Sunday, July 28, 2013

We made it to the Top of Fuji!

And it may have been the dumbest idea we have ever had. ***coughcoughcoughAndy'sideacoughcough***

We hiked up at night so we could see the sunrise from the top. We didn't quite make it in time. We headed out from home around 8:30PM and started climbing around 10:00. It took us 9 hours to get to the top climbing by the light of our headlamps and the moon on a not-trail. You can't really have a trail when you are just climbing up big rocks and trying to find any foot hold to get up the boulder in front of you. 

There are a ton of "huts" which are more like small houses the whole way up. I think that's the only thing that kept us going most of the way. You could see the lights from where you were on the "trail" and we would say "Let's just get to the next hut". Once we got to the hut we'd sit down and breathe and Andy would go get our hiking stick stamps. They would basically brand your stick with a iron they heated over coals. 


Most of our conversation on the way up was, "How the hell did they get the materials up here to build such huge places?" "Why do so many people want to do this, this is terrible?!" "How do people get to the top in 4 hours or LESS?!!??!?!?!" and then eventually it turned into "I'm dying." "Me too."

So we missed the sunrise from the top. But we thought we were almost there. But we weren't. We were at the 8.5 station. (labeled Goraikou-kan on the map below)


It was still pretty. Andy maintains that we got a better view than the people at the top because the top was already in a cloud and we were just under that cloud. (But over a ton of clouds)


We got a lot of stories and a lot of advice before we went so we expected it to suck. My really fit, badass friend was like, "It's not so bad, you'll be fine." and my normal friend, who breathes just as hard as me while trying to keep up with our badass friend, was like "That was the worst thing I've ever done, don't do it." So I expected it to be terrible. I was really hoping that I would be pleasantly surprised if I went in with the lowest possible expectations but I was not. It met or exceeded the worst possible thoughts I had about it pre-climb. Hiking up sucked. Hiking down sucked. The only part that didn't suck was walking around the top. 

 Something no one told us before we left was that it stunk most of the time. The way down was the only time it didn't smell bad. I'm not sure how they deal with waste on Fuji, but you can smell whatever method they use almost the whole time on the way up. 


We almost turned around at the ninth station (which is not a station, it's a boarded up shanty). We were miserable. We had missed the sunrise from the top. Looking up from the 8.5 station we though the 9th station was the top, but really the top was still further up in the clouds. It was 200 meters from the 8.5 station to the 9th. It took us almost an hour. We had to stop at every switchback and sometimes stopped in the middle. It was harder to breathe, our hearts were beating so fast to try to carry enough oxygen to our fatigued muscles, and my hip-flexors (of all things) hurt so bad, it hurt to move my leg forward at all. When we got to the ninth station the sign said "400 meters to summit."

At some point we could see people streaming down the return trail. You can see them behind Andy in this picture:



I saw a trail cutting across between the trail we were on over to the trail holding the happy people on the way back to their cars. And I SO. WANTED. to be one of those happy people. I told Andy to go on without me in my most dramatic tone; something like this:


My most chivalrous husband told me he would go back with me if that was what I really wanted, but he thought we would both regret it. Of course he was right. But it didn't make the final hour any less painful. That's right. 400 meters took us over an hour. It was the sight of the tori gate that means you made it and the cheers from people who realized they were finally there, that got us moving at the end.

We didn't beat the 80 year old woman dressed in all pink who passed us smiling with a  "Konnichiwa!!" I wish I had taken a picture of her but I couldn't waste what little strength I had left clicking a camera. But we made it. And let me tell you, when we stepped off the last stair to the summit, we felt like a million bucks. I'm so happy Andy didn't let me turn around.

At the top we got our summit stamps and souvenirs and walked to the post office about 15 minutes around the crater. We couldn't see the crater because of a giant cloud and I thought we might blow off the top. It was SO windy. But it was flat and we were happy. I do remember thinking that my mom better appreciate the effort I was going through to send this post card though. ;-)

 And we did send our postcards from the highest post office in Japan. (The 3rd highest in the world if you count the tent-post-office at Everest base camp- thank you wikipedia)


We took our pictures (Cincinnati Represent!) and headed back down.


And go back down we did. And that was terrible too. Steepest. Switchbacks. Ever. We stopped to rest after about half an hour and both of us fell asleep sitting. We had been on the mountain for 10 or 11 hours at that point. After I woke up to dirt blowing into my open mouth, I woke up Andy and we soldiered on. And then it started raining. And by then we were too tired and ready to be done to stop and put our rain gear on. so we walked through the rain. Down the steepest trail ever. For another 2 hours.

About halfway down I could tell my ankles were going to be bruised from my shoes. But I didn't care. I wanted to sit down in my car. Shortly after that realization, I told Andy "My big toes are going numb." he said "weird." and we kept walking. My big toes were half numb half pins and needles and I could tell it was from them slamming repeatedly against the front of my shoe.

Just when the switchbacks ended (finally!) we still had to walk another 2 miles back to our car. I'm pretty sure if I wasn't slowing him down, Andy would have run the last mile. That road we walked in on the night before that didn't seem very far may as well have been 20 miles long. I wanted to tell every one of the happy people passing us to start their hike up "Don't do it!! You'll hate it!! Turn Around!!!" And then we could see the buildings! Thank God!!!!!

We popped out in the an incredibly busy circle full of people where it had been practically empty the night before. I saw an ice cream stand and I bought us both vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. Andy didn't even get to pick. When the lady handed me a sugar cone and I was like "I ORDERED A WAFFLE CONE!!!!!" Andy paid the lady the difference and we walked back to the car with my vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. I would have cried happy tears if I had the energy.



From there we drove to the nearest Mcdonald's and ate hamburgers and fries and then took a nap in our car. And that was our experience with the majestic Fuji-san. Oh and P.S. My toes are still numb. Ugh.

I'm Back People

Greetings!!! 

I know I disappeared from the blog world for almost a year now but since this blog is mostly just a way to share the things we've done with our family, and document details I might otherwise forget, I didn't really have a whole lot to share. Andy's and my last year has looked mostly like this:

Wake up
Go to work
Come home
Eat food
Watch TV/Do homework
Go to bed
Repeat

A few things did happen so let me get you caught up on the happs. 

Andy fried a turkey for Thanksgiving (and didn't burn down the apartment!)

Andy got his private pilots license!!!



We rescued some furniture from the trash!

I finished building the bed and headboard!



I went to Hakone with a friend!


Some of my best friends here PCSed :-(

Andy cleaned up the oil stains on my balcony from Thanksgiving!

We went to DisneySea!

I grew out my bangs!
(And looked really happy! I didn't realize Andy was taking a picture, but I don't really have any others where you could see my hair!)



Our friends got a cat!


I started playing Indiaca with my friends off base!


We saw Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band at the fourth of July!


and lastly we both got more gray hairs. Not super exciting but some pretty cool things happened I shouldn't have glazed over. Last week we finally shook things up a bit. We climbed Mt. Fuji!! That post is almost done!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Let's go to the Ball,

Today!
That was for all my HIMYM fans out there. You're welcome. 

Last Saturday was the Air Force ball. So we got all spiffed up and went out to celebrate the Air Force's 65th birthday as exhibited below:


Alas, the ball was not legend -wait for it- dary, in fact it was incredibly boring so it was a good thing one of my good friends was there to entertain me. Doesn't Andy look handsome in his tux?! Maybe he should suit, er, tux-up more often. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lately

Andy's parents were here last week and we used that as an excuse to drag them to places in Japan that we haven't seen. Not always on purpose. We got lost a few times! Ha! Good thing they were good sports! 


We missed the turn off toward Fuji we've taken a million times and happily found a nice back road that spits you out at our favorite of the Fuji five lakes (Kawaguchi- if you were wondering). We stopped at a fruit stand along the way and ate a peach the the size of a softball. It was amazing. Japan really has the best tasting fruit! 



Fuji wasn't cooperating much that day with a layer of clouds that just wouldn't move, but it was a lovely day and we enjoyed it anyway. 


The next day we went out to Enoshima island. Andy and I had never been there before and weren't aware that the island was all stairs. It was really pretty rough! This is the main temple entrance. We may have accidentally almost killed my in-laws with the stairs and the ridiculous there-should-never-be-this-much-humidity-and-heat-at-the-same-time god awful heat but we all survived they didn't seem too mad. Phew. We did have a really yummy lunch at an Italian restaurant with a gorgeous view and airconditioning. I think it saved all of our lives. 




