner. We found this little Chinese place a couple blocks from the hotel and we had the most delicious meal, best Chinese since I have been here. It was a popular place, as tables were all full and folks can in for take out constantly. It was a winner and if I ever go back, its on the short list of places to eat. Cheap to,,,, well for Japan.
Monday we headed home as the typhoon was getting closer and closer and we didn't want to get stuck.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Iwakuni's Castle

Japan's castles all look about the same. This is one of the smallest castles and its here in the town where we live, Iwakuni.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Upcoming trip to Kyoto

Its morning in Japan and we can feel a bit of fall in the air. Gone is the morning humidity that made one feel as if you needed another shower before you even stated your day. Fall is a time to start sightseeing again and next week, the Nelsons, Sallie and Roy and I are going to go to Kyoto. We have rented a van and have reservations at the Kyoto New Hotel right near the castle with the nightengale floors. The ancient Japanese were always thinking up unique ways to protect themselves and one was the nightengale floor. Walk on it and it will sing well, sigh is probably a better description of the sound that it makes. You say whats the big deal, all our carpenters can do that, we all have a step or spot that squeeks when we step on it. Well, this sound isn't a squeek at all, its a soft, and not unpleasant sound. What is so amazing about it, is that it is still there after 500 years of being stepped on.
If you ever come to Japan and only have a few days, Kyoto is where you should go as it doesn't have 10,000,000 folks like Yokyo, and it is full of tourist sights. Nara is nearby, another great touring town with 5 story pagotas.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

New Home

Well, I moved blogs. This just seems to be more user friendly than the other blog, so welcome and glad you found me.

Now you all know that I'm retiring in three months, but just for shits and giggles, I emailed my National HQ and asked them what they might offer if I stayed. I might have considered Europe or a big promotion, but neither were forthcoming. They offered me a ton of places in the States, North Carolyn, New York, and even my favorite spot in the world California, but I had to reject them all, because none of them sounds better than HOME.

We had a nice weekend. We went to Yamada-san's student show and it was not only fun but some of his students are better than the Master. It was funny, the vase that they displayed of mine was the only piece that I had planned on tossing in the garbage. I don't know what became of my really good vase, its probably still in the kiln somewhere.

Roy wants me to continue with pottery when we get home, but its expensive and there is just so much you can do with plates, pots and vases. They are scattered around my house as it is and I don't use any of them. I will miss Yamada-san and wish that I had started with him sooner.

Yamada-san has this beautiful plate that I am going to buy. Its shows off his artistic talent more than anything that I have ever seen. The top is done in 'white snake glaze'. This glaze Yamada-san developed, It goes on black but when fired, its bubbles and ripples and looks sort of like snake skin. (Iwakuni is famous for white snakes) Then the glazes go from pink to blues and in the center is his famous etching of the Kintai Bridge (also an Iwakuni) landmark. When I asked how much he wanted for it, he said 50,000 Yen, (just under $500 dollars) and I nearly fainted. But Taiko, my friend and co-student gave him this long sob story about my retireing and he dropped the price to $300. SOLD, Its beautiful and something I will treasure for ever.

Three months my friends.

