Home Again, Home Again (Jiggity Jig)

Okay, my last post was a sum up from our big trip. It took forever to blog it all, but the trip actually ended at the end of April. So this post will be an update on where we are now!

We are based in Sequim, Washington, renting a friend’s basement.

Fred has worked concrete for another friend most of the summer. It was providential and we are so grateful for that time! Fred got lots of sunshine, good fellowship, deeper relationships and rebuilt muscle. Today is a transition, Fred is back in an IT job as of this morning! Which we are also grateful for!

I have been working as a nurse since May, on a team providing daily care for a little boy. Quite a change from hospital nursing like I was doing in Kodiak. A good change though. I’m on basically the same schedule as Fred, I’m sleeping at night, it’s wonderful! And I am enjoying going to school with our patient, which is now my primary role.

The cats settled in well and forgave us for being honest so long and for continuing to leave frequently. We are grateful for friends and family who have taken care of them for so much of the year.

Churchwise, we are at the church I grew up in, which my Dad pastors. We’re enjoying plugging back into relationships and ministry. And we’re enjoying the proximity to family, on both sides.

It’s been a busy summer, with lots of smaller trips and lots of adjustments. We’ve driven to Newberg, Oregon twice, to La Grande, Oregon once and to Tri Cities, Washington twice.

We flew to California for a wedding and family visit.

I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Richmond, Virginia for a friend’s wedding. We’ve driven to Seattle multiple times.

Our car broke down and was replaced. I’m on my second job of the year, Fred is on his third. Friends getting married. A friend dying. Lots of time with nieces and the lone nephew. Maybe I’ll get posts written about some of those trips or activities, we’ll see.

We miss Kodiak. Friends, church, scenery, coworkers, the slower pace and the small town culture. But we are loving where we are. The Lord has laid our lines in good places. He continues faithful and we look forward to seeing His plan unfold further.

Here is a sample of other things we’ve done since April!

Castles! (Probably the last trip post)

I wanted to do a post of castles, because from England to Egypt, we saw a castle in every country. Here they are together!

First was the Tower of London in England.

Next was Bratislava Castle, in Slovakia.

Then Castle Hill in Budapest, Hungary.

Vienna had palaces, but no actual castles. But in Salzburg, Austria we visited Fortress Hohenzalzburg.

Then was Schloss Hohenschwangau in Germany.

And Schloss Neuschwanstein, also in Germany.

In the Czech Republic we saw the Prague Castle, which had work being done.

Then the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

And here is my rationale for counting it as a castle!

Finally, the Citadel of Qaitbay in Alexandria, Egypt.

Eight countries, eight castles! But that was only part of the trip. Here’s the final sum up:

3 Canadian provinces:

Yukon Territory

British Columbia

Ontario

10 States:

Alaska

Washington

Oregon

South Carolina

North Carolina

Virginia

Maryland

Delaware

Pennsylvania

New York

And the District of Columbia as a bonus!

And 13 countries:

USA

Canada

The United Kingdom

Austria

Slovakia

Hungary

Germany

Czech Republic

Greece

Egypt

Thailand

Vietnam

Japan

One trip around the world down, back to relatively normal life!

Tokyo, Japan: Part 5

Nearing the end of the trip! Thursday we had a lazy morning, then walked to and explored the Aeon Mall with Devin. We saw some of his favorite stores and favorite experiences. Like a photo booth that makes your look kind of like a doll, or a childish model, with big eyes and porcelain skin and pink cheeks. Or this drum game:

You may be tired of them, but I also enjoyed the continued procession of spring flowers.

After the drum game, Devin headed to work and we explored another nearby mall by ourselves, then navigated the metro system and streets back home by ourselves. Considering that we didn’t have access to google maps in Tokyo and made our way without a paper map too, we felt accomplished.

That night we went to a Japanese Denny’s. Which is quite different from an American Denny’s. The menu has a good selection of Japanese food and beverages. And it is more upscale than in America. But it was delicious.

On Friday we went to Ikebukuro with Devin. It’s a train/subway station with a large mall. And it is pretty confusing until you are familiar with it. We were not familiar with it, but thankfully we had Devin with us!

That night we stayed up late playing games and eating ice cream, wishing that we had more time together, but so glad that we had some time.

Saturday we hung out together, talking of life, praying together, thanking God for the gift of this visit. Then headed together for the airport.

