Monday, October 22, 2007

California Day Two!!

Wednesday morning... Probably the busiest day of our week as far as time being tight, and the amount of things we did.

The day started early, around 6AM, which is when we headed down to IHOP to grab some food! Plans were for some pancakes or french toast, but I found a good BBQ bacon cheeseburger and Sayaka got a Double BLT! More proof of my appetite change was when I finished my burger and felt pregnant/sick again! Sayaka ate one half of hers before she threw in her towel! We did begin this with a cup of their awesome hot cocoa! After breakfast we headed to the beach!

Now this beach has always been my favorite because not too many people go there, and the view is beautiful! Today was no different! It isn't exactly a BEACH-beach area, but this place is called Balboa Peninsula. There are lots of nice houses near the small bay, and then a few minute walk to the edge of Newport Beach!

We get there and it is another beautiful day! No clouds, clear sky, warm-hot, and a little windy. After not being here for so long, I was shocked to see what the tide has done to the beach area! It created a sort of small cliff (3 feet or so), where it used to be a slow decline into the ocean. After 2 trips to beaches in Japan this year, I was reminded why California beaches are so famous. The beach was clean, yellowish-white sand, and massive! We changed to our flip flops and walked along the beach for a bit. 3 boys came up and did a little wake boarding and I caught a few pics of them. Later on, we saw a dog running towards us! Luckily he was just chasing some birds along the beach, until his owner called out to him. It was around this time when Sayaka whispered "I want to live in California...". The seed has been planted...

After an hour or so we headed to my old job, to surprise them and use their restroom! Everyone was definitely surprised and happy to meet Sayaka and see the weight I lost. We chatted a bit before they rushed us out to go enjoy Disneyland! We would see them later tonight anyway! By the way, my old job, is a 2 minute drive from Disneyland!

We get to Disneyland and I was shocked at the amount of cars going to park there! This is the beginning of October, on a Wednesday, Earth's most random day of the week! We had to wait about 5 minutes to pay for parking! After we parked we headed down to the trams to get to the entrance. Due to the sheer amount of people waiting just HERE, we had to wait for the third tram to arrive! When it finally did, we were off to Disneyland's entrance! I thought I saw a lot of people just waiting to park, and waiting for the tram, but damnit, this place was packed! This seriously felt like a weekend at the beginning of summer! We had to wait about 20 mins to get our Park-hopper tickets for So Cal residents (saved 5 dollars each, and she just checked my ID! We don't even live here! Tommy and Sayaka - 1, the system - 0).

We first entered California Adventure, and went straight for the sundae place! I love this place's sundaes so we got one and some drinks to go with it. I was reminded about something that I love about America, and wish Japan did more of when we bought our sundae. The guy who helped us, Andrew, was physically disabled. When I see that big companies hire people of any background, sex, physical or mental condition, it makes me feel good to be human! While we waited for our food, I struck up a friendly conversation with him, because I was happy to , we ate it so quick and were off to our first ride, Soarin over California!

The whole time in line, Sayaka was nervous because of my description of the ride! When we were seated, I could feel her heart beating fast, as she grasped my hand so hard. When the ride started and we were lifted around 75 feet in the air, she was the only person who screamed. Every time the ride moved, she would scream, and the older couple next to her would laugh at her. By the end of the ride, she was glad she got on it, and it definitely woke her up, if she wasn't awake by then! After we went on what I always call "The water ride". Sayaka didn't want to go on it, but I "silent-something"-ed her into getting on it. Before we got on though, we watched people for about 5 minutes. There is a part where a geyser shoots up and depending on your timing, you may or may not get VERY wet, as the water comes back down on top of you. When our time was up, we were about 3 seconds from the spot, and no geyser! But wait, this is our lucky day! A second before our raft goes over the geyser spot, it shoots up and we get drenched! When we pass the geyser, which was under us, it shoots up and comes down on us AGAIN VERY hard! We seriously looked like we hopped in the shower for a minute with our clothes on! Sayaka looked like a wet dog and she was sooo sad, but interestingly enough, she became super genki (energetic) after we got off, and just kept jumping and singing like a kid!

