Yes, another sunset...

Zampa Point.  I was trying to get pics of the spinning light shining from the lighthouse.  Got it!

Zampa Point is so close to us, and it's perfect for a sunset jog or stroll.  We went the other night to look for good rappel/climbing points down the cliffside.  We found some!  Unfortunately, we don't have all of our gear.  Hopefully, Adam can get some climbing in while we are here.

This area is about 2 miles from where we live.  Adam ran to Zampa the other day and tried to stay along the coast the entire time.  He ended up running through knee high water, saw crabs as big as his head, and ran through a dark and dripping cave before he had to stop because it was just cliff.  It just amazes me.  I on the other hand, drove the van to Zampa, and jogged along the nice, easy trails along the cliff side.  We met up there and drove back together.  We also stopped at one of the vending machines that are on every corner.  There will be a post on those later.

Typhoon Songda's wrath


These are the only before and after shots that I really captured of Typhoon Songda.  A day or two before the storm, I was on a walk and thought this vine-covered building would make a neat photo.  We passed the same building the day after Songda and I had to do a double take. 

A typhoon and a hurricane are the same thing.  In the western Pacific they call them typhoons. In the Eastern Pacific to the Atlantic they call them hurricanes.  In the South Pacific and Indian Ocean they are called Cyclones.  Go figure.  Australians call them willy-willy's or something like that...either way, they are scary!  And never to be underestimated.
We totally underestimated Songda, the typhoon that swept over Okinawa with winds reaching 150mph.
By 8pm, night was upon us and we could no longer watch the winds progress, we could only hear it.  We went outside at one point and could barely keep our balance.  That was around 7:30pm.  By 11pm, I was terrified.  The winds were so strong, I thought our windows would shatter at any moment.  All night long, they got louder, stronger and harder.  Adam was snoozing through the entire thing (of course) and I crawled down to the floor and covered myself with a blanket, debating on whether or not to get in the shower.  I was awake all night long.  When we woke up the next morning...around 5am, we took Cinder for a walk (it was her first night with us!!) and the farmlands of Yomitan were blown sideways.  Debris was everywhere, gates down, powerlines out, looked very different in the green areas.  However, all of Okinawa's structures are built with reinforced concrete and shatterproof glass..Literally, every building you see is concrete.  There is a reason for this!  No buildings were demolished, no one was killed.
Here is what we read about the storm:
“This storm was no joke, that’s for sure,” said Technical Sgt. Robert Fournier of the 18th Weather Flight on Kadena Air Base.
Fournier said Typhoon Songda was one of the most powerful storms he has seen in his four years on Okinawa. The Okinawa Meteorological Observatory said it was the strongest storm to hit Okinawa since it began keeping records in 1972, the year the United States returned the island prefecture to Japan.
What saved the island from worse wind damage was the nature of the storm itself, Fournier said.
“Fortunately for the island, the 135 knot (155 mph) winds were a thousand feet or so up,” he said. “The strong winds were not at the surface, where they could have caused some serious damage.”


It's a girl!

 From 2 to 3! We adopted a sweet girl named Cinder who is an 11 month old boxer.  We replied to a posting about a female boxer, and set up a time to meet.  Her previous family did not have any time for her and kept her in a kennel for very long hours of the day.  She wasn't getting the love, exercise and attention that she deserves.  So we went to meet her, and she greeted us with open paws (literally...she is a hugger.)  We couldn't get enough, and took her home that day for a trial weekend.  It turned out that the night we took her home there happened to be a Category 4 Typhoon that ripped at Okinawa all night long.  She did great and helped us as we anticipated the approaching storm.  It took her about a day to get comfortable here, and now she is part of the family!

Here is what we know about her after 48 hours:
1.  She is a hugger! (sometimes they are attempted hugs.) She thinks she is smaller than she is.

2.  She is very alert and curious in her new surroundings.

3. She is very obedient and eager to please.  She never wants to leave your side.  We can already tell that she isn't used to all this love and attention but she really likes it!

 4.  She loves to snuggle. :)
5.  Sometimes her tooth gets caught on her lip, and it's really cute. 
 6.  She is a fast runner.  Lucky for us there is a huge field overlooking the ocean where we can walk her and let her off the leash to run.  She does this thing...when we are running and playing, she will run full speed towards us and just slam into us!  I don't think she realizes how fast she is going.  It's a full on tackle.
It's funny to watch her run because her front feet haven't caught up with her back legs.  She's a little goofy.

