Finishing Sunday, just as everyone else starts it…

It’s 9pm Sunday night, we just finished dinner on the beach. At home in Texas it’s 5am Sunday morning.

The slogan “Guam: where America’s day begins” is more than a little true! It began, had a middle, and is practically over, just as it’s getting started back on the continent.

One of the unforseen challenge of staying at a hotel visited in large part by Asian tourists is the side-of-the-road issue while walking. We move to the right. They move to the left. Chaos ensues as we stare each other down, vying for cultural dominance on the part of our team.

Fortunately for us I’m taller than 99% of the people we see, they generally blink first when confronted with the possibility of running headlong into me.

After we left the coffee shop we went on a driving tour of the area trying to find some locations Dave remembers. Unfortunately we couldn’t find his grandmother’s old neighborhood, but things here HAVE changed quite a bit since he was here last…

Lookout point on top of an old fort above Agana.
Non-operational costal defenses. A worry about an invasion of pirates!
Looking down over the old homeland.

After our tour of Agana and Barrigada we did a little more souvenir shopping at a store everyone saw. Everywhere we go we see this little dude, and I keep forgetting to look him up and see what the story is. Who is this tiny egg man?

Back in Marcia at Dave’s room, looking out at the water, we decided we wanted to go swimming some more. But the sun is an evil death laser, so we waited until closer to sunset. In meantime: bubble tea!

The dark spots in the water are big coral rocks. That’s where the best fishes lurk.

We went out quite a ways this time, in search of even better fish-watching. There are some pretty cool ones, and if you get out to the big coral patches they’re not even bothered much by your presence, you’re on THEIR turf now.

In fact, this morning Caren got bitten by a fish. Just a nice little kiss on the foot, but there’s still a mark even tonight! Bevin atd I laughed at her panicked flailing, and then immediately felt bad. 

For dinner we went to the grill on the beach of the neighboring hotel. (they’re the same chain, that one is the ridiculously high end one…)

The pool/gardens at Dusit Thani. Very relaxing in the evening.
A short wait for dinner, but a lovely setting for it!

We got a table literally right by the edge, looking down at the beach.

The guitarist doing live music did actual voices for his covers. His Shaggy was pretty great, and his Satchmo for “what a wonderful world” had all the right growl to it, even if it wasn’t quite low enough.

Enjoy living in the past Sunday people!

Sunday morning coffee

We were in the neighborhood, Bevin had to come back…

Doing another visit to some cemeteries this morning, and stopping to get some coffee at the fanciest coffee place around. Because Bevin.i

It turns out this building is an old bank. Their kitchen is in the vault. Still a pretty neat spot!

The mostly blank one 2nd from the top is Dave’s maternal grandfather Jesus Pangelinan Mendiola

Back at the hotel waiting for breakfast earlier I had a sudden snap of irreality on account of the Christmas tree. I just do not feel like it’s December, and sometimes it just feels really out of place to notice the Christmas stuff…

So we found a more Islas-themed place to hang out.

Anyway, we’re at the coffee shop waiting for our order. Afternoon plan is to drive through Agana and Barrigada looking for places Dave remembers, and go pick up a souvenir or two at a place we saw. Maybe some snorkeling or a nap after that. Rest of the afternoon and one more day to go!

Creatures of Habit. Chose the same spot to sit in this giant 3-story coffee shop as last time!
At least 1 of these contains actual coffee…
Genetics prevent Bevin from NOT buying something that contains mango.

We’re having a good time…

We don’t have a ton of pictures of yesterday, due to doing either fairly uninteresting (to you, dear reader.) things, or because we had no electronics with us.

We started out with some swimming in the bay by our hotel right after sunrises.

We visited a few more cemeteries and drove around through some neighborhoods looking for old places Dave remembered.

Guam Veterans Memorial, where Dave’s uncle Antonio was buried. Unfortunately we have no info about where, and their organizational system is a bit opaque…
We think this might be one of Dave’s grandmothers, Maria Mendiola Mendiola. Records are now great of exactly when she died, but an best we can tell the dates here are ballpark correct.

For lunch we went to a burger place that has a bugger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

Bevin found that too extravagant, and instead got the burger between two pieces of French toast.

What’s a French toast burger without some syrup?
So far every straw we’ve encountered an the island is a bendy straw. Bevin is somewhat perplexed by this.

We did a little shopping in the afternoon, and Caren bought a snorkel. One of the snorkels at the gift store had some very clear and concise helpful informational infographics:

It is very important not to snorkel in the wrong manner.

We went out into the bay again right about sunset. Caren at I both fear our mortal enemy The Sun, so swimming at sunrise at sunset is pleasant. And the water at sunset was LOVELY. Nice and warm. Sorry for lack of picture of Bev floating around chastising the fishes for not coming over to where she could see them, you’ll just have to imagine.

Earlier in the afternoon much effort had been put into deciding where to go to dinner.

Decisions decisions…

In the end we went to a place I’d found online before the trip that had a dish Dave remembers called Bistek.

Their version of Bistek was more vinegar based than the one the family makes at home, and Caren was somewhat surprised by it. 
The most structured and consistently textured bread pudding any of us have ever encountered.

