Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019 World Travel In Review

In this, my 7th blog post of the year, I'll attempt to do a somewhat abbreviated review of the long, strange trip that was 2019.  Many of these events could be their own posts, with many more to fill the gaps in between, and maybe they will be at some point.  


We started the year in Japan, and are ending it in North Dakota.  Yes, the time came to leave Japan -  after living there for 4 years - and I'm not sure I've fully dealt with that yet.  The move itself started in May and ended in October, during a blizzard.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first several months of the year/last several months in Japan were a bit of a blur, as we tried to cram in any last minute trips.

We went to Hirosaki Castle for the Sakura (cherry blossoms) in April, but this time we stayed until after dark.  Then we crammed out onto a bridge, with thousands of other people, so that I could get some of the iconic night time canal pictures.

We took a road trip down to Kyoto, stopping in Motegi to see the Honda museum.  This was more of a "Jeff thing", at first, but I found myself captivated by the story of Mr. Honda and the incredible, audacious things that he and his company accomplished. 

We also went to Nara, specifically to see the famous bowing deer.  If you bow to them, they bow back for treats.  The bucks were the best at it, the does just tried to help themselves to your pockets.

In Kyoto, we saw many beautiful sights, including Kinkaku-ji, the Golden temple.

Closer to home, we went and saw the Jingle horse parade one more time. 

I also competed in Yabusame for the second time


Photo by Osamu Sasaki


Photo by Osamu Sasaki

We also jump through all of the hoops of a round the world military move (with pets - more on them below) and also Jeff's retirement.  He retired after 24 years of military service.  His retirement ceremony was held in Japan and it was a very neat thing to see and to be a part of.

For the actual moving, this time I decided to pack all of the model horses myself, after what happened on the move there.  I was quite sure that the Japanese movers would take much more care with them, but it still would have been a big job for them to do, so I did it myself.  I photographed each horse, doing an inventory as they were packed.

A few fun group pictures were taken, like this herd who all came to me through my friend, Sue

The OF stablemates each got a bath and were then packed.

As I took pictures, I also took a picture of each tote before closing it,

followed by the number of that tote.  This proved to be quite helpful when I decided to extract a few certain horses right before and after the move.

And here is a stack of horse totes and boxes, prepped and ready to go by the movers.

Our destination upon leaving Japan was Jeff's family in Pennsylvania.  There was where we had left our truck and one of Jeff's motorcycles.  This would be the first roundup of "stuff" we had left all over the country. 

Before we left Japan, Jeff asked me if I'd like to go to BreyerFest, which completely shocked me.  We would be in the middle of this big, crazy move and the truck needed a lot of work done to be roadworthy (the clutch had gone out while we were away).  Jeff pointed out that PA was much closer to KY and we wouldn't have much else going on...  So I had bought a 3 day ticket, just in case.

Jeff busted his butt working on the truck as soon as we got to PA, in early July.  This was the state of things just a couple of days before I would have to go, if I was going to see any of BF.  That's the transmission, transfer case, rear driveshaft, and other components, laid out next to the truck.

One of the people who I was keeping updated on the state of things at this point was my friend, Jennifer

I sent her this picture. and got this reply, on a Friday, the first day of BreyerFest.  I was on the way!

I made it to my first BreyerFest!  Thanks to Jeff.

After spending time in PA, doing more house hunting (a whole, long, ugly tale there that started in January, in Japan), we found a(nother) place in North Dakota, put in an offer (our 5th), got it accepted (!!), and hit the road. 

We were headed to a place we'd never been, to live in a place we'd never seen, cause that's how we roll.  Hey, we did it in Japan, why not North Dakota?

Many steps, frustration, and tears later... it turned out that to get the place, we had to repaint all of the outbuildings - on a place that wasn't even ours.  (Thanks, VA loan.  /sarcasm)  This required 6 long days (11-12 hours, no breaks) in August, and gallons and gallons of red and white paint to repaint the 4 outbuildings. 

We both agreed it was good we finished when we did, because neither of us had another day left in us.  The results were nice.

We finally had the go ahead to get the place, though I remained skeptical - until we had the keys in hand, started moving in, and Joey had an official romp in the grass, our grass.

At one point in the moving process, we went back to South Dakota and opened up the time capsule - er, storage unit - into which we had put the Jeep, Jetta, two motorcycles, and a bunch of household/garage/horse stuff.

We did a convoy of most of it, up to our new home in North Dakota.

