When we finally got around to dinner last night, I sent Ben off to take a few pictures by the harbor while I cooked our cheesy potatoes.
We had finally tracked down our long awaited bottle of locally grown grape juice (since we are non-wine drinkers) which was actually pretty difficult for as many vineyards as we have passed. We were excited to drink our French juice with our dinner. Ben returned with some pretty good pictures and we savored our juice, veggies, and potatoes as the darkness set in.
After what seemed like a short sleep which was plagued by some really disturbing nightmares(of which I’ve had surprisingly few this trip), I was glad to be awake. That is, until I looked outside and saw looming clouds hanging over our tent. Still having a hard time bringing my mind back to reality, and faced with the possibility of a very wet day, I just wasn’t feeling it this morning.
We headed over to the internet point to check the weather, and realizing that the weekend is supposed to be full of rain, we figured we better get on the road and hope for the best. We put our rain gear at the top of our bags just in case.
As we were checking out, the lady at reception noticed my American passport and excitedly asked what everyone in America was thinking about the latest news of Osama bin Laden. I had to laugh because we’ve been so out of touch since we’ve been here, that we didn’t even find out about it until quite a few days after it happened, and by then the news coverage was so old it was hard to even get a good picture of what happened so we didn’t even really try. At this point, I know less about current events than I have at any given point in my life. She laughed at our ignorance and said that she was excited for America and hoped that we were excited too.
Gratefully, a with few miles on the bike my mood had improved significantly. The gloomy weather was making for some mediocre photos, but it kept things nice and cool for our hilly ride along the coast. The hills were my favorite kind, the ones which can be tackled without using my lowest gear and that simply require a bit of persistence. Despite the low hanging clouds, the views were nice and the ocean breeze felt refreshing as it blew by. Since I was kind of sunburned from yesterday, it was probably just as well to be sporting a bit more clothing today anyway. The crowds of the film festival were a far cry from the remote rocky cliffs that dominated our route today.
We were surprised to see the terrain turn from hills to sharp cliffs and precipices of red rock. The foliage as well turned from the tropical that we had seen on the coast to a much drier variety. It felt very similar to the terrain around the highlands of southern Utah. Again, though, the heavy clouds made for kind of flat lighting for any good photographs. We tried, though!
Before we knew it, the mountains had ended and we had descended into a small town where we stopped at a bakery to restock our bread supplies. Three bagettes, a loaf of something dark, dense, and multi grained, and a disappointing pastry later, we were back on the road – feeling a little more secure with our food supplies almost full.
We finally entered San Raphael, we stopped for a few additional grocery items and a few more impressive looking pastries.
With our nutritional failure of a lunch break accomplished, we decided to find a local campsite. Preferring those slightly out of town due to lower cost, traffic, and noise, we found one on the GPS located 11 km to the north.
We rolled out of town and before we’d hardly been pedaling 10 minutes, we saw some big brick ruins that looked strikingly similar to the ruins we saw in Rome. Ben pulled over and we mused that we were probably looking at another aqueduct. We’d been so worried we would never find any aqueducts in France that we walked an awful long way to take a picture of it in Rome, and not even a week later, we’d stumbled on one on accident! We snapped a few more photos for Kim and hit the road.
For whatever reason, on any given day when we have about 10 km to go before we make camp, things tend to go downhill quickly. As soon as we decide we are “almost there” for the day, we almost always run into an enormous mountain, a routing problem, or a closed campground. Almost as soon as we rolled away from the aqueduct, the excitement began. First, the GPS routed us through a canal full of water (why this didn’t set off any red flags at the time, I’m still not sure) and then down a sketchy road which quickly turned to gravel and then to dirt.
Still, Ben was showing that we were about to meet up with a main road any second, so we pressed on. Unfortunately, the road we were heading toward was no longer in existance, so we headed down the dirt path even further hoping to somehow find access to the road ahead which we could see but not access. After a second stream crossing and once we had heaved the bikes through one of the steepest ditches of all time, we arrived in the parking lot of a grocery store which of course, led to an actual road.
Convinced that the crazy for the day was over, we were now only a couple of kilometers away from where we needed to be and we again began pedaling down an actual road toward camp. Soon, we saw the signs for the campground to which were heading. Usually when I see the sign for our campground on the road, the ridiculous climbing begins, but today I couldn’t spot any mountains, so I thought we were home free. But then, with only a kilmeter to go, we ran into a fenced road- an army base was in the way.
By now, I was getting fairly anxious to get to camp. I’d done my river crossings and pushed bikes out of a ditch and avoided rain clouds all day. I wanted to be in my tent, laying on my mat, just not doing anything for a while. I headed into the French Marines Museum and asked for directions. Sure enough, with a small detour on a busy highway, we could get to camping in just another couple of kilmeters.
We quickly found not one, but two campgrounds, and we risked riding down the ridiculously steep hill knowing we will have to ride back up it at some point when we leave. All this for a slightly more secluded and cheaper location. I’m glad once again to be warm, safe, and well fed in my tent in a campground that actually feels like camping in nature with trees and a river and plenty of space between us and our neighbors.
We broke out our camp and began making a pot of creamy potato soup with pears and cheese while we hung yesterday’s still damp laundry out to finish drying. Our evening was quickly filled with the process of cooking, dish washing, blogging, photo processing, and reciept sorting. Now it is off to bed, hoping for clear weather tomorrow.