Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Friendship (Page 2 of 3)

Monterey & Carmel-By-The-Sea

Sunday, 7/22, Sara headed back to San Diego and the rest of us took a short road trip from Paso Robles to the coast. Our first stop was in Monterey. We enjoyed a walk through the quaint little town. It was fun to see Cannery Row. Since high school, I have been a huge John Steinbeck fan. 

The Pacific coast enticed me yet again. 

After our visit in Monterey, we continued towards Carmel-By-The-Sea and drove along the beautiful 17 mile drive. Slowly, the clouds started to lift. 

17-Mile Drive is a scenic road that runs along the coast and connects Monterey to Carmel-By-The-Sea. There are several golf courses. The most famous being Pebble Beach. I honestly, just loved seeing the rocky shoreline of the Pacific. 

It didn’t take long for the clouds to settle again. Bird Rock is pictured on the background. Again, you can’t hear all of the California sea lions lounging on Bird Rock. Using Mark’s binoculars, they were easy to spot. Using a picture from my iPhone, not so easy to spot. 

One of the most iconic spots along the drive is the Lone Cypress. The clouds had definitely settled by this point. Nonetheless, we enjoyed taking tourist pictures! 

We stopped in Carmel-By-The-Sea for lunch. 

After lunch, we continued driving south to Big Sur. For the next two nights, Sue arranged for us to stay in an amazing airb&b at the top of of Palo Colorado Road off of US1. Before heading up the mountain to our airb&b we made a quick stop at the grocery store. Would you believe our luck – they had a wine tasting! Thank you, don’t mind if we do! 

The house were we stayed was spectacular! The views were incredible. We literally were above the clouds. The Pacific Ocean is under the clouds. 

We enjoyed a lively game of dominoes as we watched the sunset. 

Watching the fog roll in after the sunset was captivating and eerie. 

Despite the low clouds, Allison and I enjoyed a clear night sky to stargaze. We saw two satellites and three shooting stars! 

Paso Robles Wine Camp

The third part of my American Adventure was uniting with my friends from Virginia Beach. Friday, 7/21, I linked up with Mark and Roxanne at the San Francisco airport. After enduring a bit of rental car drama, the three of us drove south along 101 to Paso Robles. The traffic was awful. When finally made it to our airb&b rental we were beyond relieved and excited! Here we rendezvoused with the rest of our VB friends. Sue, Jeff and their daughter, Allison, had spent the week in San Diego visiting our friend, Sara and her family. They were driving north to Paso Robles. 

The reunion was magnificent! And definitely better than our selfie stick pictures. Somehow we couldn’t quite get all seven of us in one picture! Or smiling. Or looking at the camera. 

After our snack, we decided to charge our glasses and take a walk around the grounds of the airb&b. 

The owner’s dog acted as an escort. 

As the sunset, we seized the opportunity for a few modeling shots. 

This one makes me laugh. Mark and his paparazzi’s shadows.

Allison and her paparazzi! 

After dinner, Roxanne began the first lesson of Wine Camp. She used her socks to school us on her expectations. 

Saturday morning, before our day of Wine Camp, Sara and I enjoyed a run through the J. Lohr vineyards. 

Our first appointment for wine tasting was at 10:30 at the J.Lohr vineyard. Off we go! 

Another friend in VB helped to arrange a personal tasting experience with Elisa. Despite having an appointment and being told not to be late, Elisa seemed to have no clue who we were or why we asked for her. None the less, she provided us with a VIP experience. 

Perhaps you notice the cat ears? I brought them with me from Japan for us to wear. We spent the day explaining the purpose. They are “kawaii”, Allison (our driver for the day) was the cat herder, we wanted to be able to find each other, we wanted to fit in with the numerous bachelorette parties, and well, because Japan. We never quite perfected the story. Personally, I think cat herder was most appropriate. 

Our second winery of the day was at Eberle winery. This winery was our favorite for several reasons. 1. The staff was super friendly. Even when we broke a glass! 

2. The wines were delicious. 

3. The tour of the winery caves was interesting and our tour guide was super animated. 

4. Free pizza.  

After a stop for lunch, we continued to our third winery, Sculpterra.  

The wines were delicious and the sculptures throughout the gardens were really impressive and unique. 

