Thursday, May 26, 2011

Planning Stages

As promised, we have a new adventure brewing. We're headed south! To the island of Okinawa and down under to Queensland, Australia!

I thought it would be a good idea to go over the plans that I'm excited about and then compare them in a few months to what actually happened. I love planning fun trips, but I also leave lots of room for spontaneity, because that's where the fun usually comes in.
Joe visited Magnetic Island with some Marines on his other visit to Australia
Joe is involved with an exercise in Queensland, Australia and will need to be there for two weeks. He's already been there once since we arrived in Japan, and his pictures of koalas basically sold me on a trip. We both got really psyched about diving around the Great Barrier Reef, so then we realized we needed to get scuba certified in order to go see all the wonders we've heard about. More about that later! So, Joe is getting his flight, hotel, and a "per diem" bonus taken care of since it's a work trip, and we decided to try to take advantage of the system a little.

I'm not officially allowed to go on the base in Australia, but I bought a commercial ticket to Australia for June 23rd to July 17th! This means I'm definitely going to be there...but what I will do once I get there is a little fuzzier. Plan A is for me to hang out on the base, share Joe's hotel unless he gets assigned a roommate, and venture out into Cairns and Townsville while Joe's working long hours. There is so much to do in this area! A few things I was looking into are: sea kayaking around the GBR, jungle swinging (you swing back and forth like a pendulum over the jungle and GBR - sounds exhilarating and way cheaper than skydiving), a waterfalls hike, morning and afternoon tea every day, and koala thievery.
Honestly, just give me one already. [source]
If they make a big stink about me going on base, I've also been looking into some amazing hostels in the area. One called Bungalow Bay looks pretty bad ass. Resident koalas and crocodiles? Okay! I've also been writing to a few nonprofits to see if they need volunteers, because maybe I could get a little closer to some of these crazy creatures. One opportunity was to work in a zoo's kitchen weighing fruit, vegetables, and meat for the inhabitants. I wouldn't mind being a chef for animals for a few days.

After Joe's two weeks of work, he's taking a week of leave (military lingo for vacation time) before flying back to Japan, and we're planning on spending a lot of time at the Great Barrier Reef. We haven't made any decisions yet, but staying on a boat and diving a few times a day seems to be winning us over. I'm so excited!

In order to do all this diving, I'm taking advantage of yet another one of Joe's work trips. He'll be on a planning committee in Okinawa, Japan next week and I'll be tagging along- for free this time- on one of the regular flights from Iwakuni to Okinawa. I'm so relieved that I'll be flying with the military because getting to Osaka for a commercial flight is incredibly laborious and expensive, not to mention awkward because I can't talk to anyone.

So, the plan in Okinawa is to see some of the best military wives in the world: Kara and Kaylie! I met them while our husbands were at The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, Virginia and they definitely helped me keep my sanity over random lunches out, glasses of wine, and plenty of girl talk. Part of me feels like it was just a few weeks ago that the girls were getting together while the guys were in the field, but I'm realizing that a good portion of our other friends from Quantico have babies or are now pregnant. I can't believe it's been over a year, holy crap! I can't wait to see them again and catch up.
Along with seeing important people, Joe and I are also hoping to get scuba certified at the Kadena Marina. The rumor around Iwakuni is that you can complete the academic portion online and then do your five pool dives on a weekend in Okinawa. We're looking into this opportunity and really hoping everything pans out! I'm also excited to check out the commissaries (military grocery stores) on this much larger base and the restaurants. Fun fact: we are huge fans of Japanese steakhouses and discovered once we got here that there aren't any Benihana-style food entertainment nearby. However, friends say teppanyaki is available on Okinawa, woohoo!

Right now I'm hoping that the hurricane conditions pass with no trouble to places that are threatened and are inhabited by people I care deeply about: the Philippines and Okinawa.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. So much fun stuff! Please bring me a koala!! We just ate at our fav teppanyaki last night, can't wait til you get here!