Marcia and I have a wonderful local bar that we frequent called Laser Rush. It's been run for the last 25 years by a delightful couple: Ryo from Japan and his wife Pauline from Scotland. Every year for the last 8 years they have organized 1, and sometimes 2, ski trips to Nagano. They hire a bus, arrange accommodations and ski rentals and expertly see to every detail to make the trip as carefree as possible for their patrons. They charge just enough money to cover their expenses and therefore the trip is really inexpensive. Like I said, they are wonderful people! They start signing people up in December and as soon as the bus is filled, the list is closed. If you don't sign up early, you miss the bus, literally.
We have been invited to do this trip every year since we have been here and this is the first year that our schedules allowed us to go. The trip was scheduled a little later this year (Feb 7 & 8). The previous years, we were still in the States celebrating the Christmas holidays. We were told to meet at Laser Rush at 5:30 AM Sunday morning. Yikes!
Bleary eyed, we arrived at Laser Rush, greeted by a boisterous, cheerful crowd ready to go skiing. Some of the good cheer being fueled by early morning beers or various other drinks. One person had come directly from partying the night before. Marcia and I consider ourselves hardy folk, but beer at 5:30 in the morning was beyond our limits of "starting early". I guess we are getting old.
We merrily, some more merrier than others, trudged with our bags to the bus.
This is what a bus looks like at 5:30 in the morning.
Beer, other drinks and soda were provided on the bus. Nope. Still not ready. The bus trip was long, over 4 hours, but uneventful. We stopped for breakfast along the way and, of course, made a few unscheduled stops for the beer drinkers. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
For those of us who had not yet started drinking, our spirits were lifted as we got into snow country. Those who had already been lifting spirits, of course, were already quite cheerful. By the way, this is Mt. Fuji in the background.
We arrived at our lodging: two very nice pensiones (guest houses) right next to each other. This is the one we stayed in...
I can't seem to find a picture of the other pensiones, but it was similar to this one and right next door. We had private rooms with a common bathroom. Quite comfortable. We dumped our bags,changed into our ski gear and by 12:30 we were at the ski resort renting skis and by 1:00 we were on the slopes.
The weather was absolutely perfect. Not too cold. Blue skies......
and the skiing conditions were fantastic!
Of course, we had a little base camp where we could get refreshments as needed.
So, we had a wonderful afternoon of skiing. Then back to our lodging for a hot soak in an onsen (hot bath) and we were ready for the evening. Ryo, remember he's the owner of the bar, had a plan for us. Before we could go to dinner we had to learn two Beatles songs that we were going to sing as a surprise for a couple (who was staying in the other pensione) who had recently been engaged. Each group would have dinner at their own pensione and then our group would go over to the engaged couple's pension and wow them with our songs. With Ryo as bandleader.....
and two guitars for accommpaniment we plunged into "And I love Her" and then "She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)". Maybe it was the beer, but I thought we sounded pretty good. Okay, it probably was the beer. Mmmmmm, alright! It was the beer. Regardless, we had a very fun hour or so of chatting and rehearsing
and then off to dinner to fortify ourselves for our singing debut.
Stay tuned for Part Two: Dinner, our debut, Super Bowl and skiing shenanigans.