After that, we did some walking around, window shopping and such until we decided to leave and do more walking around Downtown Disney. There we got Jamba Juice (oh how I missed thee) and boarded the monorail to Disneyland!

We had plans to do dinner with my coworkers in an hour and a half and knew time was limited. I wanted to do the new Finding Nemo ride, but the line was like 110 minutes, so I asked Sayaka what she wanted to do and that resulted in her behind the wheel of Autotopia! The line went by pretty quick, so we made a trip to Toon Town since she has never been to the one in Japan! We made our way to Mickey's house and took our pic with him then it was time to head out! We stopped by Wetzel's Pretzels to get a Wetzel Cheese Dog and then headed to Chilis for our dinner!

When we got there, my friend Mark, the man getting married, arrived around the same time! We waited and chatted a bit while waiting for people to arrive. As soon as we got half of the people, we were seated! Food, drinks, and laughter ensued!

It was a crazy fun night, followed by sad "See you someday in the future"s and promises to email each other more. Sayaka and I were exhausted so we headed home and got to go sleep probably the earliest of any night that week!

Tomorrow, Mark's bachelor party!

Until then, enjoy pics of day two!

California Day One!

So it's about that time to get to talking about my California trip last week! I will break this down into days, just like I did my photo albums, because it will be much easier to remember everything this way.

Months ago I was invited to be my best friend's best man for his wedding. Not so much invited or asked, but destined, and confirmed to be (we have known each other for 20 years now). He lives in Colorado now (moved there a few months after I moved to Japan) and I thought the wedding would be in Colorado. I had visions of visiting my sister who has lived there for a few years, and getting my first taste of the state. Then, 2 months ago I found out it was in Cali, and was excited to be able to see my mom, friends, and family again, AND go to Mark's wedding. Fast forward a bit, and I get the whole week off, paid, Sayaka and I pay for our plane tickets, and I buy a new suitcase for the trip, it is time to go to California baby!

The morning of our flight, I wake up SICK! I dunno why, maybe being out in the cold, while dressed decently for the weather, for my old assistant manager's wedding party, but the sick-gods descended on me in my sleep! Sayaka and I packed the night before, and all we had to do was wake up, shower, eat and head to the airport!

We headed down the steps with our mildly heavy luggage and got the train to Kanayama around 9. There we purchased our reserved seats to Chubu Centrair, so we could get there in 35 minutes, and sleep a bit on the train.

When we arrived, it was a rather quick and painless process to get checked in, and our luggage xrayed! I was spoiled after my fiasco (LUPE!) at LAX when I first came to Nagoya (check the archives). We went around and looked for some food and things to buy before our flight. I got a bagel chicken teriyaki sandwich and Sayaka got some good looking curry! I also got a bagel with apple pie cream cheese on it, which was damn good! We bought a bag of chocolate covered potato chips (better than expected!) and boarded our plane to Narita! We purchased our tickets in a way, that we had a row of three seats to ourselves, so this flight, and the flight from Narita to LAX was rather comfy!

50 minutes later we arrive at Narita, wait 45 minutes, and board a larger plane for LAX! The weather in Narita was way different than Nagoya! It was much colder and looks like it had rained! This was to be a big contrast to the weather in California! On the plane, we were given 2 meals, and able to drink as much as we wanted, with the press of the button, alcohol included (we flew JAL!)! After 2 strong screwdrivers, I was ready to sleep! I woke up before our second meal, 2 hours before landing. While eating I was shocked to see how clear it was below, and see the mountains and landscapes of Central California, a sight most appreciated from an airplane! The closer we got to LA, I realized, that I had not seen a cloud in the sky for quite a while! We made a clean, smooth, descent and landing at LAX, and I felt like, wow, I am home again!

