Friday, April 18, 2014

Cabining in Oshima... Day 2

Please note, there is a prequel to this post... Cabining in Oshima Day 1. I recommend reading it first because there are several references to the information in that post in this post.

When we woke up Monday morning, it was a special day in our family. It was Xan's birthday. So, I woke him up singing (more like yodeling with some scratchy yelling) our family's traditional birthday song: "Hippo, Birdies, Two Ewes". It was from a birthday card my Dad got years ago, one with a hippo, some birds and a couple of sheep, and it's just stuck around. Plus, we don't owe anyone royalties when we sing it.

After breakfast, it was present time... even for Will , who wouldn't celebrate his birthday for 10 more days. Yes... both of my boys were born in April, the month of the Military Child, and the month that has a diamond birthstone. I have two pair of diamond earrings my husband awarded me in the hospital after pushing each of them out. Winning!

So Xan got his gift first... one that he had asked for months before but, I think, forgot he had asked because he figured he would never get it. But, with big brother going off to junior high next year, and him sometimes walking home alone from school because of that, plus his excellent responsibility when it comes to his other devices, the spouse and I did something we never thought we would do... gave a 2nd grader a cell phone. And I think you can see how surprised and excited he was:

So, now all four Guthries have cell phones. Scary... but efficient. It's pretty easy to find and communicate with each other... even if one of us is simply in the bathroom.

Then it was Will's turn. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with him probably knows he is obsessed with fish and other slimy creatures. He enjoyed fishing with friends and family in Illinois the past couple of summers, so we figured we'd enable his interest with a fishing pole. You can see how surprised and excited he was. Until he tried to actually use it.

Please note the utter redneck-ness the spouse is displaying. We are on vacation. I am on vacation, which means 1) he did not have to wear his cammies to work and 2)  I gave up trying to dress him for a couple of days. And also note this plastic box the fishing pole came in... this will be important later.
So, off we went to fish. I was going to send the guys off for some "man time" so that I could finally enjoy some quiet reading time, but was guilted in to coming along so I could take pictures. Fortunately, it was a quick excursion. We drove down to the beach below our cabin and walked out to the manmade jettys, or concrete piers.

I had found a bamboo fishing pole for 105 yen and the Daiso, so that Xan wouldn't feel left out. The line on his pole managed to reach the water with about six inches to spare. But, it turns out, he had it better than Will did. Will's line tangled every time he cast, resulting in a huge mess. So... we fished for about 15 minutes before everyone was cold and bored. We headed back to the cabin.

Which was fine by me because the deal was that if they got to do what they wanted to do (fishing), I got to do what I wanted to do, which was explore the island. And have lunch at Aloha Orange. If you haven't eaten at this Hawaiian restaurant, you should. And I don't care what diet you are on (unless, of course, you are on the "I am allergic to nuts" diet), you must have the macadamia nut pancakes. Order it with your meal because it takes awhile for it to be made.

So here is a map I took a picture of, with numbers that I added as to where we went to explore... all of it for free, with the exception of fuel for the car. Click on the picture of the map to enlarge it.

So, Number 1 is Katazoe Beach, where we were cabining. There are plenty of walks to take along the beach and up through the hills, and a few jelly fish to poke sticks at. Be sure to go back to the previous blog post for the details about this great place to "get away."

Number 2 is Aloha Orange. And Iwakuni Explorer has a good write up about it, so I won't bother.

Number 3 is a shrine we found when we followed the Jutendo sign to a grocery store. We need to buy some things, like salt and a spatula, and figured that somewhere near a Jutendo (gardening store) would be a grocery store. And we were right. There was a grocery store next to Jutendo. That's a good thing to note of you are planing to cabin anytime soon. As you drive around the island, away from the green bridge that brings you to the island from Iwakuni (you will have turned left after exiting the bridge on the Oshima side) you will look to the right little ways after passing Aloha Orange and you will see an orangey red Jutendo sign with an arrow pointing inland. Follow the sign. Go to Jutendo (The grocery store is to the right of Jutendo, just FYI, as is the liquor store). And, instead of pulling in to the Jutendo parking lot, turn left on the road in front of it, and then right at the next major intersection and follow it around for less than a kilometer. All of a sudden, you will come upon this:

And this... minus the Guthries.

Park your car in a sort of small parking lot across the road in front of this gate and start walking through the gate. You will pass this building that looks like it is about to keel over...

... and an auto repair shop with a blue sign to find this:

 And this:

 And this:

This, too:

Ready to work off those macadamia nut pancakes? Start climbing! It's worth it! (There is away to drive up to the shrine above, but we didn't go looking for it. The map near where we parked the car may help if you're not a stair climber.)

At the top is a small shrine, and the cherry blossoms were still blooming while we were there... it was very pretty.