After we got back Bev and I walked down the beach a ways to get away from the hotel lights. Tons of little fish right by the water’s edge jumping at darting around, and plenty of stars visible. You can’t hear the waves because the reef is so far out, but in the dark you can see them occasionally.

Bevin, chasing the fishes in the dark.
Looking back at the hotels. (ours in the one right above the two people walking)

Around the island in 80 miles…

Today we did a full circumnavigation of Guam. 87 miles total, including some little detours. Going all the way around is something Dave had never done, they didn’t take the family on road trips except up to his uncle’s farm on the very north tip of the island, which was our first stop.

Ritidian, the northern end of the island.

Down below in that flat area is where Dave’s uncle had some land and farmed breadfruit and such.

Obligatory selfie with ancestral land.

The area to the right in both of these pictures is Anderson air base, which takes up a huge chunk of the northern part of the island.

Unfortunately the beach itself was closed, they’re still cleaning up after the typhoon a few months ago. But we drove down the road a bit to see what Dave could recognize. Apparently there used to be some large caves with lots of bats. Wit a hillside like this I can believe it!

Rock hillside from down on the flats at Ritidian. Excellent bat territory. No breadfruit found.

From there we drove down the entire eastern side of the island, stopping at Talafofo falls.

The rock under this falls kind of reminds me of Silver Falls in Oregon.
We were the only ones there at the time, so Bev and her mom and sister had the falls to themselves. They were tormenting toads I think. 藍
There were some pretty impressive… Iquanas? No problem just climbing up and down the wet rock.

One of the things to stop and see here is this small man-made cave.

Ladder now originally part of cave. Hard to see down the hole, but it’s quite small and about 6 feet deep.
What the cave is like inside.

So what is it with this cave you ask? Why bother with the detour to see this?

Well this is the cave made and lived in by a Japanese soldier. For 28 years he remained on Guam, after the war was over, living in this cave. Unfortunately the informational displays were all in Japanese and quite broken English, but it sounds like he just never heard the war was over at was waiting for the island to be re-conquered.

In his own little jungle… Paradise?

The area where his cave was is right next to the river, but still pretty dense jungle. Can’t have been an easy life.
The #2 falls.
If you’re going to have to live in the jungle in a cave, it’s really not a bad spot to do it…
Dave made it up the last of the uneven steps and we boarded the cable car out of the valley.

Continuing down the island we stopped at a couple of scenic points, including this one at Inarajan. Not quite the southernmost point on the island, but close, there’s a large bay at some natural pools that have been formed. This was the windiest and highest surf we’ve seen anywhere on the island!

The lookout point above the Inarajan natural pools
Selfies required, apparently…
Little natural cove just below the lookout point.

Bev was having way too much fun looking for pieces of coral, we basically had to drag her out of there.

Wrapping around the southern tip of the island and heading back up the west side, we stopped at the remnants of an old Spanish fort that was built to protect this harbor that the Spanish used to re-provision ships.

Panorama of Fort Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
Quite a good range on the guns from up this high!

A lonely place to stand watch, but certainly not cold!

An excellent (and almost unheard of around here) deep water bay! No wonder the Spanish built forts here!

At the entrance to the park was a man selling coconuts, an access to their delicious coconut innards via his machete. The siren song of the coconut could not be resisted, I think it’s in the genetics.

Continuing our journey north once more, we stopped at one more famous Guam landmark, still the center of island life: KMart.

Spom spam spam spam spamity spaaaaaaaam

Walking around a bit near the hotel before dinner we NEARLY discovered the answer to that most ancient of questions…

Unfortunately the chicken changed their mind and went back, and so did not actually cross the road. Bonus points for using the crosswalk though.

For dinner we actually went back to the same Chamorro Fusion place we went last night because they had so many delicious things we needed to try more.

So, having gone entirely around the island, visited several places from Dave’s youth and even more places he’d never been, we’re planning a nice easy Saturday of looking for some family graves. How many more cemeteries can there be on such a tiny island? I’m sure it’ll work out! On to Saturday. Hopfully we didn’t over-use Friday and there’s some left over for you!

Coffee, the war in the pacific, and a fish…

The rest of yesterday was quite varied. After breakfast we started with Bevin wanting to try out a coffee shop we’d driven by.

As usual, Bevin’s instincts were… Very Bevin.

This place is an old bank turned modern coffee and meeting area.

Thuy just opened this week, so they’re still figuring everything out. There was a 30 minute wait just to order. Fortunately there was a lot to look at…

I can’t imagine they found all this antique coffee equipment for decorations ON Guam….

Pretty cool place though. They had an “art exhibit” on the 3rd floor which turned out to be, surprise surprise, more coffee equipment.

The Art of Coffee?

And also printing, and other random antiques.

We finally got our coffee, and croffle and were on our way. Next step a history museum.

Japanese 2-man submarine that ran aground shortly after the liberation of Guam.

The museum was really interesting. Guam was attacked on the same day as Pearl Harbor. We’re here at this museum on December 7th, but that’s actually a day early because Dec 7th in Hawaii was Dec 8th here. Obvious in retrospect.