We had time for one last sushi session at the airport, which was yummy! Then goodbyes, always dreaded, always difficult. And boarding for our longest flight of the trip.

A smooth flight, with some sleep, ending at the LA airport, where we were a little surprised to be back in a land of all English signs and directions. A layover, a lunch, then our last short flight to San Diego. And back with Fred’s family for the next three weeks. We were exhausted, relieved to be done with the trip, and so so grateful to have been able to take it.

Tokyo, Japan: Part 4

Shibuya day! A relatively short train trip took us to Shibuya station, on one corner of the famous Shibuya crossing. Multiple streets intersect at here and there are crosswalks going in every direction. It’s an iconic Japanese sight, famously the busiest pedestrian crosswalk in the world, and I was dreading the press of people. Thankfully we went in the morning and it was not crazy busy, so we got a taste without being overwhelmed.

We explored Shibuya, it is a popular area with lots of nice stores and restaurants.

On one quiet street, lined with flowering trees and expensive shops,

we found a candy store where you can watch them make hard candy.

After eating sushi for lunch in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a basement, delicious sushi, we took a short train ride

And pleasant walk

To an owl cafe. You may not have heard of them, but there are several in Tokyo. This one gives you one beverage and one hour in a room with several owls of varying species. You can hold one, feed one, and pet whichever ones are feeling social.

Fred was very excited! We’re more excited when we realized that this location had hedgehogs too!

I got in on the owl action a little later.

The last stop on our excursion was a shopping center a few blocks from our friends’ house. We explored the game section and found this variation on Jenga, which made us smile!

And, as was the case everywhere we went in this city, we found signs of spring!

This busy day wrapped up with a walk along a nearby river and Yakitori for dinner with Devin. We were big fans of Tokyo food! And relished the time with Devin and Ai. Three days left, then back to the States!

Tokyo, Japan: Part 3

Our next two days were quieter. We caught up on sleep, went for walks in the neighborhood, played games with Ai, and asked lots of questions about life in Tokyo. Monday evening we walked to a high school play. Ai works with high schoolers and some of her students were in the play.

As you can see, our walk was lovely. And our arrival was interesting. The school has a lot of ex pats and we got to meet some of the parents and students and hear a little about their life in Japan. While we waited. Because no one seemed quite sure when the play was supposed to start. So it started when it started, which was awhile later than we had thought and meant that we had to miss the end. But what we saw was fun! It was a reimagining of Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express,” taking place in a Chinese restaurant during a blizzard. I’m still curious to know who was the killer.

We left early because we were meeting Devin for dinner and a bath. So we walked to a train station, then took a train to a bus station, took a bus a ways, then walked again. To take a bath. Devin has been excited for that explanation in this post since that night. A sento (Japanese bathhouse) is a cultural phenomenon that was quite a surprise. I knew they were a thing, but was surprised by how involved this one was and by how much I enjoyed it.

First, at the door, you take off your shoes and put on slippers that are provided. Then you pay for a locker and put your shoes and such in it. The money for your locker gets returned when you turn in your key. Inside there are a variety of seating options for people who are hanging out or watching TV. There are cushions on the floor, couches, covered benches, . . .

We went to the food area, where you can order from a variety of dishes and eat in something like a cafeteria. I got a soba noodle dish and it was delicious. Then we split, men one way, women another.

Ai’s sister had joined us for the evening, so there were three of us heading to the women’s side. We put our things in a locker, stripped and went into the women’s bath area. You shower first, thoroughly, unlike an American pool. As in, you don’t just get all wet, you shampoo and soap up and scrub. Then you more between several pool options inside, with varied water temperatures and jet options, several outside pool options, and a sauna. We skipped the sauna, but enjoyed a range of pools from warm to hot, with and without jets, and talked and relaxed. It was surprisingly pleasant, and only a little awkward for this introverted American. I understand now why it is a looked forward to activity.

After we had showered again and dressed, we bought flavored milk from the locker room’s vending machine. I got banana milk, it was delicious. We met back in the cafeteria area where Fred got an ice cream cone. Because ice cream. Then we recovered our shoes and headed home via walking, bus, train, and more walking. It was a great day!

Tuesday we spent at home with Ai (and Devin in the evening) hanging out and playing lots of games. The rest was needed, the fellowship was sweet.