Thursday, September 11th, 2008

For our last morning in Japan, we made sure to wake up early enough to have as full of a day as we could get before leaving. Our first line of business was to get cleaned up and get down to breakfast. This time, I had rice, cold fish, tomatoes, hash browns, cheese slices, a chocolate croissant, a muffin and a piece of bread with strawberry jam, as well as apple juice. I will certainly miss having options like that on a breakfast buffet...what I wouldn't give for some fish, rice and tomatoes for breakfast in the States!


Heading off to Bayside Station for the last time

After breakfast, we boarded the Resort Liner for the last time and took it over to the Resort Gateway station so we could visit Ikspiari.


Kevin heads into Ikspiari

Kevin had pretty much the same reaction as me, in that we didn't really go into all that many stores to shop. We found one store that had stuff like t-shirts, strange kitchen gadgets, and other assorted randomness. It was a pretty cool store, but neither of us bought anything. We spent the most time in the Disney Store, but again, we didn't buy anything.


Canada called. It wants its Kevin back.

We made a stop in the movie theater, which had a street just inside the doors that led to the theater, complete with smoking manhole covers! This resort themes everything! After a few more moments of wandering around, we left and headed over to Bon Voyage. Along the way, we popped our heads into the Newdays at the train station, but said we would come back later to pick up some drinks for the road.

Once inside Bon Voyage, I knew that that was going to be my absolute last chance to pick up any souvenirs from the resort. Even in a huge store like this, I was pretty much grasping at straws to find nice souvenirs to take home. It was all just towels, key chains, and tons and tons of cookie tins! I decided to get a big square box of cookies for my dad, along with a small tin that had a Mickey keychain on it that I thought they could use as a Christmas ornament. For my mom, the best I could do was a lime green bag that folded in on itself and looked like a Mickey head. I didn't think it was all that wonderful, but my mom had insisted that I bring her a souvenir from the resort. In hind sight, I wish I had realized how crappy the merchandise was so I could have bought her something really nice in Kyoto. But I didn't know, so that's what she gets for not letting me choose on my own!

Aside from the two tins of cookies and the bag, for myself I got a small 7th anniversary of DisneySea tin of cookies since I thought that the park's 7th anniversary was such a random thing to commemorate so heavily! I also got a 25th anniversary Tokyo Disneyland Coke bottle. After bringing back a Coke bottle written in Arabic from Morocco, I decided to try and get Coke bottles from every country I go to. Up to this point, I just had a plain Coke bottle from the noodle stand near Kiyomizu Temple, so I was very excited to get an obviously Japanese Coke bottle. It was the only piece of merchandise that I was excited about in the whole store! Since I only had a little bit of cash left, I charged the purchase to my debit card, which was the only time of the entire trip that I used it.

Upon leaving Bon Voyage, I checked my money belt again and discovered a $50 bill that I didn't realize was there! D'oh! If I'd seen that, I would have just purchased my stuff with it instead of charging it!

As we walked back by the JR Maihama station, we went back into the Newdays, where I proceeded to raid the store and buy one of every bottled drink they had. I had to spend the $50, and didn't know what else to spend it on! Plus I thought my family would really like to taste some of the drinks I'd be downing for the last two weeks. I ended up with a Pocari Sweat, an Aquarius, a Junsui Ringo, a green tea (complete with model JR train on it...adorable), a pouch of some kind of yogurt drink, a Lucky Cider and a Calpis. I also picked up a muscat Kit Kat bar for my friend Don since he'd said that he enjoyed them, and I thought it would be a nice surprise.

With all of my drinks in hand, we said goodbye to Resort Gateway station and took the train one final time back to Bayside Station.


The Mickey head made out of cones...you can tell that this lot isn't used often!

While I was there, I went to the soda machine and purchased three bottles of Qoo...one for me and two for my friend Monica (Don's wife) because she'd asked me to pick up some for her. We walked back to the hotel, and went back up to the room to finish packing up everything. It was about 11:30am at this point, so we quickly rearranged all of our stuff in our bags. I took my large Ziploc bag and put all the soda bottles in it, just in case anything were to burst open during transit. Then I took all of my clothes and packed them all around the bottles to protect them as best I could. I also made sure to put my bag of Miyajima sand in the checked bag so I ran less risk of getting it confiscated that way! All the rest of my souvenirs went into my backpack to be carried on, along with all my electrical gizmos and chargers.

We made one last pass around the room, and once we were satisfied that we had packed up all of our stuff, we left the room and headed back downstairs.

We left our luggage with the man at the bell stand, and as we walked away, I felt compelled to go back and take a photo of our luggage. Last December, when I left our luggage with bell services in Disney World, something told me to take a photo of the bags as well. One of those bags turned out to be lost, and I had to give that photo to someone so they could look for the bag. I guess the same little instinct made me take photos of them this time too!

Our Limousine Bus to the airport wasn't going to be there until about 1:15, so Kevin and I went to the gift shop to kill some time.

