(Moderatrix' note: I am going to make the pictures smaller to make the post shorter...click any picture to embiggen. KTHX)
We took a C-5 to Guam. A C-5 is the largest plane operated by the military today...and it is a lot like flying on a commercial jet. I actually like it better, since when it isn't filled to capacity there is a ton of room to lie down. You can kick up the arm rests in your row, lay all the seats back and stretch out. It is the most comfortable flight I have ever had the pleasure of taking.
Guam... is just like Hawai'i... only more humid (but not as humid as Okinawa if you are keeping score at home). It's lovely and tropical and I bet that there would have been a lot of fun stuff to do if we had been there longer than overnight. On the up side, most of the housing has been turned into lodging...so we were given a two bedroom house for the same low lodging fare. The best part is that it had a washer and dryer in the house so we were able to wash our clothes. Yay!
From Guam we made it to Hawai'i, and were on the ground less than we were in Guam. We were able to catch a flight to California first thing the next day.
We arrived in California at about 0500, got a hotel with a late check out, ate the free breakfast, slept for a few hours and were on our way to Ohio. As far as Space A flying goes this was one of the smoothest trips we have taken. We drove from Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio up to my mother's house in Indiana (Hi Mom! *waves*) where we picked up The Kid...who was surprised to see us a whole day early. Tee hee.
After spending a nice afternoon w/ my Mom and her Partner (sorry, ma, "boyfriend" doesn't really cut it for me anymore... LOL) we drove up to my Grandparents' house in Northern Michigan. Real Northern Michigan, not that top of the Lower Peninsula crap that most people South of Traverse City think is Northern Michigan, but actual, beautiful, sacred Above the Bridge Upper Peninsula. We had only two days to spare before we were hoping to catch a flight out of Indiana...so we had to make it count.
We took Mom and L (Mom, I need a good nickname for this dude) out for lunch, and then went back to the house where L treated Kid to a Harley ride. She had been talking about it all day, so we couldn't very well leave w/o allowing her this indulgence. "Grandpa L" has really taken to her (who could resist her charms?), and I think he was just as excited as she was.
Then we loaded up and made the trek North.
We had tons of Very Important Business to attend to while there. Not the least of all was paying a snorgle visit to The Cutest Nephews Evah! *Extreme NOM Warning* I can not believe how big they have gotten because it hardly seems that they have been around for over ten months now! Believe me when I say...trouble does indeed come in pairs.
It had also been far too long since I'd been out to visit Dad. For many reasons. First is that I am usually home in the Winter. This is the first time that the cemetery had been accessible when we were in the Sault. Second, it is extremely difficult for me to do. I haven't yet gotten to the point where I don't sometimes forget that he has walked on and want to call him or go see him...even after ten years.
We barely had enough time to squeeze in an all too brief visit w/ my Grammy. One thing I didn't have was a picture of The Kid w/ Grammy, and that simply had to be rectified. I always regret not having more time w/ my whole family, but our time is constricted by circumstances beyond our control.
We got a brief bit of sleep before packing up and heading back to Indiana to catch our plane back to California. This time we had a bit of down time, and were able to take The Kid out to Fairfield for a tour of the Jelly Belly factory. The tour was definitely worth the price (FREE!), but our tour guide was lacking. She used this phony accent that I can only compare to the way Gwyneth Paltrow tries to pretend she is British, but in an overly dramatic theatre diva tone. She also didn't know what flavor they were making that day...which I think should be a minimum requirement for being a tour guide. We are, however, still eating the Jelly Belly supply that we picked up while there. NOM!
Our next stop was Alaska, and this time we had the fortuitous timing to be in time for the Alaska State Fair. We rented a car w/ an awesome woman and her daughter (with whom Kid hit it off and is now a penpal w/) and went out to see how my BFF Sarah gets her Fair on. Other than the scenery being absolutely astonishing the Fair was a hit. The Guy, The Kid and Kid's Pal had a blast riding all the rides while Pal's Mom and I played Paparazzo. There was delicious Fair food to be NOMed up, including Indian Tacos, hot dogs in fry bread, and a ridiculously huge smoked turkey leg.
Being back in Okinawa was a spectacle and a half...and I don't mind saying here that the Airman that was working at the terminal when we were cut from the flight was an unhelpful Jerk, and that I know he allowed people to jump priority. Aside from that, we were shown incredible hospitality by Kid's Pal's family, and we managed to make it to Yokota in decent time.
Getting from Mainland Japan home was slightly hairy. In order to get Kid and Guy home in time for work and school we ended up splitting up, leaving me to hang out in Japan for a few days by myself. In the end we ended up getting me a commercial ticket for a reasonable price a few days later. I managed a few pictures on my way to Narita Airport...and hopefully we can return when we have more time to see more of Japan. I must confess, the bamboo forests won me over.
Oh, and the toilets at the airport. They amused me w/ their "flushing sound" feature. You can turn on a simulated flushing sound so that no one can hear you going about your business. Even our fancy bidet doesn't have that feature!
That pretty much wraps up The Three Hour Tour. Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour! I will return you to the regularly scheduled BaCaW blogging post haste!