Showing posts from 2011

70 miles from Austin


So I've avoided this post for a couple of weeks, mainly because I've been in denial about the whole thing. I went from being pretty excited about going to Hawaii for 5 months, to being much less excited about losing that and ending up in Killeen TX for 6 months (with a week/two week break in the middle). So, rather than focusing on the fact that it's Killeeen TX, I'm going with the glass half full approach, it's 70 miles from Austin. The only acceptable city in Texas

Although this is not a foreign country like I'm used to, I'm not fully convinced that you don't need a passport to enter TX. I'm also not fully convinced that some of the experiences that I'm about to embark on will be more foreign than anything I've seen in Asia. So with a tip of my hat (no cowboy hat) and a kick of my boots, I bit you all farewell, or yeehaw, however they do things in this part of the world!

Strawberry toes


Of course I had to go to one of my favorite places here in Okinawa before boarding the plane and heading back to the land of horrible pedicures...Cocok's provided the pampering that I needed, and left me with the most perfect strawberry toes. I love them!

As I prepare to leave Okinawa, for a second time, I'm reminded of all of the things that I love about this wonderful place, the things that I will take with me forever, and the things that I will miss terribly. The latter are as follows:

1. The 5:30 music that plays indicating the end of the work day, dismissing people to go be with their families (and what happy music it is)

2. The most amazing park, merely a mile from my "home"

3. By far the world's best pedicures. Find a better one, I dare you!

4. My crossfit family. SCF will forever hold a very special place in my heart. I hope to see you all again soon!

5. The food. How is this #5, especially with how much I ate, and how often I thought of food?!


Gaijin gone wild...Nago Mountain


Today was an adventure of epic proportions! Fantastic weather, great company, and a hell of a hike. Things don't get much better! Let's start with the hike, I (and all parties involved) were slightly misled about the intensity of the hike. Leisurely stroll this was not. We started our hike from the parking lot, which we later realized was probably a mile from where we could have started, at an upper level parking area. From there there were several options, we just continued following signs in Kanji, hoping for the best! We eventually found the hiking path, and about a mile into it, there was an option to go "off roading" onto a much more rugged looking trail. Yes we selected this option and lucky me, I was the leader (aka: spider web destroyer and habu lookout person). Perhaps long pants would have been a good option, even a machete would have been nice in those conditions! Finally we reunited with a more traditional hiking trail until the summit. This invol…

Okinawan Donuts (Sata Andagi)


In the spirit of the holiday, and eating, and since I have yet to bring you a recipe from this lovely land in which I reside, I figured that I would bring you one of my favorite treats here (I need to figure out how to make this Paleo!)
Any of you Paleo eaters out there if you have suggestions for recipe modifications please please send them my way!

Okinawan Donuts (Sata Andagi)
Ingredients: 4 Eggs ¾ cup milk ¾ tsp vanilla 4 cups flour 2 cups sugar 3 ½ TBSP baking powder ¼ tsp salt
Directions: In a deep fryer or skillet heat oil to 350 degrees or until hot In a large bowl beat eggs, milk, and vanilla, sift in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt Add to egg mixture, stir until ingredients are moistened and dough is smooth Drop teaspoonfuls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown and donuts rise to the surface Drain on paper towel lined plates, serve hot (also good cooled down)

Everyone's a little bit...primate


It's the day after Thanksgiving (still Thanksgiving Day in the US) and what better thing to do than zip through the trees, wind in my hair, hang upside down...really bringing out my inner primate! That's right, finally made it back to Forest Adventure! I don't know how time slipped away from me, but somehow it did and now I have 3 weeks until I leave this wonderful paradise and I had yet to make it to Forest Adventure for some zip lining. I almost forgot how much I love this place. I could literally spend all day doing this! So fun! What is not fun is the harness. It pinches, it squeezes, it bruises and if you're lucky it will leave blood blisters (isn't that the sign of a good time?!). I'm pretty sure the man who tightened mine up to his liking was into S&M.