Our shipment of household goods from Japan finally arrived in North Dakota in mid October - on the same day as a blizzard.  That in itself is a whole 'nother long story, but for now, here's a pile of stuff - including those totes full of horses - in what would be my new studio.

In the pet department, we had to say goodbye to The Marshmallows, as I called them - the little white zebra finches - when we left Japan.  Treveling Internationally with birds is very hard, if not impossible and I wouldn't want to try and put the little guys (and girl) through that anyway.  They went to my friend, Angie, an experienced bird lover and owner.

However, we brought back a Joey, after two other families had left him in Japan.

We also brought back Tealight, after taking her over there with us.  She is an across the world, and back again, traveler now.

At Jeff's mom's place in PA, I was reunited with Neytiri, or "Kitten", now named Patches.  She had been staying with them for the 4 years we were gone and is happy there.  On this visit, I made it official that she is their cat now.  Despite still being afraid of anyone outside of Jeff's mom or step-dad, she certainly remembers me. 

At our new home in North Dakota, we added three barn cats to the family.  They came with the property and house we bought.  They were all completely wild when we first moved in, but eventually learned we aren't so bad and even moved inside with us as winter set in.

First to get captured and brought inside was the girl kitten, who I named Sophie.

A while later, I made friends with her brother, who we named Loki.

On Loki's first day inside, he won over Jeff right away.

Last to join us inside was their mom, who we just call Mama. 

Lastly, we were reunited with Jabba, who has to be the world's oldest salamander.  He is a tiger salamander that I found seeking shelter in the barn in SD, MANY years ago, as winter closed in.  We'd had him for at least a few years, before leaving him with friends when we headed for Japan.  We thought we'd most likely not see him again.  He was already full grown when we first found him. 

Yet, he still lives! 

Leaving Japan, I had to say goodbye to the collection of Bonsai trees that I had acquired and cared for over the years there.  This hurt, a lot. 

Shortly after moving into our new home, I started a new collection of plants. Most of them "rescues" off of the clearance rack, because that's how I roll.

Other goodbyes were with good friends I had made in Japan, Angie and Tsukako-san, my Yabusame buddies. 

photo by Osamu Sasaki
 I miss them. 

With new places and new adventures come new friends: Anne and Christie.  Together we formed Team Appa at The Jennifer Show in Colorado.  (Appa is what I call our truck, "yip yip!")

photo by Anne van der Weel

Speaking of Colorado, Appa and I left North Dakota, just DAYS after moving into the new place, bound for Colorado and The Jennifer Show.  One of my primary goals there was for the epic Stagecoach project to see the light of day, in all its messy in progress for a decade glory.  This was the Big Dreams performance class and I went all out.

From Colorado, I went to Arizona.  There waiting for me was... 


Also there was Big Blue, my trusty, rusty trailer.

After a good, but too short, visit with friend, Kate, who took SUCH good care of my boy, it was time to go again.  Appa, Bo, Blue, and I left Arizona, and went back to Colorado for another visit with Jennifer.  There I rode my boy for the first time in 4-1/2 years.  It seemed like we hadn't missed a day.

We made our way back up to North Dakota where, for the first time since he was a foal, Bo was able to graze like a "real horse". 

In model horse news, I had started the year with NaMoPaiMo and an attempt at a MEPSA Makeover challenge horse, who did not make it in. 

All three of my NaMoPaiMo horses: 2017: Antar, black Arabian stallion, 2018: Bom Bidi Bom, chestnut Japanese Draft stallion, 2019: Wind In Her Hair, palomino tobiano Chincoteague Pony mare.

I judged my first MEPSA show, which was quite an undertaking, but also a lot of fun.

Once I was back in the U.S., I was finally able to go on the hunt for blind bag Breyers in the wild! 

In addition to judging my first MEPSA show, I also judged at my very first live show!  That was the Black Hills Model Horse Show in South Dakota.  What was really cool about this for me, was the feeling of things coming full circle.  This was the same show that was my "comeback" in 2014.  I was nervous about judging for the first time, but it was fun!

I think I'll wrap up the report here, surely this is enough??  Many other things happened over this wild and crazy year and I've struggled for several days now to try and "trim' this down to a somewhat manageable post.  Let me know if there's anything you might want to read/see more about and I'll add it to my plans for posts in the New Year. 

There will be more than 7 of those. 

Happy 2020, everyone! 


  1. "Many other things happened" is in the Bible and also in the Odyssey. I look forward to whatever you want to share! Yeay, Bo!!

  2. I'd like to hear about Breyerfest and about how it was to come back to the US after many years aqay. #vicarioustravelforthewin #ihavemypriorities