Tag Archive: Bus

May 21

Today’s Tweets Extrapolated


And the good ship Curry Express is off for Tohoku! (@ YC&AC) http://4sq.com/jmI0TI

I woke up at 4:30, and was on my bike and off to the departure site by 5:20. Good friend Dave had driven my heavier bags over yesterday, so I didn’t have to worry about how to carry them. He will also pick up my bike and drive it back to my house today.


Someone farted on the Curry Express. I suppose it was inevitable.

We left nearly on time (6:10), and while it was inevitable that someone farted, at least it wasn’t me.



The driver didn’t forget to take this down; I saw him put it up. (Aboard the Curry Express.) http://lockerz.com/s/103320684x2_6288c6c

None of us were quite sure what this mean, other than the driver had less patience with us this week. Who can blame him? A bus full of adults is noisier and much hard to control than a bus full of easily-cowed schoolchildren.

Road breakfast of muffins and samosas aboard the Curry Express.

I personally preferred last week’s croissants, but the samosas were amazing.

The Curry Express is making great time. Only 130km to Sendai from here.

We changed routes this time, avoiding central Tokyo, and saved more than an hour just by not sitting in traffic!

Just a few klicks out of Sendai. Stopped for a slash, and suddenly had to run back to bus before they closed the highway!

This was a hoot, watching our Japanese navigator and bus driver trying to herd everyone back from the toilets when they found out the highway was closing.

Arrival in Sichigahama. Time to serve some curry (in the rain).

Photos soon (still on a bus). Fewer people than last week, and although it was raining when we arrived, we actually ended up serving indoors this week, AND it stopped raining and got sunny. After we finished serving the people living there, we served the volunteers, some of who were cute, and some of whom were very tattooed.

Curry served. Cats herded. Back aboard the Curry Express and bound for Sendai station.

Not quite. The group did its usual kerfuffling. This isn’t an exact science. I could see that our driver and guide were getting a little antsy, as was I by this point, because we were coming up on 15:00 and I had a feeling that my last train from Sendai to Ichinoseki was sometime around 16:00. My bus from Ichinoseki wasn’t until 18:20, which I probably shouldn’t have mentioned, because I think people fixated on that time…

We just passed a 5-storey mountain of bulldozed rubble.

And I just checked the train schedule. It’s now 15:15. My “last” train is at 16:43, which will give me about 45 minutes on the other end, in a station I’ve never been before, to figure out where to catch the bus.

There is some doubt as to whether I will make my train at 16:40.

Given how close we were to Sendai, I kind of wish they’d dropped me before this second leg of the trip to drop off some food, find out what else is needed, and chat with volunteers. By this point I’ve made it clear what my deadline is. The driver and our navigator know what I fear: we will not make it in time.

Train duly missed. Will take the next one and will have 7 minutes to get from train platform to bus stop or I don’t get to Oofunato.

Sure enough, we pull up to Sendai station at 16:45. I quickly try to rig up a way to effectively carry my bags, but to no avail. Also, this entrance has no escalator/elevator. Hilarity, I’m sure, ensues. The next train I know of leaves at 17:43, and will arrive at 18;13 in Ichinoseki. Only 7 minutes before my bus departs.

Paid an extra 1780 to get on the Shinkansen. Now I have 11 minutes to find where my bus is with my Zsa Zsa Gabor overpacked bags.

Good news: found a train that leaves at 17:30 and arrives at 18:09. Bad news: those extra four minutes cost me.

Have made the humiliating call to a good friend for help. Will owe said friend big time.

I call my friend, @peacefulandjust, and humbly ask her if she can find out where exactly I need to catch my bus from Ichinoseki. Just knowing where to go will save me precious minutes.


Made it just in time, all thanks to @peacefulandjust. On the last leg of my trip to Oofunato.

@peacefulandjust comes through. As I’m retying my bags together (this time using my bungee cable), I get a message telling me Bus Stop #5, West exit.  The train stops and I bolt… well, as fast as I can with my bags. I make it just as the bus pulls in. Minutes later, we are on the road.

So, that was my day, in a nutshell. Going to sign off now and save what little power is left on my laptop for an emergency.

May 21

Oofunato Bound At last

21052011034I’m writing this on the bus to Oofunato, which I caught with just moments to spare, thanks to the help of @peacefulandjust (I mean, her help is the reason I caught it at all, not the reason I was running to catch it).


Where to begin?


About a month ago, I signed up with ALL HANDS to go to Oofunato and help out. They rejected me.


Then they changed their minds and un-rejected me.


In the meantime, I got involved in the Universal Brotherhood of Japan’s day trips to serve curry (see my last entry regarding the good ship Curry Express). When they offered to take me again this week to save me money on my trip to Oofunato, how could I have refused?


Packing. Well, there’s an interesting story, too. I’ve never really done this kind of thing before, and All Hands was a little bit vague about the exact work I’d be doing and the conditions I’d be doing it in. Plus, they made it pretty clear we volunteers would be living in our own filth for a week (only cold running water, no showers, 20 people in a small room). So I packed a lot. A LOT. Like the Zsa Zsa Gabor of volunteers. It didn’t help that I also bought 5000 Yen + worth of (heavy) art supplies to donate to local kids in shelters. That was the small grey bag I have dubbed “Megaton” right there.


