31 July, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Day 9

This was approximately our route. We started out using
non-toll roads, but switched to the tolled expressway
after we realised it was taking too long. That expressway
ran out before we got close to our destination,
however, as the expressways don't go that far from Sapporo.
We didn't see any more until we got close to Sapporo
again later in the trip.
Monday July 1
Sapporo to Shumarinaiko (lake)

It was a busy day, the first day in our trip where we packed up camp, drove and then re-erected our camp. Most of the boys were helpful 90% of the time. That was wonderful!
A map of the man-made lake.

It was only a drive of about 240km, but it took about four hours because speed limits on Japanese roads, rural or not, are 50km/hr.
Shinbetsu, a stop on the way. This was our last big town—
about 23,000—before the campsite and we'd
realised that we needed a few extra supplies before heading
out to the lake. I stayed at this playground with the boys while
David went shopping

This time we’re located on the edge of a large lake (8km long) called Shumarinai Lake in the north-east of Hokkaido. It was the furtherest north any of us had ever been in this world. It was about 33km from the nearest town, but that took about 45 minutes due to the aforementioned speed limit.

Lookout, pity about the power lines!

"Syu" is another way to start the name of this lake,
it looks odd to me, but is a reminder that we are, after all
 using Roman letters to represent the language.
There were very few people out there, it turned out to be our most isolated and "natural" campsite. Most of our other camps were near towns (as in less than 30 minutes from) and in campsites that were very clearly developed. This one had some flat spots levelled between trees, but I don't think many trees had been taken out.

We had only one neighbour that we could see, a single man camping out of his van, and he was about 100 m away through the trees and across a small inlet. We were only about 20 m from the water, but up a-ways.

We had a great view from our outside “dining” room. Compared to Sapporo, it’s really still, we had quite a lot of wind at our previous campsite.

And contrary to our expectations it was warm. We slept in our sleeping bags, but in shorts and t-shirts.

We didn’t have electricity, but about 30 m away was a roofed area with sinks, running water, and power outlets. About 100m away were toilets. The showers were further away up the hill, but you only need to go there once a day (“if that” some would say). The showers were very clean and deserve a paragraph all of their own (and several photos).

View from our tent at dusk.
The showers were intriguing. We've seen their type once before at a campsite, I'm guessing that a few Australian parents would like to have a shower like this in their house. You pay ¥100 for your five minute shower, and there is a countdown on a screen. When your five minutes are up, the water shuts off. Nothing will turn the water on again except putting in more money! The bonus of these are that they are private and clean. Each shower is an individual unit, that you must shut and lock the door on, otherwise the light goes out! 
Natural campsite

The outside of the showers.
Where you put your money.
The temperature control and the display where you see how much time you have left.
A view from the outside. Beautiful!
Unfortunately I left my soap-free cleanser in this shower. Cleanser brought in a suitcase from Australia. Darn!

30 July, 2013

Japan Photo Answer #37

If I had a prize for the best answer, it would have to go to Deb who wrote this:
The question has to be "How do fish go to the bathroom?" And the answer is number two maybe (don't know much about the toileting habits of fish I confess). And you found it in the billiard room with the lead pipe and Colonel Mustard. Oh, wait, that's the wrong game. No, you found it on the back of the toilet door at the aquarium as an amusing quiz to take while you....well, while you do what you need to do. *Blush*
Dave also pulled some maths into it and suggested that as we were talking about a Number 2, the answer had to be Number 2!

And indeed they were both correct. Here's a photo of the answer that was revealed when you lifted up the poster, which happened to be next to the basins in the Restroom at the Aquarium.

I'm enjoying myself! Thanks for entering into the fun.

29 July, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Day 8

This is what the campsite looked like on Sunday morning.

Sunday 30th June, Sapporo

Camping next to a clock and thermometer was novel, but the boys enjoyed reporting the temperatures as they went up and down.
I didn't write anything in my notes about this day at the time, so I'm going by memory. Unfortunately I also didn't take many photos, I think I ran out of camera battery power (my new camera is hilarious, the message is "battery is exhausted"). So, I've mostly used old photos for this post.

This day we headed up to Sapporo for church. We joined the congregation where we served after language school, from April 2003 to August 2004. We were surprised how many remembered us and how warm a welcome we received. Again, I wish I'd taken photos!

