Pictures From a Drive

This morning I was watching the Red Sox, who have been thoroughly sucking recently. Once it was apparent that any further time spent on the game would be a waste, I jumped in the car to take a drive. Normally I would use my bike, but it was in the shop. The other day I decided I wanted to fit some parts from my old mountain bike onto my newer bike and made some decent progress, but in the end I had to bring to the pros to finish what I began.

I took advantage of having an engine and went somewhere that would have been much more challenging on two wheels — up and over a mountain. I rode a good ways up this mountain a couple of months ago and posted pictures about it (sorry no link, but you can find it — I haven’t been blogging that much). At the time I had to head home but was curious about where exactly this road went.

Continuing further up, there were some beautiful views of Hakusan from angles that I had never seen before.

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Down through the forest, lots of sunbeams blasting through the trees. There are lots of places to explore here — hiking trails into the forest, unpaved roads leading somewhere worthy of having a sign — need to come back without a car.

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And out into semi-civilization. The town here was full of really old houses and really old people. I noticed that the weeds between the rice paddies were really long; not sure if that’s the style around those parts, or if there are just not enough farmers to keep up with the task.
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Bad news in my quest to eventually live somewhere far away from relentlessly barking dogs, even in this remote haven, when I stepped out of the car to take some pictures I heard a dog yelping away in the distance.

And speaking of noises that make me want to jump off something tall and land on my head, the elementary school next door is holding its sports festival this weekend, as are most elementary schools across Japan it seems. That in and of itself will be loud and annoying, but in the run-up the students have been practicing all day, every day this week. That translates to horrible J-pop blasting over the PA system while the teacher drones instruction over the music on the same PA. By now I know the whole routine and which team is likely to win. One bright spot at least, around 4 yesterday afternoon for some inexplicable reason they played We Are the Champions. I nearly shed a tear.

Speaking of which, Chieko is stranded in the bedroom with Ray, who has been wailing away pretty much since I started composing this post, so I should probably go do some time in there as well. Enjoy the weekend.

Tripodless Night Photography

It’s bound to end up shoddy, and for the most part it did, technically speaking. But whether or not I’m justifying my own artistic efforts here or actually being objective, I think there’s something cool about these pictures. Everything is blury except for the stars in most of these pictures; how I achieved that I’m not sure.

As the title suggests, I was working sans tripod. I bought a ¥1500 tripod a few years ago and now I know why it was that cheap. It might be time to invest in something a bit more sturdy. In the absence of proper equipment I resulted to my surroundings, propping my camera up on a cushion of rice straw gathered from the freshly-shorn paddies in which I was taking pictures.

I keep having a problem with shooting at night, in that my camera won’t focus on any other mode than AI servo, which as you can see isn’t really focusing on much at all. So I have to find a way to get it to focus on something more clearly in normal ‘one shot’ mode. Whatever, totally boring blog material there. Look at the shitty pictures! (Played around with quite a few Flickr tools, by the way.)

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Tedori Canyon Road…Yet Again

Things have taken a decided turn towards fall over the last week. It is still warm during the day, but wonderfully cool at night. My garden is sputtering along and barely producing anything, while the more astute farmers have already ditched their summer crops and are preparing their plots for fall and winter planting. I’ll get there eventually.

I remember the last time I road along the Tedori Canyon road, towards the beginning of summer, the rice was just being planted. At that time I thought to myself that I would have to take another ride once the paddies filled in more and things were even greener than they were at that time. So here I am, at the beginning September, and the rice is being harvested and the paddies are rapidly returning to brown, and by the skin of my teeth I was able to get out and take some pictures.

I went for a 3 hour ride this afternoon and took a bunch of pictures, but most of them are mediocre. Part of that is because I’ve trod this path a few times now and have exhausted most of the easy shots.

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Which is part of the reason why, as I was riding along into a stiff headwind, when I saw a roofline on top of a smallish mountain off to my right, I took a u-turn and found the road that led up to it. The other factor in the choice was that I imagined there were some great views over the valley I was in from the top of wherever that road went. I had to dismount about 3/4 of the way up because my lungs were very realistically about to explode, but the view from the top was not disappointing.

We live about 45 minutes bike ride to the left, and the bike path continues on to the right for another hour and a half or so if you are riding at a good clip.

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I had no intentions of riding the trail to its terminus today. The wind was pissing me off and there isn’t really anything at the end of the trail unless you are willing to substantially lengthen your bike ride, which on this day I wasn’t.

My destination therefore became the Tedori Canyon, the namesake of this bike path. I have driven/ridden along and past this canyon countless times, but I have never actually been to the bottom of it. Aside from the mountains, the canyon is the standout geological feature of this area, and I suppose because it’s nothing compared to the Grand Canyon (which I have seen up close) I haven’t felt much desire to seek out this comparatively tiny canyon.

That said, the only access point to the canyon that I know of (though I’m sure there are many) was about as far away as I was aiming to ride today, so it became a natural destination. Many of the bridges in the area pass over the canyon and offer tantalizing glimpses of the milky blue-green water that runs through it, but the place I ended up was not that great. There was a biggish waterfall, which has a name that escapes me.

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I feel much the same way about waterfalls as I do about temples and shrines — they’re pretty but they don’t really get my juices flowing. I’d rather go this way:

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And I did, as far as I could before there were no longer any banks to walk along or stones to hop across, only swiftly moving water. So back it was toward home for me. I had anticipated having a nice tail-wind on my ride home, since I’d been fighting the wind my entire ride thus far. But naturally it had turned around and was blowing just as hard in the other direction. Thus I arrived at our house with my contacts vacuum-sealed to my eyeballs.

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All in all a great ride a great day.

Nothing else happening here…that I’m willing to talk about at least 😉