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:

​​ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyTmStRBPpw