Katsuren Castle Ruins and a Run on Farm Roads

I had a great weekend. Now, if you were one of the people I spoke to yesterday when I was so very homesick you would never know that, but it’s true. I blame my family and friends for the homesickness. If they weren’t so wonderful, I wouldn’t miss them so much.

Anyway, onto the goodness. I have been craving pizza and beer something fierce, so Friday night I put on a baseball game, cooked a frozen pizza, and had a beer. Okay, it was two beers. It didn’t matter that it was a frozen pizza, or that I already knew the outcome of the game, it was wonderful.

Saturday morning I did my penance for the pizza and beer in the form of a trail run with the running group I have been meeting up with. The group is called WOOT, for Women on Okinawa Trails – there, now everyone knows the name of the group and I can stop saying “the trail running group I run with” every time. The trails were actually hilly dirt roads that run through a bunch of farms and it is like a maze back there! The group split up early and I ended up running with three other girls most of the time. Luckily one of them knew the roads well, because I would probably still be out there running otherwise. As it was, we went a little further than I planned on, but other than some tired legs it was a great run. Here’s a look at part of the “road” – now you know why they count it as a trail run!

imageI got back from the run just in time to catch the first pitch of the Braves game. This has become my favorite part of the week: I get home from the runs, make a pot of coffee and breakfast, and watch the baseball game. It makes for a great Saturday morning – even better this Saturday because the Braves got their first win of the season! Combine that little slice of heaven with the fact that I talked to my mom, Gram, and Kelsey while I was watching the game and you have yourself a happy Dawn!

After the game, I drove over to a place called American Village, which is a tourist area on the water. Although it is called American Village, it actually attracts many tourists from China and South Korea, and has lots of Japanese shops. I walked around for a while popping in and out of stores, finishing at the grocery store to pick up some produce. A quick stop at the commissary rounded out the shopping, and I spent the evening doing some cooking for the week. Then, I got to Skype with Tim! It was our first time Skyping and it was great to see his face – although it wasn’t until he showed me the dogs that I got teared up. Probably just a coincidence…

Sunday morning I had to head over to the hospital to shadow the Officer of the Day, or OOD. That is the duty I will stand while I am here, and you have to shadow three times before you stand your first watch. Luckily, none of them make you stick around for long, so I came back to the room and repeated the Saturday morning routine of Braves game and coffee. After I went back to the hospital one more time, I was free for the day so I decided to check out some castle ruins. I went back and forth between being productive and sightseeing, and I’m so glad I chose sightseeing! The drive out there alone was fantastic, and the ruins were breathtaking – the pictures don’t do it justice, but here are a few to give you an idea:

There were multiple levels, and these crazy stone stairs going up to each one. It’s mind blowing to realize the glory days of this castle were in the 1400’s – and the stairs are still there. Wow. You will also notice a picture of me, despite the fact that I went alone. That is because an extremely kind elderly gentleman got my attention and asked (via hand gestures) if I wanted a picture of myself in front of the ruins. I did not, but there was no way I was going to say no, so I gratefully accepted. He then proceeded to call his daughter (granddaughter?) over because it turns out he had no idea how to actually take the picture. For some reason it made his offer seem that much sweeter…and ten times funnier.

By the way, for those of you who are thinking wow, that looks kind of high, was Dawn nervous? The answer is yes. YES. I could barely hold on to my phone because my hands were so sweaty, and I’m sure everyone got a good chuckle out of the American girl walking down the stone steps holding on (with both hands) to the castle wall.

I ended my trip to the castle by poking my head in the little store across the street near the parking lot. Man, I love Japanese treats. I bought some homemade scones, Japanese sweet potato chips, and brown rice drink. The last one was a roll of the dice; curiosity just got the best of me. It is literally brown rice puree with brown sugar, “etc.” I put the etc. in quotation marks because that is literally what the description was. It actually tasted pretty good, but it was thick. And had small chunks. Luckily I’m not a texture person, and I was super thirsty so I chugged it down, but I could see how people would be turned off by it. It would also have to be ice cold – if it had warmed up even a degree or two I don’t think I could have done it.

I wasn’t back from my adventure to the ruins for long before I left once again for dinner with a friend, which would be a great way to end a day by itself – but I still get to talk to another great friend tonight! I will be chatting with Melani, live from Cuba, in just a little while. Now that is a good weekend 🙂

 

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