Too much flying!

Beautiful day in Pittsburgh- 70 degrees in November!

My interview trip is complete!  I had a great time in Pittsburgh, especially since I got to meet Karen for lunch!  We went to the Allegheny Diner where I got a Thanksgiving Sandwich.   It was good but there was a lot of salt and gravy for the amount of sandwich.  It made me excited to have a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich in a few weeks!

That is my huge rental by the telephone pole- Town and Country!

The interview at Pitt went well and then I flew out to San Francisco.  I had a great interview at CEI and I really liked it.  So, overall, I had a very successful interview trip and I’m hopeful that I can pursue advanced ear training next year starting 1 July.

Ferry Terminal in San Francisco- I went into the city for a few hours after my interview!

I got home on Friday, dropped my bag off at home and headed into work.  The weekend was pretty mellow since I’ve acquired a head cold during my travels that, combined with jet lag, has really left me dragging.  SMS and I saw Interstellar with friends on Saturday night after a Sukiyaki dinner. Sukiyaki is a stew where dashi and warishita sauce (mirin, soy, sugar, sake) are brought to a boil and various vegetables and thinly cut meats are placed into the hot pot to cook.  SMS has been wanting to have it for awhile so it was nice that the evening came together so well.

Mid-Atlantic fun

After leaving my parents (whah!), I flew into Philadelphia and drove to Wilmington, DE. Although my parents and I were rightfully worried about driver fatigue, I napped on the flight and felt refreshed enough to drive so off I went!

After too brief a stay at the local Ramada, I headed to my first interview. I shadowed the fellowship director in his a.m. balance clinic and his p.m. otology clinic. I had a really nice time and I think I would learn a lot there. 
After clinic, I headed back to the airport to fly to Pittsburgh. There was a long delay for my flight which would have meant a missed connection so United rebooked me on US Airways direct to Pittsburgh. Yay!  
I hung out at the USO which had hot food. Awesome!  It meant I got to enjoy my second meatball sub of the trip!  I didn’t realize the unintended goal of this trip was to look like a meatball at the end!  It wasn’t as good as the one the previous night but it still hit the spot. It was a really nice USO but alas, all good things come to an end. I flew to Pittsburgh and picked up my HUGE rental car- a town & country and it drives like it’s the size of a small town. I feel like a soccer Mom!

I had a pretty good night’s sleep at the Wyndam Grand, a very nice hotel. I’m off to get ready for my p.m. interview at Allegheny hospital which is going to be preceded by lunch with Karen. Yay!

Best layover ever!

So, I’m back in the States for a whirlwind interview trip. 4 days and flying every day- crazy!

When I was planing my trip, I noticed that one United itinerary included a 6 hour layover in Dulles. Normally, a 6 hour layover is a no go but in this case, it meant I could see my parents for a short but sweet trip. 
It was AWESOME to see them. They’re finishing up their French course before moving and I am so happy I got to see them. I even had a bonus of talking to Grandpa and my sister on speaker phone on the way to my parents’ apartment. Yay!

I’m not too cheesy on this blog but really and truly, my parents are such a gift in my life and I feel so wonderful and lucky that I got to see them. Now, with a meatball sub in my belly :), it’s off to Delaware for my first otology interview. 

Tokyo Weekend

This weekend was awesome!  SMS and I had the best time and it was packed with activities. 

On Friday, I went to derby practice and SMS had a Japanese lesson.  Derby is a lot of fun and slowly but surely, I’m getting better on skates. After our individual activities, we met up at the apartment and headed over to Stacie and Jeff’s for dinner. They made an awesome white fish dinner with a garlic/tahini/cilantro/lemon sauce served in a grilled eggplant boat.  Yum!  Dessert was a multi-course smorgasbord. I had received two rich custards and two chocolate millefleurs mini-cakes from Kazu-San at work; SMS had bought macarons from a shop outside Daiei mall; and Jeff and Stacie provided mini-custard eggs. It was an awesome dinner and such a fun but mellow time. Liz and Carl were there too. It was a great time and we talked until it was pretty late. Since we had a sort-of early day on Saturday and we were tired from the workweek, we all headed out around 11. 
On Saturday, I woke up at 6:30 (boo!) and though I tried to will myself back to sleep, I got up around 7:20 and went for a 7.5 mile run. I haven’t been running much but as long as I try to stick to a long run a week, the half-marathon will at least be tolerable. I ran down to Kannonzaki and ran the trails during which, I was seriously sucking wind. Trail running is hard!

I got back, showered and SMS and I headed out to pick Carl and Liz up because we were off to Tokyo for the Japan vs Maori All-Blacks rugby match. It was awesome!  The game was really close and for about 10 minutes, it looked like Japan would win which would have been a HUGE upset. The final score was 20-18 with the All-Blacks winning; what a heartbreaker for Japan!

