Archive for January, 2010

Highlight of my Day

Perhaps because of how often I say it, a first grader is convinced my name is Good Morning! Sensei.

My Bike Ride

Back when I first arrived in Shichinohe, I had a pretty interesting bike ride. This weekend, I had another.

Last spring and summer, I enjoyed exploring the countryside by bike. I would pick a spot on the map (the same map, in fact, that my coworker gave me the last time I was lost), get on my bike and go. Usually they are pleasant, non-eventful bike rides, although on occasion I have come across some intriguing things, such as a waterfall, a gigantic meadow, a put-put course in the woods, and an abandoned ski lift and bowling alley. Then winter came, and with it snow and ice that can make bike riding dangerous. Well, many of you are under the assumption that it’s Chapman, but in fact my middle name is “Danger.” Or “Calculated, Somewhat But Not That Risky Danger.” So when a clear Saturday afternoon rolled around with not much snow on the roads and most people hibernating in their heated homes, I set out. I had already chosen my destination: a road that meanders off into the country, then abruptly dead ends. It was around a 1pm departure. By about 1:10, as expected, I was lost. And, as expected, it made things more interesting, for in my wanderings I came across a 400 year old shrine and a creepy closed doll museum (I described the doll museum to a friend, and he sent me a link to an animated video that bears a striking resemblance). Eventually, I found the road again and followed it as it wound its way through residences and rice fields. After awhile the houses dwindled and the road inclined. I followed with a renewed vigor, expecting to reach the end soon. But up it continued,  replacing houses with snowy pine trees. After some time of riding upwards through the woods, the road suddenly flattened and the trees dropped in height. I had reached a tree farm, with rows of miniature pines and a boarded-up wood cabin facing them, like a general addressing his coniferous army. That’s a cool thing to find at the end of a road, I thought.

But the road continued.

After the tree farm, the pines resumed their towering height, and soon I was walking my bike because the road had deteriorated from asphalt to gravel, and then cycled among mud, snow, and ice. Surely, this is a sign the road is ending, I thought, as I slid, squished, and slipped along. And then my feet met sturdy ground, and I looked down to see the road had turned back to asphalt. Strange, I thought, not realizing something stranger still was around the road bend. Turning the corner, I came to a village. A very small village, only five or six houses. However, all but one of the houses looked deserted, with no lights on and snow extending all the way to the front doors. The other house, though, had a car in the driveway, a tractor in the garage, a dog barking and the TV on. Very strange.

And the road continued.

Leaving the village, I turned another corner in the road, and realized something was staring at me. It was about fifty feet away, and my eyesight isn’t great, but it looked like a cross between a wolf and a deer. It had the head and fur of a wolf, but the body and hooves of a deer. It stared and me and I at it, while I slowly tried to extract my camera. With my camera about halfway out of my pocket, though, the creature loped off in the woods, leaving me feeling like I was in Spirited Away or some equally fanciful world. In the distance, I saw the woods open up to a field across which the road continued before disappearing again into the trees. Unfortunately, at this point it was starting to get dark, and I had filled my deer-wolf deity quota for the day, so I lamentably turned around. But I plan to return to this persistent road, with its sapling infantry and not quite ghost village and deerwolves, perhaps when there’s less ice, to discover what other oddities it contains.