Our fourth and final winery was San Marcos Creek Vineyard. It was a quiet winery with delicious wines. It was the perfect quiet ending to a lively and exciting day. Kanpie! To dear friends! 

Our five souvenir bottles from the day! 

I want to give a special shoutout to our driver, Allison. She drove us around all day and patiently waited for us at each winery. She earned the highly esteemed honor of Cat Herder. Thank you, Allison, for enduring the day and keeping us safe! 

Day Three – Yosemite Falls

Friday, was our last full day in Yosemite. Audry and I discussed possible hiking options. We both decided we wanted to avoid Vernal Falls, Mist Trail, and John Muir Trail all three were part of our hike to Half Dome. Instead, we took the Valley Shuttle to Lower Yosemite Falls. A few pictures of our approach to the falls. The first picture is Upper Yosemite Falls. 

Lower Yosemite Falls was magnificent. The extra snow and late season storms in Northern California really enabled the Falls to be a beautiful spectacle this time of year. So much energy! And wind! It’s our “Flock of Seagulls” look. 

After visiting Lower Yosemite Falls, we eventually found the trail for Upper Yosemite Falls. It was only 3.2 miles to the top. The guidebook said it would take 3-6 hours. Let’s go! 

The trail was a steep vertical ascent with countless switch backs. The views of the Valley floor as we climbed were breathtaking. Half Dome will always be one of my favorites. 

Up and up and up we continued to climb. 

After about two hours, we reached the halfway point. Here we had a stunning view of Upper Yosemite Falls.

And in the other direction, Half Dome. 

As we rested, we contemplated which direction we should go. Further up the mountain, about two more hours to the top of the Falls, or back down. We made a wise choice to head back down. By the time we were back in the Valley, We were both famished. We stopped at the Yosemite Village Grill for a cheeseburger. I quickly gobbled mine down with a Lagunitas IPA.  

We hopped the shuttle back to our tent. I attempted to convince Audry we should go see Mirror Lake. It’s flat and only three miles round trip. Nothing I said convinced her. Smart girl. It was 6:50pm. I said if I’m not back by 8:00pm, look for me. Off I went. Expediently. I only paused for a few pictures. 

Mirror Lake was pretty and serene. I’m glad I went and glad I didn’t force Audry to go. Because it was a bit anticlimactic after the earlier views and without perfect light and weather conditions. 

I returned a faster route and arrived back at our tent at 7:59pm. Audry was making preparations to come find me! What an amazing friend! Our time together was truly an adventure. Thank you for filling my happiness bucket. Xoxo 

Easy Day 

After our long and strenuous Half Dome hike (19 miles), Audry and I thought we deserved a break on our second day in Yosemite. We decided to hike along the Valley Loop Trail from Half Dome Village to Bridalveil Falls. The guide book described the hike as being an easy flat hike. This sounded delightful and manageable after the strenuous Half Dome hike. We set out with the intention of hiking four miles round trip from our tent to Bridalveil Falls. After we had been walking a while, we passed a sign saying Bridalveil Falls was 3.4 miles. Hmmmmm. That seemed longer than we expected. No worries, we can just take the free Valley Shuttle from Bridalveil Falls back to Half Dome Village. 

We continued walking and enjoyed the views the trail gave us of El Capitan. 

We could also see Upper Yosemite Falls. 

And view Bridalveil Falls as we approached. 

It was beautiful! Mesmerizing! And crowded! Strategic camera angles enabled me to crop out most of the people. 

After our visit at Bridalveil Falls, we were ready for an adult beverage. We started looking around for the shuttle stop. But couldn’t find one. We saw a sign when we passed the split for El Capitan for the shuttle and so we walked back. And had a few more chances for amazing views. 

Eventually, we found the shuttle stop and made it a little closer back to Half Dome Village before getting caught in traffic and deciding it would be faster to walk. By the end of the day, our simple four mile loop turned into 11.5 miles! Ha! Easy Day! 

We earned and enjoyed a pint. Check out what we liked to call our “Yosemite tan” – or just dirt. 

