Monday, August 18, 2008

The Long and Winding Road

We woke up on Sunday morning to the sound of roosters cock-a-doodle-dooing. It was pretty amazing. I thought that was something that only happened in children's books but apparently that's what roosters really do. Who knew?

I also woke up with a scorpion bite. At least I think it's a scorpion bite. Jen thinks it's a bat bite. I think it has something to do with Gregg and Ross telling us that there were scorpions and bats in this part of France. Jen was most scared about the bats and I was most scared about the scorpions so naturally we have both latched on to our fears. Jen thinks I might have rabies. I'm sure it was just a mosquito. That being said, judging on the size of this welt on my arm it must have been a mosquito the size of a helicopter.

An unfortunate event befell Jen during our morning breakfast. Shortly before we left New York her dentist (who we both temporarily hate) decided to start a big tooth project on her but neglected to tell her she'd be leaving the country for some time, leaving the work undone. Her return to America -- from France, coincidentally -- coincided with our leaving America so Jen was stuck with a lousy temporary crown for about a month's time. Over a baguette with Nutella Jen's crown broke completely off leaving her missing a very cosmetically valuable tooth. Jen was a trooper and took it in stride as we went about our day.

We started the day by doing laundry. That may not sound exciting but doing our laundry after a week of wearing old clothes is exciting enough. Doing laundry in this idyllic setting makes it, dare I say, fun. Right across the narrow street from our apartment is a little stone hut set up with a beautiful washing machine, ironing board, and lines to hang dry your clothes. We started the laundry so that when we returned from our trip we would be able to hang them dry.

Our trip was to Vercors a mountain leading to a plateau that was the main headquarters of the French Resistance towards the end of World War II. Some friends of Gregg and Ross had a house out there and we were going for Sunday lunch. Apparently the house was over a mountain and in a valley with a spectacular view. That sounded like a nice leisurely drive through a picturesque backdrop.

We stopped by one of many places selling Clairette, a drink I was not familiar with before our trip. We sampled a few different types and then ended up buying a few bottles of their 1961 variety. That's the name of the Clairette, not the year, just in case anyone was thinking that Jen and I were suddenly high rollers. I assure you we are not.

They had a bunch of sample bottles of Clairette including the one above. Judging by the look in that photo I'm going to guess this is a 1992 vintage. I think it might have been an example of them putting a custom picture right onto the bottle. I would have gone with that exact picture. It would have been a really classy bottle to take to someone's dinner party or christening.

We journeyed from our place in La Bégude-de-Mazenc up through Cleon, Crest, Die and into Vercors. When I said my drive the previous day had been stressful I had no idea what I was in for on this occasion. This was a route that the Tour de France had taken last in 2005, a climb that was categorized as "benign." However, this was the most challenging drive I have ever done in my life. I would not classify driving as anything I've ever thought of as challenging before, but taking this car up and over a mountain was pretty intense. The streets were narrow and they twisted and turned relentlessly as we wound our way up the steep route. I can see why the Germans had such a tough time invading this part of France.

We had a great meal and an extremely scenic view from the house. We had a delicious curried courgette soup, some tasty puff pastry hors d'oeurvres, a rolled veal dish, roasted vegetables, drunken peaches and raspberries, plentiful cheese, cream-filled profiteroles and some great liqueurs including a local thyme-flavored liqueur.

On the way back down the mountain (slightly easier than the ascent) we stopped off to take some photos of the view. Of course photos cannot come close to showing how amazing the view was from the top of this peak. Knowing that ahead of time that did not stop us from taking a generous number of pictures and videos from our vantage point.

Jen also took some videos of the descent. If this climb was barely worth note during the Tour de France, I can't even imagine what it would be like driving up some of the other categorized climbs. This drive was a constant back-and-forth between second and third gear as I came around those hairpin turns and tried to avoid oncoming traffic and motorcycles.

When we returned back to The Magnanerie we finished our laundry and got ready for dinner. Mostly this consisted of Jen sitting around reading and me wandering around taking pictures of the rooms in our various apartments where we were staying.

This is a slightly different feeling from what we get when we do the laundry in the basement of our building back home where the washers seldom work, the driers seldom dry, the card reader gobbles up our money, and there is hardly ever a cooler full of wine.

I took about four hundred pictures of the various rooms in our apartments as we had a few minutes to spare between our trip and dinner.

For dinner we had some leftover rabbit as well as a delicious tomato basil salad and some more assorted cheeses. After dinner we retired to our apartment again where Jen read one of the multitude of books on our bookshelf. Jen spent about twenty minutes laughing so hard that I thought she was going to hyperventilate. It was a story of different peoples' travels and how this one woman had a baboon steal her toast rack. Jen is a big fan of primate antics.

Who can blame her, really?

1 comment:

uberlours said...

It is now perhaps appropriate to mention that Parisian "entrecote" could have come last in the 2.15 claiming race at Longchamps in the recent past.