Pottery Lessons

Well did you remember to start reading from the bottom up? If so, you know the plan and the list and the timeframe. My buddy, who is reading over my shoulder said that I should be talking about Japan, and telling you what beautiful country this is. I will do that, as I do have three months left in this glorious country and plans for lots of trips.
This upcoming weekend I actually have no travel plans but we are going to see a pottery show at city hall. Pottery you ask? Iwakuni is very lucky to have a great potter who teaches classes and his students are putting on a show of their work, and I am one of those. I have a vase to exhibit, one which I haven't even see the finished product yet. I made it two weeks ago and to get it finished Sensai had to glaze and fire it himself. I probably won't even beable to find it.
Sensai is not only a artist but he has also developed interesting glazes and learned how to make antique glaze. He also built an antique kiln in his back yard, just like the potters of 600 years ago used and I am so lucky that I got to get one of my pieces fired in this kiln. I hope I can figure how to add images cause I want you to see his beautiful work, and the work of his students, who have somehow surpassed the Sensai. I will take picture.
Another thing I love about Japan is Sumo. Vickie (are you reading this Vic) got me started watching Sumo and I still can't believe that I am so addicted to it. She asked me if I would tape a Sumo show for her. Unfortunately I never did because my old VCR had long lost directions, and I didn't know how, but I did start to watch it. I hate WWWrestling and I'm neither interested in Greco Roman or boxing, but I love Sumo. Maybe its the ancient rituals that it involves. Maybe its the speed, most matches are less than 6 seconds long, maybe it's the lack of blood. But I plan nothing for the 15 days of Sumo and I cheer when the Yokosuno, top man, gets beat, (its happened once maybe twice in the last last six months. The man is awesome and completely in charge) I also cheer when Ama, a little tiny skinny guywho holds his own with the big guys and the Russian, well actually Georgian who actually beat the Yokosuno last basho and looks like he is headed for Oseke, (position under the top dog) You should see the great Sumo dolls that I have collected. They are my pride and joy, and I love them, even though I paid an arm and leg for them.
Well, its late. Ill be back tomarrow night

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back to the Future

Just heard the tenants who are living in our house are moving the end of September so since we don't relish the thought of leaving the house empty, Roy has decided to go home early. Of course, that will leave the packing for me to do, and that will leave me to finish eating all the food in the kitchen and that will leave me to go to the SUMO grand finale alone and that will leave me to deal with packer etc. But thats okay, I can send the furniture home early and we can just get on the road that much sooner.
Also heard that my best buddy is coming to spend Christmas with us and I am so excited as he was my neighbor in California and has moved to Oregon and lives pretty close to us. We are going to show him around Seattle/Tacoma/Olympia and he is then going to show us around Portland.
I also heard another friend lost her husband over the weekend. That will also change our plans as I want to go and spend some time with her. Did I mention our plans were fluid.
Then if all that wasn't enough, I got a call from one of the big wigs in the organization that I work for and she wants me to pull my retirement and apply for a job with her in Italy. This is her second phone call in a matter of two weeks, so I guess she is serious. Don't think so. If I accept the position, I will be on the road to Iraq in a matter of months, and been there, done that, not doing it again. Sorry Ms D, but while I would love to work for you and while I would love to go to Italy, I know what else it involves and I just am not interested.

Pottery Lessons

Well did you remember to start reading from the bottom up? If so, you know the plan and the list and the timeframe. My buddy, who is reading over my shoulder said that I should be talking about Japan, and telling you what beautiful country this is. I will do that, as I do have three months left in this glorious country and plans for lots of trips.
This upcoming weekend I actually have no travel plans but we are going to see a pottery show at city hall. Pottery you ask? Iwakuni is very lucky to have a great potter who teaches classes and his students are putting on a show of their work, and I am one of those. I have a vase to exhibit, one which I haven't even see the finished product yet. I made it two weeks ago and to get it finished Sensai had to glaze and fire it himself. I probably won't even beable to find it.
Sensai is not only a artist but he has also developed interesting glazes and learned how to make antique glaze. He also built an antique kiln in his back yard, just like the potters of 600 years ago used and I am so lucky that I got to get one of my pieces fired in this kiln. I hope I can figure how to add images cause I want you to see his beautiful work, and the work of his students, who have somehow surpassed the Sensai. I will take picture.
Another thing I love about Japan is Sumo. Vickie (are you reading this Vic) got me started watching Sumo and I still can't believe that I am so addicted to it. She asked me if I would tape a Sumo show for her. Unfortunately I never did because my old VCR had long lost directions, and I didn't know how, but I did start to watch it. I hate WWWrestling and I'm neither interested in Greco Roman or boxing, but I love Sumo. Maybe its the ancient rituals that it involves. Maybe its the speed, most matches are less than 6 seconds long, maybe it's the lack of blood. But I plan nothing for the 15 days of Sumo and I cheer when the Yokosuno, top man, gets beat, (its happened once maybe twice in the last last six months. The man is awesome and completely in charge) I also cheer when Ama, a little tiny skinny guywho holds his own with the big guys and the Russian, well actually Georgian who actually beat the Yokosuno last basho and looks like he is headed for Oseke, (position under the top dog) You should see the great Sumo dolls that I have collected. They are my pride and joy, and I love them, even though I paid an arm and leg for them.
Well, its late. Ill be back tomarrow night

