Friday, August 29, 2008

Hafa Adai. Part III

Our touring adventures:

On Sundays after church, and sometimes early mornings during the week, Dr.Goodwill showed us around the island of Saipan. This one particular day we started out with going to an old Japanese bunker, where they would keep an eye out for the Americans. The structures were made of cement and iron. {
It looked like they threw anything in the cement mixture.} But the bunker is still standing & in rather good condition. From that side of the island we could see Tinian-the next island to the south, its about a 15 minute plane ride away. Tinian also has lots of history-it is were the plane that carried the atomic bomb that dropped on Hiroshima took off from. (We tried to make it over there, but were just so busy.)

We then drove around the south side of the island to the airport where on the property there are also some Japanese bunkers. We ventured inside-amazing. It was very cool to see, explore & see where they would shot from.

Then we drove up to Mt. Tapochau. This mountain is the highest point of the island; it was here the Japanese watched for American troops. It was a beautiful view over the whole island. And you can easily see out for miles.

Although Dr. Goodwill taught us a lot during the week about the battle fought there, he thought it would be wise to take us to the American Memorial Park. This museum just opened about 3 years ago and they have a very informative 20 minute video about the war there. We watched and learned so much. It definitely added to our recently gained knowledge of the history of the island.

Sunday August 10th we started out at the “Banzai Cliffs”. They line the northwest side of the island. It was here, at what is now known as the “Suicide Cliffs”, that due to the Japanese propaganda of the Americans (
claiming that the Americans would rape and kill them), hundreds of civilians & soldiers took their lives as they jumped. It was a beautiful spot; it’s awful that such tragedy occurred there.

We made a stop at the Grotto, a salt water swimming hole-there was a tunnel under the rock where the ocean water would come up through, it’s a popular spot on the island for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The steps are steep, and makes for a tough work out going up and down. But it was worth the little hike down; it's gorgeous. And the water was so inviting (
to cool off and all the different colors of blue were magnificent). We didn’t swim, as it was Sunday, so we moved on to the next stop of our guided tour....

Bird Island. It used to be a great place to snorkel and enjoy the beach, but now it is preserved land. At least we got to see a nice view.

Then we headed down a dirt road to Kalabera Cave. We were taught that the Japanese used that cave as a field hospital during the Battle of Saipan. Dr. Goodwill showed us faint ancient Chamorro (the name used for locals) drawings on the walls of the caves. It was rather dark back in there, we all regret not taking flashlights to see what is really down there, as its rumored to have a Japanese solider still in uniform at the bottom of the cave.

Before making our way home, we stopped at “The Last Command Post”. It was a Japanese command post at the bottom of Suicide Cliff. We enjoyed exploring & playing around.

Our last leg of the tour was the “Old Japanese Jail”. It falls right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It was rumored that it was here Amelia Earhart landed, was taken prisoner and died. Like I said, it’s a rumor. I guess we’ll never really know for sure.

By this time a rainstorm had come in and kind of cancelled the rest of the tour. We did drive up to where Dr. Goodwill and his family use to live because right next door it the old Garapan Lighthouse. It became a restaurant for a few years, but with the economy so bad it failed; now its home to vegetation, graffiti, and tourists that come and visit every once in a while.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hafa Adai, Part II

Snorkeling Adventures.

While we were waiting for the collecting permits to go through, Adam, Jason and I were getting antsy, so we put on our snorkeling stuff and explored out behind our hotel. It was rather shallow for about 300 yards, and then we came across more and more coral. Just past the reef, the shelf dropped off and the drop to the bottom was about 30feet down. Jason just ‘had’ to touch the bottom, so he did. He said when he was down there, he could feel something kind of watch him, he looked up and saw a 3-4 foot shark about 15 ft. away, he freak out a little & quickly swam up, as he was doing so the shark swam away. I missed it and only saw the tail end of him as he must have been bored with us-Im perfectly fine with that! When we got back that evening Dr. Goodwill warned us that around 4-7pm is shark feeding time so we should stay out of the water around then-that piece of information would have nice to know before we left as it was around 4pm that we went out snorkeling. Luckily we made it back all in one piece. =] ha.ha.

where the run in occured.

