Boredom finally overtook me today and I decided to get up and go on an adventure. Well, what I really mean is that I went for a walk about town. I have had a lot of work to do lately and have found little time to depart the ship. Today, I tossed caution to the wind, donned my backpack, my sunglasses, forgot my sunscreen (sorry Shelley…I know…I’m feeble minded), and got to walkin’. First I stopped by the Starbucks on base and fueled my engines. While there, my shirt did its best drying off trick as I read my book and drank my iced coffee, boy was it hot outside! That was my first bit of caffeine in about two months, and to my surprise, I didn’t even get a nervous twitch. I finished up my coffee and headed out the back gate.
Upon exiting the gate, I hung a left and ambled down towards a local park that is nestled along the front of a small levee. The sidewalk leading to the park made for a great trek. For about 6 blocks, there lies an intricately designed “river” that flows down the sidewalk. It comes up through fountains, around statues, collects in pools (where crows bathe…an interesting sight), and meanders all the way down to the park. I passed small children waddling through the shallow “sidewalk river” as well as parents cooling off their aching feet in the flowing water. How I wished that I could shed my shoes and jump into one of the larger “estuaries” that dotted the sidewalk leading to my destination. Alas, I am not familiar with the local courtesies and I kind of stick out here, so I was afraid that I would be in for some sort of social faux pas. I forewent my urge to wade through the man-made river and walked on. I finally arrived at the park and was greeted by an ancient Japanese battle ship, the Mikasa, that was launched from Britain in 1900. It had masts that were rigged for sail, so that marks it as kinda old. It was pretty amazing. The ship had huge dual batteries on the fo’c’sle and multiple batteries running along both the port and starboard sides of the hull. I was duly impressed. That ship comes from a day when Sailors were worth their salt and held a firm grasp on nautical traditions and know-how. I snapped a couple of pictures of the mighty vessel with my sony mylo and shoved off to continue my exploration of Yokosuka.
I made my way back towards the Naval base and ended up on Blue Street. It is aptly named for the bits of blue stones that dot the street, embedded in the asphalt. I walked up past Blue St. to an area that seemed to be geared towards younger Sailors. I don’t recall the name of the street, but it was lined wall to wall with bars and shops full of nautical baubles of all sorts. I stopped into some of the shops and found some really exciting trinkets. I phoned my wife, gave her my best sales pitch, and she declined. Thank God for her, or I would be broke. Either way, I did enjoy digging through the treasures that are fit for a fine Sailor, such as meself….arrrghhh.
As the sun began to steal away every inkling of energy in my body, I made my way back towards Mikasa park. I wanted to get one last look at the proud old battleship. I passed a really cool mural on the wall of the Dragon Bar, took a picture, and continued on my bee line towards the old warship. On the way, I called my wife again to chat and she warned me that I probably ought to get out of the sun for a bit and find some shade. The lovely woman is forever looking out for me. I am currently on some mighty strong meds that prohibit extended exposure to the ol’ sun, so inside I did go. I ducked into a small cafe, named Pot Luck.
Once inside, I was greeted, in English, by a middle-aged Japanese man. He seemed to be tending the restaurant and quickly ushered me to a booth that was nestled against a decorative bay window. He plopped a menu in front of me and off he went. I perused the menu for a few minutes and settled on a “Coke with Ice Cream.” I called the waiter over and placed my order. He ensured me that this was a very wise choice and off he went to concoct this delicious treat. When he returned, he placed the Coke-float down on the table, and looked at me expectantly. I nodded my thanks and looked back down at my drink. He remained, fixed in front of my booth. After an awkward moment of silence, I shot him an inquisitive glance. He nodded and directed me to take a sip. I did and it was exquisite. The soft serve ice cream was mixed just right with the Coca Cola and ice cubes. It tasted like my childhood. To be on a continent well on the other side of the earth, far from the place that I grew up, I sure did feel at home. I just wish that my beautiful wife and our kids could have been there to share the moment, and the Coke float.
After I had cooled down and finished my drink, I bid farewell to the gentleman that had served up my order and headed back out to the Mikasa. I tell you, there is no place like Mikasa park for anyone interested in Naval history to visit. The Mikasa is the last remaining pre-dreadnought battleship in the world. It is surely a sight to see. If you are interested, you can jump into a history lesson on the Mikasa here.
Well, I am going to relax for a little while, after this long day of explorin’. Take it easy folks.