Saturday, January 11, 2014

Mt. Fuji! August 2013

Every year mid-deployment we have to come back to Japan for 2-3 weeks and it just so happens to be primetime to climb Mt. Fuji! You have two options when you climb the mountain; you can either do a day trip which means you would have to be on the bus at 0100 to head to the mountain to start your climb at 0500 and by 1300 (1pm) you would have to start heading back down the mountain no matter if you made it to the top or not and the other option, which we decided to do, was to leave base by 0500 and start your climb to the halfway point on the mountain and spend the night so when you woke up at 0200 you would climb the rest of the mountain and watch the sunrise! It was hands down the absolute best experience of my life! I've never seen so many stars, challenged my breathing and body to the fullest while as corny as this sounds, being one with nature.

Liz and I started our adventure stressing out because our third amigo decided to oversleep, luckily Liz was able to get ahold of him and he made the bus ride by a hair. On the drive up there we started to talk to the people around us who were also on our ship and slowly our group of three tuned into nine! At first we visited a shrine at the bottom of the mountain which was beautiful and quiet, we walked around took some pictures and headed back on the bus towards the "5th station". The 5th station is the biggest station up the mountain, it's where you buy your walking stick and grab any last minuet items you may have forgotten. By the time we started the climb the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous day!

At the shrine:

We would catch a few Z's at station 8, which is our halfway mark. We took our time getting up the mountain and messed around taking pictures, eating, relaxing and most importantly enjoying the scenery around us.

Enjoying the mountain:

At every station up the mountain you receive a stamp on your stick to prove how far up the mountain you made it. it was so intriguing to watch these guys stamp our sticks and make small talk about how long they've been doing this and how they live on the mountain for the summer and rarely sleep during this time because climbers come at all times of the day and night.

Getting my walking stick stamped:

By the time we hit station 8 we were exhausted beyond belief! We slept in this "hotel" which consisted of an empty room with sleeping bags lined up nearly on top of each other, but by the time you put your head down you were out for the count in seconds (well at least I was). It was around 0200 when we got our wake up call to start our climb to the summit.

Our luxurious "hotel":

As most of you know I've spent most of my adulthood in Texas where it may have a week or two of "cold" weather so before I explain what I was wearing remember I haven't dealt with cold weather in years. Liz and I wake up around 0200 and the guide told us it was extra cold out, we both looked at each other half asleep and did a little shoulder shrug, how cold could it be? Well, turns out it was the coldest weather I've ever been in and that's not an understatement. I had a tank top, long sleeve shirt, 2 zip-up fleeces, and my North Face shell along with 2 pairs of socks, leggings and wind-pants... Looking back we really didn't do enough research because if we did we would have read how cold the mountain is at night. And we're off with the guys to the summit! About an hour into it our bodies aren't as numb anymore and I can finally feel my fingers again, my feet, not so much. There was a HUGE line towards the top where the breathing gets extremely challenging so it forced you to slow your pace a little bit. We reached the summit around 0430 and had to wait a little over an hour for the sunrise... I thought it was cold halfway up the mountain where there was little wind and now at the top where wind was coming from every direction and the temperature was -5, I honestly think my feet were frozen. We sat and waited for the sun trying so hard to make each other laugh and have the time pass by quickly, but we failed miserably all we could focus on was how cold it was!

0520 hits and the sky starts to light up colors I've never seen before the most clear of all nights. We had thousands of stars above us and the brightest sun rise starting to hover around the skyline. When the sun finally came up we were all mesmerized by it's beauty and forgot for a split second how cold we were. After taking some photos we started our descend down the mountain in hopes we would be able to feel our bodies again! It took about 45mins to an hour for my body to feel somewhat normal and then another 2 hours for feeling in my feet to come back. We basically ran down the mountain to where it became warm again and then took our time back to the 5th station. When we got to the 5th station it was hot and sunny again so of course we had to celebrate with some ice cream! Shortly after we made it back to the bus and within minutes our group was passed out and ready to wake up back in Yokosuka.

