Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Great Idea America Should Adopt

Charge for plastic grocery bags.

I did come here with my cloth Trader Joe's bag, but often have more than one bag worth of groceries. So, Edith, thank you for the idea - I'm getting these for myself because I want to be a loved American in this town!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pineapple Park, Ufuya Restaurant & a Small Island

LOTS of pictures, get ready. You'll see now why it took me so long to post this - and the whole lot of pictures that came out well is 93- this is a measly 32 good ones.

Saturday morning was glorious, we headed up to Pineapple Park in Nago. It started getting cloudy along the way, but we were assured this wasn't an outdoors-vital trip, so we went for it. Craig's coworker goes a lot - we were curious as to why. Here we are after parking in the lot, headed toward the entrance. Yep - pineapples everywhere.
We paid admission (not bad, about $10 for all of us) and headed toward a car like this one:

The car magically pulls up, the staff member person places you inside... Mia was a little excited.

They turn on a little MP3 player thing (thankfully in English for us) and it narrates as the car drives you around the park. No steering, no track - anyone have an idea how that happens? GPS? Gotta love Japanese technology. Used for the Pineapple Park! Look - NO HANDS!

This is what you see when you emerge from the garden part of the trip. At the top of the hill, next to this giant pineapple, is the building with the shell museum, winery & shop. Think Costco meets wine-tasting rooms with unlimited samples.
We quickly realized that this was why Craig's friend and so many others come a lot. It's FREE FOOD. But we're suckers, and we bought stuff. Way too many pineapple-related things. We did not buy this cute little guy:

However, we did buy some wine (it was pretty tasty, though sweet):
In the shop, there were lots of staff members doing all things pineapple-related. This woman was slicing up fruit for smoothies.

They also had dragonfruit for sale. This is one of the prettiest fruits around.

Yes - Pineapple chocolate. In a fountain. Mia was transfixed. It's basically white chocolate flavored with pineapple - and it's pretty good, actually. After this expensive outing, we needed some savory lunch!

As it began to sprinkle, we headed out to find Ufuya. The word means "big house" in Okinawan dialect. This was a big spread out house with many rooms, all around the side of a hill with waterfalls and plants and flowers - and shiisa out front, of course:

This is the picture from the front of the restaurant.

We were led up narrow staircases in beautiful dark wood rooms with amazing views and open windows - the sound of waterfalls was everywhere. And soba noodles were on the menu! YUM. Here's Mia cheesing for me. The tables were all low down, everyone sat on the floor. You can see the pits for their feet.
Our yummy soba set - also included iced tea, rice, a little kimchee type of thing, and some kind of salad. It tasted heavenly - and even better because of the gorgeous setting.
On the way out, I snapped this picture; it's of the main room you head through as you go to the other rooms in the house following a host to find your seat.

As we ate we hoped it wouldn't rain too hard so that we could hike around the grounds. Mia enjoyed one of the few swings in the front yard.

These purple beauties were everywhere - lovely.

The view from the top of the hill behind the restaurant.

Looking down a waterfall at someone's table.
You guessed it; pineapple ICE CREAM! Oh my gosh this was good - possibly the best of the pineapple confections.

We took a side trip on the way home to a small island I saw on the map. We pulled into a parking area just off the bridge, and I peeked through the pines and saw these two people fishing (you can't see the fishing pole, but it's there):

There was a beach area on the other side of the street. Mia went shell hunting, and Craig set up the tripod. In between, he though it'd be funny to throw her into the ocean. Mia apparently thought that was funny too. This one's title is "trust".

Showing off a shell to Craig.
That tripod allowed us to have a family shot!
On the way back to the car I shot this - I love the Okinawa bus going by in the background! Totally unplanned.

Some of the tall grassy reed things next to the bridge (yes, that's the botanical name for them, thank you).

A couple of guys had set up some fishing poles. I don't think they caught much, but they made for a cool picture.
Ok, Ryan; if you can tell by the pictures, I want to know what the blue bird with the orange breast is (toward the bottom right on this chart). I see them everywhere!

The freeway here is a toll road, we take it when we have to go a bit farther than usual. Some of the signs are pretty funny. This one makes me think a scary warthog is going to come charging out at our tires!

Yes, we had to do the touristy thing; here's our picture on the bottle of pineapple wine!
New Year's is a holiday that the Japanese celebrate as well. It's customary to send cards to people wishing them a happy new year, and also to send businesses you deal with regularly a bigger gift. These were in the lobby of the hotel. I cannot get over how stunning they are, and I enjoy looking at them on the way to the bus stop each day.

The whole album (be sure to read the captions) can be found here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

More Sea Wall

Ok - I know. Busy week, ok? These are from Friday late afternoon. SO many more to post from the really fun weekend we've had. Here's Mia with her pink Christmas present.

Sunset Friday night.
Down here so many people have air fresheners on their cars. It's so nice, they all are so scent-conscious. But even little old ladies and people you figure have no idea what these are have this air freshener hanging from the rear view. Whoa, what I want to know is, are you kind?

The kid is addicted to this small camera. Mostly she takes video with running commentary and then watches it and laughs her butt off. I would've done the same as a kid, imagine having this instead of a cassette tape recorder?!

Here's the face she made while we were trying to get her to smile by saying, "Do you miss your boyfriend, Logan?"

Walking toward some more adventures.
I love two grown men blowing bubbles. Right above the Bubble Box dive shop.

My beauty.

My beauty & my honey.

I love this one.

Another dive shop around the corner from our house.
Pineapple Park and Ufuya Restaurant pictures to come... off to wake Mia for her first day back at school!