Our apartment was the one in the very middle. It was
wonderfully warm and overlooked a small park.
Members of Hiraoka Church sometime in 2003.
Hiraoka Gospel Christian Church
After church we went shopping, stocking up for our drive north the next day. I also insisted on buying some more warm clothing. I'd been a bit shocked by the coldness overnight on Friday and wanted to be prepared, we were headed north, after all.

It's amazing going back to a geographical location that you once lived in. It stirs up memories that you'd thought you'd forgotten. There were bits I remembered and bits I didn't, actually it was a little scary how little I remembered about how to get around. Of course the boys remembered very little. Our older boys were two and five years old when we left, and our youngest wasn't born yet.

We shopped at my old favourites: Ralse Mart for groceries and Homac for household goods like mosquito spray. I miss these two stores down in Tokyo.

When we finally got back to the campsite, many campers had packed up and left already, so on our third night there we had it almost all to ourselves again.

After dinner we hiked up the hill to the main centre for our showers showers (this seems a standard location at campsites here) and enjoyed some vending-machine ice cream for dessert. Yum!
This little boy on my lap is turning 11 in just under 2 months. Wow!
Here's a cooking class that I was involved in in 2004. I wished I could have led it, but my Japanese cooking vocab. wasn't that great back then. They're making my Shepherd's Pie Recipe.

28 July, 2013

Japan Photo #37

I found this poster in an Aquarium on our travels.

Can you guess what the question is? And if so, which one the answer might be?

Where in the aquarium do you reckon I found the poster?

27 July, 2013

Post-camping holidays

We've been back eight days now and what have we been doing?

The boys are still on holidays for another month. They start back on the 27th of August, so we're very much in marathon-holiday mode for them.

Unfortunately other people don't have the luxury of such a long break.
I've been:
Part of our prayer/newsletter sent out yesterday.
  • pecking away at the computer, reducing the huge amount of email that I/we received while we were away to something more manageable.
  • gathering the threads of Japan Harvest again, prodding things along there. We've got the summer issue to finish up and get to the printer on Monday. And submissions coming in for the autumn issue also. Not to mention meeting with my executive editor and designer to deal with other issues that have arisen during my absence.
  • getting moving on a new project, a 2nd edition of OMF Japan's 31 Days of Prayer for Japan. This involved a very enjoyable 3 1/2 hours at a downtown coffee shop with my OMF "supervisor".
  • checking on the progress of the OMF Japan 2014 Prayer Calendar
  • writing our family prayer/newsletter
  • baking snacks on a cooler day (though it heated the house up to hot, it was not hot-hot!)
  • Oh, and I've gotten back on the horse: I went to the gym three times
Sound fun? That's just the bigger things...

David's technically on holidays too, but he's had things to do too, like
  • prepare a Sunday School lesson for last Sunday (only to find out when he got there that he didn't have to)
  • iron out some kinks in a sermon he's doing in a couple of weeks for a church who's missionaries will be on holidays
  • sort out a Japan health insurance glitch
  • start the process of getting his Japanese small bus license 
  • prepare for a teaching workshop he's attending in Hong Kong, leaving tomorrow
  • feed the animals left at school
  • get started on reading for his new master's subject
  • answer questions about maths courses at CAJ
  • met up with his OMF "supervisor" over coffee

The boys, though they're on holidays have had responsibilities too:
  • they helped us wash the car on Tuesday (almost in the middle of a thunderstorm)
  • we've continued the washing-up/drying rota that we had going for camping, though it is now washing-up/putting away
  • our eldest is back to washing his own clothes, at least for the duration of the holidays, we'll evaluate after that
  • he's also been "volunteered" to make dinners on Tuesday nights. I taught him how to make Satay Chicken in the Slow Cooker last week
  • memorising (more on that below). 
  • reading: SQUIRT time after lunch has been a surefire winner with little more required from Mum and Dad other than saying it has started and when it will end. Love it!
  • Lego has made a return. Our eldest spent a whole day making a large helicopter of his own design.
CAJ's PTA has a Scripture memorisation programme they do each summer, where they encourage students to memorise 25, 50, 75 or 100 verses of Scripture and the kids who are successful are rewarded significantly with money. Our eldest has earned 10,000 ¥ each summer for the last three years (about A$110 dollars at current exchange rates). 

