Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Courtney Beach

I'd seen a couple friends post pictures of Courtney Beach on Facebook, but I couldn't find many references or any directions online.  We decided to just head out and do some adventuring to find the beach.

So the boys and I drove around Camp Courtney for a little bit (thankfully the base isn't too big) until we spotted the picnic pavilions.  We parked on the side of the road and hopped out.

Path down to the beach

Checking out the tide pools

Lots of shells and coral pieces

Directions to Courtney Beach (sorry, no map because it's on base): from the 75, head straight through the front gate, take the very last left turn.  Look for picnic shelters on the right, the paved path down to the beach is just past the tables.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Nago Pineapple Park

One rainy weekend, we decided to check out Nago's Pineapple Park and Winery.  If you love snagging free samples while at the grocery store, this is the place for you!

After a quick tour of some pineapple fields in a self-driving cart, we headed indoors for the seashell museum.  Although all the signs were in Japanese, the shells were pretty and Owen loved seeing the displays.  Next, the pineapple factory (they weren't working when we visited), and finally, the gift shop!

We sampled several different types of pineapple wine - sparkling, red, white.  There was also shikwasa wine, pineapple juice, and - for the extremely brave - goya juice!  (We tried some deep fried bitter melon once - and that was enough for us.)  We continued snacking our way through the gift shop with chinsuko (Okinawan sugar cookies), seaweed, pineapple cakes, and fresh pineapple.  We finished off our visit with some delicious pineapple and ben-imo cream puffs to take home.

The Pineapple Park was very touristy but fun and a nice break from the gloomy weather.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The best banana bread!

A Pinterest find that I have to brag about:  Cinnamon swirl banana bread!

This is so delicious!  Although mine never comes out looking like the picture with a cute little swirl in the middle, it never lasts more than an afternoon in our house!

The cinnamon and sugar create this amazing crunchy top.  And the smell!  Holy guacamole, the house smells divine while it's baking!  Perfect for brightening up a gloomy winter day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Third times a charm

I'm so lucky!  My old Hood to Coast team won a spot in this year's race and they still had spots open for me and my sister-in-law!

So excited - this race is such a crazy adventure!

Some pics from way back in 2007 and 2008: 

Passing road kill in Leg 24

A small section of vans camping out

Party time!
I've started working with a running coach from Woot Coaching.  I've used the training programs from Cool Running in the past, but this time, I decided to get a more personalized schedule.  Anna even suggested training me through until next year's Okinawa Marathon.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Uken Beach

Looks like we found a summer hang out!

While reading old forum posts on Okinawa Hai!, I came across a reference to "Trash Beach" near Camp Courtney.  So today after we went grocery shopping, we took a little detour on the way home.  We followed 224 past the Courtney housing gate, turned left at the sign for Uken Beach (宇堅ビーチ), down the road a little ways and there it was!  (Map)  We just parked along the road, but it looks like the beach will officially open in April and charge 500 yen for parking.

Picnic area

Can't wait for the weather to warm up so we can go swimming!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Japanese kitchen

We live off base and we love it!  Our neighborhood is nice and it's fun to try out the Japanese way of living.

One quirky thing I'm still getting used to is the kitchen.  This was especially tough over the holidays, with baking and trying to cook a turkey in our little oven.  (Excuse the mess, I took these pictures while getting our Valentine's breakfast ready.)

Oven/microwave on the government issue night stand

The cooking area in the oven/microwave is so small, we have to be careful about which frozen pizzas we buy at the store.  I can only fit about 8 or 9 cookies at a time (where a normal cookie sheet usually fits about 11 or 12).

In the place of an American oven, we have a fish broiler.  It's like regular oven's broiler with a grill in a tray that slides out.  (The tray also gets filled with water to catch the drippings and supposedly help keep the cooking fish smell down.)

Range and fish broiler

I use our broiler to cook pork chops, but I haven't had good results with trying to cook hamburgers and steaks.  The hamburgers fell apart (possibly caused by a bad recipe) and the steaks just don't taste right.  Although we haven't actually used our first broiler for fish yet, maybe we'll be brave and try out a local fish market soon.

Another Japanese appliance: the dish dryer.

The dish dryer
As you can see, the dish dryer wasn't made to fit our big American plates.  Getting everything to fit can definitely be a challenge.  We started off just using a regular dish rack and air drying, but mold quickly became a problem.  The bottom of the rack wouldn't dry completely and the feet started rotting, so we began using the dryer.

I've mentioned it before, our sink has a weird little basket that catches food instead of a garbage disposal.  I'm usually really bad about remembering to clean out the basket and it starts stinking quickly!

We also have two trap doors in the middle of the floor.  The housing agency said that during a typhoon, we can get dry ice and use the space in the floor to hold food in case the power goes out.

***I've learned that the below floor storage is called 床下 (yuka-shita) and is just used for general storage.  We do keep our emergency supplies (heavy canned goods, jugs of water, big flashlights) down there but sometimes we just use it as an extra pantry too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My little Valentines

Our breakfast plans started off with this inspiration from Pinterest:

But Chris has to work and I wasn't in the mood to fuss with fixing something from scratch while wrangling the boys.  So I put some Valentine sprinkles on the pre-made cinnamon rolls and called it a morning!


Owen ready to dig in to our Valentine's breakfast

Isaac eating the left over bits of banana

A flower Owen picked this morning

 15 years ago, a nervous Chris surprised me before AP Calculus with roses and asked me to be his Valentine.  Hope everyone is feeling the love this week!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Yaeshima park

These are some pics of one of our favorite spots on the island so far: Yaeshima Park - 八重島公園.  I've also heard it called Civic Center Park, but we usually call it Kadena park because it's so close to Gate 2.

(I'm posting old pictures because our adventuring has been limited lately.  We can't seem to get through a trip without a tantrum (or two, or three) from Owen and I've had my fill of public embarrassment for a while.)
The giant tree house and roller slide

Owen and Dad climbing up

The drop slide

Getting to the park is easy - it's right off the 85, about halfway between the 20 (Gate 2 street) and the 74.  (Here's a map)  We just park along the side of the 85, but there's also a couple of parking lots nearby.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bios on the Hill

Owen was sick all last week, so we were stuck in the house.  Not fun!    

I recently joined a group called Adventure Moms of Okinawa.  This week's outing was to Bios on the Hill.  The weather was crummy and everyone else canceled.  But I needed to get out of the house and was determined not to miss this trip!

In true Oregonian fashion, we laughed at the rain, put on our jackets, grabbed an umbrella and hit the trails!

 We had so much fun - can't wait to visit again when the weather's nicer!