Day 23  71km  Started the day with a big breakfast at.....McDONALD'S.  Yep, that's right, Ronald McDonald here in Japan and we just had to try it out, just this one time.    We went with the old stand-by egg McMuffin, a potato paddy and glass of orange juice for $3.80US. 

                                     Only here we had first class table service outside in the warm sun.  It  was actually a treat.   Rather  interesting to see the menu written in both English and Japanese with lots of pictures.  

Also noticed the Japanese had a cigarette after eating.                                    

 Smoking here is still allowed in many restaurants, public places, and even in the change room of some onsens.  A pack of cigarettes cost about $2.80 and a 12oz can of Sapporo beer $2.30   





 All the good stuff out of the way, it is interesting that fruit is outrageous.  A cantaloupe in the beginning of the season can cost as much as $1000.   Yes, that is for ONE. 

This box of four cantaloupe is approximately $75, good deal, yes?    

We load up on banana's, 4 for $1.88, now that is a deal!!!      

 Our egg McMuffin got us a good 71km today and up over a pass where we run into, none other than, Watanabe the Hokkido biker practicing for the Tour de Hokkaido tomorrow. 


He is a popular man with his biking friends, now, as he has shown them our card from yesterday and actually knows two 'gaijin' bikers. 

He speaks only two words in English, "No English" but we have a lot of laughs about the coincidence as later we meet up again at a little sento near the campground.                                     

Our golden pagoda with it's 2 side doors is set up between two huge dinosaurs.  We  are still out in the wild mountain forest areas.  


                                             But we never did see a BEAR!



Day 24  22.1km  We are headed back to Sapporo with over 1000km on our odometers.

On the way we end up going right through the town for the finish of the Tour de Hokkaido, it's 20th anniversary, which is today. 

We meet up with the American Bob from Asahikawa and meet Malcomb an Australian biker who pours us a bowl of cereal.  We learn these two are on the same team.  Also, this cereal is bought by Internet from an American store in Tokyo and there is actually a COSTCO there too.  

 Steve is bombarded by photographers and news media about our arrival with such unusual bikes and trailer.  He gives his best 'Domo Arigato' and we hand out our Bike Friday cards with 'tour de force'. 

Meanwhile I am off trying to buy a souvenir of the race.  I see only ONE, a beautiful bike shirt with Tour de Hokkaido 2006.  That is the one I want! (ho-shi-i-deh-su).  I try to ask in Japanese to buy, (ka i masu) show them my money, (yen)  beg, plead, (dozo, dozo) . Three officials surround me, others come to get involved.  They think I want to race and try to sign me up. 

Finally, I realize.....I am trying to buy the winner's shirt...the infamous YELLOW JERSEY!!  How embarrassing!   I bow over and over and my most used Japanese comes in handy. "Sumi masen/Gomen nasi !" (Excuse me/Sorry!)  "Sumi masen/Gomen nasi !" (Excuse me/Sorry!)


Day 25    0m (zero meters) and here all along I thought these signs beside the road were mantras as we near a temple.....Ooooooommmmm!  

And since meeting up with Kanji and Meiko it could well BE!  


We are in contact by phone with Mieko and Kanji two Japanese cruisers from s/v Blue Fantasy we met while sailing in Vanuatu 2 years ago.  There is a typhoon on the way to Hokkaido.   They are concerned and want to come rescue us.  Steve is ready, racing the last 22.1km to a rendezvous point.  Kanji speaks good English but  Meiko's is limited.  Phone conversations are very difficult as we do not have a way to tell them where we are or where we are going without pointing to a map.  But a word on the Mapple says Iwamizawa and so we plan to be there by noon. 


We are sleeping on tatami mats in a typical Japanese apartment in Sapporo, eating home cooked food, learning about customs, inspecting $10,000 ancient family heirloom samurai sword, 150 year old tea ceremony set, hand made bento box covers, private shrine etiquette. 


We go out for lunch arriving  in time for a teenage rendition of a traditional Hokkaido fishing dance


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Kanji learned English while working in San Francisco selling travel insurance to Japanese. 

Meiko is a 2 time Olympian in the sport of luge.  She is also a champion in the Kona Hawaii Triathlon, many years ago.  Did I mention she is also a Policewoman now retired!   

 We can not believe we are so fortunate to have such amazing friends and so happy we took just that one moment back in Crab Bay Vanuatu to wave to the one and only Japanese boat we had seen.   With a big shout of  Kon-Ichi-Wa  (good afternoon) you never know where it will take you!!!    Oooooommmmmm!