Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello America! And Happy New Year!

We're back! And it feels so good! A.J. and I got in around 4:15 yesterday afternoon after a 12 hour flight and being awake for 26 hours (neither of us really slept on the plane). So here we are, ready for a wonderful 2 week vacation filled with family, friends and 4 more Christmas's! We are struggling with the time change a bit, seeing as we have been up since 5 AM this morning, but hopefully that will fix itself quickly and we'll be back on track!

We hope that everyone has a Happy New Year! I expect that the blog will be pretty quiet for the next two weeks, but we'll have lots to share when we get back to Japan!

Happy New Year!


On A.J.'s last day off for the Christmas weekend, we decided to head out to Kamakura; home to Daibutsu (Great Buddha) and many other beautiful temples and shrines. It was a gorgeous fall day and the perfect end to the holiday weekend!

Buddha Kitty tells us where to find Great Buddha!

We found him! He stand 40 feet tall without the base underneath him and he weighs 93 tons! We got to go inside of him as well and see how the structure is built. Very cool! Has has survived a number of natural disasters (including earthquakes), but the building that used to house him was destroyed by a tsunami.

I can hold him up!

We also went to a temple. I took almost 70 pictures while I was there! It was just amazing with all of the landscape and such, here are a just a few pics to share!

We also walked down along the coast for awhile. If you look closely in this picture, you can see Mt. Fuji in there. The sky was so light that Fuji-san blends in a little bit.

Beautiful day!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone from Japan! We hope that you all had a wonderful holiday with your family and friends! We had a great day here and are very much looking forward to coming home on Thursday of this week!! We have 4 more Christmas Days scheduled while we are home and lots of other things to keep us busy! Here are a few photos from our Christmas morning!

Our tree on Christmas morning.

I got one...

And AJ too!!! We were very excited!

This made for a funny picture!


We had our first Mt. Fuji sighting the other day! On a crystal clear day, you can see the volcano from base. It has been snow covered for about 2 months! We were able to get a couple good photos too! Very pretty!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2 years and counting...

2 years ago today, I married the love of my life! Sadly, A.J. was not here today to celebrate, but I had a nice dinner with some great friends and A.J. are headed to Disneyland Tokyo when he gets home! These last 2 years have flown by! I hope that the next few slow down a little bit so we can enjoy this new experience! Here's to many more to come....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Race for the Cure

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours here started getting a group together to do the Tokyo "Race for the Cure" walk/run. Unfortunately, AJ is not here, but I had the opportunity to participate. We headed up to Tokyo bright and early this morning and partook in this wonderful event! As most of you know, my mom had breast cancer, so this was something that I was really proud to be a part of. Unfortunately most of the people that did this event with us today have a family member that has been affected by this awful disease. Despite that, we all really enjoyed ourselves. And how cool is it to do something like this in Tokyo? It was the PERFECT fall day here in Japan and the trail was a huge loop around the Imperial Palace, which made for some beautiful scenery! You'll see in the pictures that we had special shirts made as well. It was a great day!

The start/finish line.

Diamondback Ladies!! And our "diamonds"

Some of the beautiful scenery along the way!

Jumping picture...all of us after the race!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

D'Backs Christmas Party

Our Christmas season has begun (outside of our own house!). The Diamondbacks Squadron held their annual Christmas party this past Saturday evening. It was a nice get together for us. We had a great meal, sat with some good friends and had a very nice time. It was a treat to have everyone together before the guys head back out on the boat for a few weeks. The evening was a spectacular way for our family to kick off our Holiday season! We hope you all have a great one too!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas with the Clay's....2010 Edition

That's right... we're decorated for Christmas already! Since AJ has to go back to the boat for a few weeks, he felt that we needed to decorate before he left. So, this past weekend, the tree went up along with all the other decorations, and we are ready for Santa to bring some presents....but maybe we'll take Thanksgiving first! ;-)

We have a bit of a "makeshift" mantle...but the stockings are hung!

We felt this one needed to be out also!

The Grinch is also all over the house...and the tree!!

Casa de Zama

We are finally moved into our house in Japan! AJ came home a few days after our move in date so we had a lot going on at once! But, within two weeks, we were finally all set up. We are really loving our new space. Both of us are enjoying being in a house instead of a Navy Lodge room and sleeping on a metal shelf that is attached to a boat . Having all of our stuff and sleeping in our own bed again has been a real treat! We have even figured out how to work our appliances, which are all in Japanese!

