My visit home from Korea

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DJ / 297 Days Ago

My trip home started with a very long day. I set double alarms to ensure I would not oversleep, especially since I was so amped I could not get to sleep at a decent hour. I woke up at 5 am so I could be ready to be picked up at 5:50 am for my ride to the bus station. My bus ended up leaving 20 minutes later than my schedule said, so I waited around the bus station longer than expected, stressing out the whole time about getting to the airport in time to get on my flight, even though I built in a good amount of buffer time. The bus came and I got on uneventfully and started reading my book, which I finished just before arriving at the airport after an hour and a half ride. It was now just before 8 am and I got in line to check in for my flight - that and the line for security were relatively quick and painless, despite having to ask for directions to find the security line area because the way was poorly marked and not remotely obvious.

See all the pictures from DJ's mid-tour from Korea!

I had a bit to wait before boarding so I found a place to get a snack (a hot dog rolled in some sort of biscuit thing) and something to drink for the plane. Boarding was fine - I did not have anything that needed to go above my head, so there was no rush to get on the plane, especially considering the flight was over 12 hours! The plane was arranged in a 3-4-3 layout and I had purposefully selected a central isle seat as I wanted the freedom to get up whenever I needed and I only had one person to worry about getting up for when they needed out (as it turned out, a middle aged Korean women who only got up once the whole flight). The plane had headrest mounted on-demand entertainment, which made the flight way better than my trip out to Korea. I spent the whole flight watching movies for the most part.

The 5th Wave - The next young adult series to get the movie treatment, it was interesting and the twist was not something I saw coming, although I probably should have if for no other reason than what actor was playing a particular role.
Pan - I love the Peter Pan mythos, but I've yet to watch a rendering of it that I really like and this was no exception. It had its moments, but overall was just ok.
The Big Short - Very interesting look at the housing market collapse and how and why it happened. Not a surprise, but it turns out that people are greedy idiots!
Groundhog Day - One of my all time favorites, I put this on because my ears were starting to hurt form the headphones and I wanted to put on movie that I could follow without the audio for a while.
Mad Max: Fury Road - I already saw this (and it is awesome), but I wanted to put on an action packed movie that I had already seen since I was super tired and I started to snooze a bit while it was on.

I started watching The Revenant at one point, but I was getting pretty tired and just decided I didn't want to watch it, so I stopped it about 15 minutes in. The flight served 2 meals, one shortly after we left and one shortly before we landed, leaving a giant 8 hour hole in the middle with just a bag of snacks. The meals were good, but luckily I brought enough snacks on board to tide me over (unlike my original trip there, lesson learned!). Once Mad Max was over, we were less than 30 minutes away from landing, so I just watched the flight tracker on my screen and waited to arrive. Since I was near the back of the plane, it took forever to get off, but once I did, the joy of being back in the US took hold. I cruised through customs (skipped most of the line due to being military, hooray!) and found my connecting gate to get to Dayton. After a short wait, I was on my next plane for a short 1 hour flight. Before I knew it, I had landed and was walking out of security. I had hoped Kelley would be there waiting, but her hair appointment went long and she was just getting out of it. I got my luggage and waited for her to pick me up. Seeing her pull up was joyous after not seeing her in person for over 6 months. I tossed my luggage in the trunk and hopped in and we were off to lunch at Donatos Pizza, my favorite pizza place in Ohio. After that, we headed home so I could relax after my very long day.

The next day we went out to breakfast at First Watch, a natural/healthy breakfast place that was awesome, went grocery shopping and relaxed the rest of the day since the next day was our first trip: Cincinnati. We drove to Cincinnati and our first stop was to pick up our race packets at the Reds stadium. We then went to lunch at the Newport Pizza Company, which was fantastic with their zesty sauce (that Kelley did not particularly care for, but she still liked the pizza overall). We shared a canolli for dessert. We then went to the Newport Aquarium. We saw a bunch of cool fish and aquatic creatures, but the shark walk (walk a rope bridge over the shark tank) was a super let down - with all the rope in the way and the turbulence of the water, you could not see a thing. After that, we stopped by a a place called Tom + Chee next door and had a s'more grilled donut. You read that right, graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow inside a donut cut in half and gilled. It was fabulous! We then checked into our swank hotel - our room was a super fancy suite that was super nice and had plenty of room. After chilling a bit, we went for dinner at Rock Bottom Brewing Company and had a fabulous dinner - Kelley had lobster and shrimp crunchy soft tacos and I had bacon mac and cheese. We topped it off with a caramel cheesecake crumble thing in a cup that was amazing.

The next day we woke up early and did a workout video in our spacious room then headed out for King's Island - our first trip there since 2007. We only ended up running a handful of rides because the lines everywhere were super long, it seems like the park did not anticipate the crowd and did not have enough staff working, because many food places were closed and the open ones had 30+ lines everywhere. Overall it was fun and we had a good nostalgic day. We left the part a little while before it closed to get some dinner at nearby Penn Station, one of DJ's absolutely favorite places to eat. We topped it off with a peanut butter dipped Nutella waffles cone with cheesecake ice cream at a local ice cream shack called Whipty-do! It was a fantastic combo! After this we went back to our hotel room to rest for our 10k race.

Race day started out ugly - it was windy and rainy and a bit too cold. We had to be bundled up for our run. We got there plenty early and had to sit around for quite a while before it started. The race started just outside of Great American Ballpark and twisted around downtown Cincinnati before crossing a bridge to head into Kentucky. After a few more twists and turns the route crossed back into Ohio and eventually led us to the staium where the race ended on the left field foul line. We got pictures with some mascots, walked around and got some free snacks, to include ice cream and La Rosa's pizza. Then we went to go get our dog and head home.

We stayed in the Dayton area over the next several days and had great food at various places like McAlister's Deli, 5 Guys Burgers and Fries, bd's Mongolian Grill, The Cheesecake Factory, Rapid Fired Pizza, Whole Foods, and Bada Bing! Pizzeria. At some point we went to a running store and got new shoes, and went for a 5.5 mile run. On May 20th we did the RadioU 5k and Kelley got a medal for finishing 16th among women. We followed that run with a post run meal at Melt Bar and Grilled which was utterly ridiculous! It was delicious! The following day we went to Pies and Pints where DJ had one of the best pizzas he's had in a long time. The next day we went to church and then to Las Pirimedes to met some friends that Kelley made while DJ was away.

Two days later we went to Penn Station again with Arminta, Gar, and their son, Graham, followed by the Angry Birds movie. The day after that we left for our visit to Cleveland and the Rocka nd Roll Hall of Fame. Neither of us were wowed by the museum, but we had a decent time walking around for a few hours. We tried to meet up with my friend Tim who lives there, but it didn't work out, so we found a local pizza place, Vincenza's, and had some decent pizza before getting on the road to Sandusky.

We stayed at Hotel Breakers on the peninsula and our room was pretty nice. We got into the park an hour early and used that to get an early ride of the Millenium Force out of the way. The ride list was:
Millenium Force
Valravn
Top Thrill Dragster
Maverick
The Train
Power Tower
Gatekeeper
Raptor
Giant Wheel
Rougarou
Maverick again
Cedar Creek Mine Ride
Millenium Force again
Valravn again
We capped the night with dinner at TGI Fridays and then some time in the hot tub that more like a warm tub. The next morning we went home, picked up Dribble, and relaxed.

A couple days later we ran 4 miles, had Donatos Pizza, and then went to see X-men: Apocalypse, which was ok. The next day we went to Max and Erma's for the first time in many years - that was a place we went fairly often during our dating years, so it was pretty nostalgic. The next day we had Rapid Fired Pizza again.

