Monday, January 02, 2006

Nagano Powder

Today we headed out into Sanners for some last minute shopping then headed home to pack for our trip to Nagano.

Brendon in Sanners

My teacher, who I went skiing with last time in Nagano, had invited us to join her, her husband and her husband's work mate, wife and young daughter back to Togakushi so Brendon could experience Japanese powder. We had already planned this before Brendon came over so he was very excited about it since getting his first taste of snowboarding recently in Melbourne on a boy's trip.

We met up around 5pm and started the 7 hour drive to Nagano. The traffic was quite bad in some areas so the trip was very long and tiring. We dropped by at some rest stops along the way and by midnight arrived at the final rest stop and slep in the van for a few hours. The other family slept in their van and Brendon and I slept in the van with Kawatobi and Tanaka.

Same one as last year - "Casual Frozen Foods"

Brendon's coffee - the tv screen shows it being made inside the vending machine

The eerie green telephone booth at one of the rest stops

Tanaka is a self-confessed 'powder addict' and his van is his 'leisure vehicle'. In winter he will drive up to Nagano every weekend just to ski. Mind you it's about a 7 hour drive each way. Now that's harcore.

Just as I was wondering how all four of us were going to sleep in the van, he pushed some button and the top of the van lifted up like a tent. I can't explain it, just look at the photo. So Kawatobi and Tanaka slept on the roof of the van in the tent thing while Brendon and I slept in the van on the folded down seats. Japan continues to amaze me.

We arrived very early at Pension Azalea and had a delicious breakfast. It was very nice to see Shimizu-san (my ski-sensei master), his lovely wife (amazing cook) and one of the helpers from last year again. We got settled into our tatami rooms then headed off to the slopes.

We hired our gear (same guys as last time and they gave us an incredible bargain price - woo hoo!) then broke off into our groups; Brendon and I went to the beginner runs so he could teach me how to board, Yuko and her daughter went to ski school classes and the pros headed straight to the black diamond runs.

We met up again for lunch before hitting the slopes again. I wish I had taken a photo of Shotani when we first met up for lunch. They had just come off the black runs and his beard was complete frozen. He literally had an ice beard. It was too funny.

It had been snowing non-stop for about a month, except on new year's day, so there was an abundance of powder white snow everywhere. Which was very good for me because I spent most of the day on my ass, back, face and knees trying to get the hang of it. Brendon was a very good (and patient) teacher and soon I was able to follow him down the green runs.

We all met up again and skied, snowboarded, tobogganed and stumbled back to the lodge and relaxed in the hot baths - perfect for the sore and tired muscles. Had a delicious seafood nabe dinner and very tasty wild duck, then went straight to bed and konked out.


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