The plan for the return trip was to take route 9 to route 488 and then 191 to go to RouteUS459 for lunch. (RouteUS459 is a cafe on route 191 that is popular with riders. They have an old bike in the dining room, and I think a couple more out back. It is a nice place to stop for a burger and to chat about bikes.)
Unfortunately, as I already posted about in Dead End in Hikimi, our planned route did not work out. As such, we decided to go with Plan B and join the rest of the family at the river.
Taiga chilling in the tent
Sitting in the shade after breakfast
The plan for the ride home
A selfie on a bridge in Hikimi
My wife and daughter were enjoying the beautiful weather at Gonogawa with friends. Taiga and I arrived to find Yuki and Keilyn playing in the water, Ue-san on his windsurfer, and Take-san water skiing behind Yama-san on the jet ski. We parked the bike and stripped off our gear, and Taiga tossed on some shorts from the top box and jumped in the river. I did not come prepared for swimming, but my long riding underwear is pretty much like a rash guard, so I stripped off my riding pants and joined the family in the water. It was a great way to relax after the long ride back from Akiyoshidai.
Camp shoes come in handy at the river as well
My Girls in the Gonogawa river
Keilyn all suited up
Taiga getting ready to try water skiing
Taiga water skiing for the first time
Taiga’s “I did it!” pose after water skiiing
Taiga poses for the sponsors after his first success
Taiga insisted on picking up Mr. Do on the way home
Home again, 460 km later
On the whole, not a bad day. We found some great roads along the way (routes 312 and 488), caught up with some good friends, and Taiga was able to water ski for the first time. It was a great way to end our first Father-son motorcycle camping trip.
Photos taken by my son. Taiga borrowed his sister’s camera and had it on a lanyard around his neck. He took a lot of photos while we were riding, most of which did not come out, but there are a few nice ones in there.
Ever since I picked up my motorcycle and starting conversing with other riders, both in the area and around the country, I have been asked if I had been to Akiyoshidai yet. It seems that it is a bit of a requirement for anyone within a 500 km radius, or even wider if you are an ironbutt rider. So, as it is only 124 km from home, it was to Akiyoshidai that my son and I planned our first motorcycle camping trip together.
The planned route was dead simple: take route 9 to Masuda, route 191 through Hagi, and then route 28 to the campsite. This would bring us down along the coast of the Japan Sea for most of the ride, affording some rather beautiful views along the way.
Google maps claimed we could make the trip in about 2.5 hours, so I had hoped to get on the road by 9:00 to allow for a lunchtime arrival in Akiyoshidai. As to be expected on one’s first camp trip involving more than one person, one of whom being a late-sleeping tweenager, we got a bit of a late start of it. The start was made a bit more awkward as the curious housewives from the surrounding apartments circled around me as I started the packing process before 9, so we had the added pressure to get moving so that they could all get back to their kids and morning coffee. Complaints aside, it is always nice to have people lining the dock as you pull out on a voyage, so it was nice to have them all there.
Our late start down the coast on route 9 meant that we were in a bit of traffic to begin with, but it mostly opened up as we exited Hamada and left the stop light zone behind us. It was a beautiful day, and the blue skies and calm sea to our ride made for a pleasant ride. Taiga and I took turns pointing things out to each other over our bluetooth headsets, and basically enjoyed those strange conversations that happen when two people are trapped together.
We made our first stop to stretch our legs and take some photos as we arrived in Abu, just northeast of Hagi. Abu has some beautiful views, as there are a number of islands just off the coast. We took the opportunity to have some fun with my iPhone’s panorama option. Did you know that Taiga had a twin? 😉 After Abu, we took one more quick stop at the marina in Hagi to grab a snack, hydrate, and take some photos. Hagi is a nice area to drive/ride through if you ever have the chance.
Ready to Go
Taking a Break in Hagi
Two Taigas & the Japan Sea
Father, son, & the Japan Sea
From Hagi it was a short hop down the remainder of 191 to route 28 before we reached our campsite; the Akiyoshidai Refresh Park. We arrived at around 13:00, only to find out that the front desk for the campsite does not open until 15:00, so it we decided to keep riding and take the scenic route through the Akiyoshidai kart plateau. The road only takes about 20 minutes from beginning to end, but the views are spectacular. We stopped at a few spots to take photos, but we simply could not capture all the beautiful views. They were simply too numerous.
Once we arrived at the official viewing spot, we took a break to play with a miniature schnauzer that some other visitors had brought along. We chatted with them for a while, and in a very Japanese gesture the wife offered us some small candies as they offered up their seats and walked away. Taiga and I stretched out right there and took a short nap to recoup after the long morning on the bike.
Taiga at Akiyoshidai
Nap Time at Akiyoshidai
Having recovered a bit, we hopped back on the Akiyoshidai road and pointed ourselves back towards the campsite. We checked in without incident and set about putting our tent up. There is something to be said about the simple interactions had when two people put themselves to the task of setting up a campsite. This was truly one of the best parts of this trip with my son; the simple, and often obscure/strange conversations we had while either working around the campsite or riding on the bike. It is these conversations that make a trip like this.
The roads, the views, the different locations are all beautiful in the moment, but it is the bonds forged in the simple conversations that have the most lasting effects.
