Petting a whale, walking a plank over a deep pit and seeing a shark heading your way – all were part of our adventure at the Trick Art Museum in Takao. On a hotter-than-heck day, Eric, Maddie and I boarded a train in Fussa headed for Mt. Takao. We had big plans that day – visiting the Trick Art Museum, eating at an Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us and riding the cable car Continue reading
Independence Day, away from home, in another country, on a military base, with my youngest granddaughter -a whole list of “firsts.” I really didn’t foresee it , but July 4 in a foreign country takes on a whole new meaning. The base did a wonderful job at making the celebration fun and meaningful. The weather could have been better, it was warm and muggy with a few little sprinklings of rain. But it was not nearly as hot as most July 4ths I’ve spent in Louisiana.
A huge balloon, with letters forming the words “Celebrate America” hanging beneath, floated above a field marking the location of the event. Brightly colored tents offered games, face painting, jumping, running and swinging activities for children. For adults, there was a chili and cookie cook off, contests, and raffles. Everyone enjoyed the food offerings including the typical cookout fare, hot dogs and hamburgers. Two stages were set up, one large one for the main event and a smaller one for various bands, dance groups, etc.
The Lt. Dan Band, the main event, kicked off their show about 5:00. I guess somewhere in the back of my mind, the band’s name sounded familiar, but I really didn’t know much about them. I remembered the Lt. Dan character from Forest Gump, but really didn’t remember the actor’s name. What an awesome group. They played lots of oldies that providing an opportunity for the audience to sing along, and I did, probably upsetting the entire row in front of me – but hey, who cares?
As much as I loved their music, I loved their collective “heart” even more. Gary Sinse (who played Lt. Dan in Forest Gump and more recently, Mac on CSI) leads this group, with an interest in and dedication to the military and particularly the “Wounded Warrior” project. His foundation plays concerts to raise money to build “smart” homes (disability accommodations) for service members wounded in combat. Check out their website at http://www.ltdanband.com and treat yourself to one of their shows if you have the opportunity.
The fireworks show followed, closing the evening events. And while the show itself wasn’t the biggest and best I have ever seen, but it was much more powerful. Surrounded by men and women who have served in combat, who would give their lives for our great but imperfect country; children who routinely have to say good-bye to a parent for months at a time (some of which may have never even lived in the USA) and the new friends I have made…it just felt different. I’ve always loved my country, but I loved it more that night.
Returning from the festival, I rode up the elevator with a man and we were commenting on the event. He said…”you know, the fireworks overseas are never quite as good as they are at home, but here you really feel what you should feel every 4th of July.” All I could say was Amen.
Summer began with a 2-week trip to Colorado in June to attend our nephews wedding and visit family. Traveling to/from Japan is tiring enough, but to arrive at our destination in Denver we had to fly to Atlanta, Georgia first. For my Japanese friends, this means that the airplane practically had to fly over Denver to reach Atlanta! As Atlanta was our entry point in the United States, we had to go through the whole passport control/customs routine, and this was my first time to do so at a commercial airport. While the passport control/customs agents weren’t friendly, I am told that it is not their job to be friendly. Ok, I get it. Overall, the process went rather smoothly and our bags weren’t checked, so we were able to make our connection with plenty of time to spare. Our youngest daughter and granddaughter picked us up at the airport and we drove straight to a hospital in Greeley where my oldest granddaughter had undergone hip surgery the day before. It was a huge relief to see her and her mom. After a good nights sleep and only slight jet lag, we were ready to go. My sister and brother-in-law from Louisiana drove all the way to Colorado to see us – what a treat! We shopped and visited and ate and made a point to eat some delicious wings from our all-time favorite wing place, the Wing Shack (more aptly named Crack Shack by my son-in-law because the wings are so addicting!). A few days after my granddaughter was released from the hospital, my daughter and son-in-law held a crawfish boil with crawfish flown in from Louisiana (And oh, how I have missed my Louisiana crawfish!) and were they ever yummy! Of course, instructions on how to peel/eat the crawfish were provided and the obligatory crawfish race was conducted. Good food and good times!
An added bonus was being able to participate in a Bible study field test with my oldest daughter. Group Publishing (Loveland, CO) introduced a wonderful study designed to be used at women’s retreat and led us through the entire study while generally pampering a group of about 60 women throughout the day-long event. What a treat! Our second week in the states, we drove to Pueblo for our nephews wedding and what an event it was! The wedding itself was riverside at a park in Pueblo and although hot, it was a beautiful setting. The reception was at the home of the bride – a farm- on the outskirts of town. Sunflowers adorned every surface with tiny white lights sparkling in the trees as we danced the night away under the stars (and to be truthful, there was ash mixed in there due to the Colorado wildfires that were closer than we liked to admit). We were welcomed with open arms and felt that our Louisiana family fit perfectly with our new Colorado kin!