A Wind Wind Situation

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FYI: Spring in France is windy. Not cool-breeze-windy, more like bike-tipping-over-six-times-windy. To be fair, Provence and the Rhone valley areas catch most of the howling Mistrals (yes, the wind has a name) and that’s where we spent nearly all of our time because that’s also where it was the most sunny. But the Haute Alpes get the winds too. And so does the Languedoc-Roussillon, and even the coast. So maybe the winds aren’t so limited after all.

Upon our move out of Provence we thought we’d move out of the wind. Alas, no. We moved into it. Enough that as we rode along attempting to take in the new and wider landscape filled by prairie flowers and ever present vineyards we had to lean right to avoid falling over. (Note: It’s the one and only time we’ve ever leaned right.) Awe remained in spite of the wind smacking. It’s just so dang purty here!

But we had to leave. Because, inexplicably, our nine weeks of adventure, anguish, joy, frustration, amazement, depletion, and mind-body-soul fulfillment-slash-exhaustion is coming to a close.

The plan: Take a train across the Pyrenees, hang in Spain for three days and get on the plane.

The reality: The French transportation system went on strike. Meaning…no trains. To anywhere. Meaning… Get your butts on your bikes and go.

And then came the wind again. At 30 miles per hour. Sometimes gusts of 40 mph. At our backs.

So here we are in Spain.

It’s been a wild journey filled by both pleasure and pain. Rob says I’ve acquired more grey hair. Thanks hon.

After I punched him we both agreed that the pleasure quotient has been higher than the pain.

And then I caught a cold.

Ah well, today the wind was quiet, the sun was beaming, we said “Avoir” to France, switched dictionaries, and said “Hola” to Spain.

Only three days left. Tomorrow we’ll see which way the crazy wind blows and maybe just hide in the tent. I’m pooped. See you soon. We hope.

 

 

 

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Feels like 36

That’s what the weather app says this morning, which got me thinking that I can’t remember when I last slept without a hat on. We’re in the mountains camped out at Montbrun-Les-Bains, I‘m wrapped in my down sleeping bag, wearing my down jacket and Rob is making coffee to warm our hands and jumpstart our heads. Is it really spring? Supposedly it’s going to get warm today and we are ready!

Yesterday we took a break from our bikes after making a meager 28 km ride the day before. Half the ride was uphill, the other half was downhill and going downhill was NOT the easier part. We had risen to over 1100 meters and, oh gee, it got colder. Spiraling down without enough warm clothing (cuz it’s spring, right?) was breathtaking in more ways than one. “Holy crap it’s beautiful! Holy crap I’m cold!” went the commentary in my head.

We were both gripping our handlebars as tightly as we could to keep blood pumping through our freezing fingers, but that kinda didn’t work how we’d hoped.

After we got back my left foot stayed numb for over an hour.

But would I trade the experince of sinking deep into these jagged peaks and witnessing fairytale villages carved right out of the mountain stone and eating olives from the grove next to our camp and drinking wine from the vineyard next to the olive grove for heat and pillows?

Ummm. Ask me later.

Now, it’s time for coffee in the sun, which has returned even if it does only feel like 36 degrees of it. At midday it should be up to 65. With wind. Sigh…

Surprises here we come.

Family Time

It’s always a holiday in France. Which sounds great unless you are trying to travel here from another country to meet up with your brother and sis-in-law for a week and the train is delayed cuz the conductor is sipping wine on the coast instead of pushing the “go” button.

“Richard is lost in France!” I whined over a Skype call to Rob’s sister Mary before sending a desperate message to a nephew, calling another brother and re-messaging Rich by e-mail and text and email again. Our campsite host started demonstrating exercises that would help calm me down and finally after two or three hours of no contact and no knowledge of where Rich and his luggage awaited I went and laid down in the tent.

And then he sent a message. At last he had arrived into a WiFi zone.

Together we spent a week filled with weather, scenery, and even a few dietary changes. Today he is already back in the air bound for home and we are back on the road bound for, well…who knows? I’ll tell you when we get there.

Meanwhile, here’s some brother love…

Found

Sometimes ya gotta stop and take a deep breath. Our deep breath was nine days long here at the gypsy caravan where we escaped the rain and buried our woes in Provence wine and lavender.

We’re terrible at taking advice¬†which is why we’re still in France and not in Spain. That and Rob’s brother Richard is joining us in two days so we thought abandoning him might be a bad family move.¬†

The caravan kinda saved our trip. Are we getting soft?

When Richard joins us we plan to go back, but this time we’ll pitch a tent, so, naw, we’re still pretty tough.

Lost

Sometimes getting lost is romantic, but we’ve been lost so many times that the romance has gotten a lot of gray chin hairs. It’s pouring here in France and it is scheduled to continue pouring for the foreseeable future. “Highly unusual” say the locals.

But of course.

So we’re camped next to a couple of 20-year-olds who are taking turns sleeping and orgasming at bass and soprano octaves. We’re sorta miserable and some people openly feel sorry for us even though we’re cooking gnocchi and sipping $2 wine.

What would you do in our situation? We feel, well, lost. We’re thinking that we’ll head back to Spain where it’s warm and sunny. Sometimes plans just don’t work out. It’s hard to admit and harder to alter. For us at least.

The neighbors are smoking their post-sex cigs and the gnocchi’s ready!

We await your advice….

A Lot to Love

We love Europe. To prove it we’ve spent way lots of airline money to take our buts here and back, here and back, several times. This time around I’m taking note of the details that make the general culture so appealing to us. What I keep coming back to is how social people are (even in cold-ish weather) and how much time they spend outside (even in cold-ish weather). Always there are families, teenagers, couples, friends, readers, walkers, runners, vendors, eaters, drinkers, or just general observers out and about communicating with one another. In person. And of course, there’s the architecture.

Obviously.

Last night, after a late, hasty arrival from Spain, we spent the day gawking and chillin’ at the big, fun market in lovely, social Norbonne, France.

Happy Easter. We had ham pizza.

Perspective

No WiFi means no news. Today we have WiFi so the 50 MPH winds that I was going to whine about having to bike and ultimately push through seem inconsequential after hearing the news about Brussels. Sigh…

Still doing what we can while we can. Tomorrow, vive le France. (Did I spell that wrong?)

Ah, well, here’s a few Spanish pics…