Thanks to the excellent weather and quiet, scenic road, today was one of the best days so far and all the better for how miserable yesterday was. I don’t want to go down the track of having some sort rating system for each day, so I’ll simply say that day eight was definitely in the top ten.

One of the few good things about yesterday was that we found reasonable accommodation. I can’t recall exactly what I wrote yesterday and I can’t check either, as I have no internet connection (I’ll upload this lot later thanks to the magic of Damian’s telephone and something called tethering) but after our grim ride to Kushiro, Kazuko and I rode all the way into town to go to the riders house we had booked and found that it was something of a hovel. We rode back toward the train station and were going to book in to that old faithful, the Toyoko Inn but we couldn’t get into the room until four o’clock. It was two o’clock at that time and we really didn’t want to spend two hours getting cold in the rain.

Before we committed to the Toyoko Inn, we thought we’d try an area we had already ridden through and would have to ride back through the next day to get out of town again. Kazuko stumbled on to the Hotel Marshland, which was a little pricey but also had a cheaper ryokan attachment. We went there and were able to stay in the cheap part but make use of the hotel’s bath facilities. Damian was blissfully unaware of our problems as he was still making his way toward Kushiro. All he knew was that when we contacted him about the change of accommodation, he didn’t have as far to ride.

We had a hot bath, hung our riding gear up to dry, had dinner at the surprisingly cheap hotel restaurant (all the cheaper because Kazuko found a small fly in her mayonnaise and got her meal for free. She doesn’t even eat mayonnaise), and I lost my temper because the internet was fast for everything except my blog and it took half an hour to upload yesterday’s photos.

I could hear the rain all night and slept fitfully thinking about the miserable, wet day we were bound to have again and wondering if we would ever have any decent weather ever again.

Luckily, at about 4am it stopped raining and by the time we left the ryokan, it was misty outside but the sky looked light and we could hope that it probably wouldn’t rain.

The wind was on our side and early progress was quick. We were also happy in the knowledge that we had saved a few kilometres by not sleeping closer to the middle of town. There were no trucks on the road – just cars – and before long, the day warmed up and we started to see patches of blue sky.

We stopped at the Kushiro wetland reserve (I think its real name is different to this) to shed a few layers of clothes and have a look at the observatory. This visit brings my tally of Ramsar wetlands visited to two. Only another 1927 for the full set.

After the wetlands it started getting hilly so Damian soon fell behind us but it sounds as though his day was pretty similar to ours. We took our time, stopping every so often to take photos or enjoy the view and, unlike yesterday when the kilometres couldn’t tick over fast enough, every time we looked, we were surprised at how quickly we had been travelling. Well, I was, anyway. Kazuko’s Garmin (bike gps thingy – she has an older version than mine) died when we stopped for coffee mid-morning. This gps was a hand-me-down from my brother so it would seem it’s time for him to get himself the latest version to replace whatever his current one is. Kazuko completed her bad electronic luck today when her compact camera stopped working as well. The monitor at the back is broken so she can still take photos but just has to point it at whatever she likes and hope for the best.

The day was a delightful cruise through the countryside and ended at Teshikaga where we are staying at a reasonably-priced onsen hotel for two nights. Tomorrow we will hop on our bikes and explore the nearby lakes and quite likely have a bath at one of the local onsen before returning to the hotel for another bath in the hotel’s incredibly hot onsen.

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