Some of my favorite things about Forest Adventure, that would never fly (ha!) in the US are:
-nominal instructions prior to getting onto the course
-safety, who needs safety? In the states you…

Hard to believe I get to call this little piece of paradise "home"


My most recent iPhone photopia, courtesy of my brand new iphone (yay way better camera), fantastic weather, and a stunning walk in Comprehensive Park this morning!

These are the places in your neighborhood


Birdland Cafe. I've driven past this place approximately 923843 times in the two times that I've lived on Okinawa. I've always said that I wanted to stop and try it but no one ever saw the charm that I believed was within the walls of this humble little eatery.

Bottom line, from the street it looks like a dump. For Okinawa standards there is a plethora of parking, 5 or so spots on the same side as the restaurant, and then a separate lot across the street that holds about 4 spaces. Both lots require some fancy maneuvering to get in/out, but it's well worth it!

The menu, all Japanese. No pictures. This means that you get to do the good old Russian Roulette method of selecting a meal, assuming you aren't picky, you won't be disappointed. The food was great, but what you really go for is the atmosphere.

The inside is absolutely fabulous, little things tucked in tiny spaces that just seem to make you smile when you see them.

So all in all today was a huge su…

Stubborn success!


So this is how my Thursday evening went...

So, tonight (Thursday evening) I rearranged my hotel room, finding "the perfect" wall. I practiced those handstands until I was almost sick. I was definitely seeing stars and my eyes were starting to cross. But guess what. I've got those suckers down now! There will be NO MORE incline push ups when handstands are supposed to be in WOD's! They won't get me twice!
So I guess being stubborn isn't so bad :)

Words of wisdom on a bathroom wall


I took this picture in Austin TX this summer, and just rediscovered it while going through some of my photos and trying to organize things. I have to say, I love it!

Sefa Utaki


Finally, a day that didn't involve getting saturated in rain! It was absolutely beautiful today! I may have been a little eager when I put on my bathing suit, sundress, sandals and bolted for the door with my camera! The swimsuit probably wasn't necessary. One does crazy things in the presence of weekend sun!

Visited a World Heritage Site called Sefa Utaki, it is a Shinto Shrine that has been recognized as a sacred place since the earliest times in Okinawa history. The shrine consists of a lot of caves and rock formations with breathtaking views of the sea. It all has ties to the Kingdom of Ryuku, although there are no structures standing on the property anymore.

After that took the scenic route, literally drove the entire southern part of the island. Went through some quaint villages, along the sea, through the mountain (if you want to call it that) until we eventually made it back.

Books Read:

Catching Fire

So that's what my name means...


I was given a printout at work the other day that had my name in Kanji and then had a bunch of Japanese translations of my name. I scanned it but apparently my blog hates pdf files and wont let me upload it! I'll share some of my favorites with you...

phonetic & denotative transcription: a good and elegant wax tree
phonetic & eulogistic transcription: one who is considerate and heroic; tender dew drops on a snail; a considerate nightingale in the ivy
attention getting transcription: a stupid wild duck in the ivy; a wolf which chases a mule
brainteaser: a short mule Note: "Lau" =low in Japanese

So as you can see, my name is very...diverse...and I'm sure noble. In another language perhaps.

At least it wasn't rectal


So today after work, I convinced a coworker to go with me to a Japanese pharmacy because she speaks some Japanese (enough to get by) and I trust their medicine more than I do American medicine. Here's how that trip went.

We find this place in an ally, which isn't a stretch since almost everything here is located in something resembling an ally (really those are two lane roads). Go into the shop and are greeted by a nice man (the pharmacist) who proceeds to speak to me in Japanese even though it's very clear that my dear coworker is Japanese and speaking with him in Japanese (as I cannot). She relays my symptoms. He then asks if I have a fever, through translation I indicate that I don't think so. He offers a thermometer to check. I pull out the thermometer and it's a digital one but not one of the ones that comes with the disposable plastic sanitary shields. Crap. So my coworker kindly asks for something to clean it with. He gives me hand sanitizer and a ti…

Happy Feet


First pedicure of the trip...and I can say with 100% confidence that I now have happy feet!

Unfortunately, because of Cocok's I'll never be able to be happy with a pedicure outside of Okinawa!

They do an amazing job! Every toe has stars on it, with glittery detail!

