Monday, February 4, 2008

Halftime


It's been a few months since the last post and we have a lot to share. Maiko & Bomber came down to Niseko for 3 weeks during Maiko's Winter Vacation. It was great to be reunited with the family. We skied a lot, we went to a lot of hot springs, ate good food and, basically, enjoyed being together again.


Maiko arrived on Christmas Eve and we had a nice dinner (taco salad) at home before enjoying a nice cheesecake from a local bakery for dessert (customary in Japan to have "Christmas Cake" on Christmas Eve). On Christmas Day, we went skiing, had a nice hot spring (onsen) and then went to JoJo's Cafe (above NAC - Niseko Adventure Center) for a nice special dinner. The morning after Christmas (Boxing Day) was not spent shopping, but actually calling home and talking to family on the other side of the big pond as it was Christmas there.


On New Year's Eve, we went to Annupuri Ski Area with the plan to ski until about 11:30pm and then watch the fireworks while standing around the bonfire at the bottom of the ski area. However, as we came down for our last run around 11:20pm, there was a line up of people at the bottom and the ski patrol dude I had met a few days earlier seemed to be directing traffic. I asked Toshi what was up and he said they are going to carry the torches down the ski run and then throw them in the bonfire for a little "show". I asked if they had enough people and he said they were still looking for a few more. Maiko and I got in line and then ended up carrying down a few torches down the last steep pitch at Annupuri, throwing them in the bonfire and then watching the fireworks. The picture above (top of page) is of us shortly after the clock struck midnight.

We then drove home to get a few z's before getting up at 5:30am in order to drive out to Annupuri again and ride the early morning gondola before anyone else. The cost was 1,000 yen/ride (about 9 bucks) and since we got on the first gondola at 6:40am (was supposed to open at 6:45, but we were there early just the same), we got about 5 runs in before anyone else (lifts opened to the public at 8;30am). It snowed about 2 feet the day/night before and then cleared up for New Year's morning (only) so we were able to not only ski awesome fresh powder that was all ours with no competition for it (off and on course), but also see the first sunrise of the new year (see second picture above - rising sun is behind us). In short, it was an awesome way to end 2007 and an even more amazing way to start 2008!! Needless to say, after skiing a few more hours, we were knackered and went in for a nap and hot springs. Oh yeah!!!


Above is a picture of Bomber & Maiko after they arrived in Niseko on Christmas Eve. Below is a picture of me and Bomber a few days before they left to go back up to Esashi.


I have more pictures, more stories and more videos to share, but I need to get back to work. The good news is that were at the "halftime" of our time apart here in Japan. Maiko will relocate back down to Asahikawa at the end of March and I will head back up there around mid-April. Ironically, today was also Superbowl Sunday back in The States and I spent the morning watching the game (good game even though I don't care much for the sport anymore) with my focus being the halftime show that showcased Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers playing, "American Girl", "Won't Back Down", "Freefallin" & "Runnin' Down a Dream". It was a great show and set the stage for a great second half. In the first half of the ski season here in Niseko, I have skied 47 days and am hoping to finish the second half with at least 53 more (I've never skied 100 days in a season). The best thing about that, though, is that the skiing has been almost 100% powder days as it's been an epic season so far. I have had friends visit and I have more friends coming to visit. I have also made some great friends while I've been down here. However, I am looking forward to getting up to Asahikawa and getting reunited with Maiko & Bomber and get started on our next chapter.
Hugs & Love to you all!! I hope you all had a great holiday season and are having a wonderful winter season and 2008!! Speaking of 8's, I need to get out there and make some turns. Oh...and here's a video to end this blog post with. The video was made by my friend, Yasu, who videotaped my skiing mate, Tom Rourke, and myself going down Miharashii Course here in Niseko a few weeks back. It is tree skiing at its very best. Oh yeah!!!




video

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