Wow. What a weekend. I like to get out. I REALLY like to
get out and do stuff. And since I got my GPS I’ve been
getting out a lot more. Because it’s easier to get to places
where I don’t have to rely on my non-existent sense of
But this weekend, . . . oh this weekend I did something I
haven’t done in a while. I went . . . OFF THE GPS! Dun-
dun-duuuuuuu! I know, I live a life of danger and
Me Arashi have been talking about going to a
hot spring for a long time. When I was in Japan I went to
them constantly. Like two or three times a week. But now
that I’ve come back to the US I haven’t been once. But last
weekend I went snowboarding and got really sore. And I’m on
spring break right now (at least for one more day . . . sob)
so I decide to travel to a hot spring with my friend. Thanks
to the lovely Internet we quickly found this cool place that
sounded like it wouldn’t have very many people and so off we
went. Or rather off we went after stopping off at Safeway so
I could get a loaf of French bread, polish sausage, and
cheese. Because how can you enjoy a trip to the hot springs
without French bread, polish sausage, and cheese. Eh? Eh?
At first my GPS was in control for the first hour. No
problem there. But after that we crossed a point where the
GPS was no longer of use. For some reason hot springs don’t
have a street address. I can’t imagine why.
So that’s when we whip out the Internet direction on how to
get there. Slight problem: we have no clue how long it will
take us. No problem, it can’t be too far. Right? Right?
Wrong. The trip that I thought would take 1 hour, 1 1/2 at
max, ended up double that. Without getting lost or taking
So as it is growing late we are driving to the hot springs,
which we have no idea of how far away they are, we do what
everyone would do in such a situation: stop at a random spot
in the middle of nowhere and climb a big old semi-dangerous
OK, that probably needs a little explanation. See, I’ve
driven on the freeways a lot and you always pass these big
hills that you can never see beyond. I’ve always wanted to
stop, climb one of those suckers and see what I could see.
Arashi is just as insane as me so off we went. It was muddy.
It was steep. It was filled with sticky branches. We had to
step very carefully and deliberatly and it was an absolute
and total blast. I didn’t see any great sights, I didn’t do
something that really pushed my physical limits, but I got a
bit of a rush from climbing up that bad boy and doing what I
had always wanted to do but just never got around to doing.
I’m like that. Like I’ve said, I never want to die and say,
"I wish I would have . . . "
The climb down was a bit scarier than the climb up (funny how
that works) and we took it nice and slow. No sense in
begging the gods to break one of our ankles before we even
got the chance to really start our trip.
After a brief look at the fantastic EMPTY view (have you ever
just been amazed at how serene and bereft of people so much
of Oregon is? I wished some of my Japanese students could
have seen it, because there is really almost no place in
Japan where you can look for miles and miles and see nothing
but nature. It would have blown them away.) we were off.
I won’t bore you (any more) with the details of driving. I’m
sure you’re familiar with the experience. But we got lost.
We followed the directions as best we could and kept finding
nothing. It was getting really late and the hours flew by
and if I hadn’t been with my friend I would have given up.
The internet directions said the signs to the hot springs
were clearly marked.
So eventually we stopped and asked for directions. I would
have done it sooner (not all stand-up comedy routines from
the 1980’s are true) but there was simply no one to ask until
we came across this family. Now, I don’t want to be mean to
that family. They were really nice, and they helped us a
lot, and I’m very grateful to them. But man, they were the
platonic ideal of rural good ol boys and gals out for a
little campin, huntin, and fishin. Tobacco stained shirts,
big grizzly beards that had some food in it, guts that were
half of their bio-mass, the whole works. I think the first
words I heard them say when I got out of my car were, "Dat
der fellow’s got blue hair." Which is an accurate enough
comment but it was said in the same tone I might say, "The
sky is red and green polka-dotted today."
But again, they were really nice people who helped us out and
if they are happy with themselves, than I am completely happy
for them. It takes all kinds, you know?
So we got directions and finally got there. There were a
couple cars and I did a bit of wishing that we could have the
hot springs to ourselves before Arashi informed me that there
are about six other billion people on the planet and that I
have to be prepared to occasionally run into them.
It was already late and the sun was setting. A while ago we
realized that we didn’t have a flashlight, but decided that
we’d be OK without it.
