Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tohoku Black Water Onsen

Snow storm, train ride, winter walk, dear friend and a black water onsen - all add up to  Adventure Tohoku style.

A friend and I have been trying to get together for this trip for over a month and TODAY was the day.  It was a blast. I love riding the trains, I love onsens and I truly LOVE onsen conversations with friends.

We boarded at 10 something or other and rode three stops to Otomo (O TOE moe). Along the way we realized the "blue blob," which was every where, was a blue tree.  Aomori means "blue forest" it. You want the ticket for  "440 yen."
We arrived to realize we didn't have a map and weren't 100% sure of the name of the onsen either....but all was well. The train station attendant took us out and gave us about 5 minutes of instructions. We understood left and 5 minutes...we went left and asked the next person...we continued the pattern until we arrived at Touhoku Onsen.
Via Google Images

Y270 for an adult....
Via Google Images
After the 5 - 10 min walk (we did get turned around once and were going slower as it was icy and snowy) the onsen felt HEAVENLY.  The black water is said to be good for your skin and your can read more  here. Akikosan said  obasans go daily and that's why they look so young. I told her I'll go weekly and look 15 when I leave Japan.  ::wink:: 
Via Google Images
 There are private baths - or a private family bath. I believe they are Y800-1200  - prices here. 
Via Google Images

Look carefully at this sign...I'm thinking of going back for an over-nighter! 
Via Google Images
If you happen to be blessed to live in Northern Japan I recommend this spot...clean, unique, charming to take the train and walk.....and here's a map.  Train station is the red near the top and in the spring I may drive.  I can email a full size map.

We stopped at a little cafe  enroute to the train station for lunch - Yummy Curry.  This was  the perfect adventure  as I continue to process  we are really and truly  going to have to leave Japan in 4 1/2 months. How did that happen? It was SIX months just last week.

We arrived back on base around 2:45. I had just enough time to stop by the BX and commissary before Michael was ready to come home for the day.

If you WANT to try an onsen but don't want to run into anyone - this one was quiet when we went, we were the only Americans in the town....and I'm willing to go with you to make sure you don't commit any social mistakes....or you can go try the private room and I'll ride the train with you and sit in the public one.

Akikosan came over this evening and we told her we're moving to California. She KNEW we were moving...but seemed surprised we were moving.  She may well come visit us in California. Her Dad thinks the photos we brought her of the kids in front of the Redwoods was a fake tree. We told her to visit us and we'd take her to the Trees.

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Moving to Ninevah

Yesterday morning Michael called and said he'd received an email that our next assignment was listed on Virtual MPF (Military Personnel Flight). This was odd. In all our years this is NOT how you find out about assignments. It usually comes through your command Chaplain, to your Wing Chaplain (WC). The WC lets you know to expect orders and tells you where you will be going.....

But, we got an email saying the assignment was online. Imagine our shock, anger,  stunned disbelief, surprise to find out we had "no preference" on our retirement assignment. The "common thought" (hope really)  is the Air Force listens to your desires for your retirement assignment....mainly as they have to move you when you retire and it's cheaper if you are close to where you want to be. We had turned in our Dream Sheet (ADP) in December. We DID  have preferences. We assumed we'd either be going back to AK (our home of record) or something near one of our requests. 

The new assignment? BEALE AIR FORCE BASE - in CA. 

For 17 years we have always commented, "Due to homeschooling laws please do not send us to CA."  For 17 years we've not been sent to CA. 

We finished our part of the ADP in December and yet Assignments says they did not receive our preferences until 1 Feb - and assignments were made earlier than Feb - and they really don't care. ::snort:: 

For the first time in our career, when told where we were going, I was angry. I have always thought, "Well, that will be an adventure." BUT this time the injustice of  having no say in our retirement assignment really bugged me. Michael had gone to the office on convalescent leave to take care of his part of the form.

 I was tasked to get documentation on the homeschool laws of CA. While doing this I discovered recent court cases (2008) have made CA one of the EASIEST states in which to currently homeschool. We felt better.

Throughout the day our chapel chain of command tried to talk to assignments about honoring our preferences as stated on our ADP - but it is not to be. Yes, we're going to Ninevah  California.

I posted "Prayers please" on Facebook and knew many were praying as I was starting to see adventure after just a couple hours. A dear friend messaged me to see if I was o.k. She messaged me minutes after I got the news.  Through the course of the day she helped me get perspective and reminded me of Jonah.  I posted, "Jonah and me are soul mates" on FB. Several encouraged me. Anna, cracked me up and encouraged me by saying she'd spent many days in the "proverbial belly of the fish." ::snort:: 

Last night we talked as a family. Michael has been reading Jonah in his quiet time. Isn't God funny? Just yesterday a.m. I was reading about Abraham and Isaac and had written/prayed about surrendering my plans of what our future should look like. ::snort::  When I shared Anna's comment with Michael he encouraged me by saying, "I don't think you're in the belly of the fish. I think you're at the ticket station checking fares to Tarshish." Stacia sang veggie tales Jonah I got the message. 

We prayed together and agreed - if God changed it great - if not; we'd adjust and not harbor anger. 

Acts 2:17 (in the sidebar) is our family verse for 2013. I was thinking more like "figurative dreams" - you know a dream for the future. But I woke up early this a.m. with a thought so loud in my mind it was, to me, undeniably a "message from the Loooorrrd" (ala Veggie Tales Jonah). " 

"I use injustice and uncomfortable circumstances to prepare my Josephs (Josephines?). Will you follow?" 

It was so strong I woke Michael up and told him. He greatly appreciated this. Before he left this morning we'd decided if the balls already in motion led to us receiving a new assignment we'd take it as a miracle. Otherwise God was telling us to go to Ninevah...and to do it with joy and the knowledge that this time is a tool for our preparation - for what I have no clue. 
File:U-2 (2138865443).jpg
Beale AFB is the home to the U2 Surveillance planes and Drones. In 2011 Beale AFB Chapel was the AF Medium Chapel of the year. The Wing Chaplain is an Orthodox priest. Michael will be the Sr Protestant Chaplain as well as the Deputy Wing Chaplain. 

Positives to this assignment: 

  • 5 hours to Michael's oldest sister's 
  • 6 hours and 10 min to Mom G's
  • 7 hours to the Girls, Mom and Dad T, Michael's sister, and my brother and his family
  • 24 hours to the boys - not so great
  • It's warm (Arielle's request)
  • I think an ocean will be within a few hours? (My love)
  • Seems to be lots of camping nearby (family favorite)
  • There is an aero club and it will take 1.5 hours to fly to Mom G's
  • Hope to be able to network with local pastor's for fellowship
  • This will keep us focused on the step AFTER the Air Force
  • Our decision about buying a retirement home now or waiting is easy as we're no where near any of our considered retirement locations. ::snort:: 
  • It will be easy for those who want to attend our retirement to attend
Really, I think God wants us to see regardless of the paperwork - HE knows the desires of our heart, He will meet them - in His way.....And the whole irritation of missing paperwork? There's a lesson there too.....Man meant it for evil (though I don't believe there is any evil intent here at all) but GOD meant it for good. There will be good from our two years in California. I look forward to discovering what it will be. 

If you've lived in Beale, we'd love to hear from you.

Note I apologize to all who love California for my attitude. I'm sure I'll come to love it as well. 

Choosing Joy!
©2013 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...