japan 2 Paradise revisited

Japan 2—Paradise revisited

The morning arrived accompanied by clear skies, a bracing chill in the air, and a beautiful view of the mountain range to the west. After downing a few items from the continental breakfast, I headed out, backpack on my shoulders, to see where everything is located on the base property. Naturally, my first stop was about a half mile away, up a long hill, at the entrance to the golf course. From there, the view was even more spectacular.

After checking out the potential for playing later, I entered the restaurant and was pleasantly surprised to see a menu not only comprehensive for breakfasts, but also reasonably priced. I struck up a conversation with a man sitting at a table, asking about the quality of the golf course; he invited me to sit and I had  more breakfast. He indicated that he and two others would be playing this morning, and invited me to join them. The other two arrived, we chatted, and I arranged to meet them “at the turn”, after the first nine holes. The first guy, Toby, was only to play nine, so I was to “take his place” later.

I left and continued my exploration tour, with a major destination to be the recreational facility on the far end of the complex. I should mention that this base is rather small in comparison with others where I have been assigned; nothing seems to be farther than a five or six block walk. The gym building is less than 10 minutes away, and is the most complete resource of that type that I’ve ever seen. The gym itself has three full-length basketball courts, side by side, with what appears to be an at least 1/8 mile running track above. Off the gym is the weight room, a blizzard of every black and white Nautilus and Life System machine known to man—there must be 50-60 of them in that huge room. I was told that upstairs is the “cardio” room with all kinds of torture devices requiring more effort than I like. The pool has at least eight lanes, and might be 50 meters in length, if not, it’s very, very big. The building is fairly recent; about three years old.

I headed back to the lodging area, to change into something “more suitable” for golf than my sweats, and I stopped briefly in the Post Exchange (PX) on the way, to buy a wrist support for my arm. Suddenly, someone called my name; I turned to see a gal who had been the Asst. Principal at a school I evaluated in Germany, and who now was here at the District Office. I chatted briefly with her husband and her; he had been my tour guide to Dachau and the Chocolate Factory in Bavaria, three years ago, and we had exchanged three or four emails since.  We arranged to meet later in the day and I went on to my destiny with tragedy, i.e., a triple bogey and a quadruple bogey among the first four holes I played. The course is more than hilly, it’ mountainous. There were no “flat” holes; in fact, most of them have the terrain plunging deeply and steeply downward from the tee box, only to rise up the same amount once reaches the bottom. Some of the holes actually approached 150’ variations in vertical terrain. Not having played for a few months, and using the rental clubs, it took a few holes to readjust my aging body. I did break 50, and played the final five holes only 3 over par, which I found to be satisfactory.

I returned to my room, changed back into the sweats, and headed to the rec center where I spent about 10 minutes shooting baskets, long enough to find out that whatever muscles are used for that activity, may have long disappeared. This was followed by my workout regimen for upper body, a continuation of the schedule worked out for me by the trainer in Thermopolis, and then a more-than-satisfying sojourn in the Jacuzzi. My back was in strong need of its ministrations, and I was able to make it the mile back to the room.

I had arranged to have dinner with my friends from Germany, and also invited the principal of the school I’m visiting this week. Unfortunately the Community Club restaurant was having the Prime Rib Special, and I was forced to have that entrée along with some Shrimp Scampi, soup, salad, MGD. An excellent cap to a great, albeit sore, day. A return to Paradise.

It is not uncommon to see Japanese wearing “surgical masks”, those white patches of cloth filtering out breathed-in air. I asked if it was due to the major radiation incident to the north; I was told that “no, it’s just that many Japanese are concerned about the spread of germs, pollution, and other nasties, so the idea is that these will prevent unwanted conditions”.

This is the first foreign country I’ve visited where I haven’t seen any Japanese tourists snapping pictures. I wonder why?

Tomorrow, our team has been invited to a huge Super Bowl Breakfast Party, at the club across the street, and complete with the Carolina Panther Cheerleaders! Kick-off for the game is around 8:15 a.m., and it should be a grand occasion in spite of the fact that the Broncos are remaining at home. They probably couldn’t get out from the snowstorm.

This afternoon we meet with the area commanding officer and staff;  Zama is an Army base and its companion, at Atsugi, is a Naval facility that services airplanes from the carrier fleet. Tomorrow, after the football game, we are being given an “official tour” of both locales; I shall be moving to the Atsugi site next Monday, to visit an elementary school there.

I’m still a bit wary of my surroundings; when I arrived, the school principal was showing me to my quarters, and explained what to do in the event of an earthquake. I may ask for a tent to set up out on the soccer field.

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