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Thread: Walkabout

  1. #1
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    Default Walkabout

    I retired at the end of June and returned to Canada. Plan A was to put myself out to stud, but not too many takers yet (go figure! :dontknow: ) so on with Plan B for the time being. Bike was paid for and working well, so I left it here and came back for a couple of months touring. This time with no pesky staff or customers wasting my time. No real plan or itinerary, but I'll try to keep a small blog going here.

    I'll probably try to avoid the tollsways this time and see some of the stuff I've missed by blasting by at silly speeds. No hurry to get anywhere, so I can take my time.

    11 Sep 2008

    Arrived in Japan and crashed with at my friend Naoya's house in Tabata.


    12 Sep 2008

    Retrieved the bike from my friend's GF, which was parked with good neighbours while I was gone (she has an R8 and an M6!). Battery still all right and it started right up. Went down to Ishii-san and borrowed his tools to sort out a few things on the bike. That blew most of the day. Finished with a nice takoyaki dinner prepared by Naoya and his Mom.

    13 Sep 2008



    Nice weather today, but bloody hot. Late start, but Gerard and I decided to head for the hills in search of cooler climes. Just a pleasant ride up to Saku in Nagano on R254. Nothing noteworthy, except that I seem to have inserted the ETC card upside down. Some mumbling from the speaker when I entered the Kanetsu, then the gates didn't open when we got to Yoshii IC. Didn't stop to discuss it, so saved 2,200 yen. 8)

    Met up with Ide-san, his GF and another couple for dinner. Crashed at Ide's pad for the night.

    14 Sep 2008



    Today was the day for the big annual Tokyo Riders camp/BBQ at Matsubarako in Nagano. Headed down there in the morning to start setting things up.

    Got the cabins sorted first.


    Then the food area.


    More people started showing up after noon.


    Hell of a good turnout! Around 43 people, including some riff-raff from GR.


    This was our most successful event yet! Great to see so many old friends and some new faces too. Good food, lots of drinks, good company, lots of tall stories!

    Managed to survive the night without getting throttled for my snoring. :roll:

    15 Sep 2008



    Ide-san woke up the eager-beavers and they went out to terrorize the local mountain roads. In the meantime chef Andrew prepared a full English breakfast!


    By noon, everybody had left for their own ways, so I also bid goodbye and headed up R480, then right on R299 to enjoy some twisties. Then North on R141, past Saku and up into the mountains on the Asama Sun Route, R94 and R406. R406 is very nice! Then East on R117, with a pit stop at Nozawa Onsen, a very neat onsen town.


    The inevitable shrine.


    Cooking eggs and corn.


    Main Street


    Foot bath


    Back on R117 and R353 to Yuzawa, then down R17 to find accomodation in Urasa, near this town.


    16 Sep 2008



    Bit farther along R17, then right on to R252. This road runs East through Fukushima, and it's spectacular riding!


    Then North on R400 and R49, then East on R459. All great riding! Running out of superlatives; so many nice roads in this country!








    Spending the night in Kitakata, near the Bandai area.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Looks like it is good to be a Geezer........................ ;)

    Sell the house in Mooseland and buy a place in the mountains around Fukushima..... :razz:

    Jav
    Evolution is the religion of the 21 century. Proving people do not change............................ Jav

  3. #3

    Default Re: Walkabout

    good one egon.... thanks for the pics!

    keep us updated!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    17 Sep 2008



    After a hearty breakfast of the local specialty, Kitakata Ramen, continued on R459 to the lakes area.

    Nothing like soft cream on a hot day!


    Good road, nice lake.


    With the usual silly boats.


    I've only been to the Urabandai area once, and it was raining then. This time the weather was gorgeous, so I checked out all the nice roads, including Bandai-san Gold Line, Bandai-Asama Skyline and Akimoto Lake Line. Fantastic! Pity that this is so far from Tokyo, otherwise I'd have come here more often.

    Great roads, spectacular sights.


    Did I mention twisties?


    Yes, more twisties.


    More sights.


    This guy wanted a ride.


