a few words about miss chelsea elizabeth...

she likes: making kites, dancing in the rain, adventures, little-while friends, letters, whole-leaf tea, crayons, bare feet, jumping in rivers/streams/creeks/waterfalls, language, catching the clock as it changes numbers, sleepovers, trains (big or small), cuddling & waking up before the sun rises, among other random things.

oregon-born, seattle-raised, bellingham-bred and franco-refined, she had moved back to the states from her affairs across the atlantic & now resides in columbia city with french husband & love of her life rémy. they spend most of their time taming the garden, taking care of their three chickens & two cats, and preparing the urban homestead for a new little chick of their own.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


so i/ve been doing a bit of painting in all this spare time of mine...


thank you, mr. timmons.




miss erin kelly.

[click on the images to see a larger version.]

just thought i/d share.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

yeah, so

it/s decided: i/ll be in europe for the summer.

rock & roll.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

hide & seek

well, i/ve figured out how to hide & cut: how to put the majority of a lengthy post behind a link to cut down on the time it takes to load the page. (this seemed to be a problem after the 3242352 pictures from spain.)

what i can/t figure out is how to change the coding so the link only shows up when i want it. for now it appears on every post, which i don/t really fancy when the post is only a few lines long.

so what i am going to do is make it into a little heart. i/ll let you know if there/s more to a post, but if there isn/t, there will just be a little heart at the end of every page, to let me know how much i love you all.

(there/s more here.)

just to make sure this works. tra la la. ha ha i hid text from you.

ok. happy reading.


this is to see if i start a post... ... i can add a cut to the rest of it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

that is the question(s)

to go or to stay. to come or to go. to work or to play. to study or to explore. to be or not to be.

yes, indeed. these are the questions keeping me from sleep each night.

we/re coming to the end of an era here and i/ve found myself at a junction in this road. a fork, if you will. but the possibilities of which direction i want to keep walking in are endless. there are just too many. they all look alluring. they all tempt me. & i would be content with any one of them. no one can make my decision for me but me, and nothing is stopping me from giving any one a try. but i feel stuck here. cemented to the ground. i have a hard time even shuffling my feet, and it/s taking me a bit longer than i/d like to figure this all out. i was starting to worry.

do i stay in france?
do i come back to the states?
if so, where? bellevue? seattle? snohomish? bellingham? some other city in the area?
if so, how long do i stay? just long enough to see my friends & family? through the holidays? indefinitely?
do i look for work?
if so, do i look for something i will enjoy? something i want to pursue as a possible career? or just a "petit boulot" to make me enough cash to get by?
if so, do i look for a place to live? or do a crash with friends and family for a little while. a lease means commitment. do i want to commit myself to staying in a certain place for a certain amount of time?
do i want to come back to france?
if so, do i want to come back to clermont-ferrand?
if so, will i be coming back for me, or just because of remy?
do i want to spend the rest, or a large portion of my life with this one, and is my love for him a big enough factor to pull me back half way across the world, away from my friends, my family, my roots, and everything i had come to love & associate myself with for the past 22 years?

callie & i opened up channels of energy last night. with the four elements present we delved into what/s really at the root of these problems. of these questions. trying to find what about the answers is truly important. the positive energy we created was healing. it hurt at first. it always does. opening up old wounds and deep-seeded issues in an effort to find a way to transform the negative energy into positive forces. veritable transformers, as callie put it. and i think i figured out what part of the problem for me is.

i feel like i haven/t been grounded for quite some time. as if there is no reference point for me to see where i am, where i am going, where i have been. chelsea in france is much different than chelsea in bellingham, is much different than chelsea in seattle, is much different than chelsea in bellevue is much different than chelsea in taiwan, is much different than chelsea on the road. of course there are still elements of me that remain the same, but i feel i have no way to check my progress as i move from one world to the next. i suddenly show up on a new map, and where i was physically, mentally, emotionally is all off somewhere on a different map that no longer exists. and the map i had of this place i/ve come to is an old, out-dated map. with countries that no longer exist and borders that have since changed. i can/t place myself. my compass points in the wrong direction and i thus lose all sense of direction. my instincts fail because they/re misplaced.

