Goodbye Japan, Hello America / HND – HLL – LAX

July 9 was the magic date on which I might turn into a pumpkin if I didn’t leave Japan, and trying to find an affordable international flight within 30 days is pretty difficult to/from Japan, so I ended up using my airline miles to get back to America. Due to this, my flight options were limited and after searching through various arrival locations on the limited days still available, the best option would get me to Los Angeles, so I decided to go for that, knowing I could probably find a reasonable flight back to Chicago from somewhere in Southern California. It turned out to be a good choice since my sister & brother live in southern California & I’d get a chance to spend some time with them, which didn’t happen very often until this last year!

I VERY carefully packed up my 2 suitcases until they each weighed 49.5lbs, and put the heaviest & most valuable items in my carryon bags. Packing became a big puzzle on how to get them under the 50lb weight limit. In the evening of July 1, I took a few trains to Tokyo’s other airport, Haneda International. I said goodbye to cellular service, and my 2 big heavy bags were turned over to the airline and I made my way through security and outbound customs for the last time as a resident of Japan.

I settled in for my late night 7 hour flight, enjoyed a warm sunny day on a terrace at Honolulu airport for a 6+ hour layover, before catching another late night 5+ hour flight to Los Angeles. I arrived somewhere around 5am, shuttled over to the rental car company, made the 45 minute drive to Claremont with no GPS or live maps guiding me, only some scrawled directions I remembered to get before losing wifi in Hawaii, and took a big nap at one of my younger sister’s summer house. I arrived just in time for the 4th of July, my other younger sister came up for the holiday weekend, and I kicked off 2 weeks of relaxing there visiting some old friends, some family, and sailing a few times on my brother’s boat in San Diego.

I think the 2nd day in America is when I had a chance to catch up with Sujin, who I worked with at the hotel and hadn’t been in much contact with for the past 2+ years, but I heard she had recently had a baby and had just moved to Los Angeles, so I emailed her and we spent a day at Huntington Beach enjoying the nice weather and walking around the pier.

friends, Huntington Beach, Los Angeles, California

My friend on the pier at Huntington Beach

baby, california baby

My friend had a baby!

Southern California, Santa Monica, Echevarria sisters,

3 of 4 sisters at the Santa Monica Pier in California

Santa Monica, Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, California, Souther California, Ferris Wheel Santa Monica Pier, Bumper Cars, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Summer

Wakuu, Sailboat, California, San Diego, On a boat

Sailing on my brother’s boat, the Wakuu in San Diego

San Diego, Sailboats, Marina near Coronado, California

The marina.

More pictures from California here