    After most of the day playing on these roads, took R2 North to Yamagata. Interesting road, very twisty. After Yonezawa, found another nice road, R287, running along the Mogami River. Long, high speed sweepers. Local specialty is some kind of "sweet fish," which they trap by filtering the whole bloody river. Not exactly sporting!


    Ended up in Sagae Onsen for the night, near Tendo. Found a great new hot spring hotel, Sun Cherry Hotel, near the train station. Nicest and cheapest hotel so far, at only 5,775 yen! Lovely bath. Will try to take some photos in the morning.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Good luck Egon, I hope to be doing this when I get to your level of geezerhood but for now I look forward to reading your posts.

    Pete.
    "He who conquers himself, conquers all"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Geezer

    I've only been to the Urabandai area once, and it was raining then. This time the weather was gorgeous, so I checked out all the nice roads, including Bandai-san Gold Line, Bandai-Asama Skyline and Akimoto Lake Line. Fantastic! Pity that this is so far from Tokyo, otherwise I'd have come here more often.
    3.5 hours to Ura Bandai. I thought that was just a hop and a skip for the Geezer...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Twinrider
    3.5 hours to Ura Bandai. I thought that was just a hop and a skip for the Geezer...
    True, but 7 hours of freeway going there and coming back is a bit boring. Nevertheless, yes, I should have gone there more often. Nice area. Also nice campground there, that you showed me once, with MoM, etc.

    BTW, that R287 in Yamagata, heading up towards Tendo Onsen, I think is the same road that you and I drove with Jav on our Mummy tour last year. But this time I rode it in daylight, which was nicer. Ended up at a hotel not far from the one we used then.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    18 Sep 2008



    Nice hotel. Slept well, then went down early for another bath.


    Hotel lobby.


    I'd never heard of Sagae Onsen before, but it's just about as nice as Tendo, and a lot cheaper. Even has the usual foot bath.


    Weather forecast was looking better for the Sea of Japan side, so saddled up and headed that way, up R112. But this time, instead of staying on R112, I took the small, twisty mountain road that parallels it. Much more pleasant than the main road, with all its trucks.


    While there, took a side trip up Mt. Gassan. Found these Rambos, perhaps waiting for the N. Korean invasion(?)


    When I got near Tsuruoka, Mapple recommended R345, which turns out to be much nicer than going through the cities. It totally bypasses Tsuruoka and Sakata. It runs along farms and a river, very straight, no traffic, inviting the speed to creep up. Obviously, the cops know about this too. Spotted the shirobai bike lurking in the bushes and immediately let off on the throttle. Watching the readview mirror, the flashing lights came on and I saw him execute a very competent, peg-scraping U-turn to come chase me down. Wish I could turn like that! Anyway, he kept coming, obviously intent on harassing me, even though he couldn't have recorded my exact speed. So I stopped and handed over my international license (I no longer live here, so my IDP is legal again 8) ). Nice enough cop, but couldn't resist giving me the mandatory lecture on the sins of speeding. I endured this with contrite expression, promised to be a good boy, and off I went again.

    Anyway, nice road, bypassing all the traffic, all the way to the Akita border and the Sea of Japan.


    Stock market is tanking ... need to get online and do some trading ... so took a hotel early in Kissakata. Another nice, cheap, local onsen hotel. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Geezer
    True, but 7 hours of freeway going there and coming back is a bit boring. Nevertheless, yes, I should have gone there more often. Nice area. Also nice campground there, that you showed me once, with MoM, etc.
    Yeah, I'm not a huge highway fan but I don't mind as much if it means more time later to spend on the twisties further north. Sounds like you're having a great trip, as always 8)

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Twinrider
    Yeah, I'm not a huge highway fan but I don't mind as much if it means more time later to spend on the twisties further north. Sounds like you're having a great trip, as always 8)
    Bandai is a great weekend trip, but rough for just one day. The other problem is that the Tohoku Hwy. has always been very inconvenient for me. From where I lived in Meguro, it meant going all the way through Tokyo, just to get to it. So I've tended to usually prefer going South or West instead, on the Daisan, Chuo or Tomei ... or Kanetsu worst case. Tohoku was always last choice.

