|TUNNEL VISION - JET'S|
Good News...the WIFI detector is still working after going through the wash so Steve is making periodic stops along the roadside to connect via the WIFI. So that means we are getting emails and making an occasional SKYPE call as well as causing a few sideways glances from the locals.
Day 7 42.4km Woke to the sound of a bubbling stream just past our campsite. We are headed into a more desolate area along the coast, through a few tunnels , and around the tip of a southern point called Erimo.We do not always know the name of the towns as the signs are often in Japanese. However, sometimes the names are on the man hole covers. I am taking photo's of them for a cruising friend who will copy the designs into jewelry. The covers are all amazingly intricate and depict a feature of the area.
The lamp posts are also works of art.
Alone among rolling green hills and the sea on our starboard side, windy and overcast we suddenly round the point and found lots of Japanese tourists and concession stands. Smells of grilled conch on skewers (Tsubyaki) fill the air.
We were told the campground up the way had a Sento. We thought we would have to miss our evening bath and soak. No way!!!Day 8 76km It was dead silence that woke us this AM. The wind howled all night but it was very still by 5AM. Yes, we are up at the crack of dawn, the best time to roll.
I do not like tunnels, especially in such an earthquake prone country. First one...I come to a dead stop. Looking ahead into that dark tunnel with no end in sight, my tail light squashed somewhere back days ago.... there was NO WAY!! Well, in the end it must have been sheer anger that got me through. Steve got another lesson, this one on how to handle someone with a fear.
The tunnel turned out to be 3.5km long!!!
It was well lit but once inside the sound of the wind came howling in from up front and the deafening roar of huge trucks coming up behind us, closer and closer, louder and louder, us peddling faster and faster, gasping, sweating, pounding then.....whoosh....past us they'd fly.
It was an entire day of tunnels along a very rough, craggy coast, one tunnel after the other only meters apart. We were both happy to get through safely. By the end of the day Steve was remarking how important a lesson he had learned about other peoples feelings. 76km today, we just pushed on and on ....knowing there was an Onsen up there waiting. We found it..Ahhh!Day 9 57km. We are headed to Obihiro one of Hokkaido's 3rd largest cities. Just had enough of those tunnels so we have turned inland. Our campsite near the Onsen is right on the corner of a golf course with yellow flowering bushes full of thousands of little white butterflies.
Steve meets a female Japanese bicyclist. She tells him in broken English she has seen me before. Turns out it was in the Onsen!!Oh dear, I hope I had my modesty towel discreetly placed!
I was just glad it was not in the handicap toilet that Steve and I discovered was a great place to wash out our biking clothes each night.Steve learns that the button on the wall is not to flush the toilet....it is the emergency button. He quickly rips it off the wall, disconnected the alarm, reconnects it and our little secret is safe. Some toilets have an electric eye on the wall that you just swipe your hand across to flush.
How are we to know??Anyway it was a gorgeous day, sunny and warm. Flowers, carrots, green beans and sunflowers growing along the road. It's a straight shot, wind at our backs and we FLY averaging 23km an hour, NO TUNNELS and little red and white arrows above to keep us in line in case it snows!
We took Kajsa and Gregory out to eat but first Steve and I went to the sento to clean up. Steve was out of there in a flash, (no pun intended). No lingering this time. He felt uncomfortable that a local grabbed his scrubby and offered to wash his back. We are happy to learn from Gregory that it is quiet the neighborly thing to do in the sentos.
We went to a Viking Buffet where for $16 each we found a smorgasbord of every kind of food imaginable including gizzards, ovaries and skins. You choose your meat or fish and vegetables then cook them on a little grill in the middle of the table. It was fun. There is a ZERO tolerance with alcohol so not one drink is tolerated for the driver. Makes us feel safer on the road!
Gregory and Kajsa take us on a night tour of Obihiro. We run into more JET's and find they are all over the place, all bubbling over with excitement on how fortunate they are to have been chosen for such an adventure.These kids are making a wage of $3000 a month and having the time of their lives. Kajsa and Gregory are off over night to a big party out of town. They are welcoming in the new seasons chosen few.
We are given a key and use of the house. Just to sit on a sofa is a treat and so relaxing.
Steve decides that his days of delivery captain always had him focused on a DESTINATION.... not the journey.....but Japan just may be changing all that for him!
For two nights we are camping in Kajsa's back yard. For $60 a month she rents this small Japanese house supplied as part of her English teacher contract.