What an ideal day smells like

5/24 was a hell of a day. It started, like most days do, at midnight, but I was still up for this one.

Mo Saafingu

A couchsurfer came by last night, and I'll use his words to sum up the circumstances between us.
Once I saw you were a fellow Wyomingite, I had to send a request. I never thought I'd run into another one in Sendai, Japan of all places, but that's great.
So, Sam's a firefighter from Gillette using his vacation to travel around Japan without much of a plan; he says he's just "following the couches", working his way from the north to the south. As it says above, when he saw there was a fellow Wyomingite in Sendai, he added it to his list of destinations and I was more than happy to put him up. It was great talking to someone from the home state - we even knew some of the same places, and he knew Laramie's bars, including the Alibi. Cheers :D

We were up until at least two in the morning, lying in my streetlamp-lit bedroom (there's one right outside the window) talking like two old girlfriends about our adventures. Actually, I should be more frank here - I mostly listened to Sam's adventures, as they were much more impressive.

We got up sometime around 9, got things in order, and went to the nearby bus stop. We grabbed some breakfast from the nearby combini (convenience store), chatted a bit more, and then he was off. I did leave word for him to go visit Matsu-shima next, hope he makes it there.

Hark! A Park!

This is the spot where pictures would sure come in handy huh? I got a message from my dearest British lady friend Tammy that she was going to go read in a park near her place, and would I like to come? So I hopped on my bicycle and went! She lives a bit north of city proper though. View Larger Map

Google shows us its still not far though - a quick 7.5km. So, on a beautiful sunny spring day I rode my bike out to the first real park I've seen in Japan. Now, I know I've said this before, but this time the grass was green and the sun was shining and there was a larger area for people to play soccer, frisbee, kickball, what-have-you in.

After Tammy and I had been reading under the sun for an hour or so I noticed people throwing a disc back and forth. Could it be?? Had I at last found ultimate players in Japan??? YES! I introduced myself and found out they were from the university local to Izumi, that suburb north of Sendai. Better yet, team captain Matsuki gave me the contact information for my own university's ultimate team. Woot woot this's going to happen.


Lately I haven't been getting my butt to the climbing gym. I'm not entirely sure what's going on there, but my sweet Swedish climbing pal Disa is helping me get back into the swing of things by shooting me texts for when she's going. I left Tammy and Izumi behind to go back to the dorm, get my climbing stuff, and arrived at the gym some time after five.

It took me a little while to get into the swing of things, and darned if I didn't realize something just now as I'm writing this. Lead climbing (the kind where you take the rope up with you as you climb) has somehow lost its appeal to me, and I'm back to enjoying bouldering more. I, er, don't exactly expect anyone to know my climbing history, so let me explain why that stands out to me.

I got into climbing through bouldering. A few months after I had tried it that first time at a suggestion from Jenn and Maciej I was lost in a climbing haze. Half a year after starting I felt like I was living at the wall. Particularly in may, with the stress of finals and the end of a two year relationship while continuing cohabitation had me pulling on plastic at the gym  at least five days out of the week, even if it was just for half an hour (it never was).

I made friends at the wall, and convinced a nice gentlemen named Mark to take me out to the nearby Vedauwoo and try the real thing. I learned that ropes were fun too, and getting high gets me high. I played around at Veadauwoo more and more, believing the words of the people I met a Vedauwoo that climbing just didn't get better than cams and cracks. That was the place to be.

Then one day a fellow named Ken, who makes me think of beer, bicycles, climbing, and red Marmot coats, went out with me during spring break to Sinks Canyon, five hours from Laramie towards the Wind River mountain range. That place changed it for me.

Sinks is different from Vedauwoo. Rather than lodging things into the crack on your way up to catch you on a fall, there are little hangars screwed into the rock that you simply attach a carabiner  to it and keep on going up. The trad climbers have their pure rock and claims to beautiful aesthetics, but god  if I didn't just fall in love with sport climbing. Sinks Canyon feels like my climbing home, and I know my first free weekend back in Wyoming will be spent camping out there.

The style of climbing at Sinks seemed to have ruined me for bouldering. I lost my interest in going to that short wall at the back of the university gym, and gradually went from an five times a week schedule to four, three, two, and maybe just one. My frequency wasn't all that changed. My trips to the gym use to be an entire day, or at least the whole of the evening. But before I came to Japan I couldn't do more than an hour or two before I felt like leaving.

Bringing this lengthy aside full circle, the climbing gym here in Sendai has both a bouldering and leading area. I seldom, if ever, used the bouldering wall last year. Today though, I belayed a few climbs on the lead wall, put up one of my own, and then went upstairs to the bouldering wall after realizing I wasn't enjoying myself much. I stayed there, and somehow found and dusted off that part of me that thrilled at the powerful and puzzle-like problems that make up bouldering.

I left the gym tonight feeling the best I've felt in a week, high on the success of a problem after repeated failures that made it seem undoable.

Climbing got fun again, and just in time too. I'll be gone all weekend with Disa and Noboyuki-san camping and climbing... somewhere. Man am I excited for that!

You haven't given up on that yet?

I left the gym after two or three hours to head to swimming practice for the triathlon club. My performance last night had convinced me that swimming was just not something I was going to master, and that triathlon was a word I may as well drop from my consciousness. Still, I diligently went again tonight, just like I will ever night until our first one next week.

Don't get excited though, that one for next week is just for triathlon newbies - the swimming is only 700m, the running 5km, and the biking, well, who knows. Something you could call "short".

I'm still completely aware that I'm terrible at swimming, but going in with high spirits sure made that fact more bearable.

The day winds down

Practice ended just a bit early so on my way home I thought I'd stick my face in on a weekly hangout that happens here at the dorms on Thursday. I ran into two Japanese friends I'm trying to squeeze into being actually friends, and the three of us chatted for the remaining half hour of the night. I like those guys, and also like speaking Japanese, so woo-hoo win win right?

Anyhoo, once that place got shut down a few of us came back to my building together, everyone off to their respective floors. I held the elevator open for the gang and headed up to the second for via stairs - but as soon as I started to move away from the elevator I found out someone had pushed my button anyways, assuming I was coming along. I stuck to the stairs anyways and was there to say hi at the next floor.

From there, as a joke, I was told "See you again on the tenth?". How can you say no to that?

I threw my pack and coat into the elevator, turned to the stairwell, and booked it on up. When the elevator doors opened I was keeled over in front of them trying to catch my breath.

What have we learned today?

A good day needs these things to smell the way it should after being popped into the easy-bake.


  • Over 20km of biking, at least.
  • Ultimate frisbee (thirty minutes)
  • Climbing (two hours)
  • Swimming (two hours)

Remembering why you love what you love

  • And that you want to do it

A good chat or two (or ten)

  • A natural born psychiatrist friend is nice
  • Doing them in foreign languages makes you feel like a winner
  • Girls are usually better than guys - you just have to find one with heels that aren't taller than they are.
  • It's nice to share hobbies!
  • Strangers are good, surfers are better

Matt Enlow

Matt has a camera, a home on wheels, and this website
Down by the river