 7.  She loves the beach and ocean.  When the water comes up to the sand, she plays with it and tries not to let it get her.  It's very entertaining.

6.  She is really strong and doesn't know it because she is still very much a playful puppy. 
WE LOVE HER!!!  She is a perfect dog for us and we are a great fit for her.  Expect to see more of her around the blog !!


Typhoon Songda

Typhoon Songda is gaining strength as it heads this way.  The pictures make it seem really scary, but this is typical during typhoon season and a reason why all the buildings on Okinawa are made of reinforced concrete,  everyone is calm and ready and its comforting to know that miles off shore there are coral reefs that break up any heavy waves coming in.  This is no big deal. (I'm a little scared, don't tell Adam.)
Here she blows as of 2 days ago.  Right now we are in TCCOR 2 which means it will hit Okinawa within 12 hours.  We bought lots of chocolate, rented 4 movies, got lots of fruit, brought the plants inside, and Adam just left for a good 10 mile rain run, before the winds get too bad.  We are just preparing to be inside all weekend.


Blog transitioning

I was looking through my blog, which started out as a showcase of my photography and a way of describing each scenario captured with my camera.  Over the years, (YEARS!) This blog has evolved into a really personal journey of my life!  With my new husband who is an integral part of each story, and my friends and family who follow me so closely; this has become my own digital journal.  There are also new followers from all over the place who read this blog and have sent me personal emails inquiring about things like WWoofing, different countries, camera equipment or just sharing really touching comments etc.  This blog has become such a wonderful outlet for me and I just want to THANK YOU, the readers, for following this really cool story, that is my life.
I am truly blessed to walk this path, and will continue to take full advantage of everything around me.  And share with all of you!


Wok and Roll

Homemade Spicy Tuna Roll!  Inexpensive, delicious and fun!

Adam and I tried some of the local sushi the other night at Sushi Zen, along the Sunabe Sea Wall.  It was good, and expensive!  SO, on Tuesday, I decided to take a trip to a huge Japanese market and find some fresh fish, seaweed, sticky rice etc. and make sushi at home.

Years ago during my college days, one of my favorite ladies, Katie Anderson, organized a sushi night at her house.  It was my one and only time making homemade sushi, and it was so fun!  So this time, with some fresh ingredients, lots of googling step by step recipes, and experimentation I made Spicy Tuna rolls!
The Japanese grocery store was ...hmm, a maze of symbols. I had no idea what was what, it took me an hour to find the rice section (which they sell by the kilo!) and I'm sure the attendants wanted to help me, but had no idea how.  So I wandered around aimlessly.  The fresh fish section was easy...there were a variety of fresh sea creatures to choose from (I mean a variety of species...like there were strange eyeballs staring at me.)
I've loved sushi for years!  It's probably my favorite food...so choosing what type of fish was not too difficult.  They had sashimi packages--big chunks of fish, cut into rectangles, fresh and raw The deep pink color is your tuna, the orangey color is salmon, yellowtail is usually white, and so on...I grabbed some tuna, and some shrimp.  I also found some type of chili sauce, fresh nori seaweed, and Japanese sticky (or sweet) rice...I had to ask the lady checking me out if it was the right rice for sushi.  There were literally 100 types of rice to choose from, most of them were vacuum sealed bags weighing 2 tons.  Others looked like bags of sand, they were enormous!  They don't play around when it comes to rice. 
Anyway, I gathered my stuff, shelled out some yen...which feels like spending toy money, and went home to wrap up some rolls.  It's SO easy to do, and fun...a great thing to do with a group of  friends.  It's way cheaper than eating out!
Here's the step by step process that I went through, and some things I would have done differently.
1. First, find yourself some sweet rice, sticky rice, Japanese rice, or whatever it may be called.  Long grain rice will not work for this meal because it doesn't get sticky.
This is the website that I followed in making the perfect sticky rice, and it really was perfect.
Japanese sticky rice  (note that rinsing is a very key step)  Also, I didn't have any vinegar to add to the rice when it was finished cooking.  This would definitely add the flavor that my sushi was lacking.
2. While my rice was cooking, I mixed up some spicy mayo.  (If I could do it again, I would have made it a lot spicier!)  I used some weird Japanese chili sauce, chili powder, hot sauce and mayo.  I started out measuring it by the spoonfuls, then just started dumping it in.  So taste as you go.
3. I got my sashimi tuna and sort of pulled it/shredded it, and then mixed in a few spoonfuls of the spicy mayo.  Optional.
4. Slice up some fresh avocado. mmm!
 4. When the rice is finished, get out a piece of seaweed and lay it with the rough side facing up.  This helps the rice stick to it.

