Basil the Mini

My friend in Japan

Japan is rebuilding and this is not the first time for them.  I keep telling myself this over and over and yet, it is so difficult to understand or even feel what some of the survivors of the March 11th tsunami are even going  through.  At least that is what I thought until shortly after I learned that a good friend of mine was in a location that was within the pathway of the destruction.  Gabe Craft and wife with their little girl barely got away from such a horrid catastrophe when it happened.

I have known Gabe for awhile and we share a unique passion for the Mazda Miata.  He lived in SC and we would meet each year at the Miata’s at The Gap and really enjoyed comparing cars, modifications, discussing life and whatnot.  Soon after, Gabe and his then girlfriend had a calling to teach in Japan in a rural area and really fell in love with his new calling.  I recall on my trip to Japan a few years ago, it was impossible to get out to the coast where he was due to time and unfortunately cost (the Shinkansen is not a cheap travel alternative but very quick), but I know that we will meet again soon.  Fast forward to March 11th….I recall seeing on Gabe’s Facebook page that his family and friends were not seeing a response from him or his family and it really was emotional.  Fortunately, Gabe was fine with his family (see recaps below) but they lost everything – and I mean everything.

Somewhere in my mind I knew I wanted to help in any way for the Japan effort and thought it would be nice to make an impact with someone who I knew and someone who touched so many of us.  I quickly activated a community of people through a Mazda website/forum that I moderate – Clubroadster.net and quite honestly, the outpouring was unreal (for use of a better word).  In one week, the community at CR.net came together and raised enough money for Gabe and his family to help with their rebuilding.  This is the first time I have ever done something like this and quite honestly….it was very humbling and in a way, Gabe has made me a better man since we first met back on that hot July day at the Gap.  I also now realize now how important community is and how  important it is to help others in who are truly need.  I think at times it is so easy for someone to sit on a couch and see the news a thousand miles away that really does not impact them.  I can only hope that Japan rebuilds with that drive that I have always known to see and feel with the Japanese…I just know they will.

I wanted to post something that his wife posted soon after so that my reads can understand the impact this has made for just one family – and many others out there that simply may not have the resources to recount such a disaster.  Also posting link below for a news clip from Gabe’s family below.

 

On Friday afternoon as you all know an 8.8 magnitude earthquake shook the country of Japan. Gabe was at school across the bay and I was home in Jinomori with Violet. When the earthquake started I ran outside with Violet. We had no shoes or coats on as it happened so suddenly.  I struggled to make it down the street to where my some of my neighbors were standing an holding on to some steel poles. They held out their arms to me and then we all wrapped our arms around Violet. She began to cry and the shaking became more and more severe and also probably because my heart was beating out of my chest. There was an explosion at the power plant that we could see from where we were standing and we all screamed out loud as the sparks flew. Finally the shaking subsided and we all stood around waiting to hear the announcement to follow. Violet was screaming so loudly that I could not hear the announcement at all. I stood there as long as I could but we were both getting cold so I started to walk back in to my house thinking it was all ok.

Just as I arrived at my house my dear friend Junko Mino drove past and shouted out my name. I  was so happy to see her and she immediately said there is a big tsunami coming please get in my car. I ran to the door of my house and was able to grab shoes for me and Violet and our coats. They were by the door so I didn’t even have to go inside but I did see everything in my kitchen on the ground. I had my cell phone and ran back to the car and we drove away. I tried to call Gabe several times but everyone was doing the same thing. I could not get a connection. Finally just before the service cut out we connected and I said where are you? He told me his location and I told him I was going to the hospital because it is the highest place in our town. Junko dropped me off there and then went to meet with her family. I went inside and they were setting up triage in the entry ways. I stood there in the entry as the aftershocks continued to shake the earth. A former student of Gabe’s and her mother arrived with her 1 month old twin baby girls. And we waited together to meet out husbands. After 1 hour passed I was really getting sick. Someone came in and said where is Gabe and I told them. Their eyes told me everything I did not want to know. They said the wave came and I just felt my whole world shatter. I didn’t even know the wave had come.