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


I remember a while back the CAR GUYS on NPR did a show about ladies who name their cars. I've never named my car, but I really wanted to come up with a name for the motor home, and I think its going to be Casita and her decor' will either be southwestern or Mexican.
She needs a decor. She looks somewhat like a sterile hotel room now without personality and warmth, so a great Navajo blanket on the couch, rugs on the floor, pictures on the walls will spice her up and give her some personality.
She needs more than decor. She has been sitting for a couple of years and every working part will need to be upgraded and maintained, oiled or lubed, shined, polished or buffed. Tires might be on the menu as while they look good they have been sitting. And one of the biggest expense, we are going to add is more batteries and a solar panels so we don't have to use our noisy generator or be stuck needing to park in those parking lot campgrounds, just to get electricity.
Because of this and because our house is going to become vacant the end of September, Roy has decided to go home early, so he can get the house ready for the furniture that we have accumulated here and do the maintenance on Casita so we can take off as soon as possible after I get home. (Do we sound anxious)?
I've learned a lot by joining some great boards; and Escapee are two of my favorites and I have gotten some great advice and have learned so much from folks who are living my dream. They have taught me a new language. Boondocking is a favorite. To boondock is to dry camp at sites that do not offer electricity or water or even sanitation. They also call it boondocking when parking free at Wal-Mart, but I don't like the sound of that at all. I would rather not have to do that. I've also learned from folks who live and sometimes work in their RV full time. My new best online friend is George who is living his own dream and letting us share his daily life via his own blog. I love his pictures and his adventures and I so want to follow him and his adventures. He does give nightly GPS listings so we could actually do that. He mostly boondocks and always takes some great pictures of this travels.
Oh yes, I have become a list maker. Let me see, I have a list of the required maintenance on Casita. I have a list of free campgrounds. I have a list of places in every state where I want to go. I have lists of what to pack in the RV. I have lists of things to do before pulling away from each campsite, as that’s important to remember. I have lists of things we would love to have and things we would like to have. I have, don’t faint, a budget list so we can keep to our financial plan, spends mine, bank his.
The budget is important, as traveling isn’t going to be cheap. Gas is going to be very expensive, and the more we travel during the day, the more gas we will use. Since we will be under no time constraints at all, I might do as friend George and limit our day to under a hundred miles, hell under fifty miles. Are we in a hurry to get anywhere? I don’t think so. Another expense is going to be campgrounds. If we have one with full service, electricity, water, dump and Internet, we can plan on spending up to .00 a night. If we do that every night that will add up at the end of the month to way more than I want to spend. A better plan is to boondock for 2 or 3 nights and the stay where we can get recharged and filled up for one night. Food shouldn’t be much of an expense as there will not be a lot of eating out and we can save money by careful planning.
So, now all I need is a map and a yellow highlighter so I can trace our trip. It might come right down to nothing more than a flip of the coin, heads we go left and tails we go right.


