Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hokkaido!... Let's Go!

The plan = Leave early Saturday morning to take advantage of the 1000 yen flat rate toll on expressways. Camp on the "ax handle" of Aomori Prefecture near Osorezan. Well rested, I'd take the ferry Sunday morning to Hakkodate to meet some people to ride motorcycles with and crash on their couch.

The plan also = completely fucked.

I stuck the key in my bike Friday night. No go. The starter was doing it's job, but the engine wasn't starting. I guess that means the starter wasn't doing it's job. Anyways, suddenly my month long vacation to the north of Japan, Hokkaido, was put on an immediate hold. The prospects of 23 degree weather and epic motorcycle touring... delayed. Not a good way to start the weekend. I got drunk and went to sleep, figuring I could fix the issue the next day.

The next day. I couldn't fix the issue.

The battery had a problem in the past, and a good charge was all it needed. I don't own a battery charger. So I went and bought a battery charger from the bike district near Ueno Park. Got home, charged the battery, it's now the afternoon on Saturday. The charge, of course, was ineffective. I started checking off a list. Push the bike to a station and fill it with gas... check. Clean the carbs... check. Add some oil... check.

Random side note. The dude at a local bike shop had to use Wikipedia's Japanese site to look up what a funnel was. Not the English to Japanese translation, but the actual existence of a thing that you use to pour liquid into holes. I dunno.

Oh yeah, it's like Sunday night by now. I should be in Hakkodate, eating ika somen, sitting in an onsen, and not at my apartment watching old episodes of Conan - Future Boy on my computer. Then, on another random check of the bike, I see that something on the top of the engine looks askew. These yellow rubber plugs are off somehow. It turns out some jerk-o pulled my spark plugs sometime in the last couple weeks. Who pulls spark plugs? Bunch of savages in Bunkyo if you ask me. Plugged them back in, and started the bike on the first go. Literally ran up to my room, grabbed my shit, and left. It was now a race against the clock. At 11:59 the cheap toll would revert to the expensive toll. About $10 would become about $150.


On to the expressway, I could see stars in the sky and dry lightning in the distance. I think I had some 48 hour Armin Van Burren trance mix to keep my awake and speedy.

The plan B = drive hella fast until 11:55 and then take the first exit I see. The 1000 yen discount, like Cinderella, vanishes at midnight.

The plan B also = All kinds of good.


That exit turned out to be in Kitakami, which is for reals the middle of nowhere. There was a local road that parralls the expressway, so on to that I went. Grabbed some dinner at 1am at a family resaurant. Some small talk with the waitress revealed that she lives in town and that Kitakami is a great place. Then she ran away because I was probably the first foreigner she'd ever talked to.

According to the internet, Kitakami is famous for a sword dance. Word.


I got a tip for you, don't order the "Mexican Pilaf with Cheese Curry Chicken". It wasn't good. Coupled this with about 6 cappuccinos. You do the math.


By the time the sun rose, I had made it to my destination, Osorezan.


Next time: A sacred mountain whose kanji characters are fear + mountain. Yes, please.

No comments: