This past Sunday, itching to get out of our hotel room and tired of running errands, Yoni and I decided to set off and explore the island. We read in a guide book that tangerine picking is something you can do during the winter in Okinawa, and bolstered by our positive experiences blueberry picking at camp, figured – sure! We took a beautiful drive all the way to the end of the Okinawa Expressway (it only covers about 2/3 of the island) and beyond, and found the sign we were looking for:
Unfortunately, once we arrived, a very nice non-English-speaking Japanese woman communicated to us that, actually, tangerine picking season ended November 30 (it was December 4). Of course. At least we got to buy some tangerines.
As we had spent a good portion of the morning getting up to this small village where we now found ourselves with nothing to do, we decided to follow road signs to Mt. Yaedake (Mt Yae for short).
The road became smaller and narrower as it wound up through the mountains. Eventually, after about 45 minutes of incredibly beautiful driving, we found an observation spot to pull over and take some pictures.
|The jungle is incredibly thick in the north part of the Island; the Marines use it for jungle warfare training!|
|Look how big those leaves are...it was like Jurrasic Park!|
|Eventually, we made it to the top and were greatly rewarded for our efforts. The 360-degree views of the island were incredible. I learned later that Mt. Yae is the second-highest peak on island.|
See the Blueberry in the parking lot?
After a brief resting period, we returned to the car and headed back to the highway. Starving, we stopped for some ice cream in Nago (the big city of the northern half of the island.
|We sat overlooking the beach to eat, and guess what we saw?!|
If you look very closely, you can see the observatory where we stood at the top of the mountain! It's in the very center of the picture. If you can't see it, just take my word for it - it was there. All in all, not bad for an accidental field trip.