The museum had some very well done exhibits with stories of the Chamorro people and what happened when Japan attacked and occupied the island. (Dave’s parents and grandparents were here when that happened.)

I read a lot of WWII history books when I was younger, but it seems like Guam was never talked about as much as some of the other famous battles, although it played quite a pivotal role, and nearly as many people lost their lives (and over a much shorter time span) in the battle of Guam as in Guadacanal…

After the museum, and getting some advice on some places to go from the wonderful people there, we went to the nearby Asan Bay park.

Looking across Asan Bay, where the American troops came ashore.
Looking back across the fields at the hills

The American invasion to retake the island landed troops at this field, and they had to get across the flat and up the hill to destroy the Japanese gun emplacements. The air force at navy had been pounding the beach and those hills for weeks to prepare, in the pictures from the invasion it looks like a mud flat. One of the exhibits had a quote from a Chamorro woman in one of the Japanese labor camps who said that they loved the sound of the American bombs because they knew that the Americans wouldn’t stop until they were free. (unfortunately that’s when the massacres started…)

The top of those hills in the background is where the memorial wall of names we went to is, you look down on this park from there.

It’s really quite something to imagine 20,000+ troops storming ashore here, all for this tiny island 30 miles long with native population of around 20,000.

The Grateful Chamorro memorial at Asan Point.

Would be interesting to hike the trail on this Ridgeline to see some of the pillboxes and gun emplacements grown over by the jungle, however it’s too dang hot and we’re not prepared for it.

Went back to the hotel for a siesta. Dinner later was at a Chamorro fusion restaurant called Meskla.

Bevin had the Parrotfish. Not pictured here: the gleeful look on her face as she disassembled it.

Being “fusion” it’s not exactly the native flavors Dave remembers, but they include quite a bit of it, and everything was outstanding!

Today’s plan is to head up to the north tip of the island where Dave’s uncle had a farm, and drive around more of the island to see what we find.

Sun’s just coming up on Friday now, we’re living in the future!

Might go walk on the beach before breakfast, since it’s really the perfect temperature right at sunrise…


I discovered today that this trip is actually the furthest I’ve ever been from where I was born. At 5,600-ish miles, it’s about 300 miles further than the last record was. (Vienna) .

So next, need to go 3500 miles south? Pretty sure North is a bad idea as that’d be 500 miles past the north pole. Gotta fill in that radius!

Anyway, it’s Thursday here, and we get it before you do! We’ll try not to ruin it.

The fountain above the pool outside the hotel lobby
Ready for adventure!

Håfffffaaa Adaaaaaaaaaaai Guam

Post breakfast balcony view

With apologies to Robin Williams and all Chamorro speakers everywhere for the title…

It was very odd last night to arrive at a pacific island themed hotel lobby and find a snow covered Christmas tree with polar bears though.

Arriving after dark makes it hard to actually figure out where you are

View from Asan Bay overlook

One of our agenda items today was to visit a memorial for the natives of Guam who suffered labor camps and forced marches under Japanese occupation, to find the names of Dave’s parents and grandparents.

Dave pointing at the name of his paternal Grandfather
A lot of name in just 3 years…
Direction and distance markers to all the major battles in the pacific.

One thing I learned here is that the battle of Guam had nearly as many casualties in 20 days as Guadacanal did in several months.

Entrance to the memorial

We also went to the Baptist cemetery where two of his grandparents are buried.

Dave looking at the headstones of his paternal grandparents.

The evening plan is the “chamorro village” night market, to explore the locally made trinkets and foods.

The Wednesday night market at Chamorro Villiage
The food was tasty, but judged not sufficient coconut.
They do rides on something called a Carabao, which it turns out is a water buffalo. Some enterprising soul brought these creatures to Guam in the 1600’s. What a boat ride that must’ve been.

After getting back to the hotel we went for a walk on the beach. It’s pretty at night. Water is plenty warm to stick your toes in, and there are little fish dartin and splashing around.

On the way back inside I was once again perplexed by the polar bear theming.

If you can think of a LESS likely place to find a polar bear than here you’ve got a better imagination than I… Maybe the utter strangeness of it is what makes it interesting?

Not sure yet what tomorrow will bring, but I imagine finding some other local foods will be involved.

It continues…

On the move…

Bevin, literally during landing… Early morning.

Hey, this looks familiar.

Gray skies make me happy…

Everyone in texas complains when the sky looks like this, but I love it!

Was interesting to be back in Portland for the afternoon. At one point we were walking through the name neighborhood we lived in for 10 years and I had realized that I wouldn’t choose to live there now. It’s changed so much, and not for the better in many ways…

Anyway, we got 5 hours of sleep, and then on the road again!

Apparently the safety briefing was interesting… Either that or the fact that it’s 5:30 am means, brains aren’t awake yet…
What airport is this even? I’ve lost track.
We’re on the big-kids plane now!

And now, having slept for 5 hours, and been up for 6.5 hours, the goal is to sleep for 5 hours. We’ll see if it works.

The very back row of a 777ER, we’ve got our own 2 person row!

See you wherever we wake up!