USS John C Stennis

On February 17, the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a port visit before heading home to California after a seven-month deployment.

This is an aerial view of Pearl Harbor. The massive carrier slowly made its way through the channel and arrived at its dock with the aid of several tugboats.

Johnnie and I joined the many other people lining the channel to watch the carrier make its way into the harbor.  Many families of the sailors traveled to Hawaii to enjoy the port stay with their loved ones.  It takes a while for the carrier to make its way into the harbor and dock so many of the families came to the channel to watch it arrive and then drove to the pier to greet their sailors as they disembarked the ship.  It was very touching seeing the families cheering, crying, and waving homemade signs as the the carrier went past.  Seven months is a long time to be apart.

Sailors standing at attention in their white uniforms lined the perimeter of the ship.  The huge carrier floating effortlessly through the narrow channel was an awe-inspiring thing to see.

Later that evening when the carrier was docked and the sailors were reunited with their loved ones, a huge rainbow appeared in Pearl Harbor.  The end of it touched the carrier as if to officially welcome the men and women of the USS John C. Stennis to Hawaii.

Come lay with me, stay with me, soon I'll be gone
I will remember you all winter long
And when I return to the one that I miss
Oh the longer the waiting, the sweeter the kiss
~John Turner


Moving with a pet to most places is not a difficult thing to do.  However, moving with a pet to Hawaii is as challenging as it can get (unless you are moving from New Zealand, Australia, Guam, or the British Isles).  Hawaii (and the other countries listed) are completely rabies free and have a strict quarantine policy for all pets in order to keep it that way.  Because Hawaii is rabies free, pets are not required to get rabies vaccines here.  If rabies were to infect animals on the island, it would spread quickly and have devastating effects.

In order for a pet to enter Hawaii, it must be microchipped and be old enough to have had at least two rabies vaccinations in its lifetime.  Those things were not an issue for Dulce - done and done!  The kicker is the FAVN blood test:

"The Fluorescent Antibody Virus Neutralization (FAVN) test measures the response of an animal’s immune system to the rabies vaccine. More specifically, it is a virus neutralization assay developed to screen animal sera by a standard method for an adequate level of rabies antibodies following vaccination."  source

The FAVN test must be completed 120 days before the pet arrives in Hawaii.  If it is, the pet is then qualified for the "5 day or less quarantine" which can be an almost immediate release.  If the 120 days is not up before arrival to Hawaii, the pet must complete the remainder of those days in quarantine.  To read more about Hawaii's quarantine policy, go to  We got the blood test done for Dulce as soon as we found out we were coming to Hawaii but she has to finish 35 of the 120 days in quarantine here.  Quarantine for each pet costs $14.30 a day plus $224.  Luckily, if you are active duty military like us, you will get reimbursed up to $550 of the total cost.

Going from Korea to Hawaii, Dulce had to have:  a microchip; a U.S. health certificate issued within 10 days of departure; FRONTLINE applied within 14 days of arrival; a current rabies vaccination certificate and tag; blood drawn and mailed for the FAVN test; and a Korean Health Certificate.  The Korean Health Certificate is issued at the Incheon Airport Animal Quarantine Office and took about 15 minutes to get.  It is recommended to get to that office at least 3 hours before departure.

When we arrived in Hawaii, we couldn't see Dulce until the next day.  She was taken directly from the plane to the Animal Holding Facility and then to the Quarantine Station.  After collecting our luggage and getting through customs, we had to go to the Animal Holding Facility and hand in her Korean health certificate, her current rabies vaccination certificate, the Hawaii cat and dog import form, and proof of an old rabies vaccination (an old certificate or receipt of the shot).

The quarantine station is run like a prison.  The entire complex is surrounded by a fence topped with barbed wire.  The inmates animals are locked in their cells kennels and aren't allowed to leave.  You must first check in at the business counter and get a visitor's pass (ours is good for 30 days), and then before entering the kennel area you must sign in and show your pass.  There are afternoon visiting hours five days a week, with no visitation allowed on Mondays or Fridays.  If you want to groom your pet (which must be done yourself), you can make a morning appointment to do it at a grooming station or you may groom your pet in their kennel during visiting hours.

