Jeff and Lance, Big In Japan Part I: The Chicago Opening Act

It begins here, folks…our super-sized report of our trip to Japan!

Why Japan?  Well, it sort of became a question of, “Why not Japan?”  I had spent two years amassing enough frequent flier miles to get Lance and I to Europe for free-ish (those pesky fuel surcharges’ll get you every time!), but suddenly we were significant over the amount we needed, and within striking distance of enough miles for two roundtrip tickets to Japan.  We scrambled to liquidate our hotel points programs to transfer those points into miles so we’d have enough.  Finally, right after Christmas 2011, we were able to book our two round-trip tickets to Japan for the hefty price of…like $180 total (taxes be damned!).

Of course, this gave us PLENTY of time to plan.  Or, more accurately, it gave me plenty of time to plan.  I researched hotels and transportation, did language audio lessons, booked tours and classes, etc., etc., and then rearranged everything a dozen or so times.  Lance admitted a few days before the vacation, “Wow. I have no idea what we’re doing on this trip.” All the while I’m panicking trying to keep everything straight in my trusty day-by-day planner/binder full of confirmation e-mails, train passes and so forth.

Finally, the big day came: October 20, 2012! We drove to the airport bright and early that morning:

Is Lance smiling, or is he just about to sneeze?
Requisite airplane photo!

Since we had a frequent flier mile award ticket, the routing from Philadelphia to Tokyo was not fantastic, and meant that we had to stay overnight in Chicago before connecting on to Japan.

Problem? NO!  We both love Chicago.  It is my super-favoritest place in the United States.  I so badly want to live there it’s not even funny, so when we had the chance to actually get a “free” day in the city, I did not complain. (more…)

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Vancouver, Where Dreams Come True-ver (Part 3)

For Part 1, go past the washroom and then click here!

For Part 2, spend $18 on a six-pack of beer, sit back, relax, and click here!

Part of the outdoor exhibit at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. I’ll get to this in a sec…

Day 5: I was slow to get out of the hotel on this day, for three reasons: one, the homesickness described in Part 2, and the gargantuan amount of work-related e-mails to address (this was a work-trip, after all!), and the fact that it was raining. BOO!  Who the heck would ever plan for it to rain in the Pacific Northwest?  Certainly not I, who didn’t even pack an umbrella!

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Vancouver, Where Dreams Come True-ver (Part 2)

See here fer Part 1!

Day 3 started off with yet another stop to a local coffee shop, W.E. Coffee (for “West End,” the name of the neighborhood we stayed at in Vancouver).  Oen of my co-workers said she had an iced Americano here which was really good, and I’m a sucker for a good latte, so I tried this bad boy on for size:

Beautiful latte foam artwork, though the drink itself was kinda average–and at $5.00 Canadian (that’s two two-nies and a loonie), not really worth it.  I’d much rather get a medium latte from the Rival Bros. truck, and its dreamy, tattoo-sleeve barista has no bearing on my enjoyment of their product. Nope, none at all.

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Walt Disney World 2012 Day Two Trip Report

[…or, Tilda Swinton in “We Need To Talk About Duffy”]

For our Day One coverage, check out this post!

First, I want to point out that the fetal Mickeys still exist. My pals and I saw this whole line in Disney World about five years ago and were mystified by how weird they were. Now, only a handful of Mickey and Minnies remain in a Hollywood Studios souvenir shop:

I want to draw your attention to the stuffed animals to the left, behind fetal Mickey.  “Why, is that a generic teddy bear?” you ask. “Why would I buy a regular ol’ teddy bear at Disney World when I could have a fetal Mickey?”

Let me tell you something. That is no regular teddy bear. That is DUFFY. Duffy the Disney Bear.

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Walt Disney World 2012 Day One Trip Report

Above: Lance captures our time in Disney World (medium: pencil). I’m beginning to grow fond of the way he draws ducks.

Day 0: Okay, we’re off to the airport! I’ve got my Toy Story luggage tag, a fairly intense itinerary, and lots of excitement. LET’S DO THIS THING! (more…)