Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Saga Continues

We were able to reach the United States a day or two before my Grandmother passed. So, that was another flight. I have done a lot of flying in my life and been to a lot of different airports. I have to admit though, it was the first time that I had gone through the Chicago O’Hare airport 4 times in less than a week!! All the while, I was trying to finish up 2 college courses and thankfully, the Professors were all very understanding of the situation we were in. I did eventually get them completed. By the time we returned to Japan, 3 weeks had gone by and Operation Tomadachi was in progress. Operation Tomadachi was the name for the U.S. military giving aid to Japan, whether it was water, clothes, food, etc. I was so glad that we were able to be there for my Grandmother’s funeral, but was glad to be back with my husband, supporting the Japanese in their recovery efforts and working to enjoy the remainder of our tour.

In the summer of 2011, we made our trip to climb Ft Fuji, but didn't make it all the way to the top because of Typhoon Ma-on, (may on) known in the Phillippines as Typhoon Ineng. That Typhoon (which is basically a hurricane, but from the Pacific Ocean) brought high winds and because of the high altitude we were at on Mt Fuji, SNOW. They closed the mountain down to climbers for safety reasons. It was definitely dangerous and cold. So, after only getting about half-way up, we climbed back down and proceeded back to the hotel to check out and get back on the train to go home. Little did we know that we would wind up in a very small, rural train station for 16 hours. As it turned out, the tunnel we needed to pass through to get home was at risk of landslides, other trains and people had been lost previously to landslides, and the Japanese did not want anyone to be hurt so...all trains were stopped until the situation was safe. Since we were in such a rural area, the only thing nearby was a 7-11. And the bathrooms…they were the old fashioned ones (not westernized), so basically, a hole dug into the ground with some lumber put around it (so you didn’t step in it) and that was pretty much it. Oh and did I mention that it was COLD?! All of the announcements were, of course, in Japanese. We didn’t speak enough to understand what all they were saying. We did, however, meet a very nice Japanese guy who did his best to explain what was happening. When an announcement came at 7 in the morning and everyone cheered, we knew that we would soon be moving. When we reached the train station nearest our house, there was a donut shop. We went in and had donuts and coffee and the kids had hot chocolate. Then, half-asleep, we walked the mile and a half home, took turns with hot showers and took a nap. I would say that we got more than we bargained for with our Mt Fuji trip!!

Stay tuned for the next installment!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Has it really been that long?

Wow. I was looking at another blog today that is part of blogger and noticed my dashboard. Oops, it has been over 4 years, very nearly 5 years since I last posted anything. I have no idea if any of you will read this or not since it has been so long. But, here's the short of the long of it.

Since I last wrote, we were in the big earthquake in Japan in March 2011, my Grandmother passed away, we made a trip to climb Mt Fuji, another trip to Tokyo Disney Land and Disney Sea, a trip to Hiroshima, moved to Washington state, survived breast cancer, became a godmother, our family retired from military service, we moved again and bought a house! WHEW!! That is a whole lot going on in the past few years and that is just the cliff notes.

So, I will start small and just talk a little about the earthquake in Japan. In March 2011, there were many things that happened that kept me from my blog. The big earthquake in Japan hit and that is where we were living at the time, so it made for a couple of crazy months! The earthquake lasted almost 5 full minutes, which is to say, the shaking lasted that long too. If you would like to see a video of what it was kind of like, National Geographic put together a bunch of clips that people had posted to youtube and the like. It will give you a little bit of an idea of what it was like:
Tohuku Quake 2011 Mash-Up

At first, the kids and I just went about things as usual. But after about 30 seconds, it should have stopped. When it didn't, and things started falling off the entertainment center, the kids and I got in the door way as we had been taught. As we hung on to the frame and the house rocked back and forth on the rollers, we could see daylight on either side of the door as we continued to be shaken. At the end of that initial big quake, we looked outside to see the Japanese nationals who had been at the grocery store across the street from us, standing in the parking lot, looking up at the light poles and seeming rather fearful (Understandably so). Glass bottles had been knocked off shelves during the quake and had made quite a mess. The light poles were still swaying back and forth, the street was still rolling with the seismic activity and in some places sidewalks and streets were opening and closing like something out of a science fiction movie. There were aftershocks that lasted for days. The weeks that followed were filled with what were called rolling black outs. Basically, scheduled periods of time where we would have no electricity for hours at a time. During those times of blackout, it became very cold in the house we rented out in town. They have little to no insulation and it got so cold in the house, you could see your breath. The kids and I would cuddle up on the couch under a blanket and read books or play a game and wait for the power to come back on. Needless to say, it was very interesting cooking food for meals. Our meal schedule and menu changed to fit the times that power would be on. When it became apparent that the rolling blackouts would continue for an undetermined amount of time, the Fukushima radiation could become a possible threat to our area, my husband was going to be working most of the time, and I received news my Grandmother was not long in this world, we discussed and agreed that the kids and I should go back to the states for a couple weeks.

I will continue to catch you up as I get back into writing here on my blog.