Friday, August 08, 2014

Summer festival/Natsu matsuri 2014, for our housing community...and getting ourselves on the Honolulu bound flight

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 was our housing community's summer festival/natsu matsuri. Started from 4pm and went to 8-9pm. However since we had a booth and would be selling stuff we had to be there at 3pm. I taped up the signs of what we were selling, see the cardboard sign hanging on the tent corner behind Noah? That was a Coolish ice cream sign, I put up. Cookies and cream or plain vanilla Coolish for 100yen. I sold out of the cookies and cream probably within the first hour. The portable fridge is the metal thing near Noah's arm in this pic. I was selling the Coolish and my teammates one for example was selling the swords. Etc. I also sold a few other odds and ends. I was the busiest mom behind the tables...only because everyone wanted an ice cream...and it was superly hot outside and ice cream was a perfect idea. : )

This is also some stuff we sold too. 

Big turn out, the whole housing community loves this summer festival. Noboru missed the majority of the festival, he did come by and say hello, but he was very busy and understandably so...since we had just increased our stay in California by 1 day...meaning we were to arrive now a day early, he needed to alter our reservations at the hotel so he had to book by an extra day...the car rental place had to be added an extra day too. he had a lot on his plate. And to be fair to me...the week had also taken it's toll. I also had last minute stuff I'd like to be at home for... with regards to our flight that very night and yet I was stuck here working this event.  My phone said 97 degrees F but said it feels like 100 degrees F. This has been the absolute hottest July and August in years!!! June was quite cool and nice, but the end of July and start of August has been insanely hot. I did have fun working the event, I did enjoy talking and seeing many of my friends from the neighborhood. But honestly, I would have preferred be at home to prepare for our flight that night. The plan was I was to leave early at 5:30pm. So, I did make a point of working quite hard the time I was there. I handled absolutely every sale of the ice cream before I left. Also my co-VP, like I said in an earlier post...is the one around 5:10pm that said that Tokyo was having fireworks that night, so she told me to just go right then. And I did. : )  So, I did... fulfill my obligation of being fukukaicho/vp. And now...I think we have no kids club event until the Christmas party, so I am *so* totally over that hump regarding my year of Vice prez-dom, thank the lord! Hahaha. 
I snapped this pic while I was walking looking for the kids to tell them we were heading home to prepare for our flight, I found them and we raced home! Only a 2 minute walk to our house. : )  Last year, we were selling American food at the summer festival..this year I am VP and therefore had to work this whether I wanted to or not, hahaha. So it's fair to say the year of 2013 and year of 2014, I haven't really got to enjoy the actual summer festival at all...but next year! That's the silver lining there...next year I can go and enjoy and be a customer of the summer festival! : )  Versus working the summer festival. : )

