Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Weekend Get-A-Way
We took a trip last weekend to Hakone and then to Yokohama. Saturday morning just after the girls were out of their pajamas, we were out the door. We wanted to arrive at the Hakone Aquarium (our 11th aquarium since arriving in Japan) just after it opened. The girls happily ate their dry cereal in the car with a movie playing to keep them entertained. They are usually still waking up when we get on the road early in the morning. It helps with the long drives. After an hour or so on the road I asked Eric, "You did grab the camera right?" Well, that was one of the few things we forgot on the trip. Oh well, if that's the worst thing we left behind we are doing good. But we are going to Hakone without the camera!
The forecast had called for it to clear up in the afternoon but it wasn't looking good. It rained the entire 2 hours it took us to get to the aquarium. We had to alter our itinerary a little. We arrived at the aquarium nice and early, hence few people! The girls got to enjoy looking at all the exhibits without feeling rushed by crowds. It's one of the smaller aquariums we've seen but was still really nice. I think my favorite exhibit were the seals, they are so fat and cute. We even went through twice just to wait out the rain. We waited as long as we could and made our way to a restaurant just outside of the aquarium and had a great lunch. I had katsudon, Eric had ramen, the girls split a kids lunch and a little of our food. We were surprised to see the girls chow down on their food. Usually they end up leaving most of their food untouched.
Since the rain had nearly stopped, we took the short drive to Hakone Shrine. Eric and I have recently had the conversation that pretty much all their is to see in Japan revolves around shrines and castles. I liked the torii gate in the lake, but otherwise it was like almost every other shrine we've seen. Nothing too special. The girls were being really good for us and hoped to make it to the nearby volcano without Chloe falling asleep.
Since it was still overcast we weren't going to pay to take the rope way when we can just drive up. The drive to Owakudani only took 20 minutes or so and of course Chloe fell asleep. Dang it, now she's not going to nap on the longer drive later. Oh well. We arrive, pay to park, and try bundling up because it was crazy windy. We wanted to take the trail up to a hot spring on the volcano where they cook eggs and sell them. The shells turn black due to the sulfur and are said to prolong your health. Eric told me that you aren't supposed to eat more than 2.5 eggs or it's bad for you, now I'm wondering if he actually read that somewhere or was just being facetious. Due to the high winds, that trail was closed. Dang it. We walked up another trail and saw some of the sulfur being emitted through cracks. But, the chilly wind wasn't pleasant at all. We headed back down to the store since that was now the only place to buy the sulfury hot spring cooked eggs (sounds yummy huh?). It was insanely crowded so we opted to buy ice cream for the girls instead since only one person was in line versus about 50 for eggs. Eric chose vanilla versus egg flavored ice cream for the girls. I guess the girls were too cute to pass up because Japanese ladies kept giving us black eggs (or they just couldn't eat anymore themselves). Etta had been looking forward to eating a black egg since we talked about going to the volcano. We peeled the black shell away and the egg looked normal to us. Etta asked to eat just the whites (that is so Etta, everything plain) while Chloe ate anything we gave her. The girls were happy with their gifts and Eric and I got a couple bites in too. It pretty much tastes like an egg but has a little something to it, maybe a little sulfur taste but not strong.
By then, we were cold and the girls were a little tired. We decided to make our way to Camp Zama. It was cheaper to drive an hour to the army base and stay in a two bedroom than camp out in a hotel room for more. We got to check out their little commissary, go to the BX, and eat pizza. It was a nice night away from Japan.
The next morning we drove about an hour to the Yokohama Zoo which we heard is one of the best zoos in the country. We arrived fairly early in hopes of beating the rush. It was cool but at least sunny. The first exhibit was probably my favorite, three Asian elephants. We were just a few minutes too late because we caught the end of the elephant show. Two of the elephants had painted and then we saw them kicking soccer balls. It was pretty darn cute. One thing I really liked about the zoo is all the habitats were really nice and large. Sometimes you go to zoos and are depressed at the conditions the animals are kept in. I didn't feel that way at all when going through the zoo. Plus it's in a big loop and you are constantly seeing different habitats. If you don't want to go through the entire loop you can go through shortcuts throughout the zoo to cut back on your time. To top it off there are two big playgrounds in the zoo. So, if your kids need a break from animal watching, they can go climb and slide (our own personal monkeys).
We weren't at the zoo very long when Chloe started to run, tripped on the pavement and smacked the right side of her head on the ground. It sounded pretty bad. She was holding the right temple and it looked fine. I carried her over to Eric and told him what happened. I sat down with her so she could scream it out. I kissed her head and came back with a mouth full of blood. Not good. Turns out she had a little gash on her scalp. It wasn't big, but big enough to bleed. It didn't take long for it to stop but freaked us out enough to ask ourselves if we need to go to a hospital or see if there was a medic at the zoo. We waited until Chloe calmed down and she seemed to be fine. We had her sit in the stroller for a few minutes and before you know it she acted as if nothing happened. Since it was a small cut and she seemed fine, we decided to go with the flow. Our crazy girl. At least this scar won't be on her face.
We had a good time at the zoo and hung out until nap time. The girls were great on the drive home, because they slept most of it! It's nice to get out and see some sites around Japan while entertaining the kids. Next weekend we are planning to drive to Kakegawa to see Aya. She and Riko have moved into her parents house until her baby comes and their new house is finished being built (sometime in January). Then on Sunday we are planning to see a friend in Fuji and take the girls to some farm area. Hope the weather holds out for us.

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