The quarantine station has a list of rules that include things such as:  You must go directly to your kennel and not wander around; You must not feed, handle, or visit pets other than your own; You must not remove your pet from its kennel except for scheduled grooming; Cats cannot be removed from their kennels for any reason.

Though the station looks and feels intimidating.  It is kept very clean and all the employees are very nice and helpful.  The keeper even stopped by Dulce's kennel during our first visit to check up and ask us if there was anything special he could help with.  Although we don't want to leave her in the kennel at all, we feel very comfortable knowing she is in good hands.

There are hundreds of kennels at the quarantine station.  It is a quarter of a mile walk from one end of the station to the other.  You can imagine how noisy the station is with all of those animals.  The dogs on the ends of the rows start barking whenever they see anyone, which causes all of the other dogs in their row to start barking too.  The cats on the other hand, barely even turn to look at anyone passing by :)

The kennels are all outside (the weather is warm even at night) and are fairly spacious.  Small to medium dogs are placed in a 6' x 14' x 7' kennel.  Large dogs are placed in a 6' x 25' x 7' kennel.  The kennels are made of chain link fence with a sloped metal roof and a cement floor.  There is a tarp attached to one side of the kennels to provide shade.  The back of the kennel is mostly enclosed with a platform for a bed.  You must supply the bedding yourself.  Inside the main area of the kennel is a metal bench and a water dish that has a constant water supply.  Food dishes are distributed with food at feeding time and collected when the animals are finished eating.

We went to visit Dulce the day after we arrived.  She cried and cried for at least 30 minutes due to what I assume was the pure joy of seeing us again.  The poor thing was taken from us at the airport, put on a plane, and then transported to a kennel where she had to spend the night alone surrounded by barking dogs.  She is not a barker and is such a cuddle bug that I'm sure the whole ordeal was traumatizing for her!  We visit her about 4 days a week.  We take folding chairs with us and just hang out with her for an hour or so each time.  She covers us with a million wet doggie kisses and then cuddles on our laps and falls asleep.  We brought her a new bed, some toys, and some treats.  The quarantine station provides food which she is eating with no problems.  Since we visit so often, she's getting used to everything and no longer cries when she sees us.

Her release date is March 3 and we are all counting down the days!  There are many dog parks here that we can take her to and even an off-leash dog beach on Hickam AFB.  After going through all of this, one thing is for sure: Dulce will not be leaving Hawaii until we move again in three years!

"I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' round the bend
And I ain't seen the sunshine
Since I don't know when
I'm stuck in Folsom Prison
And time keeps draggin' on"
~Johnny Cash

On the Move

At the end of January, our belongings were boxed up, our car was shipped out, our apartment was emptied, our goodbyes were said, and we moved out of South Korea.

Preparing to move was stressful and tiring, but then again, what move isn't?  We had a lot to do and put in many late nights trying to get it all done.  Moving is a great time to evaluate the things that you own and toss or donate what you no longer want or need.  After completing that task, we had to separate our remaining belongings into three groups: things we would take with us in suitcases on the plane, a small shipment of things that would arrive quickly by air, and the rest that would take months shipped by sea.

The day that the movers came was insane.  There were about five Korean men who came in to pack our things.  They were amazing.  They were quick, efficient, and took care wrapping everything.  They came with piles of packing paper, boxes of tape, and huge sheets of cardboard that they bent, cut, and folded into custom boxes.  Half of our packaged things had the contents written in English, while the other half had them written in Korean.  It's going to be a fun surprise opening the Korean-marked boxes :)

Just when the movers were finishing up the packing, the new apartment tenants showed up.  They thought that we had already moved out so they came with some of their things and had the rest being delivered that afternoon!  We talked to our rental manager, they talked to theirs, and there was simply miscommunication on every end.  So the new tenants started moving their things in while our movers started moving our stuff out and that's when our hired cleaning crew showed up!  A crew of women started scurrying around cleaning whatever space they could find that wasn't taken up by boxes.  Just when we thought things couldn't get more crowded, the new tenants' rental managers all showed up!  At least they were helpful and started to assist the cleaners and movers.  There were almost 20 people in the apartment all at once - it was CRAZY!  We learned later that after our movers left, the cleaning crew managed to finish just as the new tenants' large shipment of belongings arrived.  They moved in that same night!