what i/m working on, therefore, is finding something within me to ground me. within each world. within myself. something i can use as a control. something that won/t change. & recognizing, acknowledging where the work needs to happen is the first step. it will take time, and i know this, but this is a start. i need to really listen to the universe, listen to my energy, listen to my body & my mind and it will slowly loosen the knots and help me see where i/m standing.

for now, i/m coming to the northwest. i won/t say i/m coming "home" because for a long time now "home" has been where i am at a moment in time. en effet, "home", where i feel i truly belong, just might be what i am searching for in all of this. & i know i haven/t found it yet. which is why i feel drawn to other corners of the globe trying to find it. but for now, i/m coming back to the northwest. i don/t know how. i don/t know when. i don/t know exactly where or for how long. but i know that i am coming, and that truth is enough in itself for right now. i/ll let the rest of the pieces fall into place as they do, and learn how to accept their energies as they come.

which i guess when it comes right down to it means...

i/ll be seeing you.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

a sizable adventure: part 1 [southern france]

the set up: "easter break" 2008. chelsea has two weeks off, remy takes two weeks off.
the plan: take the train down to southern france & ride our bikes to barcelona.
time frame: sunday, april 13 - sunday, april 27
why: umm, it/s spring, we like bikes & spain was calling. also to test out our bikes & gear, sort of a test run for the world tour to come.

the players:

monsieur rémy andré.
studied graphics & media in school, wants to be cinematographer, director, filmmaker.
currently making $$ as a server in a popular bar, trying to save up for riding bicycles around the world (info to come) & filming it.
[please note the sexy sunglasses. chelsea won them in a bar on st.patrick/s day for "being irish" (because anyone speaking english is simultaneously english, irish, welsh, australian & american).]

(check out the rest of this adventure...)
miss chelsea elizabeth.
graduated cum laude from western washington university with two degrees: french & history (of africa & the middle east). taught english in taiwan, now teaching english in france, this girl has discovered that just speaking english facilitates world travel.
wants to do just that: travel, take pictures & write a book or two.
in the process of saving up $$ for riding her bicycle around the world (info to come).
[note she is mid-cough in this photo. very sexy. please also note that she is coughing "correctly", meaning into the crease of the elbow, the only way to truly keep those sexy germs from easily spreading through hand-to-hand contact.]

day one:
sunday, april 13, 2008
train from clermont-ferrand, france to nîmes, france
bike from train station in nîmes to rémy/s aunt/s house in clarensac, france
trip distance: 15.53 km
trip time: 0:59:09

the fluffy fluffy down comforter on the bed at rémy/s aunt/s house.
last night in a bed...

geared up & ready to go, meet my beautiful bicycle, clementine.
we had a bit of a set-back right before leaving, regarding panniers, so let me explain. what you see on my bicycle are actually bags rémy found last minute at an army surplus store, fashioned into panniers with the help of a few bungee cords. we had originally planned on ordering lone peak sets of front & rear panniers and handlebar bags, as well as front racks (with our front suspension we need a specific type of baggage rack for the front) from wayne at thetouringstore in the states. however, after discussing the matter, we decided that paying the cost of shipping & customs duties would not be worth it, as well as the fact that the whole reason we enjoy traveling by bicycle is the little impact it has on the environment. shipping panniers from half way across the globe seemed a bit counter-intuitive. but wayne is a really great guy. if you/re anywhere in the states & you/re considering buying panniers i would look into his site. he/s gives great advice, too.

we looked in local shops, but they didn/t have exactly what we were looking for. we eventually found standard panniers at decathlon, and while they are much cheaper than ortlieb or arkel & the like, we decided to give them a shot. if they weren/t as spacious as we wanted, we could easily use them for our front panniers later on.

well, what was supposed to take 8 days to ship, began to take over 2 weeks. and when we called to figure out what was going on we were informed that our order hadn/t even been put together yet. it wouldn/t arrive until much later, the 18th of april. obviously this was almost a week after we would have already left and did not work for us. so we canceled the order & i freaked out. rémy, as per usual, remained entirely calm & confident we would work something out, which is exactly what he did. so voila, makeshift panniers.

they may not be as pretty as other people/s "normal" panniers, but being originally designated for the army, my makeshift panniers do have their benefits. not only are they waterproof, should anyone decide to try to blow us up, they should withstand any sort of ambush. i may not be blow-up proof, but my dirty undies will remain intact. good to know.