Parallel Universe

Today, we celebrated our 11th month of living in Japan. This journey has been incredible. Personally, I have been tested and grown more than I ever imagined. Obviously, I couldn’t have and wouldn’t have wanted to experience any of it without Dave and without the support of our family and friends. Over the past couple of weeks, I have enjoyed our friends and family sharing their experiences in America that parallel my experiences in Japan.
First example – My friend, Sue, shared with me a picture from a restaurant in CT. She captioned the picture with “on a clear day…” 

My mom found a vase specially designed for Ikebana in Bel Air, MD. She claims, had I not lived in Japan, she wouldn’t have know the meaning of Ikebana. I wouldn’t have either! And I had my first personal experience at making an Ikebana arrangement. Check it out! 

My sister-in-law, Bobbie, shared a picture of sunflowers and puppies after my blog yesterday.

I have many more examples of so many friends reaching out to me/us and showing love. It means the world (literally) to us. From the bottom of my heart, I/we thank you. Being apart is hard and by sharing your experiences with me/us, it makes the world seem that much smaller. Xoxo

Smile Because It Happened

One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Seuss. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I find this quote to be very comforting when I’m faced with the many changes brought about living life as a Navy spouse. One thing always consistent with Navy life is moving. Each move brings new adventures in new locations and new friends with whom to share them. Unfortunately, too often, paths crisscross for only short periods of time. Dina and her kids left Japan for vacation today. She will return and move while I am away next month. Last night we enjoyed one last delicious dinner at Sushiro. Our favorite!

True to typical form, we made friends who were more than willing to have their picture taken with the two tall and cute Americans.

Happiness is friends and a big slice of tuna.

The night wouldn’t be complete without a stop or two at combini for chu hai.

The best picture and memory of the night was Dave giving Eme a shoulder ride up the hill on the walk home!

I will miss you, my friend. Thank you for all the laughs, adventures, and morning runs to the beach. A quick throwback picture to our first run to Zushi beach last October.

It’s not sayōnara, it’s only jā matane – see you later…

Emperor’s Summer Garden

My English student, Manami, invited me to go with her and her mother, Atsuko, to visit the Emperor’s Summer Garden. The Summer garden is located in Hayama and a short drive from where we live. The gardens were lovely. They exuded a more natural ambiance because they were not overly manicured. 

The koi pond had some of the largest koi I have ever seen! Their colors were so bright and their patterns so bold. 

Within the garden was also a beautiful waterfall. 

The other highlight were the blooming hydrangeas. 

We stopped to take a few pictures before we left. The first is of Manami and me. The second is Manami and Atsuko. 

It was a very special adventure. I truly appreciated their invitation to show me a beautiful part of Hayama. I am very fortunate to have met them both and to have the opportunity to learn more about Japanese culture as a result of their friendship. I saw this quote on a bench in the garden and really felt it speaking to me. “This is you life” – I would only add “embrace it”. 

On a more somber note, thank you to our friends and family who reached out to check on Dave after hearing of the collision. He is safe. Our thoughts remain with our friends and shipmates aboard the USS Fitzgerald. It is with deep sadness and a heavy heart, Dave and I extend our condolences to the family and friends of the sailors who lost their lives. May you find peace and comfort in the memories of your loved one during this difficult time. ❤️

Roses are Red

Roses are starting to bloom all over Japan. Through my research, I found a small out of the way western rose garden in Tokyo. The Kyu-Furukawa Gardens on the north side of Tokyo. It was a trek on the train, about an hour and 20 minutes. I asked my kindred flower chasing spirit, Dina, if she was interested in going with me. And off we went! Having Dina to explore Japan with is a highlight. I find little out of the way places and ask if she wants to go with me and 97% of the time the answer is – yes! Today, we went to Tokyo for roses! 

The western-style house was designed in the early 1900s by a British architect. The gardens were designed by a Japanese architect from Kyoto around the same time. It was designated as a Place of Scenic Beauty of Japan on January 26, 2006. Looking at the pictures, the British influence is apparent in the building and the Japanese influence is apparent in the gardens. 

The roses were spectacular! Every color and size. I took a couple pictures with my hand for perspective. 

I want to provide you with a true picture of the gardens. A picture or two with all the people! The bottom picture is the rose maze. Keep in mind, this was on a cloudy random Wednesday! 

By playing with the angle, I could capture people free pictures and a selfie! 

The rest of the gardens were so green, lush, and beautiful. They also had a definitive Japanese flair. The focal pieces were large stone lanterns, a stone pagoda, a dry river bed, and a waterfall. 

