Aomori, Japan

parade float A
WOW! We saw one of the biggest and brightest and loudest parades ever last night! Aomori is at the northern end of the main island of Japan, right on the sea. Each summer there is a week-long festival of parades and special events and we went to Aomori to see the festival. We rode the train from Misawa and got of into a large crowd of people. There were all kinds of people selling food and souvenirs and costumes and fancy hats as we walked to the place where we could watch the parade. Tens of thousands of people lined the parade route to see the bands and dancers and floats.

Everything was spectacular! There were huge drums that you could hear coming for blocks. There were bands of flute and cymbal players. There were hundreds of dancers with each float and the floats were enormous and all lit up with bright colors and fantastic figures. All of the floats are pulled along the parade route by people who lift heavy beams and pull the carts and floats. There are even people whose job it is to pull carts with barrels of water and dippers for the workers to get a drink during the parade.

Everyone can join in the dancing. Even tiny children and babies are dressed in costumes and allowed to take part. It is a wonderful celebration filled with lots of bright colors. The hats that people wear are amazing and fun, covered with birds and flowers and bells.

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Misawa and Patrick

Finally, here are some pictures. We are starting to get over our jet lag an enjoying our time in Misawa and our time with Patrick.

PatrickRachel
Patrick sleeps quite a bit of the time, but he is fun to hold and watch even when he is sleeping. His usual routine is a diaper change followed by a time of eating. After he eats he will sometimes stay awake for a little while and look around at the world and enjoy the people in his life. He likes to lay on his mother and be close to her. Sometimes he moves his arms and legs even when he is sleeping. Most of the time he eats directly from his mother. Sometimes he gets milk from a bottle. When he gets fed from a bottle, his father or grandparents can feed him. We enjoy doing that. He is an eager eater and takes his bottle easily.

Mikepatrick
Mike is a very good and very attentive dad. He loves to hold Patrick and help him. Mike is also cooking most of the meals and doing a lot of laundry. Babies need a lot of laundry. In addition to several changes of clothes each day, Patrick needs to have blankets and changing table covers and spit up rags and more and all of those things need to be washed each time they get something on them. Mike has been taking time off of work to care for Patrick and Rachel since Patrick was born, but today he goes back to work. He will miss having so much time with his son, but since grandma and grandpa are here, they can help with the cooking and laundry.

misawarooftops
Misawa isn't a very big city, but the houses are all close together and the streets are not very wide, so sometimes it seems like it is a bit crowded. Everything is kept very clean and it is a fun place to walk around the streets and explore. For our first couple of days here, we are staying on the 7th floor of a hotel, so we can see over the tops of most of the buildings out of our window. It has been very warm, with high temperatures in the 80's and 90's and it is very humid. We seem to raise a sweat whenever we go outside. Most of the buildings are air conditioned, so it is very comfortable inside.

misawakaraoke
Because the air base is located in Misawa, there are a lot of people from America here. Especially close to the base entrance, a lot of the signs are in English with a mixture of Japanese characters in various places. The building across the street from the hotel has a karaoke bar in it and a great big, bright sign with lots of colors. It does not seem to be very busy during the week, but maybe it has more customers on the weekends. Most of the buildings are modern with lots of steel, concrete and glass, but they are a little different from many buildings in the Untied States. Many big buildings in the US have tall first floors, but this is not as common in Japan. The buildings seem to fit in their locations, with no space between them. Even though Misawa isn't a big city, much of the town is built as if it were a big city.

We have a lot more pictures and I may post more of them during our stay. Today we move into a different hotel on the base and perhaps I can post more pictures tomorrow.

Misawa, Japan

We are experiencing a bit of jet lag and all of the pictures that I have taken on this trip have been of our new grandson. But I'll get some pictures for this part of my story in a few days.

Yesterday we got up at a normal time for this time zone after being awake much in the night due to jet lag. We had breakfast at the train station and caught the Hayabusa, one of Japan's famous bullet trains, from Ueno to Hachinohe, in the Amoori Prefecture, which is the northern tip of Japan's big island. The train reaches speeds of 180 miles per hour and we arrived in Hachinohe by noon and caught the 12:10 express train to Misawa. The paperwork of obtaining our temporary passes to travel on and off of the base took a bit of time and we were really eager to meet Patrick face to face and see our daughter, but soon we were at their home and were able to spend the afternoon and evening with them.

We've enjoyed amazing travel and have seen beautiful sights, and are feeling very fortunate to have been able to make this trip. I'll focus some attention on getting pictures today.

Ueno, Japan

We are back in Japan! There is no picture with today's entry, but there will be pictures tomorrow. We arrived in Japan in the late afternoon. After clearing customs and immigration, we had to get our train passes and make reservations for a train trip to Tokyo. By the time our train got to Tokyo, it was dark and we didn't have time to linger. We found our way through a very busy and crowded train station to our connecting train and made our way to Ueno.

Here we met Masami, our exchange daughter from 1998, and had a lovely dinner before finding our hotel and making it to bed after a very long day. Our Japan adventure has begun with safe travel and more adventures yet to unfold.

Clear Lake, Washington

camper time with kids and bear
Finally, after riding over lots of mountains and seeing lots of wonderful things, Edward and the camper arrived at the Huffman home at Clear Lake. Clear Lake is right next to Mount Vernon where Isaac's library is located. How happy Edward is to see Elliot, Emmala and Eliza. Right away they began to plan a sleepover at the camper for the children and Edward.

bears in the camper
Emmala got out a lot of bears to be friends with Edward. It was a really fun time playing with the children and the other bears. Edward and the camper are going to be at Clear Lake for a month now while Ted and Susan visit and in a little while, while Ted and Susan go to Japan to visit Rachel and Mike and Patrick. Edward is looking forward to a long visit with all kinds of time to play with the children and see what interesting games they like to play.

Clear Lake is a very beautiful place. Today it has been raining most of the day, so it is hard to see the mountains that are behind the clouds, but Edward has visited here before and he knows what it looks like on a sunny day. He can see the lake, but it was too cold for the children to play in the water today. Another day there will be times to play with canoes and kayaks and have many more good times with the children.