Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Station Six!

Yayyyyy! Fast forward half an hour, and we finally made it to station six, 2,450 meters up the mountain! Water, pay toilets, and places to sit are all freely available!!! I tried to take a nap here, but I wasn't allowed. :( Posted by Picasa


Trudging on up...

Whew! This hill is steep! It was ten to eight at this point, and we'd been climbing steadily for a couple hours. We were beginning to get concerned about our water supply - we brought two liters per person, and Mike and I had already nearly finished half our water! Not to worry... you may notice the mist beginning to creep over the mountain up ahead... (And water is available on the way up the mountain... for a price! It is airlifted in, after all.) Posted by Picasa


Pretty Hill

Whew! At least I got one good picture of Mt. Fuji. Posted by Picasa


Cool Trees

We saw some pretty cool trees on the way up. I'm guessing that weather must come down the mountain pretty powerfully - and these lopsided trees point to your escape route down the mountain! If the slope weren't enough to tell you which way was up and which was down the mountain, these would be nice back-up. ;) Posted by Picasa


Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Jill Carroll Story

I'm going to interrupt the Fuji coverage for a great reading recommendation! Some of you may remember Jill Carroll, the young journalist who was kidnapped and held hostage by Iraqi insurgents for three months earlier this year. She's written up her story in a ten-part series that includes video clips and her answers to reader questions. It's a fascinating look not only at the extreme stresses of being held captive, but also at the Iraqi insurgencies. Not too many outsiders have seen this world from the inside and lived to tell about it. admit that it caused me to rethink some things. Click here to read her story. I recommend bookmarking it to come back to in the future unless you have a few hours to kill. :)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Morning on the Mountain

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like
the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve
both people and animals.
For with you is the
fountain of life;
in your light
we see light.
-Psalm 36:5,6,9


Yayyyyy, Station 5!

Shortly after 6:30, we finally make it to our starting point, at 2000 meters! A beautiful morning, the slight chill a very refreshing change from the sweltering Nagoya summer. As you can see, this doesn't exactly promise to be a solitary nature hike - though as we were climbing in the peak week of the peak season, we expected a lot more crowds than we saw. Here's a link that gives more information on climbing Fuji-san - something perhaps we should have looked at before we climbed. The advice on rain gear seems particularly astute. Posted by Picasa


6:15 a.m. at Station 4.5

We're hiking up to the starting point... Mike really wanted to capture the weird look I had on my face here. :) I'm not sure if you can see it in this picture or not... but all of the cars parked along the road here stuck rocks in front of their tires rather than just relying on the parking brake - a wise move we decided to emulate. What a mess it would be if one car started rolling - long rows of cars on steep inclines interrupted by hairpin turns... We heard a bangbangbangbangbangbangbang! sound when we were partway up the mountain and thought this just might have happened... but it didn't. ;) Posted by Picasa


Warning for the Way Down

I thought this was funny. :) They should have had one for the way up showing the car weeping and gnashing its teeth. Posted by Picasa


Well on our way!

It's 5:50 in the morning, and after a bit of fun with Japanese maps we're well on our way up the mountain - yup, the sun rises early here! We start our hike at Station 5 on the Subashiri trail, which seems to be the thing to do (starting at Station 5, I mean). I would actually say that we started at Station 4.5 because the nearest available parking spot was quite a way down the mountain and we got well-warmed-up on our way to Station 5. In this photo, we're giving our poor 1995 Mitsubishi Galant a well-deserved rest on the way up the hill to prevent it from overheating. We could smell the heat coming off all the cars that passed us here - our heater was running full-blast most of the way up. We probably wouldn't have made it to our goal if the car hadn't had low gear (one below D2 for those of you who, like me, wouldn't have a clue) - we were maxing out at about 20kph by the time we parked! Mike did a great job managing the vehicle on this tough climb. Posted by Picasa

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The Most Beautiful Mountain

Ahhhh, Mt. Fuji, the most beautiful mountain in all of Japan... :) Ben got a much better shot of the mountain, by the way. Posted by Picasa


On to Fuji!

One of the cool things about Japan is that manhole covers are decorated with some artwork unique to the city. If you stop to look at a manhole cover in the U.S. (though why would you?), you'll most likely find a plain cross-hatch pattern with the words East Jordan Iron Works printed on it somewhere - though, as you can see in that link, other options are available! Time to pressure city hall for pretty manhole covers. Anyway, this is the manhole cover design in Gotemba, the town at the foot of Mt. Fuji where we stayed. Check out the city website; it has a cool little feature called "Today's Mt. Fuji." Click on the link and you get a view of what Mt. Fuji looked like this morning! When I clicked it just now, it showed a bank of clouds and said, "Sorry, we can't see Mt. Fuji today." Sounds familiar. Posted by Picasa


The Happy Couple

Here are Ben and Sam, standing in front of Nagoya Castle. You can't really tell how insanely hot it is in this picture! Aren't they cute, though?? Posted by Picasa


One Fine Morning...

