Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Internet and Phone!

Our internet was turned on today so we can stop stealing our neighbors wireless connection. That means the Vonage phone number is up and running so feel free to give us a call. Keep in mind the time difference. This clock can tell you what time it is here. Talk to you soon!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Adventures of Amy (and Rana)

So, I'm going to come clean and admit that I've been moping for the past week or so. Pretty much as soon as Chris had to go back to work I went into full time mope mode. At first I could blame it on the fact that we only had one car and if Chris was on base I was pretty much stuck at home, but then Chris got his van and for almost a week while he went to work I still didn't venture out. But, that is all changing now! I gave myself a good talking to and a good kick in the rear and am committing to going somewhere new at least once a week. This might be a new beach, restaurant, store, whatever. As long as I get myself out of the apartment. No more "woe is me" and no more being scared of getting lost when trying to find things. Ok, I'm still a little scared of getting lost, but I'm not going to let that hold me back.

So, my first adventure I played it a little safe and headed to the Southeast Botanical Garden Okinawa. It's only about 5K from the house and I had seen signs before so I was fairly confident I wouldn't get too lost and I didn't. Rana and I got there safe and sound and boy were we in for a treat. The botanical garden is absolutely gorgeous! All around Okinawa there's lots of green and trees because the weather makes it so things are constantly growing, but the garden was amazing. I don't think I've been anywhere that was so perfectly manicured. As we were walking through the word that kept running through my head was lush. I mean we are living on a tropical island so I should have expected it, but everything was just so...lush. They had over 40 species of palm trees, tons of hibiscuses (hibisci?), bouganvilla, lilies, and some fantastic water features.

It was a very hot day and Rana was all too happy to check out the water features. I'm doubting that this was really allowed, but I was totally willing to play the dumb American if it meant that she could cool down a little. The first time was no biggie because it was just a shallow fountain area that she could jump in and out of. The second one, however, proved to be a bit more tricky. There was a long, rectangular pool that was just covered in water lettuce. I thought Rana was just going to take a quick drink, but I should have known better because she jumped right in. Unfortunately the walls were straight up and down so here I am with the big digital camera around my neck, carrying a backpack and fishing my little frog dog out of the pool. Luckily noone was around so we just pretended like nothing happened.

Most of the time I let Rana choose our path because she's pretty smart about heading for the shade. With this random method of travel I'm not sure if I saw everything but everything I did see was fantastic. I think my favorite part was this pond that had to be at least an acre and it was just full of lotus. It's not blooming right now, but the leaves were still beautiful and green and the brown, honey-comb like seed holders were really cool. There were lots of boardwalks criss-crossing the pond and lots of picnic areas that were great for resting a pooped pup.

We spent about two and a half hours exploring before heading for home. The only thing I would do different the next time (and I know there will be at least one next time Mom) is take some bug spray. The mosquitoes were pretty fierce, but not bad enough to take away from the fun of the day. Of course you know I took way too many pictures so after I sort through them I'll post some. It shouldn't be more than a day or two. Stay tuned for more adventures with me, possibly Rana, and maybe I'll make a friend some day to take along as well. You never know...

Monday, September 22, 2008

What a weekend...

Well, this weekend was a doozy. We went from doing nothing last weekend because of the nasty weather to having multiple activities each weekend day. It was nice to feel busy again.

We started Friday night by going out to dinner with some folks from Chris' squadron - Cassie, Rob, Sam and Lily, and another couple who just arrived to the island. We went to a place called Sushi Zen and it was incredible! It caters to Americans so it was nice to actually have a menu in English. Other places might have an English menu, but that usually consists of a lot of pictures and maybe a word or two in English that may or may not help you understand what you're ordering. After living in England everything seems cheap here - even sushi. Chris and I were able to get a ridiculous amount of sushi and a glass of wine each for about fifty bucks. That might have fed one of us in the UK. The best part though was the sushi. It is so fresh here. My favorite was the Odyssey roll, which had shrimp tempura and cream cheese inside and avocado outside - just a little bit of heaven! We made a pretty early night of it and headed home after eating to let little Rana out.

