But then I moved to Iwakuni.
And we have been besieged by construction for the past 4 years I have been here. And when I say besieged, I mean besieged. There are very few areas of the base that remain untouched and if you lived here two or more years ago, you probably don't recognize the place.
You certainly wouldn't recognize the new commissary, which had its grand opening today. Clearly a lot of work and effort went into this. Kudos to everyone involved.
For those of you who have forgotten what the old commissary looked like, or you never saw it to begin with, here is a taste:
If you would like further details I invite you to visit this blog post from 2013 and this one from 2014. You can also take a look at the sketches and timeline that led up to this day in this post here.
When food wasn't missing from the shelves, especially fresh foods, it was expensive. I consistently paid $5 for two bell peppers. $14 for a small spaghetti squash. $5 for a small plastic box of blueberries. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts had gone the way of the dodo. I saw Granny Smith apples twice in my four-year tenure here. Fresh jalepenos only showed up in the summer months.
But today was an entirely different story. Well, except for the Granny Smith apples. Still don't have those.
|The commissary now has floral items.|
|The Kintai Bridge over bottled water|
|Cases of soda|
|The produce section|
|In a land where watermelons are $20 at Costco, I grabbed the $5 watermelon. Actually, my 14-year-old, Will, did. He was not taking no for an answer on that.|
|Bell peppers were 5 for $5. I'm sure it is too much to hope that that price will be permanent.|
|There were celebratory balloons... (followed by startling celebratory balloon popping throughout my visit)|
|And there was a chocolate fountain... as well as free packages English muffins (not pictured).|
|Look at all of the CoffeeMate choices... a year ago people were bargaining on the Facebook classifieds for these. I think one woman even traded her first born.|
|Monster torii gate|
|Some things never change though... 7 different checkout stations... only 3 or 4 were open all day. But there were lots of dudes standing around in suits, chatting.|
|Exhibit A ;)|
|Solar power! Although my geeky brother pointed out that they were showing their power savings on a power-guzzling monitor. He said it was ironic. I told him to straighten his pocket protector.|
|Free food! I did not partake, though.|
|With a simple glance, I noticed that we have two aisles of pizza! We only had a single case before... the kids are thrilled! They'll get to enjoy the variety for about another month before we leave Iwakuni.|
In other news, the new post office opened up on base in May. It's very nice... large, clean, but clearly designed by men.
See the grass in front of the building? See the door on the front of the building? See the back end of the car in front of me? See the sign in front of the grass? You are not allowed to walk on the grass. So, when you are carrying a large package to and from your car, you have to walk completely around the grassy area to get to/from your car/the front door. Why wasn't a straight path to the parking lot created? Hello, people... an obstacle course to the front door is not helpful. If you have to have a special sign telling people to stay off the grass at a public building, you need to rethink your grass.
The other big differences: Boxes now have windows to see if there is mail... this is good because many people have struggled bringing back their high school locker skills with the combo locks now on the boxes. If you don't have mail, it certainly is not worth the struggle. And since my box is even with my knees, I feel like a contortionist trying to look through the window. But, there are also more parcel lockers, so that means more opportunity to pick up packages when the post office window isn't open. Yay!
We just got word that the new Sakura Theater, er, command assembly hall, will have its grand opening on July 1, followed by a second celebration July 4. Which is good news since there can't be any 4th of July fireworks or concerts. I'll be there, throwing some popcorn and Mike and Ikes into the air, saying "oooo," "ahhhhh."