Both our older boys are doing it this year, so early this week they were very engaged in memorising and our youngest was short on longer-term projects. So we decided to set up our own little incentive programme for him. Our terms are modified a bit: if he memorised 12 or more verses and can recite them on the last day of holidays, we'll pay him 100 ¥ per verse. That's put some fire under him. In two days, he's already memorised five verses.

This isn't the best photo, but this was a family BBQ for karate. It was last
Saturday and a good experience. We met a few people, including a Middle-Eastern
looking fellow from Hastings, England who's living here with his Japanese wife.
During our camping trip I read The Hobbit to the boys while we snuggled in our sleeping bags. That's fired up our nearly 11 y.o. to read the Lord of the Rings. He's almost through the first book in only a week.

We've also watched some movies, The Hobbit, Arthur Christmas (great for cooling down on a hot day), and Superman Returns (2006) we'll watch this afternoon.

Here's David helping out at the BBQ. We ended up having some good conversations
with both these people in the photo.
House looks tidy again too now. Everything's finally been put away and I've even vacuumed. So it's been a pretty productive week, considering that I've not got up before 7.30 or 8am most days!

26 July, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Day 7

Saturday 29th June: Just south of Sapporo

Conference finished yesterday. We drove to our first campsite, not too far away, via a
Our first stop after conference: laundromat
laundromat and a supermarket. Setting up camp felt different to our two or three day camps in the past, probably because I knew that this was just the beginning of our trip and that we’d be doing this a few more times in the next 16 days.

The campsite is gorgeous. All mowed grass, easy to hammer pegs into! There were only two other parties on this large lawn. And nearby was a playground, including a flying fox (US=rip line?). Everyone helped out and the tent was up easily in under two hours. We did have one blow-out from our youngest, but that was expected, he’s had two weeks of late nights and intense programs. I didn’t expect our middle son to be so cooperative, he’d overdosed on people during the week and needed some cave space, but he did pretty well.
Can you see our tent? In the middle of all that wonderful
grass. You have to know that grass is pretty rare
in Tokyo, and we've never seen large grassy places
to pitch a tent like this down south.

It was cold, however. The temperature was about 14 when we arrived at 4pm and dropped to under 10 over-night. That was a bit of a shock to the system after warm Tokyo and then in the artificial environment of the hotel all week.

Today we woke up to a sparkling day, however. It took a while to warm up, but did make it to 20 after lunch. We’ve spent the day at the neighbouring park. A large park that includes many unusual things for kids to do.  Eg. Red physio balls to push up a large slope (called the Lawn Stadium, actually well named. You could easily do a concert at the bottom with thousands sitting on the slope). White bouncy hills (called “Fluffy Eggs” rather strangely). A bit like large trampolines but in a hill shape. Unfortunately it was for elementary students and below only (under 12s), so our
soon-to-be high schooler had to find other things to amuse him. 

There were a number of under-hill places to explore, the most fun had various coloured nets suspended from the ceiling for climbing in. The floor was littered with heavy inner-tube type things covered with the same coloured nets. It looked like a giant’s crochet had gone wild, but in a fun way. We also explored a wooded hill with various wooden and roped play structures hidden in various spots. It was a relaxed, fun day.
Slides built into the hill.
Large soft cones for climbing on
Hills for jumping on
Hills for rolling large physio balls up and down

Inside one hill, the crochet-gone-crazy climbing place.
Closer view of the cones.
We explored a wooded hill and found this hammock.
For snacks we indulged in some kakikori (snow cones or shaved ice) and some flavoured popcorn (caramel and cheese, the latter being extremely popular with our boys and the former much nicer than Australian caramel popcorn).

When we got back to our campsite, there had been a large influx of campers. Our privacy-loving middle son moaned, “Ooooohh, they’ve ruined it all.”

But really, despite the large number of young children, it’s been relatively quiet. No loud parties (though some of our neighbours were still up at midnight) and no screaming children when the sun came up before 5am. And now, as I type on Sunday morning, many are packing up. One night camping seems like a lot of effort to go to, but I guess it is something of a getaway, if you’ve got no other chance. We’re here for three nights, the first time we’ve even managed that (last time we tried we got run over by a typhoon and had to move indoors after one night). It feels good to be stationary for that length of time.
Japanese style bathroom. You put your gear
here. Shoes were left at the door. This is
tatami (rice mat) flooring, very traditional.