Settled in at the Camp Site
All set up and nowhere to go
Having fun with the tripod
What are you looking at?
We had checked in behind three other motorcycles with Shimane number plates, and we set ourselves up far enough down the line so as not to bother (or be bothered by) them later in the evening. This turned out to be an unnecessary precaution, as Taiga ended up making fast friends with them as we met them along the path to the camp’s onsen (hot spring). We joined them in the rotenburo (outdoor bath) and joked and laughed a while. I joined them for a vending machine beer in the onsen lounge, and then we ended up spending the night around their campfire sharing food, drink, and good conversation. Overall, it was a great ending to a fantastic day.
We just came up from Akiyoshidai on route 9 through Tsuwano, and then on to a fu and twisty ride along route 312 into Masuda. From there we connected with route 488 through Hikimi, which gave me pleasant memories of riding the Kangamangus highway up in New Hampshire.
Just after we passed the Hikimi campsite our planned route for the day came to an abrupt end.
We took some time to pose for some photos, and to reevaluate our route, and then it was time to get back on the road.
We took a little break from riding today and walked about one kilometer down to the Safari Park in Akiyoshidai. We took the bus tour, and we were able to feed the lions through small windows. Not a bad place to visit, but it was a little more expensive than expected…
Ever since I decided to buy a bike last summer, my son and I have been talking about touring together. Due to some complications with transferring my motorcycle license from the USA to Japan, I was not able to ride with a passenger until August 1st; approximately eight months after I brought home the bike.
So it was that on August 2nd Taiga and I saddled up for our first ride together up the coast to the city of Oda. We spent the night there at a friends new house, and walked downtown to enjoy a local festival. Beer, paper lanterns, and oddly enough, hula dancers.
Is that a peace sign, or the ‘two up’?
Taiga modeling his gear
It rained through the night, and on through the early morning, so we relaxed in our friends’ new kitchen enjoying coffee and good company until the skies cleared up. Around noontime the grey skies were replaced by blue, and Taiga and I rushed to put on our gear and get on the road. The plan for the day was to head inland and do a lap around Mt. Sanbe, and then take the inland route home southwest through the mountains and along the rivers.
(The map of our ride to the right is from an app on my iPhone called PlaceMe. Basically, it uses your phone’s GPS to drop a pin anyplace you stay for more than 5 minutes each day. Not a great app to keep on your phone if you are cheating on your spouse, but it is very handy for logging your stops while touring.)
We hopped on the bike and chose a route in Google Maps that would bring us in a loop around the mountain, allowing us to meet the rest of the group at Sanbe Burger about 45 minutes later for lunch. The first 25 minutes went smoothly, as we followed a winding route around the base of the mountain, but then we had to take a small detour to take the first photo below. It seems that the rain the night previous had washed out our route. No worries. A quick photo stop and then we were able to get back on the route a couple hundred meters down the road. We then continued on for another ten minutes before the skies opened up and unleashed on us. It was like Zeus’s hot tub overflowed, as it just hammered down on us for about five minutes. After that, it was back to blue skies, but now Taiga and I were riding along in wet clothes… As Pooh would say, “Oh, bother”.
To add insult to injury, we arrived at Sanbe Burger moments after the rest of the group only to find that they were sold out of burgers for the day… Seeing as there were no burgers, and we were standing around feeling damp, we decided to get back on the bike and let the wind dry us off a bit. We stopped off at the Sanbe Dam to take some dam photos and watch the dam fountain. We had some dam father-and-son fun, and decided to get back on the dam road.
Taiga in front of the washed out road on our route
How does the name of a mountain become a verb?
The view from the ride down from Mt. Sanbe
The Sanbe Dam Fountain
Father, son, and a dam fountain
Having fun with the dam fountain
We didn’t stop for a while after our dam break, as we were really enjoying the cooling sensation of the warm breeze drying our clothes as we wound our way through the back roads of Shimane. Eventually we connected up with route 261 along the Gonogawa river, which is one of my favorite roads in the area. We were enjoying the gentle curves of the road, perhaps a bit too much so, when I spotted a police car coming from the other direction. I slowed down just in case, but he banged a u-turn and pulled in about 500 meters behind us. (Can you imagine how pissed my wife would be if I were to get busted for speeding with my son on the back the bike on our first trip together? I certainly can…) So as I traveled along at a strategically selected three km/h above the speed limit, keeping one eye on the mirrors to see what his intentions were, I had just noticed that he had turned on his party lights when Taiga’s voice came over the communication system.
“Daddy! Look! Monkeys!”
Yes, there were two Japanese monkeys crossing the road right in front of us. A moment of panic about running over a monkey, and then the comforting realization that the officer must have turned around to check on the monkeys instead of me. Saved by the monkeys…
Father and son saddle selfie
The Gonogawa River
Taiga takes the front seat at Mizu no Kuni
Apres ride Mos Burger
Since we had missed out on Sanbe Burgers earlier, and as it was nearly approaching dinner time, we decided to stop messing about with monkeys and head to the Mos Burger at Yuhi Park. Overall, not too bad for Taiga’s first overnight bike trip. I am looking forward to our first moto-camping trip to Akiyoshidai soon… I’ll keep you posted. 😉
(This post has been post-dated to match the actual dates of the trip.)