Saturday, February 14, 2015

February is a Big Month but Cold

It is that time again, where I cheap out and write a blog to my wife, St. Jan, and some other family members that celebrate birthdays this month. 8 years ago Jan and I "celebrated" our anniversary on a packed 747 on our way to Japan the first time. We got there in time to visit Annika at the hospital at Yokosuka who was born on the 15th. I don't know if my Mom has come to grips with the idea of her birthday on the other side of the International Date line. She felt that since Annika was born when it was the 14th here, that should be her birth date, what ever. So, we have our 44th anniversary tomorrow on Valentines Day- I know, we are such romantics- Annikas' birthday is the 15th, regardless of where she was born, our son Eli and our son-in-law Steve, have the same birthday on the 23rd. Last but not least is our grandson August, or Gus as we usually refer to him as, on the 27th. So there you have it the birthdays and an anniversary all in one.
  I had written a whole nother paragraph just to Jan about how we met and how our lives have gone since but I accidentally deleted the paragraph. I don't know how, but it got highlighted and deleted, in literally the blink of an eye. How we met one evening in 1970, I thought that she just liked my 69 Mustang Mach 1, which she did, but I guess that she kind of liked me too. I brought her home to the farm by Alpha, very, very early the following morning, and we have been hitting it off ever since. Now in 6 years we could be looking at our 50th, holy cow, I remember going to my relatives 50th party's, and they were old. Probably not as old as I will be by that time, come to think of it. I just wanted the world to know how much I love you Janice B. If there were any justice in this world I would ask for another 50 years with you.
                                           Love Pete

These photos are of us just a couple of weeks ago, when we visited Rachel and her family in Japan.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Two Minnesotans in Japan

It is about time for me to post something again, and I thought that our recent trip to Japan to visit Rachel and family might fit the bill. We flew out of Minneapolis direct to Narita in Japan. Rachel and Will were there to meet us and drive us back to Yokosuka. There is a backstory to this trip, but I would let Rachel fill you in. Near Narita, which is northeast of Tokyo there is some agriculture but shortly after that, it is solid city all of the way down to Yokosuka. Luckily, Rachel had all of the paperwork done ahead of time so getting us on base was a piece of cake. Over there you never leave the house without your passport and base pass on your person. We did a walking tour one day of the city of Yokosuka near the gate, and it is a lot of fun just to wander through the stores in that country. Everything is so neat and well displayed and the people are so polite and friendly, it makes me wonder, sometimes, how in the world did we end up in WWII with them? I guess that those were different times. Rachel kept us busy for the most part, and she had a selection of local beers for me to sample. Not surprisingly they were quite good. We visited several shrines over the course of time we there, which is not difficult because there are shrines of some sort in a lot of locations. We did some beach combing a few times, picking up shells, and pottery shards that the ocean throws up. I am still not sure where all of the pottery shards come from and why there is so much of it in the water, maybe from the war? On a Sunday Hans took Jan, Josiah, and me on a tour of his ship, the USS Curtis Wilbur. His ship is fresh out of a stay in dry dock for some upgrading and freshening, so to say. We got the whole tour from the bridge through the galley to the engines. I was impressed by the ships' crew members, and the ship itself, it seemed like well trained family from what we saw. Annika and William attend the Hayama International School, which, surprise is located in Hayama, a bus ride away. Jan and I would usually walk the kiddos down to the bus stop and wait with them for the bus to arrive, and sometimes the reverse procedure. One day it even snowed pretty good for a couple of minutes. One day Rachel and we two drove over to Hayama to pick them up and wander the beach below the school. The Friday before we left Rachel guided us to the New Sanno hotel in downtown Tokyo. This required several different train rides to get from Yokosuka to Tokyo, and over to the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest structure in Japan. The New Sanno is owned by the Navy and is a very nice place to stay for sure. It is available to all branches of the services and embassy personnel, I believe. Navigating the tangle of train and subway lines is something that must be learned if you have any hope of getting around over there, and Rachel has it down, good grief, she used to do it with two small children the last time that they were there. Without her I would still be riding the rails under Tokyo.

Holy cow, I almost forgot about our drive out to Mount Fuji, until I was scrolling down through the 170 photos that I took out there. With a rented van we all drove out to Mount Fuji on our last Saturday in Japan. As you can see by the photos the weather was beautiful, with snow on the ground everywhere at that altitude. I had so many good photos that I had to include just some of the good ones. Using the logic that we will never be there again in this lifetime I shot a lot of frames. Thank goodness for digital photography! I still find myself thinking about shot setup etc., until I remember that there is virtually no limit to the amount of photos a digital camera can absorb, so shoot everything and cull out the bad ones later. Hans and I went to see "American Sniper" when we got back, and it was as good as advertised, lots of tears from me at the end, seeing the Patriot Guards at his funeral. I have been to a lot of funerals like that, just not that elaborate. Anyhow, we spent the last couple of days getting packed and ready to head home, walking Annika and William to and from the bus, and hitting the bazaar on base for some souvenirs for the "homefolks". Rachel got us on the bus back to Narita a week ago today, and a week ago today we were in the air over the Bering sea or northern Canada. My brother Phil picked us up at the airport and drove us out to their home by Delano. Naturally we came in to Minneapolis in lite snow, so the drive to their place was slow. We had left our car at their house for the duration, and we being anxious to get home headed straight home from there. So that completes our second trip to Japan, and I have to admit that I enjoyed this one a lot more than the first trip 8 years ago. I felt more comfortable off base I think and Rachel had all kinds of stuff for us to do, so being bored was never a problem, thanks again Rachel and Hans.