Our living room

Master Bedroom

I even found a spot for our "little house."

Japanese houses have "shower rooms." This whole room is a shower. You shut the door and it seals the room off and then you have the whole space to shower or take a bath! Awesome!! The floor is even heated!

We also have a Tatami Room. The mats on the floor are made out of weaved bamboo grass. Very neat!

Our kitchen is quite large for a Japanese house! Which is a good thing because I have a lot of kitchen stuff!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a "girl's trip" to Hakuba. Hakuba is a little town right outside of Nagano, Japan. (Some of you may recognize that as the home of the 1998 Winter Olympics). It is about 4 hours north of Atsugi, and we stayed at a small B&B, the Blue Dragon, that is owned by a wonderful Australian couple. They met some Diamondback folks a few years ago, and the Blue Dragon has become a favorite weekend spot for the DBacks ever since. We had the entire B&B to ourselves and we had a great time. We could not have asked for better weather! The mountains there are like nothing I have ever seen, just absolutely gorgeous!! I am excited to go back with AJ (hopefully this winter) and see everything when it is covered in snow! All of the weekend's photos are on my Facebook page, but here are a few to enjoy...

We saw this Japanese lady painting the land scape here. Beautiful!

This was taken in front of the Nagano ski jump. We were able to go to the top, take pictures, and watch the skiers practice. Very high! But very cool to see!

We had a Yukata Party the last night that we were there. Yukata's are the Japanese robes that we have on. Just a fun jumping picture that we took!

This was the last picture we took before leaving to head home. The 5 of us girls in front of the Blue Dragon.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Legal to drive on both sides of the road!

I have accomplished the task of getting my driver's license. I am now legal to drive on both sides of the road, from both sides of the car! I finalized the purchase of car last week and we are now the proud owners of a Nissan Cube.

It has even been "zapped"....just so everyone knows who we represent!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I made it!

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this posted. I did arrive safely in Japan (as most of you know by now). I am staying in the Navy Lodge on base until I find a house for A.J. and I. I have to take a week long class this upcoming week, so it will be a little bit until I get started on the house hunting project! So far, so good over here. I am all checked in, and outside of not having a lot to do, it hasn't been so bad. Everyone is nice and the (very!) small part of the country that I have seen so far is beautiful! I am looking forward to getting out and exploring once the "obligation" stuff is done! Here are a couple of pictures I snapped while I was landing at the Air Force base here in Japan. Many more photos to come!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

D- Day!

Well, the time has come. I leave for Japan tomorrow! I cannot believe how fast this month has gone... I feel like I just got home yesterday! Regardless, here we are. I will be leaving Harrisburg at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning, traveling all day to get to Seattle, and then leaving Seattle for Japan at 2:00 AM on Tuesday. I will be arriving in Japan at 7:00 AM on Wednesday morning (their time). Atsugi is 13 hours ahead of us, so that is 6:00 PM here on Tuesday. It will be a long couple of days, but I am sure that once I get there and get settled, it will seem like it wasn't too bad! Keep watching the blog and both of our Facebook accounts, as that will be the best way to keep in touch with us. I know that we both are looking forward to coming home in December and seeing our family and friends again! Love to you all and we'll chitchat with you soon!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Night at the Boat...

This is something that A.J. sent out for the family this past week. It is called a "Stream of Consciousness." It is his perspective of what a night landing on the boat would be. He basically wrote down exactly what would go through his head and what he would hear as he was landing on the boat at night. We all thought that it was pretty neat and I thought it would make a great blog post. Enjoy!

A Night at the Boat

55 56 57 58 59...21:12:00 Pushing on time. Ok boards out, Idle, let’s get going down hill. Ok, 4,000 feet/min down, the VSI is set. 10 degrees nose low, set, Airspeed holding 250, ok, we are set. Did Rabbit make the commencing call, yep I just heard the boat roger us up. Ok, waiting on Platform.

So breakfast was kind of weak this morning, well I guess it was actually more like lunch, but I am getting tired of not having some more normal fruit. Trying to eat a little better is way harder than it should be. Oh well, just have to keep working on it.

