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2007 May 4 Friday.

Good morning Chitose!  Not a bad day. 

A bit sunny and a bit cloudy. 

Warm enough to leave the fleece jacket in the van and take a walk over to the nearby toilet.   

There is even toilet paper in it!   

Maybe this will be my lucky day. 

I got back on the road at about 7:00 and used the next 90 minutes or so to drive in circles around the entire city of Chitose,  just to get a better feel for the place.   

Along the way I found a MacDonalds with a drive thru window and suddenly I had a for craving for about 3 Egg MacMuffins. 

So, I pulled in and made the buy.

Knowing what a gut bomb can do to your toilet training, I drove back over to the Michi No Eki where I had just spent the night, and devoured once again, the flavor of my former life, many years ago. 

Then, I lived in the USA.   

A completely different world than Japan. 

I know, I have lived in both places for many years.   

I would have rather had 3 rice balls for breakfast with a cup of hot green tea. 

Today, I was going for the All American Junk Food. 

Just follow the yellow brick road until you see the Golden Arches.   

That is where the palace of obesity resides.   

I fit right in.    

Anyway, after downing Three MacMuffins and using the toilet facilities one more time, I was back on the road again.   

First destination today is 支笏湖 Lake ShiKotsu, one of the 3 largest natural lakes in Hokkaido.      

This year, I did not drive around the entire circumference of the lake as I did last year, but merely stopped at a few select points along the shore, here and there.   

One of the places I stopped was at the いとう温泉.   

This place is rather old but very good, because the outdoor hot tub 露天風呂 is right on the water line of the lake, separated only by a low wall of big rocks.   

I didn't use the tub today, but about 12 years ago, I stayed overnight here during the summer, and it was awesome to be able to climb out of the hot tub and into the lake and then out of the lake and into the hot tub again, time after time.   

It was a truly cosmic experience.   

I wanna do it again some day, but today, the lake was still much too cold for that kind of fun. 

After looking around Lake ShiKotsu for about 90 minutes, I got onto route 453 heading for Lake Toya 洞爺湖.   

As I mentioned in this blog of 2007 April 26, the G8 Summit of 2008, will be held at the Windsor Hotel Toya.   

I made a special side trip today, just so I could go and take a look at the place. 

You can see one photo that I took of the outside of the hotel above/left.   

The main road that connects highway 230 to the top of the mountain where the Windsor Hotel is located, is 5 kilometers in length.   

I could see from my drive up the hill, that the roadside illumination lamps need to be renewed a bit, in order to satisfy security personnel who will be charged with protecting the VIPs when they come for their visit next summer.   

When I got to the top of the hill, I was rather surprised to find that all of the parking lots were full. 

Obviously, I am not the only person who is curious about what this hotel looks like on the inside. 

I was able to find a parking place and walked the rest of the distance to the main entrance of the hotel.   

I was able to look around the lobby and a few adjoining public spaces, and I took some photos of those areas.   

I looked at the menu of the coffee shop in the lobby and was not too surprised to see that a cup of coffee and a small slice of cake, will set you back about 2,000 yen.   

I wonder how much lunch costs?   

I didn't even bother to check the room prices, knowing that it would only make me feel "poor" in comparison with those privileged people who can easily afford it.   

The Super Rich really are different than the rest of us, and in more ways than just the money aspect of things that be. 

But that's a whole 'nother story, which I don't have time to go into here and now.   

One thing that I will say is that some of the people I saw who were actually staying at the hotel and not just looking around, are obviously very intelligent and have their own business or businesses. 

Others look like they are living off of their family's inheritance and dress up in gaudy clothing and use way too much make up.   

These are the spoiled brats of the "Old Money Families".   

People who never had to use their brains for anything else than a place to enjoy their daily cocktails.   

You can see the difference in the eyes of the two distinct types of the Super Rich.   

After looking around for about 45 minutes, I got back on the road heading towards JoZanKei 定山渓.   

I was hoping to take Route 1 from JoZanKei to AsaRi 朝里 and finally Otaru 小樽, but at JoZanKei I saw a notice that Route 1 was closed because of a landslide 地すべり.   

Bummer, I have no other choice but to continue along Route 230 until it connects with Route 5 near Sapporo, and takes me the rest of the way into Otaru.   

Not my favorite route because it is very crowded, but today I had no other choice in the matter.   

I finally arrived in Otaru at about 18:30 and drove straight to the MaxValue Supermarket which is right next door to the Morning Fish Market おたる朝市.   

Otaru doesn't yet have a Michi No Eki 道の駅はまだありませんので、So this parking lot at this 24/7 always open supermarket, is by far the best place to camp out if you are sleeping in your car.   

Although most travelers do not seem to know about this location, a few of us do, and we use it to our comfort and advantage.   

The store owners don't seem to care, and the police never give us any trouble.   

After all, I just need to get some sleep and use the toilet from time to time during my stay. 

Of course, I will buy some food and drink at the supermarket as well, so I am not a total free loader ただ乗りでは在りません。   

Thank you to MaxValue and the nice people of Otaru for making this overnight stay a viable possibility. 

No assholes anywhere near this part of the world.   

After I parked and locked my van, I walked over to the Canal Plaza area of Otaru and arrived at my first objective. 

Otaru Micro Brew おたるビール倉庫 No. 1.   

I visit here every year at least once or twice. 

Why?   Well for starters, the locally made beer is fresh and absolutely delicious. 

Also, the food menu is original and very tasty. 

And to top it all off, the service provided by the staff and the local musicians who perform live on stage is also top notch.   

This is a business that knows how to please its customers.   

I am a regular, because I so much enjoy the experience each and every time.   

This evening was no different. 

A local band called PALOSIKS performed 3 different times during the evening, and I was able to catch two of them.   

This year they had a new drummer, and a bunch of new songs which are not yet out on CD. 

To see a photo slide show of this unusual music group  and listen to two of their original songs, please click here.   

After two shows, two liters of beer and a Bavarian Style roast pork and potatoes dinner, I was back on the street walking to my van.   

I got inside and went to sleep. 

Tomorrow it will be back on the road again.   

Total driving distance today, 370 kilometers.   

That's about enough driving for any one day.

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