Then get a big scoop of rice, and with the back of a spoon, just spread the rice out evenly over the seaweed.

5. After you've got the rice nice and even over the seaweed, place a piece of saran wrap over the rice (this helps hold it into place)  and flip it over, so the smooth side of the nori is face up.
6. Now take a generous amount of filling (whatever you choose...it could be cucumber, crab, any kind of fish, avocado, shrimp, you name it.)  spread it out.

7. Next you want to roll it up.  It would be helpful if you had a makisu, or bamboo mat, to help you roll it and form it into place.  I didn't have one and it worked ok for me.  I kept the saran wrap on it and that helped me roll it really tight.  Be careful not to squish the roll with your hands.

8.  Once you have it in a roll, you can cut them into pieces.  Keep the saran wrap on, and wet your knife with water, then slice it starting in the middle.  After I made a cut, I would rinse the stickiness off the knife...it made it much easier.  Cut into four even pieces, then cut those in half to make 8 yummy bites!

Yum!  Here is my finished product.  The small amount of raw fish that I bought made 4 rolls!  That's like a $30-$40 sushi meal at a restaurant.  I didn't spend more than $15 on all of these ingredients!

9. I sprinkled the top of mine with thinly sliced green onions.  And then topped it off with some spicy mayo sauce.  MMMMMM!  It was delicious.  Grab some chopsticks and soy sauce and enjoy!

(how many times does it say rice in this blogpost?!)

Typhoon Songda

We will embrace our 2nd typhoon of the season this weekend.  Typhoon Songda is headed this way.  As of right now, it's only a Category 1, or 119-153 mph winds.  Right now it's East of the Philippines, but heading this way.  Adam and I have a 4 day weekend Friday-Monday, so we will be finding things to do indoors!  Will keep you posted.


Bow to your neighbor

 We love our van!  Here is Adam driving through Yomitan.  The steering wheel on this thing is like driving a bus!  And you are sitting on top of the engine, and it rumbles like a bus.  So maybe it's not a van...it's a bus.  Anyway, we've been trying to fix some things here and there...we recently took the backside apart..

We've been working on it outside of our apartment for the past few evenings.  The back door is jammed and so we've removed the bumper to find that it is totally rusted underneath the plastic panels.  We've taken the thing apart, rolling around underneath the van, crawling from the inside to the outside, inspecting this fossil of transportation, all the while being covered in grease!  It took us a few days to remove 2 parts...the locking/latch for the back hatch.  The best part of all of this is that being outside has introduced us to a few neighbors.
There is a Japanese couple that lives in our building who are TOO nice.  They speak a small amount of English, and they have a long haired chihuahua named 'Bit'...(bit, you know who you are.  I smiled from ear to ear when I heard this.)  Every night the man of the house runs down the street to get a picture of the sunset...seriously, every single night.  Love them!  And they drive a mini cooper that is white and dark green; classy.
We also met a neighbor who lives in a different building across the street named Jamie (but Adam swears its Jamal), an African guy originally from Sierra Leone who sped up on his superfast road bike and introduced himself.  His wife just had a baby, and he rides off the stress.  Hopefully, when our bikes come (in JULY!) we can go for a little group ride around the island.
We've also exchanged 'Konbanwa' or Good Evening with our sweet little old wrinkled Japanese neighbor who is always outside of his house.  and the other day he came walking up behind us and just stood there staring at our handywork... and sort of laughing and pointing at the rusted out bumper.  He probably stood and watched for a good 15 minutes as we unscrewed bolts and took of panels of rust, saying something in Japanese every now and then.  The next night, we were back at it, and here he comes to inspect our progress.  He went back inside his house and came out with a beer and handed it to us (I think he feels sorry for us, haha!)  He was also there when we finally got the door opened and started cheering and laughing. He was entertained.  I introduced us, and asked for his name: Mr. Tomashito.  He is 90 years old and proud of it, a chain smoker, is shorter than I am, zips around the neighborhood on one of those electric wheelchairs and looks like he could pass for 60.  He likes us and viceversa :)

