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Monday, February 17, 2014


When we moved to Tsukahara, we were told that February was the coldest month. This is our third winter and the results are in. Yes, February is the coldest month. We haven’t seen a temperature above 5 degrees Celsius. About 12 inches of snow has accumulated. That’s just enough snow to make driving to work a challenge. One thing that Erika and I have learned. It doesn’t matter how prepared you are to drive in the snow and ice. The accidents occur when the other guy isn’t prepared. We live in a tourist area. Tourists acting like tourists love to stop in the middle of the road and take pictures, play in the snow and/or put chains on. Did I say the “middle” of the road? This fairly dangerous maneuver stops traffic in both directions. The narrow roads are hard enough to navigate during good weather. The unsuspecting tourist, Erika likes to call them “stupid”, can turn a 30 minute commute into an all day event. One of the benefits of being surrounded by tourists that lack common sense is that they provide endless hours of conversation topics. Erika shares her nightmarish commute stories with me every night and I usually have a few stories of my own.

There is a stretch of road, Eco-line, that climbs between two volcanoes. It’s part of Erika’s daily commute. The road is narrow and steep. The lack of traffic invites the deer to hang out on the road. Eco-line is not very well maintained and it’s riddled with potholes. At night, the pitch blackness makes it a strain to see past the headlights. Couple this with snow, ice, deer, and tourists…well, it's dangerous. Did I mention that cell phones don’t work on Eco-line. Lately, Erika calls me just before and after she attempts this treacherous road so that I know where to find her if something happened.


The heavy snow curling down from the metal roof. I removed this hazard right after photographing it.

After writing this blog, Tsukahara experienced its worst snowfall in recent history. A neighbor who has lived here for 19 years told us that she has never seen this much snow. The snow around our home comes up to our knees. We spent the weekend trying to dig ourselves out of the snow. Eco-line is closed. The road to Yufuin has been closed to Beppu. The problem is that the tall snow laiden bamboo tends to lean into the road. This creates tunnels of bamboo which makes the road almost impassable. The road crews are working around the clock to clear these obstacles, but Oita is not prepared for a snow event of this magnitude. In order for Erika to get to Hasama, she must drive 1.5 hours around the volcano. Since some of the roads are closed, the main roads are clogged with traffic. More snow is expected over the week. This could be a very difficult late winter for everyone.       George
We managed to dig the truck out after a weekend of hard work
Kiley and Lucky know how to get around in the snow!

Lucky wouldn't give up even in the deep snow.
Our firewood is under there somewhere.



1 comment:

  1. 頑張って、Lucky! Wasn't it crazy? Of course, not as bad for us down here but still... our dogs had a lovely time too, of course!