Monday, May 08, 2006

Yet another safe landing...

Last night, shortly after 8PM Japan time, I arrived back in Utsunomiya and into the arms of my beloved. I ended up being quite lucky with my trains, mainly due to the fact the plane landed a good 45 minutes early.

I'm starting to think that there's something to this karmic balance thing... at least as far as airports go. Here's a breakdown of the events.
1. The first negative event was the evil customs agent in Ottawa who kept me in customs for 20 minutes while my parents were waiting outside. This was balanced by the fantastic customs agent here in Japan. Here's the entire conversation: Me-Hello Him-Hello, passport please. Where did you come from? Me-Canada Him-why are you in Japan? Me-I work here Him-You speak Japanese? Me-Chotto dake. Watashi wa Aeon no Eigo no kyoshi. Him-(joke about me not being at work on a Monday) Have a good day. Me-Thanks!

2. The second negative event also happened in Ottawa, going through security with my checked baggage. The lady wanted a look at my camera lens case since it showed up on the x-ray as a big black clock. As she had a look at it, another agent did a swab and my bag tested positive for explovies residue!. No idea what that was all about, and they said it was no big deal but they had to go through the motions with me, The supervisor came over and asked me a bunch of questions about my occupation and exposure to various chemicals, and then I had to be frisked before I could go through to the gates. Not a pleasant experience, but fully understandable of course. 5 minutes later, the woman at the cash took money from her tip jar to cover me since I didn't have enough Canadian cash for the juice I wanted to buy... very nice!

So all in all, the flight back home was uneventful, though the plane lacked personal video monitors... which totally help pass the time on long flights. They did show 3 movies, but I slept through 2 of them. It's nice to be back in my things again, and it'll be interesting to see how I can settle back into the routine after a week abroad. It was certainly a fantastic trip, and here is a little more detail on some things that I didn't take the time to post about.

First, it was quite nice to see the family again. The brothers have certainly grown in the year I was away, and I think neither of them have gotten their hair cut since I left, they're starting to look a little bushy. Here's Sebastien on the left, and Christian on the right.

Second, it was very nice to see the ol' neighbourhood again. Some things are still the same, the neighbours were happy to see me, but some things have changed as well. Across the street from my parents' house, the owner split his lot and is building these two houses. They've both already sold for more than 500,000$ each! Crazy! Though, the houses are quite large, and they both back onto a park, which increases the value significantly.

It was also great to see the 6th member of our family, Pinotte, whom I cannot talk to over the web cam. I was happy to see that he recognized me after a year away and went nuts when I got home. Here he is at his usual spot, hoping for food to fall off the table during dinner.

DRIVING! Having not driven in a year, I was a bit uncomfortable when the rental guy said they didn't have any SUVs and they would give me a full size Dodge Ram to go camping with instead. Luckily, my driving rocks and I had no problems getting back into the groove of things, even with a vehicle almost 3 times the size of my truck.

NATURE! It was fantastic to head back into Algonquin Park and get away from the concrete and power lines which dot the Japanese landscape. Seeing real rivers and lakes again brings into sharp focus the horrible damage that has been done to Japan's waterways over the years.

The camping trip was absolutely amazing, we got lucky with the weather and the lack of bugs. Here's a a series of pics to show you just how easy it is to setup my hammock. This is it here.

You tie off both ends to trees.

Remove the snake skin covers.

Tie off the two lines off either side.

Open up the slit in the bottom.

And have a seat.

You then just have to pull your feet in and shuffle up the hammock a bit and you're lying flat, quite comfortable, and much better than sleeping on the floor of a tent as Sean had the displeasure of being reminded with his first tent sleep in years last weekend.

This is my entire camp setup, with my dry back hanging in the tree... The hammock also comes with a rain fly which you can clip on, and that's that!

Here is that picture I hadn't rotated... lovely sunshine streaming in.

And fire, every camp needs a camp fire.

This is lovely basin lake in the morning, perfectly clear and calm waters. A great drive-in campsite.

Following the camping trip, we headed out to the cottage, about 45 minutes drive from Ottawa on the Quebec side. Here's the back of said cottage, we're in the process of installing new siding, here's a section that's been done.

This is the front of the cottage, with the men BBQing next to the deck. The big windows on the left are in the living room, and the kitchen is to the right.

The section on the right spans 3 floors from basement up through to the play room on the top floor. This is a pretty massive place for a cottage and we've slept anywhere from 30-40 people in here on some weekends.

This is our front yard with a view of the lake.

And here' the group that came our for this weekend. This is just about half of my father's immediate family... in this picture are my parents (my mom to me left and dad the tall one with a mustache to my right) my brothers, my grandparents (sitting at the table) and the rest are aunts, uncles and cousins and friends of cousins.

So that's that, back to the routine and teaching. So far so good, I got almost a full night's sleep... we'll see when the jet-lag sets in... wish me luck!

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Blogger CoyoteWhips said...

Ya know, your blog may be the clearest view of setting up an Hennessy Hammock on the web.

10:02 AM  

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