It's become tradition for the Guthries to head to the nearby mountains to go sledding the Monday of the Martin Luther King, Jr., three-day weekend, which actually is a 4-day weekend for many Marines, as they also get Tuesday off. The Americans from base choose to go to the ski resorts then because it is not a Japanese holiday, or a weekend, so the slopes are deserted, with the exception of a handful of Japanese die-hard snow people who don't have to work on that particular Monday. Everyone else there... the same inhabitants of MCAS Iwakuni who you run in to at the commissary, Crossroads Mall, theater, etc. On one hand, it's familiar and comfortable with these people around. You can understand what they are saying when they are yelling at their kids to stop throwing snowballs at the baby, or when they are telling you to get out of the way because they are about to sled right in to you. On the other hand, there is no escaping these people. Where it falls on the happy scale depends on how you feel about the individuals you encounter. Fortunately, the ones we saw out on the 100-meter sledding slopes at Mominoki Forest Park (directions here - plan for a two-hour drive each way and make sure you have tire chains just in case - Japanese authorities require you to have them and can turn you away if you don't) were ones I either didn't know well or ones I liked, so it worked out for me.
Here are some of the views from around the park:
|The hill across the valley from the resort was just powdered with fresh snow from the weekend.|
|The sledding hill was deserted, with the exception of a few dozen base inhabitants.|
|The view of the lodge from the sledding slope, which had warm bathrooms, a restaurant and a small convenience store/gift shop. Our car is the white one all by itself in the center there.|
Here are sledding pictures of my family. Sure, you may find them boring, but this is my blog and I can post what I want. Feel free to click away at any time...
Xan was sledding the entire time we were there. Yes, I am a lousy parent and completely forgot that kids grow and need new boots each year. This was not realized until the night before we left on this adventure, so we made due with old sneakers. The kids did not care, and we made sure to bring a change of socks and shoes for them for the ride home. I promised to do better next year as far as boots went. I should get some points because I found that snow suit for Xan at the base thrift store for $10. Winning!
Poor Will is now 5' 6" tall and, while still an 11-year-old boy in my mind, he is not boy-sized when it comes to sledding. On top of that, Will's sneakers were so old we had to duct tape up the holes. I will really need to do better for him next year. But, he found some kids to play in the already-made igloos that were there, creating forts and ammunition for a snowball fight.
Rodney even got some runs in, finally borrowing an adult-sized foam boogie-board-ish sled from a fellow Marine. These sleds are available the Costco in Hiroshima for less than $20 each, for those of you who are interested. We got our little plastic ones at Nafco last year and outdoor rec on base also has them available for rental.
Rodney managed to do a complete barrel roll without missing a beat:
And then executed a "landing" for my photographic benefit:
And since that photo was just too scary to end with, here is one of a fellow Marine's daughter... in a Japanese snow suit. Kawaii!