    BTW, I'm right under the Chokai Blue Line tonight. One of your favourites! Guess I'll have to wander up there tomorrow. There's a shop there with fresh out of the udder soft cream. 8)
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Geezer
    Bandai is a great weekend trip, but rough for just one day. The other problem is that the Tohoku Hwy. has always been very inconvenient for me. From where I lived in Meguro, it meant going all the way through Tokyo, just to get to it. So I've tended to usually prefer going South or West instead, on the Daisan, Chuo or Tomei ... or Kanetsu worst case. Tohoku was always last choice.
    Geezer, its not that bad to the Tohoku. I always get on the Bayshore route from Kan7 and bypass the city. It's only 45-60 minutes to the first SA at Hasuda.

    Enjoying the pics, keep posting!
    "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There's no use in being a damn fool about it."
    W.C. Fields

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    19 Sep 2008



    Another nice, sunny day. Played around for a while on the Mt. Chokai Blue Line. Good twisty road, great views.


    This place makes great ice cream, from their own cows. Milk is straight out of the udder, not pasteurized, homogenized or any other -ized. Delicious!


    Wind farm above Nicaho. I used to visit TDK here and shared a hotel many times with the European engineers who built these generators.


    Next, up along the coast on R7 to Honjo, then R105 inland and North. I think I've mentioned this road before. It's great! Apart from a bit of traffic in Omagari, you can go about 200km with nobody blocking your way! On the way, made a cultural pit stop at an old samurai town, Kakunodate.



    I've already seen Lake Tazawa, and I know that R341 going North from there is spectacular, but this time I stayed on R105. Like I said, great road, all the way to Kita Akita City. On the way, something completely different: bear meat ramen. It's on R308, about 7km off R105, at this onsen:


    I don't think bears are an endangered species here, so no worries.


    Went a bit past Kita Akita, to near the junction of R105 and R7. Found a cheap business hotel in a small town, Takanosu. They rolled up the sidewalks at 7:30, so I had a hell of a time finding some food. Ended up having to drive back to the highway and getting some gourmet fare at a 7-11. Also, hotel had no internet connection. Had to try to survive a whole day offline...


    20 Sep 2008



    Headed West on R7, to discover that there is a much bigger town, Odate, just a few km up the road. Had I kept going last night, there were much nicer hotels there. Oh well, only paid 4,900 last night. Still better than camping all alone. At least I had a warm bed, toilet, shower.

    I've only seen these in Kyoto and Nara, but they have one too.


    From Odate, took R2 towards Lake Towada. Lovely road! All long, high speed sweepers. The kind of road that even misguided Harley riders would enjoy cruising. Also nice sights along the way.


    Took me ages to pass all these guys!


    Towadako, in all its glory.


    Pit stop to pray to the gods of good weather.


    The road around the lake is lovely!


    Huh?


    I see! :roll:


    R.I.P.


    The above was so intriguing that I couldn't resist a 28km, each way, dash to check it out. It's on R454, which is not flagged as a good road on my Mapple map, but it's a great ride! I think that all mountain roads in this country are great. Just pick a road, any road, and it turns out fantastic. Unbelievable!

    Back to the lake, continued around. I know that R103 up the Oirase Gorge is fantastic, but I've already been there, plus it being Saturday, it was full of tour buses as far as the eye could see. So instead, I went up R102 and R349. Good choice! This gorge is just as nice, and it had no traffic.


    Then down R103 to Aomori, where I spent the night. Every hotel was full! Lucked out and found one on the fringes, 4,900 yen, but no internet again. Two days offline! Feeling withdrawal symptoms!

    PS: Posting this with somebody's unsecured Wi-Fi 8)
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    21 Sep 2008



    Slept in; bit of a late start today. Headed East on R4 along the coast. Quite scenic.




    Very nice ride on R9, along the peninsula East of Aomori. Beautiful coastal road.


    Then all the way along the coast to Mustu, then over to Cape Shiriya on the NE tip. There are a pile of these "wild" horse prancing around there.




    Don't know what the story is, but it's clearly explained here:


    Then back to Mutsu and a quick dash to Osorezan; famous for being the place where you can chat with dead friends and relatives. Tried to place a call to some old buddies, but all I got was a busy signal. :roll: Anyway, neat place.