As some of you may know, most Japanese people, especially older generations, are pretty modest about most things.  You rarely see PDA or scandalous dressers.  They also have a strong desire for personal space.  You don't approach a Japanese person for a handshake, and definitely never a hug!  They are all about respect.  You keep your respective distance and bow accordingly.  There are 3 levels of bowing; First, a slight bow of the head and very slight lean forward (this is a common bow, saying hello in passing, a polite gesture).  Second, is a stronger bow of respect, a little extra thank you.  Like if you make a purchase at a store or restaurant, they will give you the second bow.  And the Third is less common, and Adam and I really, really want to show respect so we probably use the third when it isn't appropriate...it's the highest form of respect you could show.  Like WOAH!  You just risked your life for me..I'm going to bow all the way down
Adam made me laugh so hard the other day with this story...He went for a run through the neighborhood and he turned a corner and saw about 20 soccer players and a few coaches also running full speed towards him.  The first coach gave him a slight bow and he bowed back.  Then a few students all bowed as they passed him, he bowed to every kid.  and suddenly a dozen of them were all bowing as they passed.  Adam said he was bowing up and down, while running, trying not to miss a single bow and keep his balance.  I can just visualize 20+ kids running and bowing, all these heads going up and down.  SO funny!  Adam and I have this thing about bowing first...we never miss a bow.  We are kind of bow crazy. We want to be SO respectful that they are like ok, those Americans aren't so bad afterall.  We want to learn Japanese as another show of respect for them.  The Japanese people are SO kind, so friendly towards us, and they are always happy!
Hopefully, we will make the most of the culture while we are here...integrate and let their way of life change our own for the better.


Maeda Point

Maeda is one of the top scuba diving areas on the island.  When you get there, it's pretty obvious because there is gear rental everywhere, and when you look out over the water you see dozens of buoys bobbing around in the water which means that there are divers below.  Boats patrol the area and it's very safe and I assume the underwater world is spectacular.  We are not diver certified, but that is a must-do here!  It's on our to do list.  So at Maeda Point last weekend we just hiked around the area and looked for good rock climbing, saw the diving spots, and the really cool cliffs!

An interesting observation is that most people aren't really into exploring the island.  So many people/couples on base that we've spoken to don't know about any of the beautiful spots on the island and they have been here for over a year!
Hopefully, with our big van, we can load it up with people and go on sightseeing adventures.  Very excited for this!


Nirai, coves and crabs

This area where we live sits up on a hill overlooking the ocean.  It's about a 10 minute walk to the coast as you walk through winding narrow roads of small farms, flowers, and neighborhoods.  A few days ago I decided to go exploring, just me and the Nikon.  The day went something like this:
Nirai Beach
 It was around 8am and I walked to Nirai beach which is just outside of a resort hotel, organized with a cabana and rental area for watersports, a designated swim area and lots of cute little Asian kids wrapped in floating noodles running around.  It's a pristine beach...water is gorgeous...but a few too many people for me.  So I climbed the nearby cliffs and just over a rocky boarder was a tiny little hidden secret cove beach!  (or so I thought)...
Secret Cove

Do you see that little booger?  He crawled right out from under that rock and I shrieked!   (Then I remembered that I'm bigger than him..)

Little crabs were hangin out with me!
This little cove beach was amazing..except when I came back to it a few hours later for some swimming, the tide was so far out that it didn't even resemble a beach anymore!  Crazy!

Photography Beach
(I can't read the signs in Japanese..sooo, don't know names)
So I walked on...and as I walked North following the coastline, I came  upon another beach...the top of the lighthouse at Zanpa Point was in view. 
This beach was also dog-friendly!
Then I saw a sweet couple having their wedding photos made...so sweet.  When they noticed me taking their picture they all started giggling.

Doesn't it look like they are being photographed by the Secret Service?

Moving right along so the Secret Service could go on with their job...I walked Northbound.  I stopped at one point to take a picture and something crawled right across my toes.  Another shriek!  I looked down and didn't see anything.  I looked closer and got my favorite photo-op of the day:
The white crab, who blended so easily with the colors of the sand, was a wonderful subject for me.  It stood very still and let me take some glamour shots.  Click on it!  It's so detailed.

Windmill Beach
We both went along our way and I came to another beach with a windmill and a woman was carving a heart into the sand.

Such a beautiful day to explore.  We have had many more rainy days than sunny...but when that sun comes out...wow!
Will post more soon!  It's Saturday morning here, we are still breathing!  and are about to go to Beach clean-up to volunteer.  It's at Kadena Marina beach...(i'll take my camera)