Monday, October 20, 2008

Stuff . . .

I haven't written anything for a while because it doesn't seem like I have much news. Since this is supposed to be a journal of sorts I probably should make note of the mundane as well as the exciting!!

There are a few COSTCOs in and around the Tokyo area. I decided on Friday to go to a different one (since the last one was an all day outing!) Full of confidence I looked up the address and phone number and input the number into my "Navi". Not being able to understand Japanese or read it I think it told me that the number wasn't available. No problem I thought as there is an option for the post code. I figured it would be pretty obvious to me because there should be a COSTCO sign. Keep in mind that I have still only driven a handful of times. I packed up the cooler and headed out with my list in hand. The "navi" said it was only about 30km away. Anywhere but Tokyo that wouldn't take too much time. Still feeling confident I continued on my way.

The trouble with these GPS systems is that they are so good that they tell you which lane to get into and everything. The trouble is I have a hard time concentrating on the road and looking at the screen at the same time! Most of the highways in Japan are toll roads. Good old "navi" tells me which is automatic (for people that have a special ETC card the gates just swing open and they don't even have to stop) for the rest of us we have to pull up to the right window and pay.

As I pull up I realize that I am in the wrong lane. There is NO attendant to take my money. I look in the rear view and the cars are lining up behind me. UGH. First bad omen. The nice little attendant came running over from the other booth to take my money. I do know how to say sorry in Japanese so I kept repeating it. . . Why me??
The toll was 700 yen which is about $7. That is just one way and not the only toll. Crazy!!

Slightly shaken up I kept driving. Smooth sailing from there. Met up with a little bit of traffic once I was finally in the vicinity of COSTCO but all in all not bad. I was anticipating that pepperoni pizza slice and an icy diet Coke. Unfortunately "navi" pointed me into the center of town. No COSTCO sign anywhere. . . Any one who knows me knows that my sense of direction is not that great. hehe

Anyway to make a really long story short -- after driving around for FOUR hours I finally called the COSTCO and they gave me a different phone number to plug in. Lo and behold the store was located on the opposite side of the highway that I had been driving around. Frustrated and slightly grumpy I finally made it. Let's just say that I added a cinnamon churro to that pizza order!!!

The bright side to the story is that when you are lost in a city and driving around one does get a lot of good driving experience. I chalk it up to another driver's ed day!!

I also must admit that I was the first to scratch the van. Backing in to our driveway I hit the wall. According to my neighbors it is nothing that a little duct tape won't fix!! Glad all this experience is in the RENTAL van. Maybe by the time we get our REAL van I will have all the kinks worked out. Not to mention that our new "Navi" will be in ENGLISH!