A lot of planning went into my 2017 trip back to Okinawa. Over two years in the making I had a general plan without a lot of pesky details. This was to be the year that my chounan, DyLon, would accompany me. My younger son, Zac, went with me in 2015. Both of the boys were borne on Okinawa, at the then-US Army Hospital, Camp Kuwae - later to become the US Naval Hospital, Camp Lester - and now, an abandoned shell of a building. Our family left Okinawa the second time in 1990 and neither of the boys had been back since then. Their memories were alive and to a large extend still intact but they have now both learned that indeed you can never go home again. Things have changed and in a major way! But they both were able to find vestiges of their prior lives on the island.
Back to that general plan for 2017. I was going to rent a house on or near the Chinen Peninsula and spend this year's trip revisiting some of the old familiar sites and, more importantly, exploring new uncharted territories. I was gonna scour the south of the island, a prospect that still gives me the heebie-jeebies because I had never really become familiar with the lay of the land. Even in the '80s it was a bustling hustle of a chore to navigate the "south end" of Okinawa. Later, in 2013, '14 and '15 I found it to be even worse! But I was resolute. I would conquer that great unknown! As it turned out I rented a house in Konbu but that's a 'whole nuther story' that I'll get to later.
I flew into Bellingham, Washington - home of my sons - on February 25th and there concluded our final preparations.
DyLon and I were treated to dinner at Anthony's by Carl and Denise - the parents of DyLon's wife, Brooke. It was a great meal and they were wonderful company.
The following day we flew to Seattle whereupon we boarded that huge piece of machinery with thousands of moving parts that would conduct us and our possessions over the Pacific Ocean and deposit us in Taipei. My travel companion, Doctor Bung, was wired and itching to get the adventure underway. This year he was accompanied by his new-found buddy, Kelly, whose mom graciously consented to have her come along.
It was no easy task sitting in those seats for a very long flight. Every now and then I'd get up and walk around just to keep blood pumpin' through my legs.
My appetite for soki soba had been whetted for weeks and the feast would just have to wait. Meanwhile, EVA Air did provide us with some pretty decent vittles along the way.
video: DyLon McClary
We did eventually arrive and it was good to get off the plane, walk around for a few minutes before heading for the gate to catch our link to Naha. I think we were equally giddy at this point, knowing how close we were to our destination! Okay, maybe DyLon was a little giddier than I since it had for him been 27 years since seeing the island.
Then it was off into the wild blue for a short hop to Okinawa. Somewhere along the line we completely lost February 27th. Something about that International Date Line, established in 1884, that makes it kinda tough.
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