"Oh, no problem. We can’t get by without it. Don’t worry" –
Last words of about a billion people throughout the whole of
So we hike to the hot springs over this really cool trail
with a bunch of wooden bridges. We get there and we start to
realize how dark it is. Really really dark. Oh well. Who
needs light to run something as simple as a hot spring tub?
But the hot spring doesn’t have anything like a simple "ON-
OFF" switch. At least that we could find as we were doing
our best to develop a "radar sense" to make up for the whole
"not being able to see the wall" thing. The tub has a wooden
hollow beam with something jammed inside and a spongy ball
attached. After great trial and error we figure out how to
remove the key (the thing jammed in the hollow wooden beam)
and fill up the tub with nice hot spring water.
Very hot water. In fact, extremely hot water. Water that I
would prefer to use to boil shell fish rather than to
actually sit in myself. So while scrambling around in the
dark I find a bucket and wander outside and eventually find
an ice cold tub. Now, my hands were only slightly
frostbitten after the hike, so plunging them into water that
is a cold breeze away from being ice felt just dandy.
I hauled the bucket back to the hot tub. The tub was all
filled up. Now we just needed to stop the boiling water from
Yep. Just needed to stop it.
Any second now we’ll figure how to get this key back into the
Any fricken second now.
OWWWW! My hand.
(Note: I do not recommend pushing wooden plugs up waterfalls
of very hot water for more than one or two seconds, maximum.)
So off I go like a total newbie to ask some of the other
people how you work this complex invention called "a tub." I
get some advice and a big wooden block, neither of which
helps, so back to burning my hands. Eventually I figure out
that if I hold my finger up inside the spout for a few
seconds I can find the exact position of the hole that fits
the plug and then slide the key/plug into it with only a 50%
loss of nerve endings in both hands.
So I’ve stopped the hot water from coming out. Now it’s just
time to get into the nice warm tub that is COMPLETELY EMPTY
Yarg, I say.
When attempting to stop the water I had pulled away the
rubber ball that plugged the tub. So we have a nice little
waiting period to put the rubber ball in the plug at the
bottom of the tub, pull out the key, fill up the tub, add the
cold water and get it just right, put the key back in, and
then . . .
And then heaven.
Man did it feel good. My body that had been shivering in the
cold was now bathed in the minerally goodness of the hot
water. My muscles began to relax, and my thoughts just
drifted and I felt at peace for a while.
Me and Arashi had a great time in the tub, talking, petting
each other, cuddling, and just enjoying the wonderful
sensation of being in a peaceful place with a really nice
One of the best experiences was sitting in the hot water
while the cool rain lightly sprinkled down on your body and
you looked at the stunningly gorgeous sky and tree line.
Long after all the trials and tribulations we went through to
get there have been forgotten, that beautiful feeling will
still be remembered by both of us.
I don’t know how long we stayed in that tub. Time just kind
of flashed by. I had a panic attack damn it, but I took some
medicine and that helped.
Our skin became more and more wrinkly and eventually it
became time to go. We tidied up the area, dried ourselves
off, and went off down the path to get to my car.
Or should I say, THE PATH OF DOOM!
The first little part wasn’t too bad. The light from the hot
springs was still visible so we got along ok. But the
further we got, the less of the path we could see. Acting
all McGuiver-ish I whipped out my watched and pushed the
light button to help us see. It was about as useful as
rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Now one thing I didn’t mention about the path . . . it had a
cliff in it. Not a 90 degree cliff, but one of those nice an
easy muddy cliffs that you would slide down to your death at
a mere 96 degree angle.
We stumbled down the path for a ways and once we ran into
this muddy area that had a circle of trees, bushes, big
rocks, and other things you don’t normally find on a well
made trail, Arashi turned to me and said, "This is NOT a
path!" Heading the wisdom of her advice and having this
"thing" about plummeting to our deaths, we headed back to the
hot springs to beg a flashlight off of someone, anyone. The
walk back to the hot spring was almost as much fun as the
walk away from the hot spring.
We got there and found this couple with a light on their room
and I approached to ask them. At this point a dog started
barking really loud and really angrily at me. I would guess
that in dog-language he was telling me, "I’m gonna rip off
your nuts! Rip em off, off, off! Bite, bite, bite. Chew
The strangers eventually calmed their dog down and asked us
what we wanted. We explained our plight and they took pity
on us and said that they will help us out.
