We woke up to heavy fog, and moderate rain. Visibility was barely across the car park (and the temperatures were quite cool), so we made the most of it and laid in bed and watched some TV. Felt quite lazy, I guess because it was.
We hadn’t really made a Plan B for today, even though last night we were quite confident that it was going to be cloudy/rainy today due to the approaching typhoon. We wanted to see the Bandai area, but since there was close to zero visibility we weren’t going to see anything (road/cars included). We tried to formulate a route for the day, that didn’t include sightseeing of mountains etc. Risa found a festival that is being held tomorrow/day-after in Nagano, so we mapped a rough route that way. We’ve (briefly) been to Niigata a few times before, so didn’t mind blitzing through.
In our sudden rush to leave (after slothing for close to three hours), I nearly forgot to put the ‘cub back into the car and ran over the saucepan that Risa had put outside to soak (which I moved closer to the car to make us look less like trailer trash). I could just imagine the frustration/anger/embarrassment if I’d forgotten to pack our motorbike and had to drive back for it…
As we were driving, we kept seeing signs for ‘scenic view spots’ and I felt really disappointed that we weren’t going to be able to see them. I wish that we could just wait for the weather to improve, but who knows how long that would take (and if it would actually be worth the wait).
Earlier this morning, while reading through Lonely Planet to see what was around, I remembered reading about a town that we were approaching, Kitakata. I remembered that it was famous for having thousands (2600) of old warehouses and 120 ramen restaurants. It was lunchtime (and we’d only had a light breakfast), so we made a quick detour. We were going to check out the restaurant that Lonely Planet recommended (genraiken), but luckily Risa checked the reviews (average was 1-2 stars), so we gave it a miss and went for the most highly recommended restaurant (hasegawa), which naturally was further away still…
We arrived, and as to be expected, it was quite busy. We first had to put our names on the waiting list for an available table (and wait huddled out of the rain). It was only 10-15 minutes wait, so not a deal breaker, not if the ramen was going to be good. We ordered what the waitress recommended chashu ramen (roast pork on top, soy sauce-ish base). I got the full size, Risa ordered the slightly smaller version. ¥900 for mine, ¥750 for hers. I was tempted to order the miso ramen, but thought it best to stick to their speciality. As is the way with ramen restaurants, our food came in no time at all, and I was a little taken back at the size! It was huge, though in reality, it usually is. There was heaps of roast pork, which was a pleasant surprise. It was tasty, certainly, but it wasn’t any better than anything I’d had previously in Hokkaido. The base was slightly different, having a slightly fishy tang to it, but it wasn’t weird.
We finished in no time at all, and somehow I was still hungry, or at least I still felt hungry.
We still had a LONG way to drive, and I was already tired, so we didn’t waste anymore time. The drive was scenic enough, given the weather conditions. After an hour or so, we started following a large river, that turned into a dam, that turned into another dam, which turned into yet another higher dam before finally crossing over the mountain range into Niigata (and semi-clear weather). The mountain passes here are amazing, and there isn’t a single time that I drive one and don’t wish that I had a nice car to be able to enjoy it, instead of this giant bus.
More driving through small (and old/beautiful) towns before reaching our base for the night, Uonuma. We were trying to keep costs down, so we bought pre-cooked rice (¥80/200g) and some instant curry (¥105) and heated it up using the microwave in the supermarket. It felt so embarrassing to be cooking dinner inside a supermarket, surrounded by shoppers who already stare at me without giving them a reason (other than being foreign).
Onsen, then bed. I’m having no problems sleeping, as I’m constantly tired. In fact, I’m so tired that I’ve even been dreaming vividly, which is quite rare for me (though, very enjoyable).
霧、霧、霧。何も見えない、、、今日は、磐梯山を散策する予定だったけど、あいにくの天気。急ぐことは何もないし、すっかり気分が落ちてしまったのでだらだらデクスターでも観る♪ すっかり２人してハマってしまった。それでも今日の目的地を決めなくちゃ、、と何かこの辺りでお祭りなどはないかと調べてみると、、長野の野沢温泉でとうろう祭りがあるらしい！ 野沢温泉は、いつかいって見たいと思っていたし、灯籠祭りとは、古い温泉街になんともぴったり☆ お祭りは、今日と明日だけど、今日はちょっと無理そう、でもそうと決まれば急いで出発。立寄りなしで行ける所まで行ってみよう！
あわてる必要はないに出発エンジンをかけて２M進み、おっとバイクを積み忘れていた笑。そして昨日の晩にうるかす為に外に出していた鍋の存在も忘れていた。昨日りさがバイクの隣に置いたのをロス車の側に移動したのでどけてる為に外に出ると、時、既に遅し。１００均の鍋はいとも無惨にぺっちゃんこ。 ぶっ。 鍋がかわいそうだけど、爆笑せずにいられなかった笑
雨と霧で楽しみにしていた磐梯山などの景色は、な〜んにも見えない。ひたすら走るうちに喜多方こっちの青看が。おお、喜多方ラーメン、、、距離を調べてみると３０KMくらい、、今日は、なにも見れなさそうだし、ネタの為にも行ってみる事に！ ロスのガイドブックに載っていたおすすめ店を探してみた。でもガイドブックの人気店っていつもハズレが多いから好きじゃないのでネットで評価を調べてみたら、やっぱり酷評。なので、地元人に人気の店、かわ村に行ってみる事に。 地元の人にも人気の店なので込んでいたけど、１０分程で名前を呼ばれ入店。私は、お店おすすめの半面盛チャーシュー￥７５０。ロスは、もちろん全面盛りチャーシュー￥９００。 チャーシューの大きさは、どんぶりからはみ出んばかりに細長くデカイ！ それが私のには、２枚。ロスのは、４、５枚も！すごい。 スープは、魚だしがきいた豚系のスープ。けっこうあっさりめ。麺は、弾力のある平ちぢれ麺。これが喜多方ラーメン！っていう定義は、ないみたいだけど、とてもおいしかったです☆
ラーメンを食べた後は、ひたすら前進。只見峠は、ダムがあって高い山に囲まれている。北海道の道はよく平坦でまっすぐなんて言うけど、本当にそのとおり。本州の峠道は、ハンパない。 道幅は、北海道の道路の半分くらいで、カーブの急さもハンパない。おそるべし。 りさは、終止怖がるもロスは、楽しんでいてドリフトがしたい、ドリフトがしたい！！とカーブの度にいっていた。 車道があるだけでもすごいのに只見峠は、列車が走っている。この列車からの紅葉は、日本の車窓からの紅葉ＮＯ.１らしい。 確かに何度も紅葉の時期を想像してみると絶景だと思った。