Goodbye to our great apartment in the Lotte Castle apartment complex!  We really enjoyed living there.

We had a total of 4 large suitcases, 2 carry-ons, and 1 dog crate to leave Korea with.  Luckily some of our friends lent us their large vehicle and another friend drove us in it to the airport.  Gotta say, one of the best things about our year in Korea was the friends we made :)

Dulce is a great traveler in cars and on boats so we know she has no problems in airplanes.  Her travel crate is spacious and comfortable.  She wasn't anxious at all in the airport.

Our flight took off at 7:30pm.  We flew over brightly-lit Seoul on our way out. 

Our destination?  HAWAII!  We had a direct flight to our new home.  We will be stationed on the island of Oahu in Hawaii for the next three years.  That's a pretty good assignment to get :)

The flight was about 7 hours long.  We were excited to try out our Christmas presents to ourselves, new Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones.  They are incredible - just switch them on and all noise disappears.  They really made the flight much more enjoyable.

We were fed two meals on the flight: a light dinner not long after take-off and breakfast a couple hours before landing.

We flew East, into the beautiful sunrise of a new day.

Our first glimpse of Hawaii!

Aloha!  We arrived in Honolulu at 7:30am on the same day that we left Korea.  We literally had two Saturdays this week!  Not a bad way to start off our island living adventure :)

“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.”
~Charles Dudley Warner

Scenic Sunday

* Every Sunday our blog features a random scenic photograph from our travels *

Historic Praia da Vitória on the island of Terceira, Azores

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; the wise grows it under his feet."
~James Openheim

To see other blogs featuring a Scenic Sunday, visit

Our Year in Korea Reviewed

This is it!  We were stationed here in Korea for a one-year assignment and that year has now come to an end.  It is time to move on to an amazing new location and an exciting new chapter in our lives.  For the most part, I loved living in Korea and I will always cherish the great times we had, the amazing things we've seen and places we've been, the wonderful new friends we've met, and the memories that we've made.  We have no doubt that someday we will return to visit, to shop, to tour, and hopefully to adopt :)

I wanted this final Korea post to sum up our year, let you know our perspective of the good and bad aspects of living here, and offer some useful things to know if you plan on coming here yourself.

Highlights from our year:

Things about Korea that we loved:

Things about Korea that we didn't love:
  • Weather (brutally cold winters, excruciatingly hot summers, monsoon season, yellow dust)
  • In restaurants, everyone's food comes out at different times
  • Restaurants have TINY napkins
  • Korea in general is a dirty place with lots of litter and garbage because...
  • There is a complete lack of public garbage cans
  • Hotels supply towels and bath mats but no wash rags
  • The language barrier is frustrating
  • Squatty potties (there is a technique to this that is worth learning!)
  • Washing machine and dryer combo machines (everything is often left damp and wrinkled)
  • Speed bumps and bad roads
  • Many areas smell really bad, especially in the summer
  • Driving (you must constantly watch for others not following the traffic rules)
  • Lack of beer variety
  • Many older Koreans (though not all) are often pushy and rude
  • Apartment living can get claustrophobic after a while
  • Korean's un-rational fear of dogs
  • Blatant racism toward different people of different races (not always, but it is there)
  • Commonly seen Juicy Girls and prostitution
  • Air pollution, especially the Yellow Dust in the spring
  • Parking spaces that are only the exact width of your car
  • Having to use plug adapters and voltage transformers