In ten minutes.
It could just be my dirty mind but I think we may have caused
a little couitus interuptus.
So when they got done with their "soaking" we formally
introduced ourselves and off we went back to the car using
the high tech light of flash.
It was amazing how fast the trip went when we weren’t
constantly crawling along to make sure that our next step
wasn’t off a cliff.
We got back to the car and did a little happy dance that we
were safe and sound. I told Arashi that we almost had an
adventure. Not a quirky little experience, which is what we
normally have, but a real adventure. A real adventure is
when things are not fun but rather really scary,
uncomfortable, and dangerous. They may be cool in
retrospect, but while they are happening real Adventures suck
So, all set to go right? This overlong exposition can end
right? Nothing more of interest could possibly happen right?
Sure, nothing except I decided that I didn’t want to drive
all the way home and that Arashi could do it so we had better
switch seats. We opened the doors and felt something . . .
strange. Arashi yelled and a large WTF later I realized that
the car was going backwards. I tried slamming on the breaks,
both emergency and normal, and I even tried shifting it into
park. I fell back on my Sears Driving School training, but I
guess I wasn’t fast enough because . . . CRASH. Stop.
A siren started to sound. Have you ever known a siren to
mean that something good has just happened?
I crawled out of the car and realized that my back bumper had
just hit the back bumper of another car.
I sooooooooo did not need that to happen right then.
I pulled the car forward and inspected the damage. My car’s
bumper was completely cracked. My car doesn’t have one of
those nice metal bumpers that actually, you know, works as a
bumper. Rather it’s a modern bumper that is designed to
crunch on impact to save your life. That’s great for life
saving crashes, not so hot for minor fender benders.
I look at the other guy’s big huge honking metal mammoth of a
car and look at his 1/2 ton piece of iron bumper. Not a
scratch. Not a bit of paint on it. Absolutely nothing that
I can see abnormal about it. I pulled the car around to make
my headlights search it and still couldn’t find anything that
looked the least bit wrong.
The nice people who helped us leave saw the whole thing.
They came over to look at it too. They couldn’t see any
damage either. One of them said, "Well, no damage. I don’t
even think you need to leave a note."
I was upset. I was tired. There was nothing wrong with the
car I had hit. I wanted this night to be done with. I didn’t
want to leave a note. If I had done damage there wouldn’t
have even been a question about it, and of course I would
have left a detailed note about myself and how to contact me.
But there wasn’t any damage so I just got in the car and had
Arashi drive me off while I fumed at myself.
Then . . . Jiminy Cricket started appearing on my shoulder.
I had hit and run.
_I_ might not have been able to see any damage, but what if
the owners did? Who was I to say I could just ignore a law
because I was upset? So after a mental bitch slapped I had
Arashi turn around. I wrote out a note telling what
happened, put my name and phone number down on it and told
them to call me if they saw any damaged. I wrapped the note
in a Safeway bag so it wouldn’t become unreadable in the
rain, and put it on the windshield of the car I hit.
They never did end up calling me, but I’m really glad I went
back and left the note anyway. I called my issuance company
the next day and they told me I had a 500 dollar deductible
and my insurance would go up but not by too much. I’m
getting my car appraised on Thursday.
But on the ride home I slowly calmed down and accepted the
accident. What was done was done and could not be undone. I
always try and learn from my life experiences. The crash
told me to "Drive safer than you already do" (even though I’m
already a very cautious driver – I still don’t know exactly
what happened there) but it also taught me how it is good to
keep things in perspective.
The crash was annoying, sure. But in a month at maximum my
car will look as good as new. 500 bucks is expensive but it
won’t result in me eating cat food. The damage was entirely
localized in the bumper, which is all one part and can easily
be replaced. I hadn’t hurt anyone or done any damage that
could have caused serious consequences. It could have been a
worse. A lot worse. I should really remember that. It’s
better to be glad of that than to be pissed off at how life
doesn’t always go exactly how we want it to.
You know what? I’m not going to remember this minor fender-
bender for very long. But I will remember a great trip with
a nice friend, a cool story or two to tell, a the sensation
of a very serene moment for a very long time.