Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 29: Making it to Niigata

Thursday, July 23, 2009
 Rode 110km (68 miles) from Nezugaseki to Niigata.
  The morning sun's glare off of the ocean surface had me up by 5:15, and I wrote in my journal inside the tent until Sho woke up at 7:00.  We were on the road by 8am, planning to cover 110km (68 miles) in order to make it to Niigata, where a care package from Eiko was waiting for Sho.  She sent a DS game care of Sato-san, the ultra marathoner we'd met in Saroma Ko, Hokkaido on the 3rd day of our ride.  We had shared a room with Sato-san the night before his 100km race, and he had kindly offered to meet us in his home town Niigata when we came through.
  We traveled efficiently throughout the day, pausing only briefly from time to time to take pictures of the marvelous ocean views, rugged fishing villages and dramatic rock formations.  As we got closer to Niigata, our route left the coast and took us through forests and small towns.  The road did not have a shoulder and, unfortunately, was a preferred route for truckers, who roared by us in a constant procession, spewing exhaust and hemming us in to ride over debris along the road's edge.   Our trucker's route eventually merged onto an interstate on the outskirts of town.  We consulted the GPS, and were soon happily biking on comfortable, paved paths through rice paddies, eventually finding the back entrance to an interstate michi no eki rest stop.  A friendly worker there gave us a map and other helpful info.  She was amazed at our trip and followed us outside and around to the back of the building to take our picture.  
  As we continued along on paths through farm country, Sho discovered an ostrich farm.  We hung out with the friendly animals, who stuck their long necks through holes in the fence and ate grass out of our palms.  We checked into an inexpensive hotel near Niigata Train Station, soaked in the hotel's onsen public bath and ate dinner at a nearby izakaya restaurant.  Sho ate his favorite yaki zakana grilled fish, and I ate a collection of small dishes, including edamame, cold tofu and fish.  
  Before going to bed, we sorted through our belongings to create a pile of stuff to mail back to the U.S.: 
 - a pair each of extra shorts and shirts
 - Japanese-English electronic dictionary that was ruined by the rain
 - lots of Pokemon and Penguin game cards
 - spare inner tube for Sho's wheel (still have 3 spares)
 - bear bell
 - mini pin ball game

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