Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sled-a-brating MLK Day...

What do Americans stationed in Japan do with their kids on the MLK holiday? Take them sledding, of course! Sunday is really the only day off Japanese workers have off during the week, so if they were going sledding, they went yesterday, which made for a great sledding run today! The snow was already packed down for us and the Japanese kids had already made plenty of snowmen and "igloos" for our kids to play with/in.

We left the base at 8 a.m. for the 2-hour drive in to the mountains to the Mominoki national park. There are several ski resorts there, but then there is (relatively) small sledding hill that's free to go to. We arrived a little before 10 a.m., and the place was deserted - we had the whole run to ourselves for the first half hour. While the men "prepared the sleds," i.e., added Turtle Wax to the bottoms, the kids ran off to explore the Japanese kids' creations.

The only photo of me since I was the picture taker. ;) Each of my family members had at least two layers of pants and three layers of shirts on. We stayed pretty warm.

The deserted parking lot.

Sled prep

Will in an igloo

Miho dressed and ready to sled.

Mikaylyn in an igloo.

A field of snow creations that had been created the day before

Japanese snow castle.
Finally, the sleds were prepped and we were ready to head up the hill to start the sledding. Being the generous (older, wiser) adults that we are, we let the kids go first. We got some sleds at the Home-Depot-like store, Nafco, a few days prior for about 800 yen each ($10). These are not mean for anyone over 5-feet, 5-inches, so the kids did pretty well, except for the very first runs, where both boys bailed early:





Capt. Taylor was the first adult... and  managed to go about 20 feet the first time before wiping out. Subsequent runs were much more successful.
Of course, when it was my first run, I manged to go halfway down the hill and then twisted my right knee when I wiped out "wrong." I don't think anything serious was damaged, but it was weak for the rest of the trip. I did try to get over my fear of injury and "get back on the horse" by sledding down a bunny slope of a hill, but being as cautious as I was I didn't get too far down the bunny slope before I wiped out "correctly" on purpose so I didn't get going too fast. I just too afraid I would hurt my knee too badly and not be able to continue working toward my weight loss goal. But the trip was still a lot of fun and next time I am going to make sure I practice wiping out properly before heading out!

The view to the right at the top of the run (Miho is is hiking back off after a run - she was the best sledder out of all of us, including the kids.)

View straight ahead, with Xan watching his dad and Top (for left dots) who just raced down the hill. Top won.

The view to the left - the old ski lift.

Miho and Mikaylyn
The view from the bottom of the hill, back up to where we started our sled runs. Yes, that is a huge tree in the middle of the run. We swear it had a gravitational pull to it.

By the time we had finished sledding, the parking lot was filling up... with other military families who had the same idea we did. Only they brought kerosene camping stoves, electric air pumps and more camping equipment than I've ever seen in a parking lot that wasn't meant for tailgating. And I thought I had over packed!

We stopped at the nearby lodge for a regular Japanese lunch, which all four Guthries enjoyed.

After lunch we headed home... here are some photos of the mountainous countryside (we drove through both a logging town and a rock quarry village).

The rest stop/convenience store we stopped to potty at both up the hill and down it.The toilets were freezing... and there weren't any heated toilet seats. My butt is starting to get spoiled over here.

And the boys fell asleep within 15 minutes. It was a quiet ride home.

One last shot: This bridge was quite decorated. Most Japanese tunnels have something written above the entrance. Not sure if it's the name of the tunnel or what, but I thought it was interesting.

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