Three months, one week and we retire, and the plan is to fix up the motor home and travel. Where does not matter, although the price of gas lately may dictate how fast and how far we go. When isn't important either cause we can go where the weather is good and stop if the weather is bad, hunker down and wait it out.
Anyway, my friends this looks like the perfect blog for us as its neither travel, nor political nor anything except cute. If you want to keep up with us, you have our website. If you want to know where we are, just mark this page and we will keep you up to date. Now I must tell you that once on the road it’s going to be difficult to get online. We just don't have the money for a dish to mount on the motor home, they start at about six thousand and then there is another hundred dollar monthly fee. I have heard about just getting the dish and setting it up yourself, which would require knowledge that I don't possess and while Roy probably does, he is computer illiterate so wouldn't be able to talk the talk either.
So, when we actually hit the road, we will continue writing in our blog, but only add it when we can find Internet access. If you don't find new pages come back again as eventually we will stop.
The Plan, The Plan
Well you know the plan must be fluid as much will dictate when and when we travel. Friends who have been the most vocal about us coming to visit are one major influence on our decision. Canada has been very insistent, and the beautiful mountains in Banff are luring to say the least, but that will probably have to be next summer when the weather is warm. I don't think I want to do Canada in winter. California also beckons; today I got two emails from folks in Morongo Basis urging us to come that way. We were even offered parking space in their driveway, which will certainly save us big bucks. Calif is tempting as Joshua Tree area is my second home and I would love to stay there forever.
Daughter and Yelm friend, you know who you are, have agreed to go to Mexico with me, and I am holding them to it. We won't motor home, we will fly as I found a real cheap place to stay at a great price and I think you will enjoy it. Besides since both are still employed that will dictate the time we have and a flight is faster.
And then cousin Karen3 you have promised to hit the genealogy trail with me, looking for those elusive relatives that managed to evade the census reports.
And Dea, my friend, who has taught me to look for birds where ever we go, I am really anxious to go to southern AZ to take some famous birding trails and maybe start my own list. While there, I need to go to New Mexico as I have heard they might be planning to cover and protect the ancient Native American ruins to protect them from the elements and I want to see them before that happens.
Roy wants to go down the Washington, Oregon, Calif coast first and that’s also a possibility, but we did that last summer so maybe I can talk him into taking 395 south. HWY 395 starts at/around Pendleton Ore and travels south down the inside eastern edge of Oregon and Calif and while I did do most of it a few years ago, at least the Calif part, Roy would enjoy it and its a lovely quite road, and it leads right to Joshua Tree. Hummm what does that tell you? I have to be in Indio for the tamale festival the first week of December, that's a must and since it is near Joshua Tree, maybe we can spend the winter there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I hit the jackpot this weekend. Sallie, my Civil Engineering friend and I went shopping on Saturday leaving the men home. Well, I hit the sumo jackpot. I try to collect a lot of sumo dolls and stuff, but its rare when I find one. I scored at Dragon Fly Second Hand Store #2, our second stop, by finding a great statue of an old yokosuna, (I need to find out who he is.) Then, then we went down town and I found yet another Sumo doll on sale even ($77.???) and finally a third which is absolutely huge. I don't think I can even get it in my display case.
Sumo is a great sport to watch as it's a very old sport, with lots of pomp and interest. Nothing like WWW, which I never watch, nor like Greko Roman wrestling. Nor is it just big men pushing eachother out of the ring. Everything is steeped in tradition from the clay ring that takes a Master to build, to the uniforms they wear, to the dress of the umpires and judges.
And less and less is it fat men who are sumo. The current Yokosuma isn't fat at all, in fact he is mostly muscle and technique and while I don't particularly like him, you must admire his ability.
I like Kaio, an aging Oseke who is so injured I feel for him, yet he keeps winning. Ama is another favorite of mine. Young, skinny, looks like a fly against some of his opponents, has a fighting spirit and doesn't mind taking on the big boys, and he wins more than loses.
This basho, I have a new favorite. Futemo, who has risen quickly up the ranks and is a real giant killer. He is a joy to watch and even if his win/loss record isn't the best, he has knocked out some of the top guys.
Yokosuna lost his second match last night and by another Russian. There are a number of non-Japanese in the sport. The Yokosuna is Mongolian as is Ama. There are a few folks from Russia or the Baltic area. The number of "foreigners" is limited in Japanese sumo, and it would be nice to see a Japanese come up thru the ranks and take over the top spot,, but I don't see anyone on the horizon.
I hope we can get Japanese Sumo in the states when we come home. I will certainly miss it.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Mexican Dinner