The “wild stone wall” had us both laughing! Use cation, these rocks aren’t domesticated. 

The only thing I couldn’t capture today was the intoxicating scent of the roses. I guess we need to make our smart phones a little smarter to capture odors! Or maybe not… 

I decided it is my duty to taste as many soft cream flavors as possible as I explore Japan. Today, I enjoyed salted rose. It moved up to number 1! 

One last picture of a fluttery friend I attempted to photograph. Please, slow down!

Tomorrow I will tell you all about our train stamping adventures! 

Saturday in the Park

Saturday MWR held a “Friendship Day” at the Ikego track. It was an open event welcoming together Americans and Japanese to enjoy fellowship and cultures. 

Dave and I were able to walk down and enjoy the event. 

Like any good American day in the park, there were American Firetrucks and Sparky! 

There were several food vendors. The longest lines were for the American hamburgers and shaved ice. 

When we first arrived, the U. S. Navy Band was finishing their set. They sounded pretty good as we walked down the hill to the track. 

There were tents set up with games for kids to play. Also, a muscle man hammer. It was funny to watch the Japanese men. They were often dressed so nicely and slammed the sledgehammer like a boss! 

The highlight was watching a group of Japanese dancers. The dancers were all ages. Check out the shoes the ladies were wearing! 

The dancers were impressive and very entertaining to watch. As you can tell by the video, it was a very windy day. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to dance with their hats in the wind! 

They had their own band playing the music. 

The little kids were so cute. 

“Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July…” or maybe just the 29th of April! 


Earlier this week, Yasuko-San called to tell me our Friday English class would need to be cancelled. That gave me a whole day to do – whatever! Happy Friday to me! 

Dina also had a free day and we planned to go to collect more sea glass at Sea Glass Beach. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for the day. It never rained but, remained overcast and cool. Not so much beach weather. 

Instead, we decided to venture up to Motomachi shopping district in Yokohama. Here is the gateway welcoming shoppers. 

Motomachi 500m upscale shopping street in Yokohama. It is located between Chinatown and Yamashita Park. Here was our route on the train. 

The street was filled with a couple of familiar stores. 

There were also a variety of other stores. Like this men’s purse store. The St. Bernard bag was too cute! The sexy lady men’s pins were just weird. 

Speaking of purses, I did buy a new purse from Kitamura2. 

I’ve been searching for a new crossbody bag to replace my tired Longchamp bag. This purse was a 40th birthday present from my Mom before we went to Paris.  I have enjoyed carrying for the past two years so much. It is absolutely perfect. If Longchamp still made it, I would buy at least two more in blue and black.  Considering the miles and continents it has travelled, it’s in pretty great shape… just like me! Ha

Today, I welcomed Blue Boy into my life. He is cute, functional, multicolored, and my first Japanese purse. He has a few more zippers than Longchamp and a very big job to fill. 

I was so thankful to have Dina along with me. She provided sound support as I invested in my new traveling companion (my new purse) and she provided comic relief at a fine leather goods establishment. First, you must stick your hand in his mouth. Which I did… it was furry and warm. 

And then there was the all-American fire truck… in Japan. 

The best was helping Dina find a new hat… maybe not this one. 

It’s Japanese size! 

And there was the incident with the BIG chair. Honestly, I wanted to sit in it. I was just too scared of making a scene! A selfie will have to do. 

One more place to mention as we walked through Motomachi was the adorable pet store. Kawaii!!!

These two puppies were ridiculous. The first one will not get bigger than a soda can. He was only ¥199,800 or about $1800. 

This little fluffy friend was ¥299,900. For shock factor, let’s say $3,000. (I know, I rounded the wrong way) by the time you buy supplies he will be that much! Crazy cuteness. 

We reached the other end of Motomachi and we were ready for food. 

We decided to head to Chinatown for lunch. On our way, we passed this adorable group of teenagers. Pandas in Chinatown, of course. 

Eventually, we found a delicious sushi restaurant in Chinatown.  Tuna rice bowl made complete with a grapefruit Hi-Ball and corn on my salad. 

Tuna rice bowl…. Nom nom nom…

As we headed back to the train, we saw our Panda friends again. This time, the were more than willing to pose! Kawaii! 

Happy Friday! May we always have a good friend(s) to laugh, shop, and drink with!  Kanpie! 

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