And we’re off like a herd of turtles….

March 4-6

Jill, Miwa, Ru, Tak and Mitzi started out from Quadra Island, I started out in Fort McMurray. We were aiming to meet up at the Vancouver Aquarium.  I had to make one brief stop to pick up a Piggyback Rider for Miwa (pictures will follow once we actually get to use it).  I also had an extremely fortuitous series of transfers such that I never waited more than 2 minutes for a bus, and only had to run once.

The ferry was a little late, so I did a short walking tour of Stanley Park and got my shoes soaked.

We met up and went into the Aquarium.  Jill and I were making sarcastic remarks about the people who buy the cheesy tourist photos when Mitzi walked and said, “I bought the photo!”

Ru-chan at the Quadra Island tank
Miwa and Ru-chan had a blast.  They both really liked the Belugas.  I liked the Amazon exhibit, since I had wet, cold feet.


For dinner we decided to go to Kintaro, a Japanese noodle house (Ramen-ya) on Denman.  Jill was opposed, since we were going to be in Japan the next day, and could have all the Ramen we wanted then.  Mitzi and I thought it was hilarious, for exactly the same reason.  Tak expressed no opinion on the matter.

We then headed off to the Airport Fairmont.  It’s expensive, but being that close to the airport is priceless when you have kids to get to a flight on schedule, completely de-stresses the whole situation.  Plus, they have a pool, and kids love pools.  Well, to be fair, who doesn’t love pools?
After the pool, we put on a movie in an effort to keep the girls up as late as possible to mitigate the effects of jet lag.  Unfortunately, the second part of that plan, where we get to sleep in, was partially foiled by an alarm clock that went off at 5:20.  It must have been set by the last guest.  Damn you, whoever you are that stayed in room 1205 on March 3rd!

We had an in-room breakfast and Miwa and I went for a swim before we packed up and headed off to the gate.

The flight worked out not too badly, the girls both slept for about 4 hours at about the right time.  The worst part was when we had to circle around due to congestion at Narita.  It ended up being a 10 and a half hour flight.
We dropped our bags off to have them shipped to us the next day, then headed out on the train (the JR Narita Express), then the Seibu-Shinjuku line for “The Tokyo House” as Miwa calls it, though technically it is in Fujimicho, Higashimurayama-shi, a suburb of Tokyo (though, home to Shinjuku is really only about 45 minutes).  The trip (at 2 hours 25 minutes) went fairly well, except that Mitzi was convinced that only she knew how to get where we were going, despite clear evidence that she was the only one who had no idea where we were.  Her plan was to stop and ask for directions every 200 to 300 meters, but Jill and I were happy following the clear signage, posted every 50 meters or so.  Oh and Tak wandered off twice and we had to wait for him to realize he was alone and come back.  Standard travel fare, really.  Tak and Mitzi usually take the bus but it’s 3 hours long plus another bus to the Tokyo House so Jill and I said no, we’d rather take the express train and be a bit more awake for the trip.  What inevitably happens is that we all fall asleep on the bus ride and then wake up at 1 in the morning or can’t go to sleep until 2 or 3.  Anyhow…..

Shinjuku….We’re not in the country anymore!
We got to the house at just before 9pm.  Jill’s aunt, Tomoko Obachan, had dinner ready for us, so we ate and managed to stay up until 10.  Except Ru, who fell asleep in the taxi from the last train station to the house.

We actually made it until 4:30 this morning before we got out of bed, so the jet lag prep helped.  We will see how tonight goes.