Today was a really good day.
I got up early to go to Oirase Gorge to see the fall leaves (I left the house around 6:15am!). Thankfully very few others were up at the time, so driving/parking wasn't a problem, and I could enjoy the gorge in solitude for the most part.
Even though the leaves haven't completely changed colours yet, it was still beautiful. I just wish that my camera could accurately capture the vividness of the splashes of red against yellow/green. Usually when I go through the gorge with people, I only stop at a few big sights--the Kumoi and "Little Niagara" waterfalls, for example--but since I was on my own and had plenty of time today, I actually walked through a good portion of the gorge. (Although I still drove and parked at various places.)
At one point I even broke into song:
How could any person doubt that He is God?
Since nature sings out his praises then I ought to join
And share in this grand worship to the Lord!
It was a bit embarrassing because I thought I was alone, but about 30s after I stopped singing, I paused to take a picture and a slightly older couple came from behind and passed me. I'm guessing that they were probably close enough to hear me singing, but I just didn't notice them behind me at the time... ^^;; Ah well, singing from the heart is nothing to be ashamed of, I guess.
And I'm really glad that I went early in the morning--even though it was pretty cold! I don't think I would've enjoyed it so much or been so relaxed if I'd had to contend with all the cars/traffic. I'm also glad I decided to just do the gorge and not to bother with Lake Towada. As it was, I didn't get back home until around 11:45pm--meaning I spent five and a half hours at the gorge (well, minus travel time).
Admittedly coming home was a little bit stressful. The last place I parked was actually near the beginning of the gorge, but I'd parked on the left hand side, so to get out I was forced to drive back into the gorge. I was worried that I'd have to go through the entire gorge (heading towards Lake Towada) before I'd get a chance to pull off/turn around somewhere, but luckily about 10 minutes in I was able to pull over and traffic cleared enough for me to do a 3-point turn and head home!
Once home I had an apple for lunch and made Halloween cards for tomorrow's classes. After that, I baked chocolate chunk cookies to give out as Halloween treats to the elementary school I'm visiting on Friday (only 49 students in the whole school)! Not only does baking relax me, but it helps warm up my apartment and fills it with delicious smells!
After that I decided to go out to Isshin for dinner. Ah, that reminds me, even though I only had an apple for lunch, I guess all the walking around the gorge--or simply the passage of time--helped me to regain my appetite somewhat! So I was actually slightly hungry and felt like eating a proper dinner. And I didn't just eat at Isshin, I also brought my Canadian history textbook (Origins: Canadian History to Confederation, 6th ed.) so I was able to study while waiting for my beef curry and while enjoying almond cocoa afterwards! I spent a little over an hour at Isshin, which is pretty amazing for me, considering that when I eat alone I usually gulp down my food in a mere 10-15minutes.
Such was the state of my mellowness after Isshin that even though I had a bit of a driving scare on my way back, I still felt very relaxed when I got home. (As I was approaching an intersection where I had the right of way, a car started entering the intersection from my left! Talk about déjà vu! Having learned from the accident, however, I had slowed down approaching the intersection, so it was only a bit of a jerky stop for me. Plus the other car--which had a stop sign--did in fact come to a stop, although it was a very abrupt stop after entering the intersection slightly.)
So yeah, I feel like a lot of the stress from the past week was soothed away today. Plus my appetite is returning, which is good. Unfortunately I still have neck/shoulder stiffness, plus headaches, but I decided to stop being so...stoic...about the pain and took a couple of Advil (my first time opening the bottle since coming to Japan!) when I got home. So far it seems to have done the trick for the headaches.
Oh, and you can see a selection of today's photos from Oirase Gorge (a lot of them are pretty similar ^^;;) at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=331863&id=655150561&l=6a7941a8c0