How are we looking, still a few thousand to go, still looking good, Airspeed 250, VSI looks good, nose down, yep all good.

Finally getting close to being done with these academics which is good because that email that Mud sent today says we need to get it done in the next few weeks so we can be test complete before the revision comes out and have to do it all over again, I so do not want to do that. But I now I have this CACO thing to do to. I still am kind of surprised that they picked me to be replace Fish and be one of the two guys responsible if we ever have that kind of accident. Was Billy Bob messing with me or was I really picked for a reason. Who knows? I just pray to God that we never have anyone who pays that ultimate price, I don’t know if I can handle telling a family that their Dad, Husband isn’t coming home. Ok…. Positive thoughts, you still gotta land this thing yourself.

Up here comes platform (5,000 ft above the water). Where’s the radalt warning???? Ok, there it is, alright Radar Altimeter to the HUD, Speed brakes in, let’s break this descent. Alright, there is 2000 ft VSI, and still holding 250, Rabbit called Platform, and switched us to the final controller. Left to a heading…. Alright, guess they are going to drive us around tonight, fine by me. Less thinking on my part. Just gotta keep an eye on them. Alright, 19 miles behind the boat, guess they were marshaling us over there to avoid the weather. Oh well, just some extra flight time.

So this flight was pretty good. First time wearing NVG’s out here in the big boy world. The weather made it suck to see much, too many clouds, and this moon is way too bright, but it’s going to get the check in the block. My rendezvous were ok, they are probably going to say they were a little slow, but better than hitting them I think. They will get better. That bombing was nuts though. It was crazy doing 45 deg dives daylight but at night on goggles, I can’t believe that let us do this kind of stuff and they pay me. Not my best roll-ins, but ok, I will allow myself a little slack it has been since January that I tried a roll-in, so I guess they were reasonable for 7 months away from doing it.

Alright, here comes 1200 feet, leveled off, and they are finally turning us to final. It’s about time, were only 12 miles behind the boat. Alright, I can see the guy in front of us… come on tell me to slow down. Good there it is, take speed 225, done. Approaching 8 miles, ok, let’s drop some gear. Gear 1, 2, 3 down and locked, Flaps set to full indicate full. Hook is down lights out, Skid is off, Harness is unlocked, dispenser off, check aft initiate. Good, Rabbit shows the same and he’s got both of us if we have to get out. Alright, tapes on. Finally remembered it so I can watch my pass after we get on deck. Ok, 6 miles, on speed and trimmed up just waiting for ACLS lock on.

Flight is almost over, just keep it off the one wire, keep pushing it up and keep the scan moving. Don’t worry about boltering, you aren’t going to do that. Just fly the ball all the way to touch down. Come on there is a nice warm Mid Rats meal waiting for you after the debrief, come one you know you missed dinner, a little food would hit the spot. All you have to do is land this little jet, on that giant postage stamp. Come on, the moons out, and you can kind of see the ship before tip over.

“106 ACLS lock on 4.5 miles say needles” Ok, there it is “106 Up and On” “106 Concur fly Mode 2” Alright, ACLS is working, looking pretty good, lineup is pretty much squared away, and about a mile to tip over.

Ok, wiggle the toes; take a few breaths, easy day. Nothing too this, its going to be easy, just fly the ball. Here comes the tip over, alright
3 miles, little power off, little nose down. Keep the spermy inside the Velocity Vector. Ok, you’re a little high, get it down
2.5 miles. There you go, little power back on to catch it.
2.4 miles. Looking pretty good, watch the little drift make that correction, little more power.
2.0 miles. Alright, starting to see the ball pop out against the datums, still can’t really tell where it is, looks like I am ok. ACLS still showing me On and On.
1.8 miles. Looking ok, line-up is centered up still, little more power on, keep the ball a little high.
1.2 miles. “Rabbit I got a ball”
1.0 mile. Theres that little yellow ball. Looking good, just above the datums now keep it there.
“106 ¾ of a mile call the ball” Rabbit called “106 Rhino ball 5.5” Alright scan ball, line-up, angle of Attack, keep it moving, keep scanning. “7”(VSI calls in hundreds from the WSO) Big wake, boat is making a lot of the wind, “7” gonna be a big burble, keep adding a little power, looking ok, still a little high, but its gonna come down, “8” watch it were drifting a little right, “8” little correction, power, here comes the burble, “9”come on more power. Were over the deck, little more power, ok there its stopped keep it there, gotta be touching down just about Ugggh!!! 21:23:00