Sunday was a blast. We invited our group of Japanese friends for Mexican Dinner and they just loved it. Sallie made some salsa and enchiladas and I fixed the rest, refried beans, baked corn, chili verde, etc. It all turned out marvelous and most of it was gone by the time everyone left.
Hope we can do it again soon

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Humidity has hit

Well, don't know how much traveling we will be getting in this summer. DH plans to climb Mt Fuji in a couple weeks and that will be a great experience for him. Me, climbing anything is just not an option. I want to do one last trip to Sasebo, Japan to shop at the NEX there, and we have to do Tokyo and Kyoto because you can't come to Japan and not do Kyoto. Also, in November we are going to go to our last Sumo match in Fukaoka.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Just have to add another picture of Japanese Gardens

June 17th 2005

I just had a call from Phyllis, bud from Okinawa who said they have had 3 days of constant downpouring rain. When I was in Okinawa last month all it did was rain, so we didn't get out much. Actually if I never go back to Okinawa that will be fine with me. Everywhere we went the food was blaa and tasteless, both on base and off, unless you like fast food and there were tons of those around. We went out for Chinese and everyonne just raved about the food and I thought it was bland and tasteless.
Of course I was not there to sightsee, we were there for a meeting but the only thing worth the trip was the airpost. Every hallway, every window, every knuck and cranny had orchids, the most beautiful orchids. I took lots of pictures but unfortunately they are not in photobucket.
Speaking about orchids. Sallie went to the states for a couple of weeks and asked if I would babysit her orchid. The poor thing was about on its last legs, half the stalks didn't have and leaves and the ones that did were lookin pretty sorry. The next morning I was watching Tipical Mary Ellen on TV and what did she talk about was how to care for orchids. Sallie was watering them from the top. Well I went and got a large flat bowl, filled it with gravel and placed the orchid there. Still lost a couple of leaves but, I think it looked a lot healthier than when she gave it to me.
Sallie is one of the folks that I will miss here in Japan. She is a civil engineer who works for the Marines and I love exploring Japan with her. We never use the same road twice and she knows every back street in Iwakuni.
We also go to pottery class together and what fun that is. I need to bring my camera to show you the teachers work. He and his son are amazing potters and his glazes are amazing.
I am going to miss Japan but I am so ancious to just get home and put ARC behind me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Japanese Rose Gardens

June is the season for flowers in Japan and there is nothing more beautiful than a Japanese Rose Garden. This one we visited a couple weeks ago.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Cool, figured out how to post pictures. Now the sky is the limit. Need to figure out how to go fix the ones I posted below.

Anyway, back to Little P, our motorhome. I really feel that we can find free places to park at night for our night camp and not spend the money on parking lot spaces that they call campgrounds, will save us tons of money, money that we can use to improve Little P. We need a solar system for the electricty, we need a satellite dish for interent and we need leverlers as we will probably not be camping on level grounds.

So, I am not off to my favorite web site, to look for free campsite books. Wish me luch
Everyday I check in with George and Ms Tioga and today was no exception. He was just going from Oregon into Calif at Crescent City where we were just this time last year.
So looking forward to starting our own adventure. Last night, Roy and I invited Sallie, our engineer buddy and Barry Nelson , whose wife went home for the summer, to join us for Italian night at the club. I ordered the Chipolte Sauce and it was a tad on the spicy side, but I really enjoyed the food and the company was delightful. We will miss our friends here in Iwakuni.
But not enought to want to stay. We have our own Ms Tioga to worry about, but our turtle shell (RV) is a Georgie Boy Pursuit which has been idle for a couple years and will need a lot of TLC to get her into go condition.
I think the maintenace will be up to Roy, but I have been reading up on what needs to be done, just in case and my list is getting extensive.
I need to check to see if I can download my picture so excuse the little detour here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Recently I found a blog site, The Adventures of Ms Tioga and George. This team also consists of Mr Camera, and Ms GPS and the like, George is the only living, breathing member, but as you read, each member seems to take on its own personallity.
The team has a few simple rules. Tioga gets daily maintenance. The team travels no more than 200 miles a day and they rarely pay for a campground. Also Ms Tioga keeps her speed at under 50 MPH. Each rule really makes financial sence. RV campground parking can cost up to 30 even 40 dollars a night and that rapidly adds up. Folks say well they need the campgrounds so they can have electricity, internet access, etc. but the way George saves money, he can readily afford a solar system. He has a bank of 6 batteries and 6 solar panels which give him adequate electricty for the day. He also equiped Ms Tiogo with Levelors and that is generally a must have for boondocking. He added a larger foot pad on them so they don't sink into the ground.