The facilities are lovely. Nearby we have toilets and sinks (no hot water, though). Up the hill are beautifully clean shower facilities (though with little privacy, in the Japanese style). I took photos because there was no one else around. Usually you wouldn't take photos in the bathroom, obviously!

Here's the door to the bathroom proper.
Yep, communal bathing. This is a similar
set-up to a Japanese public bath,
except there was no bath to use after you
showered. At Japanese hot-springs or public
baths you shower first (getting all the impurities
off), then hop in the bath with everyone else
 and soak (no soap, bubbles etc. allowed in the bath).

25 July, 2013

OMF Family

Our adopted family: OMF.
I realised after I posted my blog post yesterday that it was quite objective and didn't tell you how much I appreciate being together with my OMF colleagues.

They are more than colleagues, really, they are more like the family you have when you don't have your family nearby. In some ways we're closer to some OMFers than we are to some members of our own family, because we have a similar faith and goals in life. We've all experienced the challenges of living in a foreign land away from our blood-families and our close friends, these shared experiences draw us together.

OMF originally stood for Overseas Missionary Fellowship. It is the Fellowship part of that that is important here. This isn't just an organisation that helps us get where we want to go or helps us stay here, it is a group with shared interests, and interested in supporting and caring for one another. I wrote a little more about the family nature of OMF here a month after the earthquake two years ago.

We've seen something of how the OMF family works in the last couple of weeks. Last week a couple in the OMF Japan "family" lost their baby, in the womb. The couple live a long way from any other OMFers in a rural part of Hokkaido, but the OMF family rose to the occasion, some drove today to the funeral. Being there when blood-family couldn't be there.

We've not experience anything close to that kind of grief, but we know what it is to have caring OMF family around us at times of difficulty. We wouldn't be without them.

24 July, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Days 2–6

OMF Japan Conference at Jozankei

Monday 24th

B is Jozankei, a little to the south of Sapporo.
Jozankei is known for its hot spring.
Despite the utter darkness in our room, our middle son’s inner alarm clock had him up soon after 6am. I dozed on and off for another hour or so before we went up to breakfast. The boys were happily engaged by drawing on the new 100 yen whiteboards: they played one of our favourite games (Mr Squiggle), as well as drawing original cartoons.

We landed at Tomokamai, Hokkaido at about 11am and disembarked. As we walked down the steps to the elaborate “gang plank” in actual life a covered walkway, we were serenaded by “arigato gozaimasu” (thank you) by hostesses every four steps. One lady near us had a wheeled suitcase that was neatly passed down the staircase by the hostesses without any of them leaving their step (what do you call attendants on a boat?).

It took a little longer for the vehicles to disembark from the belly of the ferry, which gave us time to appreciate that the air was a little fresher and cooler up there.

So as not to deceive you, I do have to mention that we had interchildren conflict at that point. One boy, upset at the change and uncertainty of it all, began to boss his brothers around in the disembarking line. This eventually became a push and shove fight. So, while waiting for David with the van, not only were our bodies cooling down, but it gave one member of our family time to cool his temper. It wasn’t long enough, however, and we had a tense time for the early portion of our drive.

Once we left the small port town of Tomokomai, we drove along lush green tree-lined roads. A feast for the eyes. We also drove along the shore of a large lake, Shikotsuko, and then ran into a heavy rain shower.

The reality of how much more rural Hokkaido was than the Kanto area became obvious when we couldn’t find a convenient convenience store for lunch. So we snacked on what we had with us until we got to the outskirts of Sapporo.

Then conference wasn’t too far away. We got there by 2pm and had time to explore the pool complex in the basement before the welcoming session at 4.

The rest of the week

From this point I didn't really write any more about conference in my notes. This was to be
OMF Japan 2013 Conference attendees.
about our camping trip, but I'll add a little below about our week.

To start on Monday we had a welcome time. It's been six years since the Marshalls have been at one of these all-Japan OMF conferences. They are generally held every three years, but we were on home assignment last time and missed it. So, it was a little overwhelming to see all the new faces (and there have been many new missionaries join us, some are even into their second term without having met us).

The wall of OMF missionaries in Japan, the units adding
up to 120 currently serving.
We did an interesting activity to start. Everyone had been seated in the order that they came from the field and we then briefly introduced ourselves, names, country of origin and when we came. Then we put a "brick" on the wall (see the photo). It is colour coded for decade and starts at the bottom. We're the first of the 2000s in light brown. You can see how many "units" have joined (and are still here) in the last 13 years!

