Monday, July 18, 2005

camping recap

We got back Saturday evening and truth be told, I'm still recovering, in a classic case of "I need a vacation from my vacation." I'm still exhausted and my legs are like jello, but it was a great trip.

Monday, Steph's colleague Eric arrived, and after lunch we stuffed everything in our cars and took off for the departement of Jura. Our campsite was just outside of the town of Morez, about a three and a half hour drive from Troyes using the toll roads (which were totally worth the money!). We staked out our site and set up our tents - Steph getting one done in the blink of an eye while Eric and I struggled along for a small eternity. We ate dinner and for entertainment, gazed at a multitude of stars I never knew existed. Finally, I made my first nightly pilgrimage up the steep hill to the restroom facilities, which were admittedly better than expected.

Tuesday was hiking day. We drove about half an hour away to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it village of La Fromagerie and hiked to the Cascade de Herisson (Hedgehog Waterfall) and surrounding waterfalls. Round trip was between 4 and 5 kilometers, up and down a valley that reminded me of hiking along the Blue Ridge Mountains. I only fell on my ass once.

That night we lit up the barbecue for the first time, and ate the first of innumerable sausages. I think I'm good on sausages for about six months, thanks.

Wednesday we went to Switzerland for an ice cream.

OK, that's not exactly true. Looking for some lighter exercise after the greuling hike from the day before, we went on a pedal boat hunt. Drawn by the gigantic Lac Leman, we spent the afternoon in Nyon. We ended up just strolling around the town, giggling at the Monopoly money that is Swiss Francs (they are freakin' huge!), buying shoes (bwahahahhaha), pausing for a cool drink at a cafe, taking pictures, and finally, in order to get rid of our remaining Francs, buying ice cream from a street vendor. In the end, it was too hot to contemplate taking pedal boats on the lake.

That evening, we built our first campfire and listened to the fireworks in the neighboring towns celebrating Bastille Day (apparently the fireworks are often the night before) and I introduced the guys to the wonder that is roasted marshmallows.

Thursday was Walking Up Impossible Hills day. We started the day at a lake near Clarveaux les Lacs that had a nice little beachside. After a lakeside lunch, we jumped on a pedal boat and roasted in the sun for about half an hour before heading back to shore. I wish we'd brought our swimsuits that day - the water was freezing but after sitting in the sun I was ready for a dip in the lake.

We then went over to a neighboring lake and hiked down to the shore. Steph suggested we "take the road less traveled by," and it certainly "made all the difference" because I wanted to kill him. Dead ends, twenty foot drops, and a machete would have been nice at certain passages. We took the road back to the top, which was so steep I could only take baby steps in order to keep a steady pace. Once again, it was sausages and marshmallows to close out the day.

Friday was Game day. We loaded up supplies at nearby Longchaumois and parked in the common room of the campgrounds for most of the day, playing Mille Bornes and the like. When the temps cooled off, I played petanque for the first time, and was pleasantly surprised that it is exactly like the Italian game Bocce that I grew up with, except the balls are metal instead of wood. We played cards into the wee hours (which is 11pm if you're at a campsite) and prepared for our return to civilization the next day.

Steph had one more thing he wanted to do before we came home. Saturday morning, we stopped in the area of the town of Baume-les-Messieurs, which is famous for being surrounded by sheer 500 foot high cliffs on three sides. People like to hike up and down these cliffs for the heck of it. It's ten minutes down the cliffs, and around fifteen to go back up. We started at the top with the intention of eating lunch at the bottom before coming back up, and wouldn't you know it, I blew my knees out on the way down. I limped to the hot dog stand with the guys and ate my last sausage for what I hope is a long, long time. Steph offered to get the car and drive down to pick me up, but I knew going back up wouldn't be so stressful on my knees so I said I'd be ok. It took us twenty minutes to get back to the top, with lots of breaks. Eric made it back up in 12.5 minutes (oh to be young!). Then we drove home.

I'm still nursing my knees, and my legs are less jello-like than they were yesterday, but all is good. I did bring a disposable camera which I'm taking to be developed today, so I'll have some pics to put up at the end of the week or so.

Now we have a week to relax before Steph takes me to get my ass kicked in Northern France.

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