Travels with Ikumi
To make a long story short, we said "sure, we'd love to have
you come along with us," and so she flew to America. Neither she
or her father had ever been to the U.S. before. Together, they visited
San Francisco then flew to Seattle to meet us. We think that Yoichi
wanted to check out what his daughter was getting into. Because of
the media, a lot of people in Japan think that the U.S. is a dangerous
place to visit. As Ikumi told us, Japanese people think that the
U.S. is full of guns and "hooligans".
||This is a picture of us with Ikumi and her father, Yoichi.
Ikumi is a college student and lives in Sendai, Japan. She had seen
us in the NHK television documentary about RVing
She asked if she could come to America and travel with
us as part of her graduation thesis. She is a student of anthropology
and is very interested in learning about other cultures and international
|We toured some small communities around the Seattle area.
Yoichi was interested in seeing what American neighborhoods and daily life
Here's a picture taken outside of the Flying Frog Antique
store in Snoqualmie, Washington.
After two days of sightseeing, Yoichi flew home to Japan
and left Ikumi with us to see the vast countryside.
Cheryl and the boys packed up the trailer. Ikumi was
amazed to see how everything worked. I hitched up the truck and we
all got in to go. As I pulled the shift lever into drive, my cell
phone rang. It was Jenn White. She said they were in Issaquah
just outside of Seattle. I said, "we are on Lake Samamish, just outside
of Issaquah". Turns out we were less than 5 miles from each other.
So before heading out, we met them for lunch.
||We were about to leave on our two-week tour with Ikumi.
Our stops would include Yellowstone, Bryce, and Zion National Parks and
end up in Las Vegas.
The morning we were going to leave Seattle, I E-mailed
the White family; (they are other family in the NHK documentary,) to see
what part of the country they were in.
Then we headed off for Eastern Washington. We stopped
every chance we could to show Ikumi things she had never seen before.
One stop was at the Grand Coolee Dam. We stopped along the wheat
fields in Eastern Washington where Ikumi said she had never seen such flat
land. We saw big dust devils, picked wheat out of a field, saw deer,
coyotes, and more.
Near Yellowstone, as we approached Bozeman, Montana, a large
thunderhead passed over providing us with a spectacular light show and
very heavy rain. It was getting dark so we treated Ikumi to a night
in a Walmart parking lot. (We're the ones in the middle.) Walmart
is well know in the RVing community for allowing RVs to park overnight,
except in towns where RV park owners associations have convinced city legislatures
to outlaw such parking. Now, you might think this is a cheap way
to camp for the night, but it's really not. We've spent as much as
$400 in the store on more than one occasion and rarely do we get away for
under $30, especially at the 24-hour stores.
We've been here five or six times now so I won't bore you
with another set of Yellowstone pictures, but there are a few good "Ikumi
meets Godzilla", ( I mean buffalo,) stories.
||Well, here we are in Yellowstone again.
We know that a big herd of buffalo are usually in one
part of the park, and we were lucky enough to be there when they were near
the road. One big bull was crossing the river, coming in our direction.
He dropped out of sight beneath the bank of the river. We hoped he'd
pop up over the bank and come up right in front of us. Sure enough,
Here's Ikumi's favorite hot pool and Old Faithful, of course.
She liked the beautiful aqua blue color. We also got to watch a beaver
cutting down some small tree branches and swimming the branches back to
the beaver lodge.
||I told Ikumi to get out of the truck for a picture, but
by time I turned the camera on she was back inside. As the buffalo
came to the front corner of our truck, he looked to the left and then to
the right to decide which way to walk around the truck. I darted
around the back and took this picture as he passed within inches of our
Ikumi had never been near such a huge, wild animal.
It was very thrilling, but much too close for her.
||Although that's not us in this raft, we took Ikumi rafting.
She said this was the first time she was ever on a river and the first
time she paddled a boat.
We originally had planned to drop Ikumi off at the airport
in Salt Lake City, but she wanted to see Las Vegas.
|That added several hundred miles to our two week trip,
so we only made one quick stop in Salt Lake City. That stop was at
the Kennicott Copper Mine. The open pit mine is over a mile deep
and several miles across. It's a spectacular sight. Cheryl
says, "been there -- done that."
|Our next major stop was Bryce Canyon National Park.
The elevation here is about 6,000 ft (1,830 meters) and hiking the short
trail to this view point is quite exhausting.
It's a great view. We could see the whole canyon
and look down on the spires and hoodoos.
||The next day we attended a ranger narrated walk to the
bottom of the canyon. Ikumi is in red and Cheryl has a blue shirt.
Mitch and Max are on the next switch back below.
Here's another view of the trail.
The best part of Bryce Canyon was the two nights we spent
at Ruby's Inn.
||Ruby's Inn is one mile from the entrance to Bryce Canyon
National Park. They provide lodging, an RV park, a nightly rodeo,
a western dinner show and a chuck wagon dinner. We decided to try out the
chuck wagon dinner.
We boarded one of the three covered wagons and began "our
journey into the old west". Along the way we saw some deer, but then
crossed onto an Indian burial ground.
|The covered wagons were surrounded and the show began.
Ikumi had lots of fun. She told us that this was the
first time she had ever danced. Every day was a new adventure!
||After a delicious chuckwagon dinner, the cowboy music
and dancing began. The folks at Ruby's Inn are well organized.
First, the staff, which consists of a lot of young cowboys and cowgirls,
(actually college students on summer break,) push the tables out of the
way and perform some great western music and dance. Next, they cleverly
target the teenagers in the audience and pull them out for a square dance.
After that, the adults and children are invited to dance, and soon the
entire audience was square dancing.
||Next stop: Zion National Park. Here, we saw mountain
goats on the trail, (it looks like a miniature goat whispering in her ear.)
Zion has some outrageous hikes -- it's one of our favorite parks.
This trail, like several others, takes you up the side of a steep red rock
mountain that overlooks the valley.
So here is this month's mystery challenge. How
can you tell if a spider web was made by a Black Widow? There may be more
than one way to tell. I'm looking for the answer I was told by a
||We also found Zion to be a haven for Black Widow spiders.
All of the picnic tables in the campground are constructed using two inch
steel tubing for the base. The open ends of the tubing come up just under
the bench and table top. The spiders hide in the tubes during the
day and come out at night. I checked several of the tables and found
Black Window webs at the opening of every tube and spiders in over half
of them. There was at least one spider on every table I checked.
Finally, we're at the end of our trip -- in Las Vegas,
We visited all of the usual attractions, but won't bore you with pictures.
What impressed Ikumi the most was the 114 degree F, and one day 116 F degree
Even with the air conditioner running continuously, we can't
maintain a comfortable temperature inside. Ikumi could not believe
how hot it was. For us, it was actually a little easier to stay comfortable
in -20 degree F (-29 degrees C) in Alaska, than it was in this heat.
||For our international readers, that's 46 degrees Celsius.
Our trailer and its contents heated up to 125 degrees F (52 Celsius).
RV's, no matter how well insulated they are, are not made for this kind
|Time for good-bye, but not a final good-bye. We
plan on taking a trip to Japan someday and Ikumi plans on returning to
America in a couple of months.
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