So, I am so interested in this way of life and hope that I can emulate him at some point. 5 months til retirement. Happy days.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

June in Japan

The wonders of Japan still continually amaze me. Yesterday it was summer, the humidity hit us in the face like a wet wash cloth. We watched the track of the first thyphoon of the year, and felt yet another earthquake.
We were in a big 6.7 earthquake last month. We went to a festival in Yamagawa and while we were standing next to the river, watching the prince and princess go by, the earth really started to shake. It was rather funny, because I remember looking down at my feet and wondering why they were moving and I'm a Calif girl, I know about earthquakes.
Anyway, what really interested me was the reaction of the children. They immediately dropped and covered their heads. All of them, in little circles. It was amazing to watch. They are well trained here, much better than we are in the US.
So, I have to figure out why my pictuers are not showing up. HUMM, the rose garden was absolutely beautiful and Im sorry that you missed the pictures.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Mt Aso Trip.

Mt Aso is one of Japans active volcanoes and IT&T was offering a trip to it, which we signed up for right away. Its on the Island called Kyushu about dead center. The volcano is active and we warned ahead of time that visiting it may not be an option. But we are adventurers and wanted to see how it measured up to our own Mt Saint Helens.
Our first stop was to Kumamoto Castle, one of the largest and most magnificent castles in Japan. The problem is, we have seen nearly all of them, so one more was just another castle to us at this point. It was built in 1694 but like most antiquites in Japan it burned to the ground and had to be rebuilt. I will add some pictures once I get them down loaded to Photobucket.
Our secord stop was to the Aso Farm Village Hotel. Well, I don't think I can call it a hotel as it is about 200 little igloo shaped buildings, each with a bed and a bath spread out over the "farm". I need to post a picture of that also as it was wild.
I gather it really is a working farm as they sell milk and cheese and dairy products. (I bought what looked like a bottle of milk for my morning coffee and YUCK, it was yogurt I think, NOT milk. ) But it also had a huge restaurant, (food was mediocre to poor) and other little shops. It had a hot bath for bathing, something that I haven't gotten around to doing in Japan, and a lot of craft shops, where you can make and/or purchase craft items. You could paint pottery, blow glass, etc. That was kinna cool, but it was late and Sumo was on and well, it was the second to the last night of the championship and that was way more important.
The next morning, we got up early and boarded the bus for Mt Aso, the volcano. It was a pleasant drive thru the country side and the hills were full of a heather like bush that was in full bloom (need to post that picture also) There was a sign at crater that the sulfur was stinking and if folks were allergic they probably should go up.
Well, the wind was blowing, the clouds were sitting right on the crater and so it was damp and cold and drizzling rain. Since the volcano was erupting steam, thats about all we could see, but we did take some pictures and I'll post them. The geology in the area was interesting.
The coolest and most interesting part of the trip, and an unexpected event was that they were having a Cooper car rally at the summit and we got to see nearly 200 Coopers. Now that is something that I would love to do .

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Retiring in 6 months and would like a keep a log of my travels, keep a place for my genealogy notes and even talk about my diet.

Names in my genealogy that I am researching