11 August, 2011

Our second camping adventure Part 1

Our second camping adventure also went very well. Spectacular scenery, lots of food and open air and a camp set-up that worked just fine.

Lake Okutama
The camp site was about 20 minutes further away from Tokyo along the same road we took to get to our first camping adventure. We followed the main river that feeds the lake (Okutama) we camped near last time. The valley got narrower and narrower. The drop-offs from the road to the bottom of the valley were something to ignore when they were only a couple of metres away from your vehicle. I was driving. 

One of the charming things about motion sickness is that it is better to drive than be driven. So our standard procedure is to swap to me driving when the road is windy, and this road certainly is! And replete with tunnels too, more than a dozen, I think. The difficulty with this strategy, however is that David is only slightly less prone to carsickness than I, so if we don't know where we are going, it is difficult for either of us to look at a map while the car is moving. 

After about 20 minutes I pulled off the road at a little siding so we could check the map and David exclaimed, "This is it!" Surely not? A little shed on the side of the road that barely clung to the edge of the mountain. But yes, this is where we were to unload our car, pile it all into the waiting lift.
Luggage lift.

Then we watched all our stuff disappear down the cables into the trees in the valley below! Well, I did, for a moment, then followed after my husband who'd taken off at a trot down the steep track that lead down to the camp site near the river.
The cables that our luggage travelled down.

Going down the track made us very grateful we weren't carrying our gear down ourselves. At the bottom we found ourselves in another little world. One that looked remarkably like a Christian camp site, if you didn't look closely. A whole lot of little cabins higgledy piggledy scattered around, outdoor dish washing facilities etc. We ended up pitching our tent on the edge of a flat area where one might kick a ball around. There were no other tents in evidence. A single guy arrived shortly afterwards and put up his single-man tent, making ours look gargantuan.

The ground wasn't easy to put tent pegs into. Not too far under the surface a whole lot of largish stones were discovered. I must have tried up to six places for most pegs I ended up placing. It was very frustrating, because we had boys who were so keen to wield the hammer/mallet but the work was too tedious for them.

As we were putting the tent up the mountains sounded like they had indigestion. Thunder rolled ominously. After the heavy storm we'd experienced the day before in our solid house in Tokyo, we weren't keen to face one here, with a tent half erected! Thankfully the thunder rolled off and on for a few hours before it finally bore down on us and rained and rained. By then the tent and awning were up and we were in the middle of cooking dinner. It was a bit scary, knowing that if our stuff got wet then, we'd have a challenging night. But thankfully everything inside the tent remained dry. Most things outside the tent were spattered with muddy water, but we managed just fine. It was very satisfying.
An example of a tatami matted room (different, more luxurious location).

The camp site, as I've mentioned, at first look was quite a familiar environment to us. Looking a little closer and we saw some definite Japanese touches. The little cabins, for example, that I mentioned. They were merely single rooms with tatami floors. No bunks in them at all. Nor much else, from what we could tell. Maybe a couple had a kitchenette in them, but mostly people were cooking and eating outside, just like us. 
These were dotted around too, David thinks they are tiny versions of the larger cabins.

There was a large cabin that contained huge piles of futons, Japanese mattresses. Obviously they rent these out to people staying in the cabins. We discovered the next day that they air the futons out on one of the roofs, being in a narrow valley they don't get a long period of sunshine each day.

Another Japanese characteristic was the showers. Actually a Japanese bath. One for women, one for men. Much like our bathroom at home here in Tokyo, except it is communal. Everyone undresses in the vestibule and goes in to the shower/bath room. Where you soap up and rinse off under a hand held shower (no stalls) and then soak in the deep bath (up to the neck). Very clean. A lovely experience after a day of dirt, mud and sweat.

I'll continue this story tomorrow. Plenty of adventures yet to come.


Melissa said...

Your camping exploits really make me look forward to camping with the girls in a few years.
We did go in Autumn but it can be challenging rather than relaxing with little ones. Walks aren't easy and the children need constant supervision. It can be harder than at home.

Wendy said...

I made that comment to David while we were away, very grateful that our boys are older. We could tell them to go down to the river and not be worried about them. Yes, the walking. Even for our 6 y.o. it isn't easy to keep up with his older brothers (even for me too), but it isn't too difficult, not like it would be with a toddler.