Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Long Walk

Today was an easy day of classes and I had a ton of energy after seeing off the last of my runts. I decided that I would try to catch a train that I normally do not have time to catch, this meant that I jogged with my backpack for about two miles only to see my train pull away from the station just as I was approaching it. This left me with two choices: A)Sit around the station and play on my DS until the next train an hour later or B)Do something I have never done before and walk to the next station down the line toward my town. I went with B.

Now that fall is kicking summer out, it has been extremely pleasant here. The temperature hovers in the low-80s and the rain has been pretty minimal. Today was a tad cloudy but other than that, a perfect evening for a stroll. I know the next station from the one I was at was a ways away. I figured that I would just make sure I could see the train tracks and eventually I would wind up at the next station. This plan worked for about the first hour of my walk.

As I walked, it steadily became darker and the further out I went from the town, the quieter it got. It was the perfect walk. There were fall smells and dinner smells and I was alone on a path next to the road to enjoy it all. It was at this point it occurred to me that this would be one of the last walks I would enjoy in while in Japan. While this made me a bit sad, I was heartened by the fact that if this were my last good walk here, it was a really nice evening for the stroll. Eventually, I found myself creeping away from the road and the next thing I knew I was meandering along a path between two large rice paddies. I could hear the bugs and see stars and as I mentioned, the whole thing was rather serene. I used to not like walking when I was in the US but since I have come here, I appreciate the value of a relaxing stroll.

About fifty minutes and six or seven miles into the walk, I realized that I was no longer near the railroad tracks. Somehow, in the darkness they had ninja's themselves out of my view and I was left wandering on the side of the road.

Speaking of roads, this is kind of odd. In most of my dreams, I am in one of a handful of places and most of them are not real locations. One of the places I dream in is a town that is really spread out and rural. Whenever I dream there, I always find myself on the very long road that runs through most of the town. On this stretch of road, there is a section with trees drooping down over it and on one side, there is a wall of rock where the road had been carved into the hillside. I found that stretch of road tonight. It was almost identical to the section in my dreams and it was very odd to see it while awake and to see it in the dark. When I am in this location in my dreams it is always daytime. Anywho, back to the walk.

So with no railroad tracks to follow, I went back to the expressway and followed the road because I knew that if worse came to worse, it would get me back to my house...about 16 miles away by this point. I didn't particularly want to walk that far but if I had to, I knew I was on the right road. But still, where in the heck was the train station? By train, the stretch of ground I was walking could be covered in about 11 minutes doing just over 50 kilometers an hour and by my horrible math, that put me somewhere relatively close to the station.

I kept walking and it became apparent that I was not going to catch this next train either because you need a station in order to do that and there was a distinct lack of stationy goodness to be had in my general vicinity. So, I kept walking. Eventually, I came to the beginning of the town that the station I was trying to get to is named after so I knew it wouldn't be long now. I found a very interesting little village area that was a big touristy place that had a large public garden and a restaurant and I think a hot spring area. There was also a little sign that showed me where I was but did not do a good job in orienting me as to where the train station was at, though it did show the train station on there. Not wanting to get lost more, I decided to go back to the main road and keep walking.

Not to far up the road, I came to a sign that said something about the train station but it was very dark and I couldn't read all of what it said because it was twenty feet above the road. So I kept walking. As it turns out, I walked passed the road that took me to the train station but fortunately, I found another sign that pointed me in the direction I just came from before I walked too far.

I came to a sign and found that I had to turn on to a smaller road and walk another mile and then I would hit the station. At this point in time, I had been walking for two hours and had probably traveled about ten or eleven miles total. Before long, I found myself back at the public garden and hot spring place. I read another one of those "you are here" signs and it told me that I had to walk through the garden to get to the train station. Within minutes, I was waiting on a platform, ready for my ride home.

Overall, the walk was very nice but the novelty of the jaunt wore off about an hour into the campaign. I like exploring new areas and it turned out to be a very refreshing evening, I just wish it would have ended an hour sooner than it did. All in all, it was a good walk.


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