Aside from the artwork, the actual pedicure and leg/foot massage are out of this world. If I had millions I would do this daily!

I assure you, this will not be my last Cocok's/pedicure picture of the trip. There will be many more to come, in fact, I need to schedule my appointment for the day before I leave so go home with some fresh looking toes :)

Good for a laugh


Today after work I stopped into the Japanese grocery store. I prefer these to the ones available on base because lets face it, the produce is WAY better (it's not brought in on a cargo ship/plane), they don't use pesticides here, and organic is a way of life not an expensive trendy option.

In shopping at the Japanese grocery store you are always taking a risk, unless of course you speak Japanese or can read one of the three alphabets that they utilize...none of those I can do, but I enjoy the adventure! It's always fun to get home and prepare dinner wondering what exactly it is that you're eating/cooking!

One of the things that I love about the Japanese grocery store is the size of the carts and the system that you must follow. The carts are tiny, picture the smallest carts available at US grocery stores and make it even smaller, now you get the idea. They literally are crafted to fit a basket (also smaller than their US counterparts) on it. This is the proper …

Pineapple Park and Ufuya


Nothing says Sunday like overeating, good company, and a pineapple themed park adorned with pineapple golf carts to transport you through this "it's a small world-esque" experience. One song played throughout the park, on repeat, and after hearing it once you realized that you'd want to have earplugs if you worked in an establishment like this. But of course the Japanese employees were all very cheerful and happy, as if this was the best song they heard all day, for the 10,000th time!

After pineapple park and all of the samples (again I ate too much fresh pineapple and had some kind of mild allergic reaction, my lip started to get tingly and feel swollen, only then did I step away from the fresh pineapple table and stop eating!) we went to Ufuya, a little gem of a restaurant that we discovered last go round. You literally have to follow a sign in Kanji to find the place (no English indication anywhere), through a back road (very narrow), through a cemetery, t…

Japanese lesson of the day


So I've been trying to learn little bits and pieces of conversational Japanese...I've had very limited success. By "very limited" I mean, I can say good morning, good afternoon, good evening, I'm sorry, please, excuse me, and count to five (which is slowly increasing since I now also know 6 and 8 (7 is way too tricky)

Tonight during a venture to the hotel lobby, one of my favorite hotel staff (the guy with almost no English who always wants to practice his English, as I try to dissect what he is saying to me) was trying to assist me in getting a new pillow for my room (long story short, the pillows they provide feel like they have locusts inside them) In doing so he then quickly said my room number in Japanese. Since my room is 821, I knew 2 of the 3 numbers in that sequence already...with a little help from my "English speaker" I was able to learn that my room number is:
Hachi ni ichi (8 2 1)

So, to dazzle you with my Japanese language skills t…

My ride


I meant to take this picture a while ago, since it's become tradition to photograph the various vehicles I drive on assignments. I'd love to snap a pic of say a brand new sports car, or even just a boring old Audi...hasn't happened yet!

On a side note (haha, that's what my car is called!) cars here in Japan have funny names, here are some of the ones that I've seen while driving:

Boon (which I thought for 2.5 months was called the Boom)

My bad a$$ ride is the Nissan Note. Much larger than the "Boon" that I have last time around. This car is like the mini van of vehicles here on Japan. Especially since the roads are the size of alleys (and those are 2 lane roads!)

All in a days work...


Days like today I'm reminded how much I love my job! I went to the zoo as part of my work day. Yes it was 90 degrees, but still, how can you beat the entertainment of a zoo in a foreign country?

And sometimes your dinner arrives on a flaming sword. No big deal


Tonight I went to dinner with a group...always an adventure when coordinating the schedules of 9 people, but it generally works out, one way or another. When I was here last I went to this restaurant a couple of times. Sam's by the Sea is the name...good menu, good food...and how do you turn down a flaming sword?! Really makes the steaming plate of fajitas in the US look like old news!