Okay so the next post will be the Honolulu post...not sure if I should break them up in 2 or 3 parts. Because if I keep it to just 1 part...it might be absurdly overly long, you know what I mean. So, hmm, still thinking about that. However let me give you the last bit of Saturday July 26th stuff. The boys and I got home, I put my camera and charger into my bag. Made sure just last minute doodads were finished, packed and out in the suitcase. I then jumped in the shower, washed from neck down..truly had no time to wash my hair, blow dry and hot roller all over again. Just not even time for all that mess! : )  Besides I did wash it that morning anyways. I got dressed and we left...like by 6pm, we were in the car heading towards the airport. Took us hours. By the way...I had not eaten breakfast that day, not lunch or dinner. The kids ate all day and snacked and I made them stuff and they also bought food at the summer festival too. But, I was so busy all day...I was just running on pure adrenaline all day long. Since we live near-ish Narita and we had to now go all the way to Tokyo it took us hours. Hours of driving down skinny roads or there was some bad traffic jam...then the traffic would get better and then 10 minutes down the road it would get worse again. The highways were all red on the navigation so we avoided the highway. Probably the highway was like that... due to the fireworks. We arrived around 9pm or so. Parked the car, we each had our own carry-on, which had our clothes and stuff for the trip. And 2 empty suitcases for bringing stuff back. The line was so long, we checked in at the self check in. Then went to the bag drop off. At Narita and if you're stand-by they take your luggage and you get a standby pass so you can zip through the TSA and whatnot and be near your gate. Not at Haneda though. They won't even take your luggage if you're standby but that's because of their worry of flight weight restrictions. So we waited for hours. She said at 11pm go to lane 15 and there were a ton of standbys. That's when she said if we'd like 2 seats, not 4. Again...what if...the other 2 in our family can't get on the next day or the next after that. So we smartly stayed together. We did walk all the way back to the car put the luggage back in the car. The kids slept the whole way home. At some point while still in Tokyo we stopped at 7-11 and I picked up 1 iced coffee and 1 egg salad sandwich, by now I was starving! We debated...should we try for the mainland, should we cancel summer vacation 2014 altogether then? We finally decided let's just go to Hawaii. We know we can get on the flight for sure, and our priority on the standby list is quite high (not rubbing it in, just being for real) so we know we can get on. Another family did get bumped, trying to get to Honolulu because we got on the next day, we bumped them. Sorry, truly am sorry! : ( But we weren't sorry enough to cancel our trip and give them our seats, either though! The flight was full, not a seat on the plane and they wanted on and we wanted on too. Except our priority was higher, so...hope they got on the next day. I think the day before they were happy thinking... they were so getting on the flight, until we 4 listed on the flight. We also think they were hoping we weren't going to show up for the flight lol, of course we did though. But again this same crap happened with us the day before at Haneda when those 2 dead heads showed up last minute and bumped us. And we had that trip planned for months! So again it wasn't our intention and we didn't feel good about bumping another family of 4...but it just honestly was...what it was. If their priority was higher than ours, do you think they'd give us their seats? Hell no! So us neither.

The next worry was...you know how Japan is 1 day ahead the US, right. well, our next worry was...if we don't get home from our drive back from Haneda. we would potentially be charged for the hotel and car in California, we knew that the day would be changing shortly or had just changed...it was somewhere around 7-10am California time or somewhere around that and the hotel says 24 hours advance notice for cancellations... so we truly were down to the wire with regards to cancellation time. Yikes! And also another worry was...you can't make online reservations the day of...for say a hotel room or car rental. Not quite sure why you can't but hey. So we tried to get back home as fast as humanly possible without of course putting our lives in danger or Noboru in danger of getting a speeding ticket. We got home, the kids went to their bedrooms right away. And I turned on my computer...it was 2am or something. Noboru had his laptop on. And first he canceled the California reservations immediately! Next was find a hotel in Hawaii before the days change there. We started going through Trip Advisor rooms and Expedia rooms and he checked his private Delta employees discount thing online too. So yeah we used both computers in the living room. My favorite hotel in Honolulu is the Ala Moana Hotel. It's new or refurbished. I am comfortable staying there...it feels like you are on vacation staying there. Noboru meanwhile loves the Illima Hotel because they offer free parking and he likes that the rooms are huge. I meanwhile hate that place, because... while yes it is spic and span clean, it's stuck in the 70's, the rooms and hotel badly needs a revamping BIG TIME! And frankly I don't feel like I am on vacation staying there at all. Just being honest...not a fan of the Illima sorry! The Ala Moana was totally booked except for a room that allows up to 2 people and only had 1 king sized bed...just not enough room for the us 4 at all. We wanted a room with high reviews from fellow travelers (ie, clean, safe, friendly (not rude) staff) same stuff most people look for in a room. Also we wanted under $200 US a night. And some rooms in Honolulu can be around $400-$500 US. So, we wanted under $200. The good thing about us, is we don't have to pay for expensive airfares, so our flight getting there and back in free. And so all we have to worry about is, hotel and food and whatever things we bring back. So our expenses are much lower... than say the average Joe or Jane. So in that respect, we're pretty lucky.  And we have only been bumped once in all our years and that was the day before on the Haneda flight. Again though, if we had no obligations such as the summer festival or haunted school, we could have altered our travel dates..but since we had to physically be in Japan those certain dates, we were just stuck in a catch 22 regarding getting ourselves to California. Can't change days..because of the obligations... we had zero flexibility. So, no wonder it happened. Anyway we found a good hotel, with 2 full/double beds. The price was perfect...$125 US a night! Which was under our budget. They did charge $25 for a parking fee... but that's pretty much every hotel you pick in Hawaii unless of course you stay at the Illima. The reviews were excellent and it was newly refurbished. The only draw back was they were not available our last night. @.@ So we took the hotel for all our days except the final day/night...we found another hotel the final day. The final hotel we picked was slightly higher in price $150 US, and they charged $35 for parking. Again though...this is Hawaii and not the mainland US so hotels are gonna be higher and the parking fees while crazy are pretty common. Plus...again beggars can't be choosers...you know that old adage. I mean...we were leaving the following day and not like we had weeks to find a hotel, so we booked that room too. We turned out loving both hotels! I'd rec'd anyone to stay there and I'd definitely go back to either. If pushed...I'd say the 2nd hotel was my most favorite. But both were amazing. 2 thumbs way up on both the hotels. I'll give names of hotels and all details in the actual Honolulu post. After the hotel rooms were booked and rental car was booked in Hawaii. We both went to sleep. Absolute exhaustion. I washed my face and hit the hay.