Saturday was a big day for all of us, especially Rana. Saturday morning there was a 5K Fun Run/Walk with the profits going to OAARS, the organization that we adopted Rana from. Rana had an absolute blast being around all the other dogs, especially her foster sisters! It makes us think we should get another dog so she'll have someone to play with, but right now we just love her so much we don't want to share her with anyone else. The run was one lap around Camp Torii, a nearby Army base. It was a pretty route with one long, gradual hill at the end. Chris wound up winning the whole event while I was happy to make it all the way around with Rana. I thought we'd be able to run at least part of it, but after all the excitement of playing with other dogs before the race Rana flopped down on the dewy grass about 100 yards into the race. She did not want to get up. After getting her up she flopped down again about 20 yards down the road and I knew then that we wouldn't be running this race. However, I was able to coax her into walking the whole thing. She did quite well once we had her walking with her foster sisters - Mira and Sylvy. It was funny because Chris and I have walked her further than a 5K, but on this day she was pooped from playing. Amazingly, she perked up right after the walk and wrestled with some other dogs, got some great treats form the local girl scouts, and a bath in a kiddie pool. After that we went home and all took a little nap.

Saturday afternoon was what Chris had been waiting for...His van was ready to be picked up! Woohoo! It's a little van made by Suzuki with 660cc and 3 cylinders. It is super cute (probably not how Chris wants it described) and it does have AC! Chris plans on adding a roof rack, but other than that it is good to go.

Saturday evening we headed to Rachel and Todd's (Rana's foster parents) for a going away party for their upstairs neighbors - AJ and Erin. Rana was invited and got to play for hours with her sisters. She had a great time. I was already excited about the party because it was my first opportunity to bake in a couple months. I made caramel bars and they were a big hit - woohoo! We didn't really know anyone besides Todd and Rachel, but after about an hour we warmed up and really started enjoying oursleves. It was a nice combination of military and civilian folks. Plus, noone worked in Chris' squadron so he wasn't sucked into talking about work. It was a very nice night.

Sunday we got up, walked the dog, and headed to Malibu Beach for a beach clean up. We volunteered with an organization (O.C.E.A.N.) that not only does beach clean ups, but also goes into classrooms to teach environmental education. Hopefully, I'll get to volunteer with them more. It was pretty amazing how much stuff is on a beach to pick up - and at first glance the beach didn't even look dirty. We did a section of the beach for about an hour and a half and then sorted all the trash into categories so Edo and Naoko could take down data. It felt good to be doing something and everyone there was very nice - although half the people didn't speak any English. :) I really need some Japanese lessons.

After the clean up we went snorkeling. The water felt perfect and was very clear. We weren't really in a spot known for its snorkeling, but there were still hundreds of fish - clown fish, moors, butterfly fish, spade fish, trumpet fish, etc. It was pretty awesome. We did discover that we both could use a new mask. Mine was super ghetto and was being held together by 2 hair bands and the loop off the key ring - Chris was super McGuyver on it!

We came home, took a quick shower and then headed out the door for a guy from Chris' squadron, Too Short, birthday party. He was having it at a park on base and he was working hard at his own birthday making some of the best chicken ever! He made some jerk chicken and then had some with secret ingredients that he called Black Magic. Whatever it was, it was delicious! He was a super nice guy, despite being an Ohio State fan! :)

After the party the squadron was playing some ultimate frisbee. We wound up having enough for teams (7 vs 7) and overall it was pretty fun. I was fairly disappointed that not a single other female played, but what can you do. And there's always the problem of boys thinking girls can't play so I got looked off a lot, but I'm sure the boys will wisen up eventually.