At one point Andy and I went ahead and so the caves of Enoshima. The view of the ocean from there was amazing. 



Couldn't help but post this!


We also wandered Tokyo one day in the killer heat. Andy and I had never been to Tokyo tower so we all went and checked it out. 



And of course no visit to Tokyo is complete without a train ride home during rush hour! 

We had a great time! Can't wait to see them again, 1 week went by way too fast. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th!

We celebrated the fourth with a early morning 5k, some delicious fresh bagels, and fireworks watched from the roof of Andy's squadron with friends.What did you guys do?


Happy fourth of July from Japan!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Check it out

Andy is on Yokota's web page again! Here's the video:


And here's a link to read more about it:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Memoirs of a geisha and samurai

For a day.



Last weekend Andy and I  (on an increasingly rare day we both had off) headed in to Tokyo for something fun and uniquely Japanese. One of my best friends here recommended that I go do this before the studio closed at the end of this month. So I drug my incredibly willing, open, and adventurous husband along with me. He's catching some crap for it now which makes me angry but he's taking it like a champ. I love him for not caring what other people think. Men who wouldn't do this with their wives or families simply because they think they would be considered "un-cool" are not real men. They are man-boys and feel sorry for their wives. 







My lovely husband also paparazzied me so I could see the incredibly long process of getting made over.






It wasnt easy to walk in the kimono. Maybe thats why some Japanese women shuffle. Andy took this one too. I actually think it came out better than some of the photographers:


Hope everyone is having a good day! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

it's (finally) starting to look like spring

though it doesn't much feel like it. 
Cooooome oooooooon warm weather! I wan't to go outside without a coat!!
Despite the lack of lovely weather like I hear you all are having in the states, the plum blossoms are blooming here. I went to a Plum blossom park the other day with one of my best friends and this is what we saw:






It smelled lovely too. Happy weekend!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snow Monkeys


Over the weekend Andy and I went to see the snow monkeys near Nagano. We stopped at Matsumoto Castle along the way and happened upon a volunteer guide who spoke english and told us all about the castle while we froze to death in our borrowed slippers. (No shoes in the Castle) If you look closely at the bottom of the castle, you can see that the siding flares out a smidge. This opens up on the floor inside so if the enemy managed to not get shot from the musket or archer holes, trudged through the moat, and started climbing the wall, people inside the castle could drop big rocks on his head. Clever. I think if I had to be there during a fight I'd like that job. 



Once you make it to the monkey park entrance, you have to walk for a while down this snowy path in the woods. It takes probably half and hour to walk to the monkeys, during which time you can enjoy the quiet winter wonderland surrounding you.


A few people told me before we left that the monkeys weren't worth the trip since it was cold and they smelled bad, and even now most people I talk to who have been weren't overly impressed with the monkey park, but I loved it. I did a research project culminating in a diorama about the Japanese Macaque and since then I've really wanted to see them in real life. When did I do this project you ask? Well... in second grade (see how those big words tricked you into thinking it was a super in-depth project) but I've never stopped loving monkeys so it doesn't really matter when I did it. ;-)

Watching the monkeys sit in the hot spring was pretty awesome. I left with a huge smile on my face; those little fuzzy cuties brightened my day so much. 



Look at the baby! He was so tiny and his little monkey squeaks were adorable!


This guy was half sleeping half meditating in the water. He let me get really close. I feel kind of bad about that, knowing that humans are kind of exploiting these guys for good photos, but I suppose having one monkey park with well fed monkeys used to humans is better than people disturbing monkeys all over Japan in their habitat. 








Monkey hands.



This is Mama. At least thats what I called her. Her little baby got out of the water but she stayed and soaked and stretched her hammies apparently. You can see her in the background of one of the photos above. 



Teenagers on the prowl. 


And I leave you guys with this: A fairly big guy was heading to the area where a monkey park person was tossing our some food. This woman didn't realize the ninja monkey was walking up next to her on the railing. We saw it coming so I kept my camera clicking. Her face cracks me up! The monkey really surprised her and didn't care one bit. 

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Happy Weekend Everyone!