So I stood there trying to hold it together for our baby girl. Another 45 min past and I was really hanging by a thread of hope that I would see my beloved’s face one more time. I was thinking of all the things I had said the night before and the morning of. What could I have said different. Then a familiar face appeared. It was my neighbor and she shouted out that Gabe was there. I didn’t believe her though. She left and running through the doors 3 minutes later was my beautiful husband. It was the most beautiful embrace of my life. My husband my friend and love was with me again. Then we waited for news of other loved ones. That night we were told to stay in the gym of the hospital with other survivors. It was amazing to experience such kindness and grace under so much distress.  We are safe and very blessed. The next day we moved to another evacuation area to make room for incoming elderly and injured. There was no lack of water or medicine but we knew the night would be another rough sleep. We decided to journey to  the town where our friend Mark and his aforementioned wife, Junko, live. As we were about to leave Mark came in the room. We all embraced in tears of relief and thankfulness. Mark took us to his home and we ate and slept well. There is so much more to tell… But, we must go at this time.

We give thanks to all of you who have kept us in your thoughts and prayers. We have each other but we have lost our home, car and possessions. Beyond prayer, many have asked how they can help physically. So, given the cost of shipping anything these days and that we can buy what we need here the best way to help us is to send a check or money order payable to Roy Craft, 36 Joan Drive, Taylors, SC 29687,USA

Please note: We are NOT asking for anything but only letting those who are wanting to send help somehow ,know how to help us. This is the most helpful way physically. Other than that we request prayers for acceptence of peace in mind body and spirit. let us pray for the world and all those who suffer this day.

We love you all and thank you so much for all of your thoughts and prayers.

We are continuing a vigil of hope for friends not yet contacted.

– Peace, Blessings & Love, Gabe, Steph & Violet

 

You can also see a short video here:

Gabe and Family escape

Fit is GO

Over the past weekend, I had an opportunity to head to the mountains with a bunch of car enthusiasts for a weekend break, BBQ and some serious liquid libations. When the opportunity arises, I usually take the roadster into the TN and NC mountains, but decided to try the Fit.  My destination was an old friend I have been visiting since 1999 – Hwy 129, or The Tail of Dragon (Deal’s Gap).  318 curves in 11 miles is what this stretch of road is known for – and for others, it is a call into the claims office on Monday from a nasty dragon bite.

It was a no brainer: My relatively new Fit Sport is remarkably nimble and stable platform for tackling twisty roads. In spite of its tall stance, the original Fit never feels tippy, but I am thinking in the long run she needs to be lowered just a tad.

Thanks to a Mugen short shift kit and weighted shift knob, the shift throws were short and very precise. Also coupling that with with amazing steering characteristics and you have a winner for the mountains. The only sore spot were the brakes were I think she would have commanded more stopping power with bigger rotors in the front and in rear (replacing the rear drums).

Power in general is fun if you keep the revs in the 4k range and the addition of a K&N intake gives you the grin factor of a little bark for this nimble wee-beastie.  The real beauty here was that I was able to pack all my gear including my friends gear into the car and had a comfortable ride while logging in over 500 miles.

Overall, really enjoyed the quick run to the mountains and feel like the 2009 Honda Fit Sport had earned its wings one of the United State’s most challenging roads.

And the road goes ever on

Ireland: High in the mountains

As I sit here in my office, I tend to daydream a bit of one of the most beautiful trips I have ever taken in my life.  You know it is one of those moments in your life where you literally are spiritually moved and yet you cannot help but think if you literally dreamed of this place, or you witnessed heaven in your own eyes.

Ireland: Heading down from the higher altitude

I speak of Ireland and my wife and I took such a trip back in 2010 that we had been looking forward to for some time.  Aside from all the places we visited, I continue to think about how we got to those places and what we saw getting there stays with me the most.  We logged over 2,000km in a 2010 Fiat 500 and was a big part of the planning when the idea hit us one night at our local pub.

Ireland: A moment to reflect on the journey

I knew I wanted to drive everywhere and not be confined to a bus and surely I knew this was not the smartest idea on the planet.  Every reviuew I read of Ireland was full of warning and foreboding of crazy traffic, drivers, bad roads and mad sheep – and I am glad I did not listen.

 

Ireland: On the coast in a hairpin

 

Ireland: Heading into Molls Gap
Ireland: Healey's Pass

 

Ireland: and the road goes ever on

The back roads we explored to get to our next destination was purely magical and at times, I was lost in a wash of emotions driving through Moll’s Gap, soaking up pure driving nirvana at Healey’s Pass, or carefully exploring the eerie Black Valley at sunset in the light fog.  And yet, I cannot help but think about this trip as I make my daily commute into the office and have a better appreciation for the simple idea of driving to explore.  What I left in Ireland was a smile and a few broken twigs from the bracken that hugged each road, but Ireland has left inside of me a soul-full of memories and experiences that only one can experience on a road that goes forever on.

 

Ireland: From the captains chair

Get out, drive…and explore.


Ireland: High in the mountains