Our trip to the Squirtogether mystery move competition in Japan this year was hallmarked by some dramatic moments- some welcome- others not. First- a typhoon hit Japan about a week before our flights. Japanese mystery spots often change with floods from typhoons. And there was a significant earthquake near the home of one of our hosts and friend- Taiki Sugawara. He only had to deal with no electricity for a few days. But still- a typhoon and an earthquake make for a pretty dramatic beginning.
Then there was a dramatic moment when a member of our team had a ‘bad adrenaline’ experience requiring a heroic save and long swims. And even our return home- the end of the trip- was dramatic. Upon landing at Washington Dulles airport in DC after a movie-saturated flight I learned that the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, had resigned. That was unexpected but not full on dramatic. So- the universe threw in the biggest hurricane to ever hit the Florida Gulf coast- Hurricane Michael- the “Monster” -to spice up the day. Oh- and the stock market dropped 823 points as well just to get in the newspapers. And then- there was the vegan sandwich I lunched on in the airport which was the worst sandwich I ever ate. Dramatically baaaad! It was hard to pick out what I liked least about the concoction- but I did. It may have been a red pepper in an earlier incarnation.
And then there was my neck injury- so sad- almost bad. It started out as a pinched nerve in my neck 5 weeks earlier and lived nervously until it was in the sturdy hands of my new chiropractor (I was desperate). “Are you nervous?” my chiropractor asked when I first went to him about 4 weeks earlier. “Yeah- this is my first time.” He reassuringly coaxed me to ‘just relax’ into his capable hands. When the ‘x’ sound from ‘relax’ passed his lips- it mixed with a crunching sound as he twisted me with the strength of a Navy seal. It was then I remembered I was told of a cousin who had a chiropractor break her neck. But this was just painful and I groaned like an old man. And it worked- sort of- after a few more treatments. And I was on the mend until I laid in the back of Hiro’s crowded van on our first day of touristing at the impressive Mt. Fuji Museum. Laying on my back in the back of the van didn’t hurt during the ride but when I sat up to get out later- I was pretty much paralyzed as my neck scrunched into an excruciating frozen pain. That would need a few days of acetaminophen and more therapy from my Japanese chiropractor friend Iimura Shuichii. It affected my mystery moves later a bit because I couldn’t turn my head to see if I was safe or getting swept downstream when I was paddling back into shore after any mystery I did. If I didn’t get to shore I would have to run the next riffle or two downstream which were about 6 feet deep and moving as fast as a bus- but with a terrible traffic jam on river right where a good bit of water was crashing into large rocks on shore which were clearly an undercut jumble that looked pretty hungry. I was OK every time but it did have a telling effect on my appetite for staying underwater as long as possible.
At this point in the story I’d like to point out that I lost my cub reporter merit badge on this trip by forgetting to bring my camera. There’s always that one thing you forget you know. But – not to worry- we had two great photographers along for the ride this time. All of the photos, then, in this report are from them, Gabe DeWitt and Andy Grizzell. Gabe and Joel Wolpert have exceptional abilities to stay underwater for up to two minutes at a time which proved useful when they filmed their “Charging Arc” and “Lure of the Realm” videos of me playing at my favorite local playspot- Fascination Alley. “Charging Arc” even won a prestigious global video contest in the previous year. There’s a link to them here: