INTO THE HILLSDay 14 49.5km. A cold north wind woke us this AM but the day was bright and sunny. Today was a day of smelling the flowers so abundant along the road side and enjoying the little miniature horse ranches. We are following Rt. #391 up into the hills and getting a bit of a beam reach with wind on our port side so taking our time knowing we don't have to go far to our way point. Miniture Horses & Wind Fences with Louvers near the Thermal Resort Village of Mashu.
Arrived in Mashu, a cute little hill town with an onsen, for feet soaking only, outside under a ramada right in front of the train station.The sento in this town is very old fashion where you walk in off the street directly into the changing room. Separating the men from women's side is a tiny room, with a women inside watching TV, collecting our $2 each while she observes both sides.
I do not see any stools or basins so make a motion like sitting down. The women in the little room directs me to a toilet. A second gesture, I end up with TP. Never mind! It is a tiny room with one dipping pool but it is real hot spring mineral water.
Oh! There they are...those little basins! We got our bath but both wondering what happened to our fancy onsen's with massage chairs, restaurant, and vending machines. And our favorite drink....Pocari Sweat!!
Day 15 30.9km Oh No....it's raining!! Great day for FROGS! Wonder if Steve brought the fog horn and snorkel??? He has brought just about everything else. He is still talking about sending stuff by post even though I am now carrying the seal and bear meat!!
My glasses are fogged up so I follow Steve's red LED tail light and watch his feet disappear, one then the other, in puddle after puddle. Who cares at least we can get our sauna while biking under these darn poncho's. Where did that big log truck come from and that Hummer going by? Hey, get off our way point.....this is our miserable day!!!
We are in a thermal area with steam rising up out of the grates by the curbs!
This is an area like Yellowstone called Akan National Park. It is a tourist spot with hot springs and steam rolling out of the mountain sides. We end up finding an indoor onsen at the end of the day that has dozens of different temperature pools.
I stay in the one about 90 degrees with very powerful jets. There are waterfalls, a long shallow pool with black rocks in the bottom and warm water next to a long shallow pool with white rocks and cool water. The sauna's here are not the poncho type but those old fashion wood boxes with hole on top for your head.
There are even massage chairs. A sure sign of a place to plug in the computer.It even has a work out room with one of those old jiggle machines that vibrates the fat off hips.
That reminds me...time for dinner!
Day 16 25km Break out the scuba gear......it is really raining now!!! We are back into the hills beside Lake Kussharo. It is a wet, foggy, green, creepy crawly area with lots of thermal activity where the lake is 80 degrees. Brings out those big wheel munching bugs!
We can see a few volcanoes and a huge foggy mountain across the lake that we will have to tackle tomorrow. Better eat that seal and bear meat to lighten our load!We skirt the lake passing black sand beaches. Our Mapple showed onsens but here they are buried and we must dig a hole in the sand. What happened.....from our posh onsens to sentos to this?
We eat lunch at an Ainu native village. They serve thermal cooked potatoes deep fried in batter. Then we are pointed to a free onsen down by the lake.
It is quartered off with rocks from the lake and has a magnificent view
I take a dip up to my knees with a group of Japanese women.
We giggle and chat while Steve remarks that he will never question my grammar again as I must have a multitude of foreign languages to wade through in my head ....but at least we communicated.
Short day as we set up camp by the lake. The lake has white caps and it is windy and cold.
We decided not to jump in the hot spring flowing into the lake and scare the locals. Instead we preferred a nearby sento with separate baths.
Bath over, we bunk down in our cozy tent. We are awakened by a familiar language.... American? Aussie? Kiwi? English for sure. We were a bit lonely on this cold dreary day but now feel quite at home. Who are these 'gaijin' (foreign outsiders) invading our space?