Good things to know if you are moving to or visiting here:
  • An iPhone or other smart phone is invaluable because of the maps, city guides, and translation apps
  • Don't drink the water (not that it's dirty, it just has tons of chemicals in it to make it clean)
  • Plugs are different and so is the voltage, adapters and converters are required
  • Be prepared for ALL types of weather - seriously
  • Some things are cheaper than in the United States and some are way more expensive
  • You can find most anything you need in Korea, but not always the brands you know
  • Clothing and shoe sizes are limited (larger sizes are not available everywhere)
  • Tipping is not customary or expected
  • Do not ask "yes or no" questions because Koreans will always say yes no matter what
  • It is acceptable to bargain in the markets
  • Pay for things with Korean Won or credit cards to avoid getting overcharged
  • A T-Money Card is a reloadable card you can use to pay for buses, subways, and some taxis
  • Military base taxis expect payment in US Dollars
  • It's worth it to travel first class on the bullet train
  • Hiking is one of Korea's favorite pastimes so the hiking trails are amazing and well-maintained
  • It is acceptable to show a lot of leg but not acceptable to show your shoulders and back.
  • Koreans don't like sunshine - pale skin is considered healthier and more beautiful
  • Always look for toilet paper before using the toilet - sometimes it is outside the stalls
  • There is a technique to using the squatty potties correctly
  • Korean is a difficult language to learn but learning to pronounce the Korean alphabet is not difficult and is very helpful when traveling
  • Keep an open mind and embrace the new culture you are immersed in :)

"Embracing diversity is one adventure after another, 
opening new paths of discovery that connect an understanding to
caring, listening, and sharing with others who are different than ourselves." 
~April Holland

Jeju Island

In January, we took a long weekend trip to Jeju Island.  Jeju Island is a volcanic island that is part of South Korea, just off the southern coast.  It is referred to as "the Hawaii of Korea" due to it's volcanic origin and semi-tropical climate.  There are palm trees, an abundance of volcanic rocks that are used as fences, one large city with an airport, and many smaller towns filled with colorful houses.  It is also referred to as "Honeymoon Island" because it is the most popular honeymoon location in South Korea.

How did we get to Jeju?  There is a ferry boat available for travel to the island but we chose to fly from Seoul on Eastar Jet Airlines.  There are a few different airlines that fly to Jeju but Eastar Airlines was the cheapest - only 110,000 won (about $98) round trip per person.  Our Eastar jet was comical.  There was zero leg room, there were stars and airplanes painted on the ceiling, and there was a bar/lounge painted on the wall.  We were the only non-Koreans on the flight so we know that the flight instructions given in English were solely for us.  The flight was only about an hour long.

On the plane, we sat next to an older Korean man who was excited to talk to us.  His English was broken but understandable.  We learned he was 76 years old and was a pilot in the Korean army in the late 1960's until a car accident took his sight in one eye.  Since then he has lived on Jeju as a tangerine farmer.  He was so sweet to chat with and helped us secure our rental car when we landed.  He gave us his phone number and told us to call him one day so that he could take us to dinner.  He seemed harmless so we did actually call him.  We met up and toured the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall with him and then he treated us to a fresh sushi dinner at a little seafood restaurant owned by a friend.  Meeting him was such a serendipitous event and an added treat to our trip :)

We rented a car online from Budget for our stay on the island.  It took a little while to find the Budget office when we arrived because it was in a small bus!  It looked like there was a new rental car building being built at the airport, but for now all the rental companies worked out of buses in the parking lot.

Being that Jeju is the honeymoon destination of Korea, it has some huge and luxurious resorts.  Those large resorts also have large prices.  We opted to stay at "the cheap hotel next to the expensive resorts." We weren't expecting much with that description but we were very pleasantly surprised.  Our hotel was The Suites Hotel and is situated next to The Shilla and Lotte Hotel resorts.  The Suites was a great hotel that was very clean with large rooms and bathrooms, marble floors in the lobby, an intimate lounge area to enjoy drinks and appetizers, a large buffet area with a breakfast every morning, and every room comes with a free handmade pizza!  One night we walked over the The Shilla and enjoyed an amazing seafood buffet and then watched an outdoor jazz concert by their pool.

One of the most common sites on Jeju Island are the Dolhareubangs statues.  These statues are carved from volcanic rock and range in size up to 10 feet tall.  They are believed to have been around since the 1750's but no one seems to know for sure what the origin of the statues is.  Some believe the statues offer protection against evil spirits and diseases.  Others believe they encourage fertility due their phallic appearance.  Whatever their purpose, they have become the official symbol of Jeju and are a popular souvenir item for Jeju visitors.