    Spending the night in Mutsu. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Go Oldfella Go! Next stop Hokkaido?

    You may be smiling and they may be just the right height but you really gotta find prettier oil changers :cyclopsani:
    IBA33490

    Touge Express

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    :headbang: Hey, at my age one can't be too picky. :razz:

    Yes, if all goes well, 16:10 ferry from Oma to Hakodate. 8)
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    Awesome tour, thank you for sharing!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    22 Sep 2008



    Headed West along the coast. Nice sights all the way.


    Lots of neat fishing villages.




    Hotakegura




    Oops! Wrong turn. Road ends.


    R338 is one of the most spectacular roads in Japan. 120km of bliss; even more if you don't stop in Oma.


    But the sea is full of dinosaur turds.


    Cape Oma. Northernmost point in mainland Japan.


    Anybody for tuna?


    Phoned for ferry reservations, but they assured me that it was not necessary. Good thing I got there a bit early. Several late bikers got turned down. BTW, this ferry is quite a bargain, at only 3,070 yen. Trip is less than 2 hours. Much nicer, I think, than sitting on a ferry for 24 hours! Plus it's a nice ride anyway.




    Hakodate city is built on a peninsula, with a huge mountain at the tip.


    Here's the night view from the top.


    After the Meiji Restoration, the first ports to open to us great unwashed gaijin were Hakodate, Yokohama and Nagasaki. The Russian promptly plopped down an Orthodox church, circa 1856.


    Others followed suit and the whole area is now preserved as a heritage site. Lots of neat old buildings.




    And the waterfront, which used to be red brick warehouses, has now been spiffied up with lots of shops and restaurants.




    Neat city. Well worth visiting. Met a lovely Bulgarian lady, so Plan A may be back on track. :drinking:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    23 Sep 2008

    Woke up to torrential rain. Couldn't get motivated to saddle up, so decided to stay one more night and check out the town. Of course, the sun came out the moment I paid the hotel for an extra night. But that's all right. Been riding twisties for 10 days steady, and my body is starting to reject me. A break is welcome. Anyway, it's a really neat town and well worth some sightseeing.



    The morning market, very near the JR Hakodate Stn.


    Only 12,000 yen for a crab ($120). Of course, the big ones are more. Apparently they come mostly from Russia.


    Yet another foot bath!


    That Red Brick area is quite nice.




    These guys make great burgers! Huge, super gooey and cheap. Lucky Pierrot seems to be a local chain, with 12 stores in Hakodate. Not sure yet if they're also elsewhere in Hokkaido, or just here. There's always a huge lineup, so be prepared to take out and eat on the sidewalk.


    Some more wandering around the old buildings area. This is the first British Consulate. They serve tea and scones, of course.


    Nice area. Neat streets. Good views.






    The Russian Orthodox Church, again.




    Kohryu (High Dragon) Temple. Seems to be associated with Narita-san. Lot of famous Japanese buried here.




    The Russian cemetery. The big one is for the first consul's wife.


    Other foreigners' cemetery. Lovely view. Not a bad place at all to be planted.


    There's no subway system here, but fairly easy to get around on the trams.


    Goryokaku fort, now park. European-inspired, pentagonal star-shaped. This is the site of the last battle in the Japanese civil war. When Tokugawa was booted out, some of his soldiers escaped from Edo by sea, then made their last stand here ... and got wiped out by the Imperial army. Around 1860-ish.


    Hakodate city.


    Not a bad day at all. Got some rest and enjoyed walking around a lovely town.
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    So tell us more about the Bulgarian lady and plan A!!

    In addition to the other 57 languages you speak I'm sure you can manage to pass a few compliments in Bulge.
    "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There's no use in being a damn fool about it."
    W.C. Fields

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Walkabout

    As a matter of fact, I do happen to know a few words of endearment in Bulgarian ... ;)

    Let's just say it was a pleasant day/evening, with no further serious commitment. Perfect! Since deep down, I'm a very shallow person. :razz:
    Egon

    Time flies like an arrow ... fruit flies like a banana.

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