Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sailing Before The Storm

K steers from the lee side of the boat while I snap some pics.

Our first opportunity to sail in 2014 turned out to be Sunday, July 6th.   By the end of the week, typhoon number 8 "Neoguri " threatened with wind and rain.

Laser/Sea Hopper sailors were busy holding trials for the Japan national races.  Sadly for them there was not much wind, so only four boats were competing.

As I had mislaid the little pad thingy that attaches the camera to the mount, pics had to be done by hand.  K took the helm to allow me to take some pics of the racers.

Three Sea Hoppers and a Laser attempt to start a race in light winds.

In honor of my youngest daughter I wore a Notre Dame shirt and my newly acquired Boeing cap.

The wind was gentle and only reached about seven knots.  A nice breeze for our first time out this year.    

A new radiation monitor was in the lake's center.  It sported a wind speed and direction monitor.   Monitors of the ocean bottom have shown that in ridge and slope areas there is little radiation, while in low muddy bottoms the radioactive particles have settled.   Glad I gave up sea food due to other health issues!

One of two radiation monitor stations in the lake now.

K took a couple of embarrassing pics of me after we docked.  Here I am undoing the downhaul/cunningham before lowering the mainsail.

After sailing there was no "Mama's" to go to for lunch, so we visited Ikoinomura Hinuma (the neighboring resort) to grab some lunch.

Miso soup
Soba (buckwheat) noodles

On the way out, I noticed the large lotus ponds that hotel has in front of it.  I took this pic which coincidentally showed the back side of what used to be Mama's restaurant.  Sigh.  

Lotus flowers are so beautiful and the root is a delicious veggie.  Lotus also has a long history in Asian culture as a religious symbol.

Nice to finally get out on the water this year.  Looking forward to more such days.

Until next, sweet sailing!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vapour Trails

We watched the Miyazaki movie "The Wind Rises" tonight.  It's a fictionalized biography of the life of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.

As my own father was an aeronautical engineer who did a lot of design work on aircraft during World War II (in particular a famous American bomber), it struck a deep chord with me.   Most especially how it must have felt to be an engineer endeavoring to produce a work of art - a thing of beauty - which was ultimately to be used for destruction. Not that such people are not happy to contribute to the war effort (unfortunately), but rather that war is not the point of their work. Love of flying is.  

Pandabonium with the Mitsubishi A6M Zero at Yasakuni Shrine October 2012.

The song at the end of the movie is quite lovely.     In the film, Jiro's wife is dying of tuberculosis, which adds a poignant meaning to the words.

Here is BEBE performing it with an English translation of the lyrics following:

Vapour Trails
The white slope continued on to the sky
Wavering, ephemerality envelops her
Unnoticed by anyone, all alone,
She is ascending
She fears nothing, and soars up high
She admires the sky, is dashing through the sky
Vapour trails are her life
At that high window, even before her death,
She looked to the sky, and now they don’t understand
Other people don’t understand
They only think that
She was too young, but she is happy
She admires the sky, is dashing through the sky
Vapour trails are her life
She admires the sky, is dashing through the sky
Vapour trails are her life

Like many good stories, it makes me cry.

Until next,  sweet sailing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where Have I Been?

Most recently, I had the most amazing week in a very long while.

For the first time in nearly a decade, I boarded a plane that took me outside of Japan. What you may ask could pry this old transplanted opihi (Hawaiian limpet) off his Japanese rock?

Hawaiian opihi, looking like a miniature Mt. Fuji,  clinging to a rock.
The trigger was the wedding of my second daughter and the chance to see her, meet her groom and his extended family, and see my own extended family - most especially my two precious granddaughters.

The trip began ominously. I was given the wrong gate number at Narita. Bad weather slowed the traffic and my flight information got buried behind the many delayed flights, such that (even though I asked for help and verification) my only warning of a problem came with a final boarding announcement to a gate two football fields away from where I had been directed - cue Pink Floyd's "On the Run".

I just made it to the gate by the 6 pm deadline. The door was closed after me, I settled into my seat, and waited. Twenty minutes later one of the guys up in the pointy end of the plane came over the PA to let us know that due to a THUNDER STORM sitting right on top of Narita Airport, our clearance was delayed. Perhaps we could get under way in ten minutes or so. Uh huh. Similar announcements followed every so often as outside lightning flashed, thunder rumbled and rivers of water cascaded over the aircraft; and inside, cabin attendants smiled, poured orange juice, apple juice, and passed out rice crackers. A few passengers got edgy wanting to know why we couldn't just take off.  I was thinking, "trust me, you are really a whole lot better off right here on the ground than flying through this storm.  You REALLY don't want to be up there."

At 8 pm we pushed back from the gate and got in line behind many other delayed flights. After 45 minutes of taxiing in cue we took to the air. It was 8:45 PM. Poor cabin crew. How do they do it? I lost track of time, but something like eight hours thirty minutes later, we landed at Seattle-Tacoma. The flight was smooth. The aircraft experience itself was awesome, for I was aboard one of ANA's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner (many parts of which were made in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries).

Ain't she purdy?
Spacious cabin with ceilings lighted to match the time of day; extra large windows made possible by composite fuselage construction with touch control electronic shades; and a cabin altitude of about 5,000 feet instead of the usual 8,000 feet with more filtered air circulation. You get much more oxygen and cleaner air which means you feel less fatigued upon arrival.  All the while, she burns 20% less fuel than other aircraft of her size.

Coincidentally(?), my daughter whose marriage was the primary reason for the trip, is an engineer who works for Boeing.  Yes, the plane has had its teething problems, but the final product is outstanding and ANA's low density seating arrangement offers plenty of shoulder and leg room even in economy class.  (Also, the washlet toilet feature in the lav is not lost on those of us living in Japan who have become spoiled by such things.)

The unexpectedly long trip meant that I made it to my hotel with just enough time to get ready for a gathering at my daughter's house.  The yard is backed by a woodland and a curious deer came into the yard, soon escorted back to the woods by my daughter's dog Hoku.

Hoku (Hawaiian for star), was actually in the wedding and stayed in one of the resort's pet friendly cabins!

Two days later I rode with my other daughter, son-in-law and my two granddaughters through snow topped Stevens Pass along the Skykomish, Tye, and Wenatchee Rivers to the town of Leavenworth and up the valley along Icicle Creek to Sleeping Lady Resort where the wedding was to be held.  

The Sleeping Lady rests on the mountain ridge facing the sky.

An organic garden provides food for the resort's restaurant along with selected locally sourced food.  I wanted to roll up my sleeves and plant something.
The wedding and reception took place out of doors, overlooking Icicle Creek.
I went for an early hike the following morning and found two osprey soaring around their eyrie in the canyon.  A little shopping in town with my granddaughters and it was back to Seattle to pack for the return trip.

In a bid to save the town, Leavenworth reinvented itself as a Bavarian style village in the 1960s.  Apparently successful, it is now a major "TT" - (tourist trap) with wall to wall shops, restaurants, beer garten, outdoor band stand, nutcracker museum, and plenty of parking for America's oversized motor vehicles.  ;)
It took a lot to pry me off my Japanese rock, but I was richly rewarded with the family reunion, wedding, meeting new friends and family not to mention the natural beauty of Washington State.

Naturally, the the following weekend it was time for some sailing!

Until next, sweet sailing and happy travels.