I think that's finally it. Man did we do a lot. I'm going to go ahead and post this now. I'll have Chris show me how to post the pictures when he gets home from work so make sure to check back in for pics of Rana, the beach, Chris' van, etc. Oh yeah, our internet should be installed on 30 September and then I'll be able to communicate a little easier. Have a great week everyone!

P.S. Check out some more pictures in the Pictures of Our Travels Link on the left side of the page!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Getting Comfy

Hey everyone! I thought I'd give a go at this blogging thing. So far the move is going amazingly smooth. The movers with our household goods said they'd be here between 8 and 10 and when we rolled up at 745 they were waiting for us. It took them less than 2 hours to unpack and move everything upstairs, as well as unwrap everything, unpack a ton of stuff - including the kitchen stuff, and put together our beds. The unwrapping was a big relief because I don't know what we would have done with all that garbage! They were the best moving crew we've ever had. The rest of the day Chris and I spent unpacking and organizing. It looks like everything is going to have a home. We were a little worried since we dont have outdoor storage, but I think it will be a-ok.
After spending the day working we decided to go and get at least our dry goods (we still didn't have a fridge yet) from base. Little did we know that there is a typhoon warning in effect so everybody and their grandma was at the commissary stocking up. It was absolute madness. So far we're not too worried about the storm because we're about as far inland as you can get and we've heard the Japanese really know how to build buildings that stand up to some crazy weather.
The best part of the day is that we went and picked up Rana. She is a sweet dog, but boy did we see her playing rough with her foster sisters, including a very patient cat. I have a feeling Oscar will not be putting up with this little puppy chow, but putting her in her place very quickly. :)She's curled up sleeping right now and she is just precious. I'm taking lots of pictures, but haven't uploaded them yet -soon, I promise.
Today (Thursday) we've been continuing with the organization and also got our borrowed appliances delivered from base today. We got a brand new fridge and oven and a slightly used washer and dryer. They all look great and we're looking forward to doing some grocery shopping so we can make our first dinner tonight! Now we're just waiting on our couch and loveseat to be delivered and we'll be all set. They should be here in the next 2 hours. Once they're in place we'll be able to start the decorating part. With these nice wood floors we're going to have to buy some rugs to get a little color in the room - right now all our wood furniture kind of blends in to the floor. There will definitely be some decorated apartment pictures posted soon (if I manage to take pictures of anything besides Rana).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Move-in day and my new bike

Tomorrow is move in day at our new home. As a result there will be no phone or internet setup for possibly up to 2 weeks. I'm sure we will be cheacking email on the base almost daily, so drop a line if you need us to call you. We'll try to upload some pictures when the house is all settled in.
In other news I bought a new bike from bikesdirect.com. After consulting with a few bike experts that I know I was convinced that I was getting a great deal and a great bike for commuting and competing with. I'm going to start riding with a group here locally when it arrives (if I can keep up) and hopefully I'll be able to compete in some triathlons this fall/winter as it doesn't really ever get that cold. I'm hoping to add my rides to my running log which you can link to from this page (there is a summary at the bottom of the page). We'll keep you posted on everything else.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pictures of our empty Apartment

Hey folks!

If anyone wants to see where we'll be moving to next Wednesday, there are pictures on Picassa Web. Just click on our "Pictures of our Travels" link on the left of this page.

New Car...Check!

After driving all over the island looking at dozens of car lots we ended up going back to the first one we looked at that is right outside of the gate called Johnny's. Johnny had a real nice 1998 Toyota Raum. They don't have them in the states, but it looked like a good buy and Amy liked it. Johnny offers a one year warranty so if the car goes up in a big ball of fire in the next month, we can bring it back to him. And we don't have to worry about the JCI (a big inspection that is due every two years) for the next two years. So we have a house, one car, a dog, a new couch and loveseat, and the rest of our stuff is going to be delivered the day we move in. We should be fully setup by the end of the week. Today we have a big squadron BBQ to go to that is supposed to include a slip n slide for the grownups. I'll be ready.