We arrived at the landing terminal, which was under construction and looked horrible, causing Sayaka to repeat "Wow, what a beautiful terminal!" several times! After going through customs/immigration, our luggage took no time to arrive, and we were up and out of the airport in NO time! We found where we needed to go to get our shuttle to the car rental place. They said they came every 5 minutes, we waited 20 or so. When we arrived to the place, the line wasn't too long, and I got to watch my first news in English in 1 year and 3 months, plus see my first ghetto verbal argument in the same time! Good ole LA! The process to pick up the car was smooth and quick thanks to my online reservation, and in minutes, I had the keys to a convertible, red, 2007 Standard Mustang convertible! It took us a bit to get the top down, and realize how we would get our luggage in the car, but after a while, we were good, and on our way out to my sister's apartment!

We cruised on the freeway for a short time and I was shocked to see how close my sister lived to LAX! It felt good to be behind the wheel of a fast car again after being the "driver" of a bicycle for so long (or passenger in my friends Skyline or AMG Benz...) and I let the car breathe a bit with the pedal to the floor. Driving in a car like that, with the top down was such a great experience this day! CLEAR beautiful skies, warm-hot weather, and fresh off our flight from cold Japan!

We arrived at my sister's house and she ran out to hug Sayaka first, then me! We went in to wait for her to get ready, then headed to Pink's, a famous hot dog stand in Hollywood! The smell of their food used to make me hungry, but after all of the light food in Japan, it made myself, and Sayaka sick to our stomachs! Sayaka had to go sit down, as she was jet lagged and feeling sick (My sister made a comment saying "Uh oh, are you guys going to have to make a Knocked Up 2?") and I had to move from the wind of the food! When our food arrived, we ate it pretty quick, without feeling sick! Sayaka got a chili cheese dog, I got a Polish Pastrami dog (hot dog with pastrami, mustard and swiss cheese), and my sister got 2 of the same as me, plus onion rings! I forgot how much I used to eat when I lived here, because it seemed like she ordered so much, and then I remember how I used to eat more than her!

After our meal we headed back to my sisters house to get a cable to connect my ipod to the car stereo, since hey, we were headed to Hollywood in a convertible, we need some good tunes! As we approached a corner, we noticed a familiar face in the car next to us. After pulling up to his window, we noticed it was Danny Trejo! At first he was mad when my sister called out to him, but we realized he was listening to Barry White and was too focused! We chatted a bit until the light turned green, and he was SUPER nice to us until then. We made it to my sister's place and grabbed what we needed and were off to Hollywood and Highland (the plan was the Beverly Center, but my sis said there was construction and it was a mess there!).

We arrived to see the normal busy Hollywood streets, filled with weird people, tourists, and the trendy. I guess this time I was the tourist! I had my camera out like I had never been there, and was snapping away! We did our rounds, got good pics, looked around, and eventually realized, Sayaka was too sick to be out right now! So we took my sis home, and got a call from my dad that he was waiting with my other sis at my mom's place! WHAT?!?! That is an hour away no traffic! So my sis says she will meet us there later (to kill the suspense, she didn't make it) and we head out to Orange County, to return home, but there was a LOT of traffic!

An hour later we arrived in Anaheim, and I showed Sayaka the original Disneyland off the side of the freeway and we had to make a detour to my old college for a restroom break before making it home! Our jet lag was kicking in so we picked up some energy drinks near my mom's place to liven up before we see my family. When we arrived at the apartments, we saw my sis waiting outside for us! How long had she been waiting! We get all of our luggage out and head upstairs to the apartment. We open the door and my dad is standing nearby talking to my mom. His reaction to me was shock, since I have lost so much weight! He asked if I left the other half of me in Japan (I heard this same phrase many times last week). My mom was equally shocked!

After hugs and introductions to Sayaka, we got our luggage laid out, and began eating. Our plans were to go out and eat, but since it was too late for my dad and sis, we ate the food my mom cooked. It was good to eat enchiladas, rice, and beans, that were home cooked by my mother again. We talked, laughed and caught up for 2 hours, then it was time for my dad and sis to leave, and take my grandma back to the IE (Inland Empire, an area of Southern California, not too popular, but where I was born!).My grandma was cute as usual and asked me as she exited the apartment "Where are you about to move to?". I don't think she knows I live in Japan still (come on now, she is 94 years old!And healthy!).