Adam, Jason and I were bored another time so we went out again exploring. We wanted to go out the reef behind the hotel again, so we made our way out there. We were more than half way there when something caught our eye, it was an old military tank! The top of it had been taken off, whether by tides, erosion or blown up we didn’t know, but we were proud and excited for our find. After getting back in Dr. Goodwill said in all the years he had gone he had never heard of a tank being out there.

On a driving tour of the island, Dr. Goodwill drove by military tanks that are about 100-300 yards out {still in the ocean}. Because it's so shallow, about half of the tank is always above ground. That was one spot we all really wanted to snorkel out to, so one day we convinced Dr. Goodwill to take us out there. (If he didn’t, we definitely would have just gone ourselves.) We swam out to one, then out to the second. At the second Jason ended up finding old bullet casings that we 'snuck' back with us.

90 years old! Happy Birthday!

And still a kid at heart.

I love Poppy! He is my mothers father, my only living grandpa. He is a powerful example of love, strength, and is a spiritual ensign in this world full of frightful things.

When I think of Poppy several things pop into my head; without a doubt-"Poppy McMuffins", we've tried to make them ourselves, but they never seem to turn out just like his.
My cousin Melanie and I would spend the night up at Nonny and Poppys house, as we wanted to hang out and their house was the middle point-which worked out perfectly because we Loved their house. We always either did a craft or baked something new, but Poppy would always look after us and stop us so we could eat lunch. I still crave those chocolate milkshakes/drinks he would make. They were delicious! And I have GOT to learn how to make them. We'd also eat toasted cheese/tomato sandwiches on their homemade bread. Yum! And for dessert, whether it would be for lunch or dinner, we were treated to his homemade chocolate or strawberry ice cream. Boy did he spoil us! And boy do I LOVE his ice cream!-one scoop was never enough!
He used to drive to meet my mom half way so that I could spend the night at their house, and I remember that he would listen to either talk radio or a station that would play 30's, 40's, 50's music. I didnt particulary love it at the time, but that memory brings a smile on my face. And now, I try to look for those stations on the radio.

One particular memory I have is when I was in junior high. Melanie and I had had one of our sleepovers, I dont remember details, but I do remember there was a pair of jeans that I wanted so badly at Old Navy. Nonny, Melanie and I must have gone window shopping the day before and I couldn't stop thinking about those jeans. I had a job, but only had a check & didnt have a way to cash it (no photo ID & no transportation). (That independent side of me was making its way out and drove me crazy cause I was too young to drive.) After working up enough courage, I asked Poppy if he wouldnt mind lending me the money and taking me to get those jeans before we drove to meet up with my mom, and that I would pay him back when I was able to cash my check. He gladly and lovingly helped me out. I dont remember what happened to those jeans but I do remember the way he was willing to help me and the loving manner in which he did.

One Christmas, a few years ago, my family and I went to visit Nonny & Poppy and spent the morning listening to stories of their young married life. I wish we could have more times like that. I regret not getting to know him better, but in his quiet way I have got to know him through the way he has treated his family. Talk about a true gentlemen. I know he loves Nonny, I've seen the way he takes care of her when he is having bad days and can barely take care of himself. He is a man that loves his wife with all his heart. A man that loves his family (his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren). I am so grateful that he was able to seal Jason and I together forever & that we have his wonderful example to follow.

I hope you had a great birthday and that this year will be filled with magic and miracles that you are most definately deserving of. I love you Poppy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hafa Adai!

Just some of the adventures we had in Saipan. More to come.

Not necessarily a good thing as far as we're concerned.

Purple Ice cream!
Those are WWII military tanks out there.
A Japanese pill box in the middle of a park.

This is where we spent our Thursday nights for dinner. A plate of good food for $5, can't beat that.

A view of the beach behind the hotel. White sand beaches. It was like powder. Even on a cloudy day we needed sunglasses.

After working hard all day, Dr. Goodwill treated us to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. After we ate we walked around the little mall area and bumped into "Saipan-da". Catchy little tourist trap, creative huh?