So much has happened since the last post, I am going to have to spill the quick and dirty version. Also, it's 1:30am...Jack may wake at any moment and my brain is fried from schoolwork. So...after Keith left on deployment we bought a plane ticket and flew down to Sasebo to meet the ship when it pulled in. It was mine and Jack's first port visit and we were very excited. We didn't have high hopes of seeing Keith because we knew that there was a possibility that the ship would not pull in or that he would not get any time off. The trip was very successful and when we got there the weather was rainy and humid. We talked to Keith on the phone and he told us that he was not going to get any overnight liberty and that he would have duty half of the time. We were okay, any time was better than no time at all. But...low and behold...he called a little while later to report that he had been granted leave for the four days that the ship was in port! Woohoo!
First we visited Huis ten Bosch (Whee-ten-bosh) or as the Japanese call it "haus ten bos". Of course I added the all-American twang to it and called it "Wees ten bock" when I was asking for information at the front desk of the hotel. Boy, did I feel dumb. I gave up on Dutch when we visited Amsterdam the first time, now I have to interpret Dutch in Japan? No way Jose san. It was a beautiful theme park dedicated to all things Dutch. It is coined as a "residential-style resort that has canals running throughout, it is surrounded by greenery, forests, amusements, shops, restaurants, five distinct hotels, a marina and a residential area". The residential area is a trip. It's like having a house in the middle of Disneyland. Dream come true for me, but oh my, it must be insanely expensive. Here are some photos of the sites:
Jack on the canal ride
The three of us on the big funny bike that we rode all around the park. (Jack kept falling asleep so we had to pull over and take a seat for awhile)
Jack Eating Spaghetti
Keith and Jack admiring the swans
and these are a collection of funny ones I couldn't resist...
this is what I think they are saying: "Take my breast." "No don't give her your breast!" "Give me your breast."
I guess in 17th century Holland, knights in armor didn't have a pee-pee flap cause this one looks like he really has to go!
The next day we walked a few miles up the road to the Kujukushima Islands. A collection of 208 small islands right off the coast of Sasebo. Kujuku translates to 99 and it confuses a lot of people since, "why isn't it named Nihyakuhachi (208) islands instead?". Well students of Japanese culture...the number 99 is used when expressing a large number. Where I would say "I love mint chip ice cream, I could eat a kajillion gallons!" A Japanese person might say, "I love sushi, I could eat 99 pieces!" Where 99 might mean 25 or 250. Either way, I love these fascinating bits of information. We took a cruise around the islands on the Pearl Queen and although the weather wasn't the greatest, we still got some nice pictures of the scenery...and of course Jack.
Here are Keith and Jack in the Poop Deck on the cruise ship
A picturesque lagoon
Jack enjoying another view from the poop deck (oh wait that's Daddy...that's what Keith gets for his sailor vocabulary)
Another lagoon where the ship did a u-turn
...and our Mr. Mischief
Other than our two outings we spent time walking around the city, eating great food and spending lots of time with Keith. He returned to work on a Tuesday and we flew home the next day. The ship was supposed to go out on an exercise but it was cancelled and Keith came home that following Friday. Again...Woohoo! I chalk it up to good karma, we must be doing something right.
Jack and Dad enjoying the fireworks on 4th of July
Keith was home for a week so we went to see the fireworks on base for fourth of July and then a few days later I drug him and Jack to the Tanabata festival in Hiratsuka. "Tanabata, known as the beautiful love story about two stars that reunite only once a year in Shonan-Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival as the story of "Lover Stars Across the Milky Way" at present day." You can see more about it at http://www.city.hiratsuka.kanagawa.jp/tanabata/e_index.htm
There were a bunch of decorations and a lot of traditional Japanese fair food. Takoyaki - a ball of batter, veg and octopus
Tomorokoshi - sweet corn
Yakitori - chicken on a stick
Yakisoba - BBQ Noodles
Okonomiyaki - A cabbage and meat pancake covered in mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce
Yakidango - Fried dumplings on a stick
Ikayaki - Squid on a stick
Chocolate covered bananas
Candy Covered Fruit
...and not for the faint hearted
Hyokoage - Fried chicken (this is where we get lost in translation. Age (ah-gay) also means pick up. When you go inside the fried chicken tent you find boxes of cute little baby chicks and your first thought is that you pick yours out and deep fry it. Heck no...you pay 400 yen ($4.00) and when you catch one with a special fishing rod you get to take it home.
Here are some pics of the food
Everything on a stick
Jack with his turtle balloon
Mom and Jack at a nearby Shrine
So overall, we have had a pretty great few weeks. Keith is back on deployment but Jack and I have been keeping busy learning Japanese, teaching English and getting to as many summer festivals as we can. Keith will be coming home in a few weeks, just in time for his birthday. After that we have somebody's first birthday party to plan. I'm way more excited than Jack is, but then, why else have I been practicing making cakes for all these years if not to bake the most kick-ass birthday cakes for Jack! So that wasn't the quickest blog since it's now almost 3am. I better get to bed before Jack decides to wake. I'll leave you with this...did you know that Sprite Zero is "sexier than water"? I think that's awesome...