These two were a little different that the others.  The one on the left is flipping us off!  The one on the right looks embarrassed that he's naked :)

Another common sight on the island is speed cameras.  The highways in Korea are not patrolled by police like they are in the United States.  Instead, there are speed cameras on the highways that take your picture if you speed past them and you get sent a ticket in the mail.  The funny thing is, there is always a warning sign that there is a camera coming up so you have time to slow down!  In Jeju, these speed cameras were everywhere!  Our GPS unit was warning us of them literally every two to five minutes.  It's a little overkill and a lot annoying.

There are many touristy spots on the island and since we were tourists, we stopped at quite a few.  One of the first we stopped at was a Ripley's Believe It or Not that was close to our hotel.  Ripley's Museums are always just a bit cheesy but we had fun wasting some time there :)

There is a Chocolate Museum on Jeju that is supposedly one of the "World's Top 10 Best Chocolate Museums in the World".  We saw Chocolate Land next to Ripley's so we stopped in.  We quickly found out that Chocolate Land is NOT the Chocolate Museum.  Chocolate Land is a tiny "museum" displaying different chocolates from all over the world.  This place was a joke and not worth going to.  At least we found a classic "not quite right" example - the peanut M&M character is yellow, Korea, not red!

Near Ripley's and Chocolate Land there is also a Teddy Bear Museum.  This museum features teddy bears from all over the world with some depicted in famous scenes such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.  We are not big teddy bear fans so we opted not to tour the museum.  We saw two large teddy bears in Chocolate Land and that was good enough for us :)

In the city of Jeju, we walked through the bustling shopping areas of the Dongmun Market Place and the Jungang Underground Shopping Center.  These two shopping areas are next to each other, one above ground and one under ground.  The Dongmun had a lot of food for sale with some random souvenirs and household goods.  The Jungang primarily had stores selling clothing, shoes, and accessories.

Jeju, the honeymoon destination, isn't shy about sex.  One popular tourist destination is Loveland, an outdoor erotic sculpture park featuring over 100 sculptures of humans in various sexual positions.  We chose not to go to Loveland but instead went to the Museum of Health & Sex.  This museum contains statues from all over the world, photos and videos, artwork, erotic toys and products, evolution of sanitary products and birth control, pregnancy development, and much more.  The museum claims that its purpose is to educate, which it does, but it also provides some great entertainment ;)

Jeju Art Park Museum is a large outdoor sculpture park that you could spend hours exploring.  It was a peaceful well-maintained park in a natural setting with paths winding through the woods.  There was an eclectic collection of sculptures from abstract to modern.  There seemed to be a large number of erotic sculptures which isn't surprising on an island covered in phallic statutes with multiple sex museums.

There are many beautiful waterfalls on Jeju Island.  Pictured below is the Cheonjeyeon Waterfall and the Cheonjiyeon Waterfall.  The Cheonjeyeon Waterfall had multiple different waterfalls that could be seen by following a hiking path made of many stairs.  The Cheonjiyeon Waterfall was an easy walk on a wide paved path with some souvenir shops at the start of it.

The Manjang Cave, or Manjanggul Lava Tubes, was an awesome sight to see.  Manjang Cave is the one of the longest lava tubes in the world.  A lava tube is a conduit or tunnel through which lava once flowed. The evidence of lava flow was very apparent and well-preserved.  The floor of the cave that you walk on is actual hardened lava.  The cave is the same cool temperature year round making it an especially great place to stop if you visit Jeju in the heat of the summer.

We drove along the beautiful coastline for a while.  The water was an amazing shade of blue.

Seongsan Ilchulbong, also known as Sunrise Peak, is a volcanic crater on the east coast of the island.  It is the first spot in Jeju to greet the morning sun and is one of Jeju's premiere landmarks.  For a small fee, you can climb a hiking trail that goes to the peak but you are not allowed to go down into the crater itself.  We didn't hike the peak but we did admire it from a nearby beach :)

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving."
~Lao Tzu