Ahh, that’s never gonna get old. “Good Hyds” Thanks Rabbit. Flaps, Up, Hook Up, gotta get out of the way. My lead boltered. Oh well, everyone has a bad night. Well, that’s over, not the perfect pass. But a Fair 2 Wire. Time to get out of the Landing Area, get parked and allow the shaking to stop. But, another night, another safe trip back to the boat. Guess it was a good day after all. Do it all again tomorrow.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's been awhile...

It has been a little bit since I updated the blog! I just got back to Va. Beach today so that I can be here for the Navy to move all of our stuff. I was home for the last 2 weeks and it was a nice break from the chaos before I left. Although, I did quite a bit while I was home! Both of our cars are sold, the washer and dryer are sold, I took a couple of day trips here and there and many other things.

AJ has been flying quite often! He is really enjoying himself in his new squadron and getting all these flights in! He was in Singapore for 5 days at the beginning of the month. I do not have any pictures, but he said it was a lot like New York City! We should get there again in our 3 year tour in Japan, so if I get to go, I will make sure there are some pictures to share with all of you!!

I hope that everyone's summer is coming to a good end! I will be enjoying the beginning of the fall season with all of you that are in PA, as my flight for Japan is not until September 28th. Keep an eye for more posts as I get closer to leaving for our new adventure!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Weekly update...

Just a quick update on some things....

AJ got to South Korea last weekend and headed out to the George Washington on Monday. He got a 3 day rest period and then had some extra time off because they had 3 "no-fly" days. He had his first flight today and, I am assuming, it went well. (I have not talked to him about it yet.) He is all settled into his room, with one other guy (which is much better than the alternative of 7 other guys) and he actually has a computer in his room! We have been able to e-mail a little bit and keep in touch about all the happenings over there and here.

And on the home front... thank you to my wonderful parents and in-laws for helping move a bunch of stuff out of VA Beach this weekend and then driving it home for me!! All that is left down here are the things that are going to Japan! And I do not have to pack a single piece of it! :-)

I will be heading home for a couple of weeks before I come back to supervise the move at the end of the month. I am looking forward to (hopefully) seeing a bunch of you while I am up there! Lots of love to everyone!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sayonara A.J.!

A.J. has officially left for Japan! He got on a flight out of Norfolk, VA at 7:00 am this morning and landed in Atlanta, GA around 9:00 am. He is scheduled to leave Atlanta at 1:00 pm and land in Seoul, South Korea at 4:30 pm (their time), which is about 3:30 am for all of us. Then, on Monday, he will be flown out to the carrier that be will be deployed on for the next 4 months. Talk about jumping right in!!

A.J. is very anxious to get out there and get started with his new adventure. I will miss him greatly, but I am so proud of what he has accomplished so far in the Navy and I am excited to see what lies ahead for him.

I have inserted a web link in this post. It will take you to a Google Map that has our new base pinpointed on it and you can also see the surrounding cities and areas that we will be in. I cannot get it to be a straight link from the blog so you will have to copy and paste the address into your internet browser to get there. Sorry!


Sunday, July 18, 2010


Welcome to the Clay Family blog! I thought this might be a good time to start one since A.J. and I are moving to Japan!

We just found out a day ago and already the chaos has begun! A.J. will be leaving this coming Saturday so we have very little time to get everything in order. He will be deployed as soon as the end of August and gone for about 4 months. I will be following him out there in either August or December (nothing is set yet.) We will be stationed at NAF Atsugi which is about 25 miles away from Tokyo!

Although the shock hasn't quite worn off yet, we are both excited. We realize the opportunities that this will bring both of us personally and professionally! But, on the other hand, 3 years is a long time to be away from our families and friends. Hopefully we will have lots of visitors!

I'll make sure to keep this updated as much as possible so everyone can keep track of where we are and all of our happenings! I plan to post tons of photos so that everyone can enjoy our new adventure along with us!

Love to all,

Lauren and A.J.