This restaurant not only has a parrot (? I'm no bird specialist) out front, but it also has all kinds of crazy decor on the inside. From a beautiful/colorful dragon in one corning of the ceiling to a rickshaw to netting with shells, to the wooden man with penis that seems to be in close proximity each and every time I dine there. I'm guessing he is some kind of fertility token because surely the Japanese do not want you dining in the presence of such obscenities. I mean, I am in a country where it's illegal to possess porn (for Americans) and vibrators. Kind of funny when many o…

Good Morning Okinawa!


How can your day be bad when it starts off with this?

All of the photos were conveniently taken from my balcony this morning! The sunrise was gorgeous, my pictures don't do it justice! Happy Friday!

Books Read:

Start Something That Matters

Tour my Japanese accommodations (tilt your head to the side, my video skills apparently suck!)

Wish I had video toured my housing the first time I traveled to Japan (mainland)...this place is like a mansion!

Checking in safe and sound from Okinawa...more to follow when I wake up from my jet lag slumber (in approximately 2 weeks!)

Books Read:
Hunger Games

Going back to...


I've been getting a lot of lip from some of know who you are (ahem, BRad) about my lag in posting...but let's face it, a summer of unemployment isn't really that exciting, and most of the other stuff really doesn't belong in a public blog!

So here we go. About to embark on another adventure. This time though it's a little different. For the first time in over two years of doing this work I will be returning to a place I've been before. It's pretty exciting because it's definitely my MOST favorite place of all, if you haven't guessed it well you clearly aren't a loyal blog reader. That's right. Okinawa!

So, in an attempt to prepare myself for the adventure, here are some of the things that I'm looking forward to most about my return trip...

1. The food
2. The people/culture
3. Cheap spa services (laser hair removal hello!)
4. Cocok's out of this world manicures and pedicures
5. Ziplining at Forest Adventure
6. Crossf…

Austin bats


1.5 million bats reside under the S. Congress St bridge. Just around dusk they all leave to go find's really impressive regardless of your feeling on bats!

Here are some videos that I shot from last night



So I ventured about an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh today to Mill Run, PA...definitely worth the drive! Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater is a sight to be seen. The organic architecture is amazing. Breathtaking really. The home was literally built into a mountainside with a good portion of it hanging over a waterfall (much to the initial dismay of the original homeowners who had envisioned a home with a beautiful view of a waterfall). FLW's vision was very different, he wanted the home to be an entire experience of nature and that is exactly what you get when you walk through the home. There are elements of the outdoors throughout the home. It defies many of the "rules" of the architecture of it's time. I highly recommend a visit for anyone who is traveling to the area!

To get there from Pittsburgh you definitely drive through some sleepy little towns, and you almost think that it's impossible that your journey will end in an amazing piece of …

Laura 0 McDonalds 3


It has come to my attention that perhaps I'm an overly difficult customer. And by overly difficult I mean when ordering a coffee at McDonalds I ask for Splenda and Milk (I compromise, I'll take any milk even though I'd prefer Skim) rather than cream and sugar. There are several reasons for this. Creamer is a horrid substance that just doesn't work for me, and the "sugar" that is used at McDonalds in coffee is a syrupy substance that I'm quite certain is capable of inflicting instant diabetes.

So it first became apparent that I had a problem with McDonalds and coffee when I was in Nashville with my dear friends/family Shannon and Bill. We were piled in Bills truck for a post gym breakfast (don't most people do that?!) and Bill ordered my request through the speaker. There was some slight confusion at this stage but it appeared to be worked out. Until the window. When the woman opened the window for us to pay she said, verbatim, "What exact…

Amaze-balls sunrise


In continuing my journey across the US, I was up bright and early to drive another stretch of 10 hours...normally this would suck, but I had a few friends along with me...Tina, Garmin, and a beautiful sunrise. You know, Tina Fey. I've recently discovered the beauty of audio books and have become a HUGE fan for long road trips! It's like having a friend in the car, and in this case, a really really funny one. Garmin is less friend-like and more like a really annoying, bossy, and often incorrect with directions boyfriend.

On to the reason for this post. I literally watched the sun rise, and I've never seen a sunrise quite so amazing. It was like a big red fire ball. Unfortunately my iPhone camera didn't capture the beauty effectively, but I tried!

Books Read (or listened to!)

My Horizontal Life