Dining room
The food aspect of conference demands its own category. Breakfast and dinner every day was a huge smorgasbord meal. It was so mind-boggling on the first day that I wandered around quite a while before I chose anything. Lunch was a set menu, but on the last day we were "upgraded" to an even fancier restaurant with a very flash buffet indeed.

The hotel looks very upmarket, but in reality we had a very good deal from them. They did house us in the "older" part of the hotel, but it didn't feel very second rate at all.

The hotel included a whole water-park complex of pools in the basement. You can guess where our boys were headed as often as they could. There were also Japanese baths in the basement and on the roof, with a variety of pools for soaking in, not that we had a lot of time to do that!

Sports on the free afternoon (ultimate frisbee)
Every morning we had Bible input time, followed by small group discussions. This was an important part of a conference for few of us receive spiritual nourishment in anything but Japanese.

View from our room
Most afternoons and evenings was given over to various mission-related stuff. Like AGM, talks by various leaders (finance, regional directors, personnel director etc.), and discussion about structural change. 

We also enjoyed one free afternoon, and accompanied our boys to a local sports field with other young men (I was the only female in attendance) to play some social sports. One great thing about conferences like these is watching the offspring of missionaries interact. Some of them have never met before, or it was so long ago that they hardly remember each other, yet they generally quickly become firm friends.

Conference finished after lunch on Friday and we headed off to the other end of the spectrum in terms of accommodation. More on that another day.
The hotel

Our meeting room

Closer view of the river with the hotel on the right.

My wonderful husband with his meal. The teenagers loved
the smorgasbord—they ate huge amounts.

23 July, 2013

Politics and a Rescue in Japanese News

Today we really began the "I'm bored" part of summer holidays. Both David and I have more than enough to keep us busy, but the boys are being challenged to find their own fun. It's not very tempting to take them outside because it's humid, though not as hot as it could be (it's only about 30 here). We woke up sweating. I looked at the temperature at 2am and it was 29 degrees in my bedroom! We'll go out later when the sun isn't quite so high in the sky.

In the meantime, here is some news from Japan.

An election
We had an election on Sunday. Now don't ask me to explain Japanese politics to you in great detail. Here's what I understand. The election was for the upper house of parliament. Prime Minister Abe has been in power since December last year. His party, the long dominant Liberal Democratic Party, holds the power in the lower house. Now, they hold power in both houses.

It was an important election because the last time one party held the power in both houses was 1989. That's meant that it's been hard for any one to "get stuff done".

The other reason why it is important is that we're not sure what "stuff is going to get done". Probably there'll be changes in defence, and economy. Changes in the constitution are also possible. Here's a link to an article that explains things fairly well: http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/07/21/election-2013-why-it-matters/?mod=WSJBlog

And another that explains things in a little more details: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/world/asia/governing-party-appears-headed-to-lead-japanese-parliament.html?

For something a bit fun, here is how Japanese politicians have used the social media for the first time in this campaign (including game apps):

A rescue
Going around the news and social media today is a photo of a train rescue effected by the Japanese public.

22 July, 2013

Our Hokkaido Adventure Day 1

Our trip from home to Sendai. Just under 400km, took
about 5 hours.
Sunday 23rd June 

We spent most of yesterday pottering around packing for our four weeks away. After dinner last night we packed off Tiny the Turtle to his turtle friend Mint’s home for the month. He also took some pot plants with him to look after for us. Then we packed out car with everything except our personal belongings. Because this is a trip that includes a lot of camping, that meant a fair bit of gear including a tent, a tarp for the annex, chairs, tables, air beds, sleeping bags, kitchen gear, etc.
Only ten minutes into the trip (20 seconds after we hopped
on the expressway), one boy needed a toilet stop!
So here we are, all packed and ready to go.

Then this morning we finished packing our bags and headed off to church on our bikes, leaving our packed car at home. We were going to leave quickly from church, but saw friends who are going on home assignment before we get back from Hokkaido. We won’t see them again for two years because we’ll be going on home assignment this time next year and miss seeing them return to Japan. So, we stopped, and said goodbye.

Then we sped home, grabbed our bags, and jumped in the car with our bags.

“Bye, bye Tokyo!”