The next day we departed on our trip to Arkansas - it was a 10 hour drive or so. We stopped by Panera Bread and Moe's to eat on the way there and got in much later than we wanted to. The next morning we went for a run and then relaxed until dinner time when we went to Deluxe Burger, which was awesome and then went to a Daughtery and 3 Doors Down concert, which was pretty cool, even though we showed up late and missed a good chunk of Daughtery.

The next day we picked up some lunch from a local place called Newk's (it was good!) and then headed out to the lake house for some boating fun. After a little bit of flail and work to get the boat out and ready, we were off. I took a couple turns getting dragged behind the boat on a tube and got thrown from it once. Oliver and Lucy also took turns, then we spent some time floating around and jumping in the water and swimming around. An approaching storm that included lightning cut the outing a little short and made us retreat to the lake house. Once there, DJ played a little table tennis with Oliver then the adult played a game of euchre. It was then time to head back to the house and we picked up pizza at Mellow Mushroom on the way back for dinner. Once we got back to the house we watched the Cavaliers game.

The next day was the big event, the Walmart Shareholders Meeting. My sister insisted it was a big deal, and she was right. It was hosted by James Cordon, and had several high profile musical guests like Andy Grammar, Maxwell, Nick Jonas, Jordan Smith, and capped it off with Katy Perry. Each person only did 2-3 songs, but the production values were good, especially for Katy Perry, the set was pretty nuts. I forget what we did for lunch, but we had Ghenghis Grill for dinner before heading off to Blue Man Group. We did not know what to expect from the show - I had heard it was basically painted freaks playing drums - but it was so much more than that. It was a bunch of skits full of physical comedy and skills interspersed with cool musical numbers. At one point I was laughing harder than I've laughed in many years, so hard the tears were streaming down my face! I absolutely loved it.

The next day we went to a Saturday Wal-Mart meeting with Lori, James, and the kids. It had a little bit of entertainment, but mostly talked business stuff, so it was a dud for us. Lori told us that those meetings were usually better. We had loaded up the car before this event, so we left right from there for the long trek home. We stopped at Fazoli's on the way home for a trip down memory lane since we used to eat there a lot. I forget where we stopped for the other meal, but we eventually made it home and shortly went to bed.

Unfortunately, the next day we had to get up and get going right away to do a 10K for the Strawberry festival in Troy. Kelley crushed that run, finishing several minutes ahead of me. The heat really got to me and slowed me down. We stopped by Smashburger for lunch, then picked Dribble up and went home. Later we caugh TMNT: Out of the Shadows - it was entertaining and had all the classic characters in it this time, but it was not what I would call a good movie. The next few days were uneventful, just getting some things done to prepare Kelley for another 5 1/2 months of being alone.

The night before I left we got Red Robin for dinner and then I got a hair cut. My last morning, we went for a run and then had lunch at First Watch again before Kelley took me to the airport. Leaving this time wasn't quite as bad as the first time I left in November, but it was pretty hard. I was definitely unhappy to leave my wife once again. The plane rides were uneventful, and just like on the way in, I got to watch a whole bunch of movies on the way back.

Jurassic World - Entertaining, sure, but gosh all the characters were dumb. No wonder so many of them died.
Paper Towns - Smart, though provoking teen romance/adventure movie. I really liked it.
Pixels - Wow. Just wow. Your movie loses all credibility when Kevin James is president. Granted, it was not going for realism in the first place, but there is so much wrong with this movie.
Project Almanac - Teen time travel/adventure/found footage movie. I am a sucker for time travel movies that have messed up timelines - this one was interesting and done fairly well, but it did break its own rules at times.
The Martian - I liked it a lot the first time, and it held up on a second viewing. I snoozed through a bit of it though.

Then I landed in Seoul, at Incheon airport, and had to wait what seemed like forever in a line for customs, then wait some more for a bus to Songtan. Then my friend Mike picked me and drove me to my apartment and my awesome month vacation was over.


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Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. - Psalm 51:12 NIV