But keep walking... on the path to the right of this shrine... because there is more... stairs. And more shrine to see. I won't ruin it for you, but here are some fun highlights:

I am sure this shrine has a name, but I did not learn what it was. But, if you can find the Jutendo, chances are you can find the shrine. Just look for this:

After burning off the pancakes, there was still plenty of afternoon left, so we headed off to Number 4 on the map above... a wind park. I do not know what the wind park is for, since there was nothing going on that day. The picture on the map above has some hang gliders, so there you go. But the building at the wind park does have a grassy slope on one side of the building that gives you a great view of the Oshima foothills.

While I don't have a picture of it, from this slope, we could see a clock tower to the left of the view above with some steps or seating around it. The spouse wanted to check it out, so we drove over there next. There wasn't much to see, so we drove past and started to look for a place to turn around... and came across a glass beach, seemingly untouched.

Until we got there and climbed down... no stairs... it is definitely a bot a of a drop, but my Big OK butt managed to do it. With assistance from the Big OK spouse, but really, nothing I couldn't have managed to do alone, but I know how he likes to feel needed . ;)

We stopped and collected all sorts of treasures. The glass and ceramic pieces we found were all sanded down smooth by the salt water and there were so many colors and patterns! Anyone who enjoys collecting sea glass would enjoy it here. Xan even found a discarded frying pan. Lots of treasures for everyone!

Number 5 on the map was actually something we did on the way home to Iwakuni the next day, but I'm going to add it here. As you drive along the coast of the island, past Aloha Orange and Jutendo, but just before the tun off for Katazoe Beach, you will find this market and visitors center:

Nothing is in English, but it is fun to look around, shop and eat. And go island hopping. There were pictures and maps that explained this in the visitors center, otherwise I would not have known. If you park and walk behind and to the right of the building you see above, there is a wharf, where you can follow the sea wall in an "L" shape until you reach a sandy peninsula. And then, you can walk out to the "island." Warning: There is a lot of discarded trash around, so if you have toddlers, keep an eye on them. They might find a rusty bucket or twelve. But the views are gorgeous... and the trash, interesting.

And the kids said the rock climbing was superb.

So, after we had our exploring adventures, we headed back to the cabin. We had hot dogs to roast and a birthday to celebrate!

Now, I realize that I did not share pictures of part of the cabin in the last post. This is the inside of the front door.

When you enter the cabin though this door, you are immediately greeted by this:

And I mean the huge window, not the redneck with the barbecue and large child. There is a window decal on the glass because I am sure some drunk Japanese guy tried to walk through one of these windows once. I almost did and I was sober. Margaritas are hard to find in Japan.

As you are staring at the window, you can turn to the left and find the bathroom sink area:

To the right of the sink is the shower room.. which Rodney and I are considering installing in our next home. But with higher amenities so that Big OK people can fit better.

 And to the left of the sink area is the toilet:

All of this is important in the story I am about to tell. The cake had been eaten, everyone was in bed. Rodney was playing games on his iPad and listening to music with his headphones. I was reading a book on my iPad. The boys were asleep. Before I settled in to go to sleep, I decided to use the bathroom so that my uncomfortable sleep wouldn't be disturbed. I tuned on only the lights necessary and did my business. I came out to head to bed and was greeted by this:

Now, this is a picture of a huntsman spider that I pulled off of the internet, but it looked like that. Very common in Japan, apparently. Especially when cabining. I was too busy yelling and running to get a picture of my own. It was the size of a drink coaster. Not kidding. I shrieked... a lot... and ran. The spider ran, too, right in to the shower room. I yelled for Rodney... who did not say a word and definitely did not come running to my aid. I ran back to the bed and found him happily humming along to his music. He had his headphones in and couldn't hear his damsel in distress. I ran over to him, yanked his earphones out and told him that he obviously didn't hear my shrieking. Neither did the kids, apparently, because they remained fast asleep through the whole thing.

Of course I told him about the huge spider, to which, he sighed, nodded and got out of bed to remove from my presence. His demeanor definitely suggested that he believed I was over reacting. I stayed where it was safe - on the bed - and let him go kill the spider alone.

"Holy $h!t!!!" is what I heard from the bathroom. Mmm, hmm, yeah. Remember, I'm not prone to over-exaggeration when it comes to the size of things, dear. And then I caught "Bring me something to kill it with! This paper towel isn't enough!"

I glanced around the cabin.. iPads... no... chopsticks.... no.... rice cooker... no.... plastic box from the fishing pole... yes! I grabbed the yard-long plastic box and tossed it to the spouse before climbing back on the bed.

BAM-bam-bam-bam-BAM! BAM! BAM! "Ugh! He's getting away!" BAM! Bam-bam-bam! BAM! Bam-bam-bam! "He's running for the door!" Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-BAM-BAM! "Got it!" And then the paper towel came in handy so the not-so-small corpse could be disposed of.

I cabined instead of camped so I could avoid large creatures with too many legs. I am going to assume this was just our lucky night with arachnids and say that yes, I will cabin again. The fact that there is a lovely view, flushing toilet and warm shower makes it tolerable... but I will definitely be bringing air mattresses and possibly a maid. Between all the cooking, bed-making and spider-finding, I didn't get as much quiet reading time in as I had hoped.

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