The sun is finally up!:
 Mt. Fuji Summit:
Amazing Adventure:
 Starting our way back down to the warmth!

I encourage everyone to climb the mountain at least once because it really will be one of the best experiences of your life. After doing the overnight trip we all said how we would never climb up it again, but I wouldn't mind trying to race up and see how fast I can get to the top in a day trip... Maybe during this years deployment break I'll conquer that task, but this time I will prepare for the cold! ;)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Australia Summer Deployment 2013

Summer deployment was cut a little short due to some issues with our ship so we weren't able to go to Guam as planned, but luckily we were still able to make it to Brisbane, Australia! I will never be able to fully express how amazing this port visit was, although it was winter in Australia it didn't seem to phase us, we still travelled around the city like it was a hot sunny day... After being underway for 4 weeks it was a great reminder of why we do what we do!

Liz and I first went on a Beer and Wine tour which consisted of going to the XXXX brewery and taking a nice longgg tour, I now know way too much about the production of beer making, but it's good knowledge, right? While at the brewery we had the chance to eat Kangaroo steak... At first it was delicious and then after a few bites it became gamey kind of the same consistency as venison.

Kangaroo Steak: 

From the brewery we went on a tour of a beautiful Vineyard the scenery was unreal and the wine was beyond tasteful! We enjoyed a few bottles after our tour and a couple of sweet treats before returning to the city!

We only had one night off the ship before we had to return for duty (can't leave the ship for 24hrs). After our duty day we checked back into our hotel which upgraded us to a luxurious suite where we enjoyed several 5 Seed Ciders! If you like cider you have got to try this they were unbelievable and we've been searching for them ever since we first had them, no luck so far.. After we checked in we headed north on the train, which by the way if you ever go to Australia make sure you check which cart on the train you're going into... I recommend making sure you're not in a "quiet" cart before you sit down... Off to the Australia Zoo we went! :) We were able to feed elephants, pet kangaroos (which was awkward because a few days prior we ate it), play with koala bears and see so many neat animals that we would never find at a zoo in the states. For the rest of the time in Australia we went shopping, sightseeing and hung out with the locals, by far my most favorite port thus far!

This "little" guy thought it would be a good idea to swallow my whole arm!
 Liz and I before we went to the Steve Irwin Zoo:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Always Strong.

For months I've been meaning to start another blog so friends and family can have a little insight on what I've been doing over here in Japan. I'm sorry it's taken me so long, but I will try to keep you in the loop of my travels and life.

2013 was a very eye opening year for me. I had a ton of amazing opportunities, a few set backs, some heartbreaks, but most importantly I learned how to move forward and to never quit. I'm not going to go into all the details of last year, but I can tell you this; owning up for your own mistakes and failures feels like taking a breath of fresh air. It took me almost 18 months to get over 'hating' Japan and learning how to enjoy this country. I may not love it here, but it's home for another 24 months so I might as well make the most of it!

In all honesty if it wasn't for a select few over here and CrossFit I'm not sure I would survive, so to say the least I am extremely grateful for the few people I have in my life overseas and back in the States. I apologize for not staying in touch nearly as much as I should, but like some of you know I haven't been myself nor have I been happy so it's hard to communicate when you don't want to bring anyone else down. Luckily, the days have been getting a lot better and I'm starting to feel like my old self again and I couldn't be happier!

Yesterday was New Year's Eve and I'm not huge on going out because most places are packed with people, your expectations are rarely fulfilled, and I would rather just spend time with close friends and family then a bunch of strangers. That's exactly what I did, my friend Liz and I went into a near by city called Yokohama in search for a tattoo parlor (what?!) and a delicious dinner- we succeeded! I've been wanting to get a new tattoo for awhile now to symbolise Japan, the Navy and CrossFit, but I couldn't think of anything until the other day when I came across "Semper Fortis" which is latin for "Always Strong" or "Always Courageous" it may not symbolise everything the way I thought it was going to, but I coudn't imagine having anything else sum up how I feel about all three.

I will try and write as much as possible and hopefully I will be able to make it back to the states soon. When I have more time I will fill you in about my deployments and life out here! :)