Home, home, home. Our trip was long but uneventful, and it is nice to be back home. I don’t miss too much about home when I’m in Japan, but it always feels great to come back here. It also has a bit more meaning now that we have Ray, and I’m happy to be able to bring him around to my favorite spots. He’s lucky in the sense that both his parents come from very beautiful places, and hopefully he will establish a connection to both of them.
We flew United Airlines on our way back, and since I had absolutely no expectations about the quality of service, I could only be impressed. I supposed having an adorable baby in tow softens people up, but all of the airline staff were amazingly friendly and accommodating. We lucked out and had an empty seat between us, so there was a bit more room for us to pile up all of our gear, and they also gave us a bassinet that went on the floor and allowed us to get Ray off of our laps when he was sleeping. We also got switched to a bulkhead seat at the last minute, which gave us some much needed leg room. Ray was great, sleeping for long periods of time and never getting too fussy. Of course, once we landed in Chicago and checked in for the domestic portion of our flight, it was back to the to crappy service and dilapidated equipment that I expect from United. There is a marked a difference in the service between their international and domestic flights. We’re using All Nippon Airways on the way back, which is head and shoulders above any U.S. carrier I’ve used so far, so that will be nice. For anyone travelling with an infant, I suggest contacting the airline well-ahead of time to secure a seat that can accommodate a bassinet.
Since we got home on Thursday night, we’ve been relaxing, stuffing my face with the foods that I miss in Japan (BLT’s, pizza, cheese) — those things are technically available in Japan, but aren’t as good and/or stupidly expensive. I’ve also been enjoying my favorite beer (Harpoon I.P.A.), along with some new brews that are delicious (Sam Adams Noble Pils (solid) and Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra I.P.A. (7.2% powerhouse)).
Ray has also been receiving a steady stream of adorers, and he’s also made a trip to the local bank and post office to see some folks who have been waiting in anticipation for his arrival. The boy’s reputation precedes him.
Our first day back, Chieko and were both pretty hobbled by jet lag, but yesterday things seemed to even out. The first order of business was to take Ray down to the local beach, Sandy Neck. It’s a beautiful beach, and I was struck again by how clean it is compared to Japan’s garbage-plagued shores.
In the afternoon, without Ray, I took a trip to one of my favorite places, a muddy, pothole strewn track through the woods known simply as Navigation. If you follow the road to its end, it eventually opens up to a spectacular sight, the vast Great Salt Marsh. In my younger days, Navigation was the site of many an illicit activity. These days, I go there to admire the views (the stars are particularly nice).
During moon tides and storms, the whole marsh is flooded. Under normal conditions, a series of canals wind their way through marsh — great kayaking. In the summer, you can count on getting eaten alive by green-head flies. I’m planning to get down here for a sunset or two, and perhaps some night photos.
We’ve got nothing major on our agenda during our time here, aside from a trip to Vermont for a few days and spending lots of time with friends and family. As always, it’s good to be home.