Japan was not someplace we had on our shortlist (which isn't much of a shortlist) for vacation locations. First, we figured that much of the stuff we'd be interested in seeing could be seen when we were older. Second, having been to several other places in southeast Asia, we were concerned about the sheer number of people and the lack of personal space. But our original plan - cruise in the Canaries, Madeira, Morocco, plus some time in Central Europe, went haywire for a couple of reasons. And since Crystal's parents were spending the year in Japan for work, we figured we'd take advantage of the opportunity and visit Japan.

The trip came at an opportune time for Crystal, as she'd just wrapped up her previous job and wasn't starting her new job at GoPro until after we returned. As her former co-workers told her, she wasn't unemployed, she was funemployed. It was a little less opportune for Justin, as he'd just gotten back from Houston the day before (thankfully on an earlier flight, so at least mid-day). He had packed most of his stuff 10 days earlier, and Crystal took care of packing all of our combined materials.

Our flight was at 6:15am, so we got up at 4:00. Heidi was nice enough to volunteer to drive us to the airport, so we didn't even need to concern ourselves with parking. We left the house at 4:15, and got to the airport at 5. We had only one piece of checked luggage, and got it checked through to Tokyo (via SFO). Although we had to connect in SFO, there was a benefit in that at San Diego we could go through TSA Precheck, whereas LAX - where we normally leave for our international travel - doesn't have Precheck at the International Terminal. We got upgraded on our flight to San Francisco, so we took the opportunity to have a glass of champagne, then got some shut-eye.

We got the 6:15 flight, and purposely chose a longer layover, because we didn't want fog to delay things in SFO and have us potentially miss the connection. So, as luck would have it, it was nothing but blue skies and sunshine in San Francisco. Fortunately, to tide us over on the layover, we got to stay in the United Club. We aren't members, but for international flights anyone that has Star Alliance Gold status can go to the club for free. We went up an escalator, and in front of us was a large lounge area and a breakfast buffet. We were reading and surfing the web for an hour or so, and then Crystal realized that on the other side of the club (behind where we came up the escalator) there was a bar, so we got a couple of drinks there (hey, it was nighttime in Japan) before heading to the gate. It was probably best that we didn't find the bar earlier, as we were cognizant of not wanting to get dehydrated on the plane. On the plane, we had Economy Plus seats (another benefit of our United status), so it was a little easier to get some sleep, not that Crystal ever needs assistance. We were asleep in short order.