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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Home Left

If the weather were better, you would be looking at a stunning photo of Mt. Rainier on the other side of Delano Bay

You know you've been a.) out of the country too long; b.) out of the state too long; and c.) in Asia for too long when you see a sign on the road for a business called Fillabong and your first thought is that it must be an advertisement for a Filipino restaurant. Speaking of which, you can purchase hemp IPA beers at the local supermarkets, but I'm reluctant to try one for fear of an unannounced drug test when I resume work. Speaking of which...

Harborside Fountain Park, Bremerton

Home Leave is drawing to a close, as we leave Washington state for the other Washington on the opposite side of the continent this Labor Day Monday. According to the Foreign Affairs Manual, the purpose of this extended period of leave is to ensure that someone like myself who lived abroad for an extended period (two years in Lithuania in my case) can be reoriented and re-exposed to the United States. The results so far have been mixed. Yes, I have been re-exposed to the U.S., but I don't feel that I've been "reoriented" yet. That isn't to say I feel like an alien here (I don't), but at the same time I haven't had the sense of being "home". That's due in part to the fact that although it's my legal address, I didn't grow up in Bremerton (let alone in Washington), and the only reason I'm a WA resident is that my parents retired to this area while I was still living and working in Japan, with my sister moving to the state in the years following. On the other hand, the area where I did spend a significant number of my formative years (the Sacramento, CA region) has changed to the point that much of it was unrecognizable during our visit there in July (which is what happens when you don't stop by for periods of about twenty years). Add in all those years spent living and working in Japan and Taiwan before joining the State Department, and the idea of "home" becomes wherever I happen to be residing at a particular moment in time. Which will be Falls Church, Virginia starting next week.

Harbor seals basking in the sun near the Orchard Rock Conservation Area

Home Leave has also presented its own set of challenges for my daughter. When she was asked by one of the fishmongers at the Pike Place Market where she was from, Amber took her time mulling things over before answering "Taiwan". Not Bremerton, WA - her address of record - nor Falls Church, VA - where she attended 1st and 4th grades, and will soon be starting 7th. Clearly, it's going to take a lot more than just Home Leave to Americanize my daughter. It isn't for lack of trying. For example, I took Amber on a Saturday afternoon to the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede, where Americana was on full display:

Amber was very interested in this can-crushing machine:

Prize-winning produce proudly displayed:

A woodturning demonstration:

Being a county fair, there were lots of critters being shown off. I irked my daughter by pointing out to her that I've eaten nearly all the animals that were being displayed at the fairgrounds. Including rabbit:

Yes, I've eaten horse:

I've never had llama, much to Amber's relief:

We went on a couple of rides (a rollercoaster and a Ferris wheel). A few days after we visited, several children were hurt on a Tilt-a-Whirl ride. Murica...:


The day after the fair, I met up with two old friends from my college days, who traveled from Edmonds to see us in Bremerton. We had lunch at the Boat Shed restaurant, in the shadow of the Manette Bridge:

The cover shot for Lisa and Rob's next album:

Last Monday was my wife's birthday, an occasion celebrated by going out for dinner at Anthony's at Sinclair Inlet:

A glass of Amber ale. When my daughter was younger, she always insisted I order her namesake. Now she gets annoyed when I do so. A harbinger of the teenage years on the horizon?:


The ferry from Seattle pulling in:

The ferry from Seattle going out:

It seems like we've been going out to eat a lot this past week. On Tuesday Amber and I took the ferry to Seattle to meet up for lunch with my sister. The three of us went out to Hamanasu, one of those "Japanese-style steakhouses" you only find in the U.S.:

Then there was the evening we went out with my father to the local Outback. And, yes, that's an Amber ale he's holding:

Perhaps in response to all the food we've been eating at restaurants (think American-sized portions, something I still can't get used to), my daughter and I went hiking on Friday morning at Penrose Point State Park in Lakebay. The signboard at the trailhead pointed out the local wildlife, including Sasquatch (lower right):

Walking through an alder and maple forest:

A lagoon next to Mayo Cove:

Taking advantage of the tide being out to look for skipping stones:

Posing on the shore of Delano Bay. If the weather had been clearer, we might've been able to have seen Mt. Rainier across the water:

Imitating the way her father runs:

After 1¾ hours of walking, we found ourselves back at Mayo Cove:

Catching sight of a deer as we were leaving Penrose Point:

For a final slice of American pie, Amber and I (along with her auntie) checked out the Bremerton Blackberry Festival on the Saturday before Labor Day. Some classic Mustangs were lined up on 4th Street:

Playing her old man in air hockey. It was a close contest, but Dad ultimately prevailed 7-4:

My daughter and her Aunt Karen down by the waterfront. Lots of blueberry-based snacks were naturally available for purchase at the festival (as well as the berries of the hour), but we didn't get any due to a combination of being too close to dinner time and the fact we're leaving Bremerton the next day:

The steamroller below was being used to imprint an ink design onto a white T-shirt. A bit extreme, but it worked:

And so Home Leave draws to a close. Labor Day will see us flying into Dulles Airport and hopefully unpacking our bags in our Falls Church residence. I start language training (Amharic) on Tuesday, the next step in what is turning out to be an actual career.

Mt. Rainier as seen from the Central Link light rail platform at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Due to a combination of typical Pacific Northwest cloud cover combined with smoke from Canadian wildfires, we didn't get to see much of the majestic mountain on this visit

Now, regarding that Americanization process. I still favor universal health care, strict gun control and a reduction in spending on defense, so there's still a long way to go...