Next morning we stayed home...we stayed home all day until 3pm, we were all freshly showered and ready for our flight. Our flight was to leave at 7pm. But of course we want to drive to Narita, park our car at the car baby sitters place and were shuttled to Narita International Airport, which is why we left the house at 3pm. Love Narita Airport, being stand by... they took our luggage gave us stand by tickets and we breezed through the TSA and downstairs and stuff quickly since we were early. We waited near the gate. I was skype messaging with my dad off and on some. Because he knew about the vacation switch. He worried if we'd get on. And Noboru was again...watching his employees page on his tablet. And he saw our seats as they were issued online and we just waited for them to call us. We got seats in first class. And about a minute later she called our last name and Noboru went and got our tickets. We boarded around 6pm-ish, Sunday July27th arrived Honolulu around 7-7:30am Sunday July 27th hahaha. They are the seats that lay flat like a bed, so I was in one seat, Noah was behind me, Branden was behind Noah and Noboru was last, we purposely "book-end" the kids in like that... so I am watching them from the front and Noboru is watching them from the back. Just to make sure they are okay and safe. When they closed the boarding doors...is when I felt this huge cloud of worry disappear. When we started rolling down the tarmac, I felt so relieved...let out a huge exhaling breath. I did message my dad as soon as we got our tickets so he wouldn't worry. I then shut my phone off and kept it off the entire trip...no email checks...no nothing. Noboru will check his emails while he's away, Line with his coworkers a couple times. LOL. I...am just different...I take a break from all internet. Huge meteor could be coming straight to planet earth....I'd not know...if I was on vacation. : ) It just helps me unwind by not being connected, I feel more connected to my family, more connected to the whole vacation experience, while not being connected online. So, I just don't connect online at all, while on vacation. You would think I slept the entire flight away. But I honestly didn't sleep a dot. I was just relieved...we were FINALLY on vacation. Also there were so many new movies that I hadn't seen yet so I watched 3 movies on the flight there. Branden also didn't sleep a wink. I periodically looked back and Noah was awake for a lot of the flight but I'd say he slept for about 3 hours of the 7 hour flight. Noboru slept about as much as Noah did also. But I'd wave at Bran 2 seats away and he'd wave back..or I'd have my eyes fixated on the bathroom door when the kids went to the toilet...just making sure...there's no creepy person lurking (just being protective is all). Of course there wasn't but...just makings sure. : ) I watched Divergent (I have this DVD on order since June but I wanted to badly see this, I saw this first)...The Other Woman (Cameron Diaz) and Labor Day (with Kate Winslet)..Divergent was excellent and I am so glad I ordered this! The Other Woman was so hilarious...I laughed quite a bit. Labor Day was so good but would you believe...because our flight was landing I missed the last 5 minutes. He was arrested and then what? Seriously then what? What happened? That has happened to me before on a flight...it was an excellent movie though. Would just love to find out how it ended. lol. : ) Alrighty, now... you are all caught up with everything except for the Hawaii trip. But as we are heading out to Guam today...I'll be a bit delayed again. Sorry. : )