...Ben is caught in the act doing the very thing he has long mocked me for doing - straining orange juice! It has been duly noted and recorded for posterity. He insists that the juice was for Sam, but I'm convinced that's just a cover. :) Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Team Spirit

We were sitting across the aisle from a Little League team. Here they were singing the team song. Posted by Picasa

Mike Gets into the Action

The atmosphere is just too much to resist! Besides, how much fun is it to bang things togther and scream!?! Posted by Picasa

The Crowds Go Wild!

No reason in particular - it's just what they do. They sing the same cheers over and over and over again, and then a couple songs - this little girl sitting behind us knew allll the words - and bang those bats you see together. I've never been at such a noisy or enthusiastic game before! Posted by Picasa

Our Jet-Lagged Friends

Ben and Sam arrived on a Thursday night. Friday night we took in a somewhat lackluster performance by the local baseball team, the Nagoya Dragons (they did win, it was just a really slow game). But the crowds made up for it! Ben and Sam were troopers and shocked their sleepy systems into accepting Japan time straightaway. Posted by Picasa


Boshi Techo - A Pregnancy Post

Today I made a trip to our local ward health office to pick up my boshi techo, or mother-child handbook. In Japan, you have to register your pregnancy with the government in your second trimester. It was pretty entertaining. Typically, in other government-office-type interactions, not a lot of Japanese is required. You hand them the required paperwork, they hand you whatever you came for, and you're done. Well, here they needed to explain some things to me - things which I clearly did not understand. The woman who helped me was probably nearing retirement age and didn't speak a lick of English - all well and good; I'm in her country, after all, but it does make things more interesting. Fortunately, she was absolutely delightful and we had a great time not communicating. :) I received a booklet full of postard-coupons that can be redeemed for various things throughout my pregnancy: two free health examinations, a free dental exam, two free baby exams in the first year, one card that needs to be mailed in when the baby is born, and any number of others which apparently went right over my head. I also received the boshi techo itself - the "maternal and child health handbook." It's really pretty cool! Is there anything like this in the States or elsewhere? It has pages to record my medical history and a teeny-weeny bit of Mike's ("Health condition of spouse: well/not well"), work conditions, and a complete record of this pregnancy - all the measurements, blood pressure, weight, who conducted the exam, how I will get to the clinic for delivery, etc. - as well as the record of delivery, dental condition during pregnancy for the dentist to fill out, a chart to plot my weight gain during pregnancy and after delivery, and then a record of the baby's health and milestones through seven years. Whew! It's extremely complete and I'm pretty impressed with it. There's also an informational section in the back on nutrition, parenting, and so forth. I'm supposed to bring it with me to every appointment. Speaking of appointments, we had one on Monday where we hoped to find out if we were having a girl or boy, but alas, the bits were too small. Next time! said the doctor. That'll be on September 16, Dad's birthday, and right around twenty weeks. The doctor did tell me that the absolute maximum that I can gain is ten kilos, which is just over twenty pounds. This will keep me from having difficulty in childbirth with too large a baby (something he's been quite concerned about since he found out how much Mike weighed at birth). Of course, in the U.S. they tell you that if you gain less twenty-five pounds you risk having a low-birthweight baby. Oh, what to do, what to do! In other news: I'm pretty sure I felt the baby move today! It seems a little early, so I could be wrong... but I don't think so. It felt like a flounder flopping in my lower abdomen just for a moment - that's what got my attention - then it was like someone was lightly poking me with their finger from the inside. Pretty crazy! I'll keep you posted on further developments. :) And will start adding photos of Ben and Sam's visit soon!


Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Happy Couple

Awwww! They've been married for about seventy minute now, and so far everything is going just great!!! Posted by Picasa


"You have exceeded your photo allowance!"

Mike wanted a picture of himself on the blog, too. :) Posted by Picasa

A Private Moment...

...captured forever! Spying on the happy couple... Posted by Picasa


Funny Guys II

A couple more of my favorite funny guys... :) Posted by Picasa

Funny Guys I

A couple of my favorite funny guys... Posted by Picasa


Mike told me that I had to put a picture of myself on the blog. So here it is. :) Posted by Picasa


Sara and Mark are considering their future careers as GQ models. And this kid wonders why there are so many weird pictures of him on the internet. :D Hee hee, just kidding, Mark! Posted by Picasa


Kickin' Back...

And having a good ol' time! Posted by Picasa