That was about 11am. We hopped on the motorway and headed north to Sendai. Thankfully the traffic was light, but the boys were still settling into car travel again. It isn’t that they don’t know how to manage car travel; we’ve done enough of it in their lives. But we haven’t done much recently. A standard school year in Japan for us involves long car trips, almost only to sporting events and camping or holiday trips. We haven’t done either of these since Spring Break at the end of March. So, they took their time getting out their excitement and settling back into the pattern of being strapped into a car near their brothers and very close to a lot of luggage.

Then it was lunchtime. We stopped at one of those great Japanese motorway stops. You don’t have to get off the motorway (and pay the toll), you just pull into a lay by, and there is everything you need for your journey: toilets, food, petrol station (at some stops), souvenirs, and usually a place to run the boys (and the dogs, if you have them). They have great Japanese fast-food (noodles, curry rice, various things on rice) in good portion sizes and

reasonable prices. We love these stops.

Back on the road again we enjoyed some quiet time with full tummies and exercised bodies. I drove this stretch. More straight driving on first three lanes, then two lanes each way. So much easier than driving in Tokyo with all the pedestrians and light poles to dodge, and traffic lights that stop you. Also easier than the two lanes in Australia where you need to pass slow vehicles.

The ferry
We arrived in Sendai at 4pm, with two hours until boarding, we found a bit of a river to walk along, a convenience store to buy some supplies for middle of the night hungries, and an early dinner at McDonalds. 

We’d looked forward to our usual Saturday night ice-cream, but McDonald's ice-cream machine was broken. Plan B was to grab some at a convenience store on the way to the ferry, but Mum and Dad were so focused about navigating to the ferry, that we forgot about ice-cream. Plan C nearly turned into a disaster. We left David with the car at the ferry terminal to do the paperwork and get our tickets while we walked to what looked like a nearby shopping centre. Only it took us longer to get there and back than we thought (I have a developing blister now to show that we did hustle).

My bunk on the ferry, complete with privacy curtain.
When we returned the car was in the line to drive onto the ferry. We had only a short time to grab our backpacks that were packed for the overnight stay (leaving the larger luggage in the car). As we walked along quite a long enclosed walkway (quite similar to an aircraft walkway), we watched the cars gradually loading onto the vehicle, including our own van with its distinctive blue tarp on top (covering our tent, table, and camping chairs).

Then we were on the ship. I’ve never been on anything larger than a day ferry, it was a new experience to be on a ship that had cabins for sleeping. It looked far more luxurious than I’d envisioned. Our cabin was easily found and like seats on a plane, our beds were numbered and allocated. We were given a ten-bunk room, with, it turned out, no one else sharing with us. We had no porthole, but that made sleeping-in just a bit easier the next day.
Our "private" cabin on the ferry.

The boys raced around exploring the ship and it was wonderful to know that they were old enough not to be concerned about them. Probably the biggest concern was that our nearly 11 y.o. seemed, like a toddler, unable to walk. He ran everywhere—his excitement was hard to contain. We sat for a while playing family games of Uno and Scrabble Dice, but then the ship cast off and the boys were off again, racing from window to window and up on deck again. 

Soon everyone tired, however, and we all headed off for a Japanese-style bath. Yes, we’re definitely still in Japan. The only bathing facilities were communal, but very tasteful. The only weird thing was watching the water roll from one side of the bath to the other as the ship made its way across the ocean.

Once we got out of the harbour it took a while for me to feel comfortable. It had been a long and stressful day and to find my balance challenged by a slightly rolling ship wasn't fun. Very soon I found my bunk to be a great place to be. It was surprisingly comfortable. All of us enjoyed our own bed lights and the privacy that the curtains afforded (see the photo).

After a while, the sound and vibration of the motor was very helpful in putting us all to sleep.

As is usual for me (I drink a lot of water each day), I got up to use the facilities in the middle of the night. Our room was totally dark, but all the lights appeared to still be on in the corridors. That was hard to cope with, as was the man I encountered in the corridor who gave me a good look over as I stumbled past, half awake. 

Even more difficult was coming back to our cabin. After I shut the door the room was utterly dark. It was difficult to find my bunk again. I’m just thankful I didn’t accidentally land on anyone else. I must have disturbed our middle son, however, as he turned his bed light on. I quickly nixed his idea that it was time to wake up and drifted off to sleep myself.