Aside from that, I packed one pair of work clothes (Japanese carpenters’ pants I bought for a costume party two or three years ago, and a work shirt); a pair of underoos, socks, and an undershirt for each day; a set of good clothes, including a couple of extra underthings, not including the kilt I am wearing right now; two pairs of boots on top of the ones I’m wearing, one pair rubber, one pair tabi carpenter boots; a heavy sleeping bag and a hard hat (which, according to an email from All Hands that I received JUST AN HOUR AGO, I don’t need); an air mattress (probably a mistake); batteries for air mattress; charger for batteries; first aid stuff; safety stuff; my camera; my laptop, plus all adapters and AC… shall I go on, darlings?


Suffice it to say that my luggage consists of one small grey suitcase (carry-on size) filled with art supplies and snacks; a green canvas army surplus laundry bag filled with clothes and, apparently, bricks; the air mattress; my overfilled backpack; my camera bag; and my hard hat (which wouldn’t fit inside anything else.


They said “pack light”. Have I arsed this up?


Oh well…

Aug 10

Mountain Crossing Music

What I’m listening to and thoughts en route from Kamloops to Edmonton by bus (as long as my laptop battery lasts anyway):


Love is Like A Bottle of Gin – The Magnetic Fields

“Love is like a bottle of gin/ but a bottle of gin is not like love.” What a great sentiment


Walking in and Out of Your Arms – k.d. lang

What a great song to have come up while crossing into Alberta!


Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance – Bob Dylan

Was too busy writing the other entries to pay much attention.


Suil A Gra – Anita Best and someone the player won’t tell me.

Jetlag is creeping back in. I couldn’t sleep at all last night, and then slept almost all five hours between Vancouver and Kamloops, and it (the jetlag) keeps threatening to put me to sleep again. But I want to be able to sleep tonight, so I’m fighting it.


Come to The Bower – Shane McGowan and the Popes

We pass through a hallway of forest as Shane McGowan sings this Irish classic through his beautifully broken mouth. We’re out of the deforested hills now, and the green mountains are stunning, and incredibly not reminiscent of Japan.


Doctor Who Closing Theme (80s) –

We’re crawling into a city. Another stop? Since Kamloops, people get off but not on. Hopefully, that trend continues and I get to keep my double seat.


Intentional Heartache – Dwight Yoakam

I love how the Gas and Grocery places here have Canadian flags on their signs… as if there’s any doubt as to where we are. This song is a real head-nodder. We’ve stopped and someone’s getting on. She’s cute. The Shell lady comes out and the bus driver gives her what looks like a stack of magazines or newspapers from the cargo area under the bus. I feel like we’re a stagecoach. This song has a great ending.


The Last Time I Saw Richard – Joni Mitchell

This song has a hell of a long intro. I’ve eaten one of the sandwiches that Mademoiselle/Madame Tardif made for me. She packed me enough for two meals, which was good. Our bus was running late, so we didn’t get our 40 minute lunch stop in Kamloops. Only enough time to pee and buy a Coke Zero from the machine. The next stop (25 minutes, I think) isn’t until 21:00 or so, so I’m surviving on her kindness.

It makes me think of those fairy stories with the young man seeking his fortune, and the lunch he carries from his mother or his fairy godmother or whatever ends up becoming important to the story. Maybe it saves him from starvation, or maybe there’s some magic inside it. I had such a great two days with her and her boyfriend Kevin that that’s how I feel about it.


Every Drop of Rain – Chris De Burgh

Song about the sea, while I’m far from it. Wow, I always forget how smooth and pleasant early Chris De Burgh is. This guy was really good before he started singing about ladies in red.


Queen of the Savages – The Magnetic Fields

Spending time with Kevin and Andree (Tardif) was almost like going home to an alternate reality. They were not only absolutely perfect hosts, but I felt like an adopted child. Maybe it’s because of all the time that Andree spends with children (she’s continued teaching grade one for 27 years since I was in her class)—I didn’t feel like a child again, but I felt like someone’s child.


Bad Weather Friends – Kevin Quain

Not that I don’t with my own parents, but I think it has something to do with not having seen each other in the intervening time. Our relationship is nearly founded on a small tattered book of Quebecquois folk songs and similar shared history.


Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon – Queen

What a great, silly song! There is no god, but if there was, he ought to bless Freddy Mercury.


Too Many Dicks – Flight of the Conchords

“Five to one is a rodeo.”


Goodbye Old Girl – Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (Damn Yankees)

A surprisingly appropriate song as we turn a mountain corner and the under-the-window based air conditioning blows on my cheek and the punk with the Mohawk in the seat behind me strums his unplugged electric guitar.

“…Our love will keep, old girl, ‘til then.”

The song climaxes as we pull through Vavenby Another pickup?


So Spricht Das Leiben – Mediaeval Baebes

Yep. Right in front of the vintage Pepsi Cola sign and the lottery ticket centre. I discovered yesterday that one of the Baebes’ songs was one that Andree Tardif had taught me in grade one! I’d even played it at my wedding reception! No wonder I’d liked it so much. Or maybe it was another paper dropoff, because no one got on.


Battle Music from Candide – Leonard Bernstein

It’s the martial music that we hear in the Overture as well. What a great musical!

Where Teardrops Fall – Bob Dylan

I’ll have to stop writing soon—this battery is pretty wimpy, and I don’t want to kill it by totally discharging it. The battery in my tablet died yesterday morning. Something tripped the protective circuit, and I had to order a new one… so instead of using the tablet and getting almost four hours of typing, I’m using the X60s, which I brought to run the projections for 39, and has never really had much juice. Still kicking myself for not bringing the smaller capacity backup battery for the tablet, though.


And then the power on the mini-laptop dropped below the safe area.