As my dad and everyone left, Sayaka and I hopped in the car to the nearby mall to grab cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory! I can't remember the name of mine, but Sayaka got the Vanilla Bean one. We both agreed mine was better, but again, our Japan meal sized stomachs couldn't do their usual damage. I finished mine, Sayaka finished half of hers. I felt sick after just one cheesecake and knew my big American appetite was GONE! We headed home and rested our heads for our next big day! Tomorrow we have, IHOP, the beach, Disneyland, California Adventure, then dinner with my old coworkers (aka extended family)!

Gyah! Unfortunately, Bloggers image uploader wants to NOT work, so here is a link to day one on Flickr!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Updates from California soon...

Once I can battle this jet lag!

Everyday I come home, I HAVE to go to sleep ASAP. It is really bad right now!

But I promise PICS, videos, and stories from the action packed 6 days in California!

Until then, relax, and grab a drink!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I'm going to Disneyland!

Well here we are! The morning of our flight to California! Sayaka is still sleeping beside me, but she was up late due to anticipation, which is why I am up early! Who will have the harder time sleeping on the plane?

I will TRY to update while I am in Cali, but don't expect anything! When I return to Japan, expect pics and stories galore! Quote me!

See you in a week and wish us luck on our flight!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Weekend update!

So this weekend was rather eventful!

We made plans to go to a mountain, and go climb it for good luck, but because of the rain in Nara, we had to cancel! So we made plans to go meet Sayaka's friend for lunch and her parents for dinner.

We arrived to Toyota station right on time and went to Saizeriya (a local restaurant) to meet her friend. Rieko arrived shortly after we did and we ordered a drink bar for all of us, and each got a dessert! I found out that Rieko used to teach for Aeon, so we got to talk in English about that and many other things! Rieko showed us some pics of her trip to San Francisco, which were amazing. Maybe my spoiled SoCal beliefs were changed after seeing them, and MAYBE I want to go now... Rieko is studying this color therapy thing, where we have to chose a bottle with different color oil in it. We chose 4 of them, and depending on the color and order we picked them in, she can read about our personalities. Sayaka was surprised to see hers was accurate, and it was in her native language, so when I had mine done and had it translated to English I was extra shocked! This was so representative of my life in the past, and now, and where I want to go. I was definitely surprised!

After our lunch date, we went to Daiso to look for something green, since both of us were told we needed the color green in our lives, but unfortunately we found nothing. We didn't have much time left before meeting her parents, so we headed down to the bus stop area where her parents awaited. We went to a yaki niku place not too far from where we were. We ordered a rather big course set, 2 HUGE beers for her dad and I, one regular glass for her, and her mom drank Oolong-cha! We began to eat and drink sooo much! By the end of the night I had one more huge beer, and a regular sized one, plus enough meat to feed a family! We joked around with her mom and dad about many things, and just like the first time I met them, I felt like I really was accepted by them. Again, they paid for our whole dinner, PLUS gave us money to go to Disneyland in California next week! We are both kinda short of money for the trip and told our sad story to them, and without hesitation, received money for Disneyland. They even gave us money for our ride back to our apartment!

Okaasan to Otoosan, honti ni arigatou ne!

Yesterday, we were pretty lazy and started our day late. We went to go eat a late breakfast at McDonalds, then went bowling, where both of our scores were pathetic because we had to use heavier balls, because they were the only balls that our fingers could fit, but we only paid 500 yen, so who cares! After we went to the nearby Daiso again to find some green stuff, but no luck. We went grocery shopping together and bought some rice, milk, and eggs for the apartment, then came home and played Wii. Sayaka was still sleepy so I worked on a newsletter and party poster I needed to finish for work.

Now it is Tuesday morning, a week before we will be heading to the airport to go to California! super excited! This Sunday, we will go to the aquarium, and Monday, a wedding party for my old assistant manager, then Tuesday is departure day! Just have to get through this week of work!

Until this weekend!