After that, we found another Taiko drum game in the arcade, so we emptied out all of our change and had just enough for both of us to play a game. Just like in Osaka, I beat Kevin hands down...I enjoy this game, even if it's the only video game I am able to play well! While we were in the area, we also got online at some kiosks and printed the boarding passes for our flights. We didn't have any more change, so we sat down in the Starbucks seating area and just waited out the last few minutes of the trip. I thought for sure that I would start crying and depression would set in any second, but I was holding it together quite well. Coming back from Spain, I dealt with some really bad depression, and I was very scared the same thing would happen with Japan, but fortunately, I was ok.

With about ten minutes to spare, we retrieved our bags from bell services and went outside to wait for the bus. While we were there, we started chatting with an Australian family who were waiting for the same bus. They had spent some time in Japan, and were now on their way to Canada to finish out their vacation. As time ticked by, it was apparent that the bus was late. I was already a little concerned about taking the 1:00 hour shuttle instead of the 12:00 hour one, but Kevin and the bellman both assured me that we would get to the airport in plenty of time. Finally the Limousine bus pulled up, and to our surprise, the Canadian family that we'd been running into all over Japan was on the bus! Unbelievable!

We ran into this family FOUR different times, all of which were by chance, then the one time that we had planned to meet up with them, we didn't find them! hahaha

The ride to the airport took a little less than an hour, and we chatted with the family the entire way. Finally, we decided to exchange contact info with them so we could exchange photos and stories from the trip once we were home. The shuttle arrived in time, but we didn't have tons of time to spare. We said goodbye to the family, and promised to keep in touch, then went inside the airport to check in. Having the boarding pass definitely sped things along, but we still had to go to the counter so I could check my big bag with the sodas in it. When that was done, we quickly made our way through security and over to our gate.

Once we were at the gate, I told Kevin that I wanted to grab a bite to eat before getting on the plane, so I left him with the luggage and I went to a McDonald's in the concourse beside us. All along the way, I was scouring the machines for any others sodas that I could buy and take home, just so I could get rid of as many of my yen as I could. At McDonald's I got another Ebi Filet-O with fries and a white grape Qoo, and got Kevin a Quarter Pounder meal with fries and a diet Coke. I quickly made my way back over to the gate, and luckily people were not boarding yet. Again, I left him with the bags and ran to a nearby restroom. On the way back, I spotted three drinks in a machine that I hadn't purchased at the Newdays...Mitsuya Cider, Match Match and Amino Value. I grabbed one of each from the machine, which left me with only 700yen in my pocket, and ran back to Kevin. When I arrived, he went off for a bathroom break, and as soon as he arrived back, it was time for me to board.

When I boarded the plane, I stashed my big backpack in the overhead compartment (I had been smart and arranged all my electronics and stuff I'd need for the flight into my purse, so I wouldn't have to access the backpack again). I started to eat, and soon Kevin was boarding. When I was done with my food, we swapped seats so he could have the window seat for the flight home, and soon we were airborne. We had two meals on the way home...one was a Chinese chicken kind of dish with a salad and roll, and the other was a tomato pasta with mushrooms and eggplant. Both were pretty good, but still, it was airplane food haha. I watched the Sex and the City movie on the way home, which was actually way better than I was expecting. It sort of made me wish that I had watched the TV series! Kevin slept most of the way home, though we did find the time to look through the Skymall catalog and play the "what would you pick off of this page if it was free?" game.

When we landed in Washington DC, we were led out of the terminal and into the customs area. We split to to go our separate lines, but I thought we would be able to meet up again on the other side and say goodbye. It turned out that his line took about three times longer than my line did, and I didn't get to say goodbye to him :-( We had kinda waved at each other when we got in the customs lines, but I didn't think that was a real goodbye. It made me sad...I'm such a sap about those things, but after two weeks together on an adventure like that, I wish I'd gotten a proper goodbye instead of just a wave. But there wasn't much I could do about it then.

Just outside of customs was a bag check area, then the security line. I dropped off my checked bag, then got in the security line, only to realize that I still had the three bottles of soda from Narita in my backpack! Crap! I had meant to stick them into my checked luggage when I arrived, but I forgot. There was a security guy who kept walking around loudly saying not to try to sneak any drinks onboard, but I gritted my teeth and pretended like I had forgotten about the drinks. Sure enough, they spotted all three of them, and I had to be like "Oh no! I totally forgot about them! I'm so, so sorry!" haha They confiscated all of them because, y'know, Mitsuya cider causes a threat to national security.Once that was done, I pondered stopping to grab a bite to eat, but wanted to get to my gate first. As soon as I arrived, everyone else had already boarded, and someone made a comment to the effect of that they were waiting on me! I'm sure glad that I didn't stop to get food because they may have left without me. The flight back to Nashville was uneventful, and soon I was headed out of our mid-renovation airport.

When I got to the baggage claim level, I grabbed my suitcase, and quickly noted that everything inside had made it home undamaged. Then it occurred to me...I didn't have my cell phone, and had next to no American cash so I could use the pay phone! I dug and dug through my bags and finally pieced together enough change to use the pay phone. Thank heavens my mom answered on the first call because I literally couldn't afford to call again! She came and picked me up, and I sat outside waiting for her, trying to soak in the saddening truth that I was back home. Once she arrived, she dropped me back off at my house, where I gave her her souvenir Mickey bag and let her try some of the black pepper popcorn from the DisneySea popcorn bucket. Soon she left for home, and I was left alone to get myself back to grim reality.

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