Oki Gang_resized

Originally posted - May 31, 2009


Sara and I had an amazing adventure as we traveled to Japan!  We spent a lot of time exploring, eating, and spending quality time together so it’s hard to capture that stuff but I will try to capture the basic highlights for those interested:

May 15 ...... Go to sleep @ 1:30am (Sara @ 2:30am)

  • Wake up @ 4:00am
  • Arrive @ 5:30am to New Bern, NC airport, leave @ 7:00am
  • Arrive @ 8:27am to Charlotte, NC airport, leave @ 9:25am
  • Arrive @11:26am to Toronto, Canada airport, leave @ 1:15pm

    May 16
  • Arrive @ 3:00pm to Tokyo, Japan (13 hour time difference plus 12 hour flight), leave @ 5:45pm
  • Arrive @ 8:35pm to Okinawa, Japan
  • Total travel time – 26 hours
  • The reuniting with Brett & Shauna Ralston begins @ Camp Foster with special guests Rayna and Nahum (the little peeps) and Dezzie (the cat) who fell in love with my suitcase!

    May 17
  • Church @ Futenma Chapel @ MCAS Futenma
  • Lunch @ Onokaukau – Hawaiian restaurant (Matt & Brittany Talicuran joined us)
  • Big public parks with really cool and big roller slides

    May 18
  • Italian breakfast @ Rose Garden
  • 100 Yen store
  • Chula-U – basically a very nice Japanese bath house with jacuzzi, hot and cold saunas, pools with healing oils, …etc.
  • Doctor Fish – This was a jacuzzi sized pool, located inside of Chula-U, filled with fish that eat the dead skin off of your feet and hands.  Very weird but cool at the same time!
  • Jusco @ American Village … basically a Japanese Super Target but with fresh food and department store quality

    May 19
  • Four Seasons – shopping
  • Lunch @ Ichiban Tei (aka – Sushi-Go-Round) – basically multiple sushi plates rotate in a circle around the chef as they are prepared and those seated on the outside perimeter just pick the plates they want and pay based on the design of the plate!  Very cool!
  • Guys goof off @ Dragon Palace (huge arcade) and Make-Man (hardware store)
  • Girls get pampered @ Cocok’s for a Japanese style pedicure with massage and amazing toe art

    May 20
  • Breakfast @ Tee House Restaurant overlooking the flight-line at Kadena AFB
  • Bowling @ Kadena AFB – Guys won 15 minute foot massage wager – oh yeah!
  • Visited Torii Beach @ Torii Station Army Base – collected some cool ocean glass
  • Sunset Beach followed by dinner Seaside Jet City Burgers

    May 21
  • Lunch @ CocoIchibanya Curry House
  • Ryukyu Mura (Historic Japanese Village)
  • After seeing live and 3-D snake expos, we had the privilege of eating Habu snake in the form of smoked snake skin powder (extremely healthy) and it tasted like fried pork skins with a bad kick….so we attempted to dilute that taste with a few shots of Habu sake… hmmm… where’s the Mountain Dew when you need it!

    May 22
  • Ocean Expo Park featuring Tropical Gardens (amazing) and Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (2nd largest in the world) … very cool!
  • Nago Pineapple Park – it was way cooler than it sounds!  I had big plans to buy a huge dessert I saw on a poster upon entering but after the automated golf cart tour through the pineapple gardens, the merchandise stores gave us sooooo many samples that I was too full for the poster dream!
  • UNO – Girls won 15 minute foot massage wager

    May 23
  • Tropical Beach – spent some quality time in the water soaking up the sun
  • Lunch @ Kebabs Indian Restaurant (this was some seriously good curry at a hole in the wall joint)
  • Ageda Street Market
  • Sushi Night @ The Ralston’s Pad
  • UNO rematch – Guys won 20 minute back massage wager

    May 24
  • Church @ Futenma Chapel @ MCAS Futenma
  • Lunch @ Chili’s (we had plans for a different local place that was closed)
  • Dinner @ Okinawa Soba – Traditional Soba place (no shoes, no chairs, short table, noodles, and chopsticks).  Not too shabby!
  • Big Dip Ice Cream joint (Blue Seal) – We prepared a two family attack on the “Big Dip Adventure” and we were successful!  Basically it was a ridiculous concoction of multiple ice creams, fruits, cones, corn flakes, and other unidentifiable things that we ate until the victory!

