Summer Break

I just realized how many unpublished blog post drafts that I still have pending.  It’s been quite busy lately especially at work, and now with Haruka out of school on summer break, both Saturdays and Sundays are spent either at gymnastics and tumbling practice, or just keeping her entertained (which isn’t easy sometimes).

For me, summer time is a time to create memories, and I have a lot of fond memories of taking trips to Japan during summer break as a kid. So, I find it to very important to create good summer vacation memories for her.  Ideally, I would like to take her for long vacations preferably out of the country, but with two aging dogs and no one able to take care of them, this plan will have to go on hold for a while.

In the meantime, we try to keep Haru busy by sending her off to summer camp.  She’ll be going to two summer camps -one through her school, and the other through her gymnastics school.  It would be really nice if this were gymnastics camp, but unfortunately it isn’t.   It’s just a nature camp that is set up and sponsored by her gymnastics school.

Of course, spending time with family is also important.  We don’t want Haru to look back on her childhood and think that we sent her to all of these camps just to get rid of her for the summer.  So I decided that we pack up the dogs and do an overnight stay at our favorite onsen and pool resort in Chiba.

It wasn’t too long ago since the last time we went there.  As a matter of fact, the memory of being stuck in a 3 hour traffic jam because of an overturned truck on the Yokohama Bay bridge was still fresh on all of our minds.  But the last we went, it was just a day trip, and because our stay was significantly shortened by an irresponsible truck driver, we didn’t quite have the relaxing and joyous time we were expecting to have.  So this time around, we decided to make it an overnight trip.  And since there is an on-premise pet hotel, we could take the dogs with us and check on them periodically.

Haru LOVES overnight trips.  We could be staying at the Motel 6 and she’d still love it.  But we all love this resort because its so close, but just far enough out of the city as to feel that we’re taking a trip somewhere.   There is nothing too spectacular about this resort; it’s far from being a five star luxury hotel, yet there is something very charming about the place.  My wife thinks it too much of a pain because its quite a bit of a walk from the hotel rooms to the dining and play areas.  I think the vastness of the hotel is part of the charm.

So we left for Mikazuki Hotel in the late morning with the anticipation that there would be some summer season traffic, but the trip there was pretty pleasant -absolutely no traffic at all, so we made it there in under an hour.   This was a vast contrast from the  three and half hours it took the last time.

We got there three hours before check-in which was perfect.  we had a light lunch that we bought at a nearby convenience store, and immediately headed for the pools.  Although the pools were pretty crowned from all of the kids being on summer break, it wasn’t too insane.  I was imagining that it would be like Tokyo Summer Land -which is the least desirable spot to be in probably all of Japan.  It’s like being in a subway during rush hour, and being wet and in a bathing suit at the same time.  What a nightmare!  Why anyone thinks that’s fun is way beyond the realm of my comprehension.

After a 3 hours of pool hopping, and playing a few rounds of hide and seek, which Haru kept cheating at, we went to the onsens and then headed up to our rooms which by then were ready for us.  By this point, Haru was in super hyperactive mode and was still bouncing off of the walls (almost literally).  We tried to get her to take a nap before dinner, but there was no way she was going to calm down.  So I suggested tat she play some video games until dinner, which my wife hated.  It it were up t my wife, all video games would be banned from the face of the earth, even though she plays them.

After about an hour or so, we headed down to the dining hall, inconveniently located on the other side of the hotel, where we had to go through long hallways, board a series of elevators, and take off our shoes somewhere along the way.

The dinner was exactly the same as  the previous year.  A buffet with a variety of both Japanese and western food.  It wasn’t too bad, but nothing special either.  But for some reason Haru had lost her appetite and wasn’t feeling well.  We figured that the hyperactivity crash kicked in and she was feeling sleepy, but she kept assuring us that she didn’t feel sleepy.  As the dinner progressed, she sipped on some clam soup an had a couple of bites of fries and that was it.

After dinner, we headed back to our room, and Haru laid down for awhile on the bed.  She looked tired, but just when we thought she was out for the evening, she burped.  After that, everything was well again,and she was back to her hyperactive self.  Stomach gas!   She even insisted that she was hungry….arrrg!  But instead of giving into Haru whining about being hungry, which is a very common occurrence these days even after having a big dinner, we decided to take her down to the game arcade and play area to help keep her mind of of her insatiable appetite.

Before we went to the play area, we stopped by the pet hotel which is right in the next building to check up on the dogs and give them their dinner.  Both Princess and Jenna seemed to be doing fine and both ate their dinners without issue.  We then headed to the arcade which was on the other side of parking lot.

Haru really likes little stuffed animals and dolls, so I spent most of my time (and money) feeding the UFO catcher type games with coins to try to win prizes for Haru.  I managed to win 3 or 4 little stuffed dogs for her which she was really happy about.  Haru and my wife spent their time competing on Taiko No Tatsujin, a game where you beat a taiko drum to the beat of music.

After about an hour or so of playing games, we bot some drinks at a little gift shop near the arcade, and then headed back up to our room.  Haru was again bouncing off the walls with excitement, and the half a can of Mountain Dew she had probably wasn’t helping to calm her down.  It took about two hours for her to finally calm and enough to go to sleep, but by then, I was already out like a light.

The next morning, we headed down to the restaurant for our morning breakfast.  Once again the menu was unchanged from the previous year -a buffet with a mix of western and Japanese food.  Haru was feeling better so she ate a bit more heartily than the previous night.

After breakfast, we went to check on the dogs once again and fed them their breakfast.  We also brought them a few things from the dining room which they seemed to enjoy.

Originally, we planned to go to the pool and onsens once again, but Haru wasn’t up for it.  I want to go swimming, but don’t want to have to take a bath and wash my hair again.  It’s too much trouble, she said.  So instead, we decided to head back to the game arcade….yay, let’s spend more money!

We basically repeated what we did the previous evening.  After about an hour, we decided it was about time to leave, but Haru didn’t quite want to leave yet.  So as my wife went shopping at the gift shop, I took Haru to the play area where they had air filled tumble tracks.  When we went their a month earlier, I challenge Haru to do a round off to double handspring, and although it wasn’t quite the perfect landing, she was able to do it none-the-less.  And because of that, her tumbling coach is working with her to tidy up her landings so she can do it at an actual event.

This time around, I challenged her to try to do a back tuck, or a back flip -an aerial skill using no hands.  Since she’s never done that skill before (ever), she immediately said, no I can’t do that yet, so I told her to just practice her handsprings to which she agreed to.

She did a couple of round off back handsprings on the air tumble track, and then said., it’s too hard doing a handspring on the tumble track.  It’s too bouncy so my hands don’t touch the ground. At first I didn’t understand what she was saying.   What do you mean your hands don’t touch the ground?, I asked.  She then proceeded to explain that when she does her handspring, she bounces so high that her hands are a few inches above the track.

I immediately realized that she was effectively doing a round off to a back tuck, which is a more difficult skill.  I then told her that instead of trying to touch the ground, to keep her hands to her sides instead.  The result was a near perfectly executed round off, back tuck.  I was amazed because no one had taught her to do this yet.  She taught herself, almost by accident.

After spending a half hour in the play area, Haru and my wife played one more round of Taiko no Tatsujin, then we all headed home.  Haru was obviously tired and so she fell asleep in the car on the way home.  It wasn’t even noon yet, and yet it seemed like a full eventful day.


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