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Seattle, San Francisco, Nartia, Yokosuka

3 am came way too fast this mooring. After a very hectic week of running errands, scanning documents for the new house, and packing it’s finally time to leave for Japan. I only got 4 hours of sleep—I’m exhausted but excited about seeing Chad again, even if he’s been really crabby the last few times I’ve talked to him.

Dad and I are out the door by 4am and waiting at Krispy Kreme for Jennie by 4:15. If I would have known that Jennie would have been running late I would have slept an extra 30 or 45 minutes. When she finally arrives I transfer my luggage to her car, say a quick goodbye to Dad and we’re on our way to the airport. We’re both sleep deprived but amazed that the day is finally here. For both of us it seemed like the trip was several weeks away and then suddenly it’s time to leave.

Check in goes smoothly and security is a breeze. Because I have Hans with me we get to use the priority line and skip all the waiting. When we board the plane I realize that the airline has messed up my seat assignment although Jennie’s is still correct. I have the FA hold boarding so I can go speak with the gate agent to get things straightened out. Usually my seat assignment wouldn’t be a big deal but Hans is with me and I made arrangements ahead of time for the bulkhead seat specifically for him. The gate agent is less than pleasant, telling me that Hans doesn’t have to sit in the bulkhead. I inform her that according to the Air Carrier’s Access Act that as long as I call ahead and request a seat assignment that they have to honor that assignment. She seems rather annoyed with being told what the rules are and tells me to take a seat and wait while she deals with other pax. WTF? It’s not my fault they changed planes at the last minute and fucked up my seat assignment. Why should I have to wait while she clears all the non revs? Another agent comes over and begins working on my seat but doesn’t seem very happy about it. After much waiting and a ton of BS from the gate agents I can finally board. Once seated Jennie tells me that she and the FA had the whole situation resolved within minutes of me leaving and they even told the gate agent so when she called down to the plane. UGH! What a waste of my time!

The flight goes well and as always the FAs ooh and ahh over Hans. We arrive in SFO and hike over to the international terminal. As I’m being checked in the ticket agent informs me that we’ve been upgraded to Economy Plus (still with the bulkhead seat) because the flight has been over booked. I’m all like, “Woo Hoo!!!” More legroom on a 10 hour flight is never a bad thing.

Like always when I travel with Hans we preboard. Both of us are immediately impressed. Our seats are wider than we thought they’d be, we have plenty of leg room, the seats recline significantly and even have leg rests. In the seatback pocket we find a menu for the flight along with a pair of slippers which we don’t hesitate in putting on. As we taxi I notice that we’re seeing the same thing on the screen in front of us as the pilots see up in the cockpit. It’s a different POV and really cool to see the same things as they are.

Once airborne Jennie and I pull out our personal entertainment systems and settle in to watch a movie. We have several choices of movies, TV programming and video games to pass the time. During the flight Jennie naps off and on while I stay awake. I’ve never been one to sleep in cars or on planes as I can never get comfortable and the slightest thing usually wakes me. I end up watching a total of 4 movies during the flight—Up in the Air, The Blind Side, Couples Retreat, and 2012.

We’re flying JAL because I’ve been told the service is outstanding. After awhile I can see that’s true. From the slippers in the seatback pocket, to the hot towels before meals, to the little in-flight comforts they bring such as toothbrushes, eye crème, sleep masks, and such I’m being pampered. I don’t think I ever want to fly a US carrier again. The meals are good; at least as far as airplane food goes. For my first meal I have an allergen free dinner consisting of steak, potatoes, cooked carrots, broccoli, a small salad, and a fruit cup. My second meal is a vegetarian meal that isn’t so great—tofu, rice, a small salad, fruit, yogurt and a dinner roll. Thankfully the FAs come by with snacks and there’s a self service basket of goodies in the galley. The FAs are also more than willing to bring sodas and vodka to our seat as well.

Hans does really well on the flight. I had tried to piddle pad train him at home but he wouldn’t take to it. I didn’t need to worry too much; he didn’t really want to get up at all during the flight. I tried to give him some water but he didn’t want it, however, he was more than willing to share my salad and fruit from my meals.

When we disembark the plane there’s a customer service agent waiting with a wheelchair for me. I tell her that I’m doing well today and that I don’t need it and Jennie and I continue up the Jetway. She comes running after us and tells us she’ll take us to Quarantine. She escorts us through immigration where we don’t have to wait in the long lines like everyone else. After immigration we head over to the Quarantine desk where they check over all of Hans’ paperwork. There is some confusion again over his microchip and I try to explain that he has two chips but I’m not sure how much they understood due to the language barrier. He finally gets all his papers stamped and we collect our bags. It’s only been about 20 minutes since we went through immigration but during that time they’ve processed everyone on our flight and the baggage claim is practically empty. Our bags have been pulled off the carousel and are waiting off to the side for us. We hand our papers over to the customs agent who takes a quick look and allows us to pass. 

We exit customs and see Chad standing behind the barricade with two roses, one for each of us. He’s absolutely beaming, so happy to have his wife here at last. He has to buy our tickets for the train but first must find a cash machine. Why he didn’t get cash while he was waiting for us is beyond me. I swear that man makes no sense sometimes! We get our tickets and while Jennie heads outside to feed her cancer cells I head to the restroom. 

We’ve got 10 minutes to make our train as we make our way down to the platform. As we pass through the turnstiles one of the railway workers spots Hans and comes over to tell us he’s not allowed. We try to explain that he’s a working dog and show her his ID tag. She then goes to get a supervisor who comes over to investigate. I check my watch…there goes the train. Shit! Now we’ll have to take the next one. The supervisor finally sees that Hans is a working dog and allows him to ride the train. She takes our tickets to exchange them for the next train and we’re free to go.

On the train the snack lady comes by and Chad purchases two canned Chu His—one for him and one for Jennie. I stick to the water that I bought at the airport because I’m feeling a little dehydrated after the flight. Jennie is immediately hooked. She loves the chu hi, but I tell her to wait until she has a real one at the bar. During the train ride we tell Chad about our flight and our impromptu upgrade. He’s jealous, the best he ever gets in the exit row. When we get to the station in Yokohama we switch trains and Chad gives Jennie her Pasmo card. I kept mine from last year to use again since I still had over ¥2,000 on it. Chad wasn’t sure if it would still work after being inactive for so long but he had nothing to worry about.

We finally arrive in Yokohama and I can tell Jennie is spent. We’re both exhausted after the long day of travel and all we want is dinner and a bed to sleep in. Chad had bought some groceries, but being Chad he had put all the meat in the freezer. We weren’t sure what restaurants would allow Hans so we left him in the apartment while we head out. Jennie and I decide we don’t feel like walking that far so we just hit 7-11 for some snack foods. By the time we finally get to bed it’s around 11 pm local time and I’ve been up for over 24 hours straight. I’m out shortly after hitting the pillow, but there’s no rest for the weary, we have to be out of the apartment by 9am because some workers are coming to work on the bathroom in the morning…


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