    May 25
  • Mini Mini Petting Zoo – I didn’t do much petting but I saw some cool animals and monkeys!  They didn’t throw any poop at me so I was quite pleased!
  • Lunch @ McDonald’s – We had to eat at a Japanese McDonald’s!  The food is similar with a few different selections, the service was excellent, and the staff attire was business class professional!  P.S.  They also had very nice toilets!
  • Comprehensive Park – This is one of the nicest and biggest public family parks I have ever seen complete with multiple playgrounds, ponds stocked with fish, zip lines, marked running courses, bicycle and sports rentals, bike racing track, and a place for just about any sport you can think of.

    May 26
  • Michael & Sara 2 year anniversary!!!  Forever baby!  Still going strong… and she still likes me!
  • Michael & Sara each get one hour massages from a Japanese lady – WOW!  It hurt so good!
  • Shopping Day – After scoping out what was available throughout the visit, we now had to decide what would be coming home with us.  If we had more money, we would have bought the island!
  • Elegant double date dinner @ Beach Tower Okinawa overlooking the ocean (but it was dark)!  The girls got dressed up and they looked beautiful while Brett and I did our best to try to keep up with them but they are just much better looking than we are!  We had Japanese barbeque style (yakiniku) seating where we cook our own selections in front of us.  We also had an all access pass to the all- you-can-eat raw and cooked selections, buffets, and drinks!  It was a bit overwhelming but we really enjoyed the food, ambiance, fellowship, conversation, and just happened to hit up a gift shop on the way out where the ladies found their treasures in the jewelry section!

    May 27
  • Forest Adventure in Onna (Jungle Zip Trip) – This place was amazing and challenging!  This was a good test of physical endurance and fear of heights!  We strapped into EXTREMELY tight harnesses and flew through the jungle on multiple zip lines (most above the tree lines) overlooking the coast.  We came across a zip line obstacle course that required a free fall before the zip line catches and zips you into a large cargo net!  I’m not a big fan of heights or free falls but I conquered the task… because everyone else did it… and I didn’t pee or poop my pants in the process!  Go me!  The ladies decided to do it twice to make us look weak but they were just showing off… I had nothing to prove at this point…just happy to be alive!
    P.S.  I had to tell myself in my Pinocchio voice often… “I’m a real boy” due to the tight harness!
  • Gyro lunch on the Sea Wall
  • Dragon Palace – we returned to use up the $120 worth of tokens Brett won on the previous visit but then I won another $80 worth that we had to use up.  There were no prizes or cash-out options so we just kept playing games until the money ran out!

    May 28
  • Pack-up and say good-bye.
  • Starbucks for breakfast!
  • Arrive @ 9:30am to Okinawa, Japan airport, leave @ 11:50am
  • Arrive @ 2:25pm to Tokyo, Japan airport, leave @ 5:00pm
  • Arrive @ 3:50pm @ Toronto, Canada airport (13 hour time difference plus 12 hour flight)
  • Flight to Charlotte delayed and then cancelled until next day.  After hours of attempting to retrieve baggage, hotel vouchers, and transportation, we finally made it to the hotel at 9:30pm…. Enough time to shower, eat a quick meal, get four hours of sleep and get up at 3:30am to go back to the airport to relive the security searches, customs, and airport maze madness!  We were scheduled to be home at 11:36pm! Leave @ 6:22am the next day…

    May 29
  • Arrive @ 8:22am to Charlotte, NC airport
  • 9:22am – supposed to be taking off for New Bern but the flight crew hadn’t arrived.
  • 10:12am – finally board plane….
  • 10:49am – plane reaches peak take-off speed and harshly slams on brakes instead of going airborne to avoid a t-bone collision with another plane on runway.  Sara and I see the other plane very intimately in our window just feet away as the rest of the plane frantically is trying to figure out what’s going on!  We have to wait for a while to let the brakes cool down and let someone get scolded in the air traffic control tower before another attempt.  If it’s called “air traffic control”, maybe there needs to be a “ground traffic control” at this particular airport!
  • Arrive @12:00pm to New Bern, NC airport – HOME SWEET HOME

    Total return travel time – 40 hours

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