Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Have you ever heard the expression, "Busier than a one-armed paperhanger"? Well, I think I know what that feels like.

Over the weekend we took a family "break".

We were offered a nights stay at a hotel in Atami along the shore of the Izu peninsula.

Of course, I am the only driver in the group so I got to drive my van while trying to figure out where I was going. Paul sat up in front and held the map on his cell phone ... and dozed.

Nikko sat in the back and watched the road. We picked up Norie and Leia along the way and after countless wrong turns, made it to our destination. Along the way, the cell phone with the GPS ran out of batteries. I think we took the extra "scenic route" but by the time we arrived it was too dark to see much of the scenery other than the city lights of Atami.

We met up with our friends at the hotel and went out for a bite to eat at a family restaurant, then returned to enjoy a nice onsen bath. Dogs were not welcomed at the hotel so Nikko and I slept in the van ... as we often do for Scouting events. It was a pleasant night, not too hot, nice breeze, quiet lapping waves, and we woke refreshed to a view of the castle in the morning mist.

After a bit of breakfast and more onsen bath enjoyed by some of the group. we went off on more "scenic" routes to find the castle.  Though Paul had taken his phone charger, he was unable to find it so we set out with a printed map of the town.

It was not a very accurate map but highlighted the tourist spots, and since it was in the hands of someone who does not drive, the interpretation was sketchy to say the least.

We made it to the castle and Leia played with some of the warrior statues lining the  cliff edge.

The day couldn't have been nicer with a brisk breeze and sunny blue skies.

Nikko went happily up all those stairs and, though the autumn colors had not yet made an appearance, we enjoyed the view of the city and bay and surrounding hills.

Our next stop was at a garden. No dogs allowed so we left Nikko with Papa and walked around the outer garden. In the end, we decided the outer garden was enough and we didn't need to pay to see the inside area.

We had planned to see one more garden but were not able to locate it so left the car and found a dog-friendly cafe to enjoy some lunch.

The cafe had two young Golden Retrievers who made Nikko look like a perfectly trained dog in comparison.

Our final scenic stop before heading back to Tokyo was a shrine to good health and old age containing the oldest tree in Honshu.

The Camphor tree is said to be between 2100 and 2200 years old.

I guess by that long, a few years either way doesn't matter much.

The belly band with folded paper indicating the sacred status is 23 meters around.  (Only exceeded by a height of 26 meters).

Walking the path around the tree is supposed to increase one's life by a year for each round.

(I think the stress of driving all those scenic routes evened the playing field for me.)

With the van loaded up with six people and a dog, we set off to find our way back home.

The Navigator on my phone speaks English but not "driver English" Sometimes the "continue straight" is on a very curvy road and sometimes "turn left" is a given because the road is bending to the left and there is no side road.

Just about the time I was ready to toss the thing out the window, the battery died.  Our host was able to get the map on his cell phone and we made it to the drop-off point for four passengers.

Nikko could have her seat back but she was so tired she slept on the floor between the two front seats.

Sunday was super busy with a special choir piece for a choir member who was leaving us after earning his PHD, to return to Africa. The piece was fun to sing and has been going through my brain day and night for weeks ... well, first to learn the words and then because there was no "off switch".

Monday was early morning rice delivery and then my English class.

I took advantage of the large open floor space to lay out some of my expanded blocks and get an idea of how they are going to look together.

I think the longer strips on the sides will be OK.

I didn't get a whole lot done on the trip but I am finding the mini design wall that Jean sent me works quite nicely for laying out the blocks with their side strips.

My English students were impressed with the ruler you sent, Jean, but also with the cute design mat ...

... and the fact I could bring my friend with me each day.
I hope you enjoyed the trip to Atami, even if not the bath.


  1. I see now why you spelled Bizzy like Dizzy and Fizzy. You had quite a trip. I can't understand why you haven't figured out how to do some sewing while you're driving! Sounds like a typical Japanese Vacation.

  2. Beautiful trip but driving around and getting lost would have completely stressed me out! I'm glad you made it back safely. The quilt is looking lovelier and lovelier every time you work on it. :)

  3. You have a nice trip made, with a couple of problems to find the road.
    You make a beautiful quilt.
    Greeting Tiny

  4. What an adventure, and when in doubt, use the NZ saying " She'll be Right". Your blocks look so good together, lots of stitching there, and I'm so happy your mini design wall is a friend too. NOW, did you see Georgia's round the world blog hop? Your name right there, so how small is the world really when friends have met, and we link together. Hugs, Jean.

  5. Thanks for the plug, Jean! In case anyone else is interested it's at: georgiasgeornal.blogspot.com

  6. LOVE the pictures from your trip x esp. Leia sitting on the shoulders of the soldier xx I am usually the driver .. and find that every-one but me gets to see the scenic bits!! I get the "turn here".. just as we go past etc.!!!! .. so I sympathise with you x lol x

  7. A paper map is always safer than GPSs that needs battery power. How about borrowing the street atlas for the area you are going to from the local library in Nerima. They should have every prefecture on their shelves.
    Then again, that wouldn't have been an adventurous trip!
    I am glad you had a fun family outing.

  8. Very busy life, but filled with adventure, family and the joy of giving to others:)


  9. Quite a trip Julie. So nice that there were some dog friendly places.

  10. It sounds like a great place to visit but a lot of work to get there.Good to see Nikko didn't miss out. The blocks are looking good.

  11. I have a GPS unit that I carry in my car. It's old, but, it tends to get me there. The GPS on the phone keeps shutting down (screen) every few seconds, so, it's useless. Looks like a nice weekend.

  12. What beautiful pictures! And such a fun trip.... There are a few hotels/motels in the states that allow pets, but certainly not all. That tree is amazing. blessings, marlene

  13. HI Julie, we loved reading about your visit to Atami. Nikko is a beautiful dog ! By his smiling face, it looks as if he had a great time. And your quilt in progress is so pretty, with spectacular colors. We really like the Irish Chain effect combine with the log cabin blocks.

    Thanks again, and happy quilting, from Marina and Daryl