Robert & Roberta Adair

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I’m 34 weeks pregnant, which for me is both exciting and terrifying.  (in an attempt to shorten this blog, I just deleted a bit of a rant about the previous sentence.  You’re welcome, Robert ;).

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The idea of getting away for a night pre-baby was quite appealing for this easily-overwhelmed-mum-to-be.  Last week, R and I tried to go camping.  I occasionally dropped subtle hints that I wanted to go such as, “With or without ya’, I am going to sleep in the tent!!”  We got our gear ready, packed the car, and set off…not knowing at the time that most campgrounds don’t open until the first week of May. We checked out 5 places (5!!) before calling it quits and heading home.  It was still a good day, though, as we got to see places we’ve never seen and spent several hours in the car together.

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Castle at Shiroishi – we had the whole place to ourselves

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Then, a week later, we tried for another night away, but this time R made a reservation ahead of time.  We’ve been planning on making a trip to Costco (4+ hours one way) pre-baby, and R had the idea to find a funky place semi-close to Costco and turn the trip into an overnighter. The drive down was stunning. Many blooming trees (if I was British, would I have to re-word that phrase?) announcing the arrival of spring, snow-capped mountains, and little wind (after several days of wind so strong it shut down trains) made for quite a fantastic drive.
Then we drove up and out of spring and into the mountains.  When we arrived to the village, we noticed most shops and
buildings were shuttered.  Yep, two weeks in a row of going places pre-season. I’m not a crowd person for vacay, though, so I was intrigued…although I wasn’t expecting to have the whole village to ourselves!  We found our Japanese hotel – which was locked. R called the number, and we stood outside of a dark inn and watched the front desk phone ring.  We laughed a lot.
The innkeeper met soon met us, served us tea, and gave us money to go to a nearby bath (do foreigners really smell tht badly?).  After we put our stuff in our tatami (woven traditional Japanese mats) room and drank another cup of tea in our kotatsu (table with a heater and blanket to keep one’s legs warm), we went to the bathhouse.  There, we saw…people! (naked people, but it was still somehow relieving to know there were at least a dozen people in this village).
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We found out that there was no food in restaurant- or grocery- form available, so we drove down to the next town and had super awesome ramen made by the Quintessential Ramen Gent (80-year-old dude in a white undershirt with a towel on his head).  He literally made the dumplings and chopped the veggies right then and there…so fresh, so yummy, and such a little hole-in-the-wall shop that was one of very few options available to 2 Hungry Big-eating Americans.  IMG_3487
We came back, and the innkeeper grandma had made our beds. As our room faced east, we anticipated waking up pretty early, so we went to bed quite early.  Awake early we did (4:30? again at 5:30?), although I didn’t want to get out of a warm bed to get my camera.  It was quite breath-taking – even after the sky no longer held pinks and oranges galore.

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We enjoyed our quiet view, read, and chattered until breakfast at 8am.

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Then we hiked the peak we could see from our hotel room (a slow but somewhat-tiring 50 minute walk), enjoyed the views, and took the gondola down to the bottom.

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As we were making our way back to the car, R saw a tandem bike and commented that someday when I’m not almost 8 months preggers, it could be fun.  Then we spotted silly bike buggies – and, being the goobers that we are – went ahead and rented one!  All had seen better days (bike buggy number one had a flat, and R gallantly drove it back to the rental place), but we laughed so hard as we rolled around most of the lake and back (“most” because hills were next to impossible).

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Then, after drinking strange-to-me-salty-tea from the rental lady, it was time to head for Costco.  Pizza, bulk foods, and a lot of baby wipe purchases later, we drove back to Miyagi.

Perhaps it wasn’t quite what either of us had in mind for a “baby moon,” but I certainly got what I wanted: time away, lots of time with R, pretty views, laughter, and Costco pizza.  It was 30 hours well spent.  (Thanks, R, for being a great surprise trip planner!)

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