We started walking back to the hotel when we decided to go into the Tesla store. SMS was nervy and asked to test-drive the car and a half-hour later, we were cruising Tokyo in a Tesla. Sagoy!  It was an awesome ride and super cool. The touch console display is amazing. I know what’s on SMS’ Christmas list now!
We walked back to the hotel and got ready for dinner. We thought about Gompachi, but we decided that we were in the mood for pizza. We went to Roppongi and went out to a brew house that had pretty good pizza. We had a lamb/arugula pie, pancetta/sausage/ground meat pie, and a bechemel/mushroom pie along with Caesar salad. It was delicious and filling, which was great since we were four hungry people!  
Afterwards, we headed over to Mori Art Center and took the elevator to the 52 floor to see the Tim Burton exhibit. It was pretty amazing. He is a very talented, prolific artist and seeing the various sketches, storyboards, paintings, drawings and models were really cool. I particularly like his wry takes on common expressions like a man with seeing eye dogs, literally two little dauschounds and a puppeteer whose one puppet cut off his head to the horror of the other puppet (“Eek!”). 
We were pretty tired after that and decided to head back. On Sunday morning, we went to the New Sanno brunch and had a feast!  There was a pastry table, lox bagel fixings, prime rib, omelet station, waffle station, shrimp fried rice station, dessert table and two buffet lines with breakfast and lunch offerings. It was awesome and our bellies were full. 

Then SMS, Carl and Liz headed home while I waited for my bus to the airport. I took a quick walk and went to my favorite park before boarding and then it was time to go. I’m doing a whirlwind tour of the States for three otology interviews.  Wish me luck!

Rain and Nikko!

Mosaic in Nikko

Saturday was a lazy, rainy day.  I was not on call (yay!) but since we were planning a trip to Nikko, we decided to have a mellow Saturday.  We went to Snug Stay Door for lunch which was delicious, as always.  This time, I had the vegetable bean burger.  It sounds redundant, doesn’t it?  But it was awesome and came with a delicious bean sauce and normal burger fixings (vegetable) on top of a slightly polenta-tasting (bean) burger.  Yum.

Shoyen Garden, Nikko

Although it doesn’t sound lazy, I went on a six mile run to the Art Museum late in the afternoon.  I’m “training” for the Yokosuka half marathon, which basically consists of a weekly long run with scattered working out during the week.  Not the best plan and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s enough to keep from deeply regretting running in the half.  Who wants her running mantra to be, “Why didn’t I sign up for the 10K, Why didn’t I sign up for the 10K?”

By Shinkyo Bridge

On Sunday, we headed out to Nikko.  Let me preface this travelogue with the fact that this trip was a tiny bit of a dud by my standards.  I had been to Nikko several years ago and thought that hazy flashback would be enough to get me through.  Eh, I should have planned a little better.

There was a strange obsession with drawing comparisons between SKYTREE and the temples.
Do you see the SMS tree?

So, the main reason for going to Nikko was to see! Fall! Foilage!  This was very successful and I was very happy.  The Shoyen garden attached to the Rinnoji temple has beautiful Fall colors with several bright red Japanese maples.  I think the trees were at their peak which was pretty awesome timing.

The main reason for the “meh” feeling towards the trip overall was a bad sense of timing.  The trip from Yokosuka took about 3 hours to get there and 4 hours to get back.  Since there were other things we would like to do in Nikko like see Lake Chuzenji and Tobu World Square, we should have planned a weekend trip to see everything.  Sights are about 40 minutes apart by bus or train so doable in a weekend, but we just didn’t really think things through other than “Leaves!”  Also, it was really crowded due to the foliage and that Monday was a holiday so I was very happy we didn’t drive but it also made the trains more crowded.  We were unable to take the Rapid Express home, which is why the extra hour got tacked on to our trip back.  I should have booked our seat reservation when we got our tickets in the a.m. at the Tobu Asakusa station.

Intersection by Tobu Asakusa Satation

Next time, I still think I would take the train since the Nikko 2-day pass is a really good deal for public transportation and driving doesn’t save that much time.  I also might go at a time when we’re not still “templed-out” after our Kyoto trip. A great resource for planning a Nikko trip is this handout from CFAY.  Also, bring snacks since the temples are spread out and the train rides lengthy.

A funny vegetarian-friendly restaurant named Hippari dako in Nikko where we ate Tsukune (so, not veg)
and looked at all the pieces of paper/detrius from former tourist patrons.  Very cool!
SMS is happy because he found a house with a garage in Japan!  Sagoy!

BUT!  I’m glad we went.  I’m from the East Coast where people do crazy things like sit in crazy traffic along Skyline Drive to look at Fall Foilage so I don’t think what we did was too crazy.  I would just like to plan for a better leisure time:travel time ratio.

On the way back home, we stopped in Yokohama to see the Smart Illumination, a energy awareness light art exhibit/installation in Yamashita Park, Yokohama.  The website said Minatomirai so we walked extra (yay, more walking!) to get there but eventually we saw the installations and had a more modern end to our day.