day two:
monday, april 14, 2008
bike from clarensac --> sommière on la voie verte --> montpellier --> the sea --> villeneuve --> random camping spot by a pond
trip distance: 79.99 km
trip time: 5:31:24
average speed: 14.48 km/h
max speed: 43.67 km/h
total odometer: 95.52 km

rémy/s aunt told us about "la voie verte" (the green track), a bike trail that went from her town all the way to the outskirts of montpellier, which was our destination of the day. it used to be an old railroad line, which they renovated & paved over & is now a pretty & tranquil little trail.

all cities should have this. it is SO incredible to have somewhere for bikes only. away from yucky cars & traffic & pollution.

what i quickly learned is that most of southern france looks a lot like this: vineyards, vineyards and more vineyards.

and (at least in spring), this: flowers flowers & more wildflowers. which (you probably already kn0w) i am a huge fan of. could not have asked for a more perfect first day.

the green bicycle man.

the trail ended here: in sommiere, which was a beautiful town with a beautiful river running through it. very quiet, very country.

and with not many cars on the road. to bother us.

as we got closer to the big city, however, things began to change.
while most tags in france are worthless, i actually couldn/t agree more here.

quick water break.

montpellier/s a very well-organized city. it has an extensive tram system & a great series of parks. a few hostels as well. but, arriving in the afternoon as we did, we decided to head east & search for the ocean. well, the sea. at this point i still had never seen the mediterranean & it had been seven months since seeing any ocean. coming from bellingham, where i watch the sunset every night over the bay, this was something i was looking forward to.

we rode a bit around the city, but didn/t stay too long. asked a kid for directions to the nearest beach ("you/re going there on bike!? it/s like, 15km!") & took off.

and this is what we found. my first view of the "sea".

turns out it/s not really the sea... it/s an "étang", which... i/m not really sure what that is in english actually. i mean, the direct definition is "pool" or "pond" or "small lake" or something like that, but there are a whole series of them that line the sea. like, there/s just a thin thin strip of land that separates these "lakes" from the sea & i/m not sure if there/s a specific word for it in english. anyway. it was that, not the sea. sort of disappointing when i found that out. oh well. pretty nonetheless.

we decided to trek on. and let me interject that today was a day of fierce headwinds. i/m actually surprised we made the progress we did. there were some storms a brewing in the south at the time, and a result of that changing pressure was intense winds from the coast inland. since we had decided to follow the coast, we had a 50/50 chance of either having fierce headwinds or tailwinds. unfortunately it seems like the entire time we were heading south we were facing the wind.

now for those of you who don/t ride long distances on bicycles, a strong headwind for hours at a time can be just as tiring or moreso than a day of mountains. mostly because for the most part you don/t really realize how hard you/re working. until you stop for some reason & realize you/re exhausted.

around 16:30 we decided it was time to find a place to camp for the night. we found a secluded spot in between towns next to a fair-sized pond & pitched the tent & asked a nice old lady who lived in a house nearby if we could fill up our waterbottles. she was super nice and reassured us that the lot we were camped in was owned by someone who was never there, and we shouldn/t worry about being harassed by anyone because there was almost no one for quite some distance.

please note my fabulous biker tan. this is from the first day. and this exact line stuck with me for the entire duration of the trip.

camp. the pond is to your left. there is a vineyard a ways away to the right.

even rémy, despite his insistence that being italian means you never need to wear sunscreen, got too much sun that first day.

static in the tent. this got old, fast. but rémy always found delight in my hair.

day three:
tuesday, april 15, 2008
bike from villeneuve --> sete --> agde --> on the N112 with too much traffic --> béziers --> follow the canal du midi --> camping at colombiers
trip distance: 83.84 km
trip time: 6:23:14
average speed: 13.12 km/h
max speed: 36.08 km/h
total odometer: 179.36 km

first real morning, i guess. can you tell it/s early in the trip?

we/re both clean & happy.
me with clementine & joël. our fabulous bicycles.

sete is a beautiful coastal town. if southern france interests you, this is a place to visit. caters to tourists, i suppose, but not too touristy. the canal gives it a slight venice-feel. and to the left is the sea. the beautiful magnificent mediterranean sea.

ma mer. enfin.
i had to stop & take it all in for a few minutes.

there is something about this blue that just fascinates me. she captivates me, holds me captive, keeps me prisoner in her azur gaze. it/s not the grey-blue of the pacific or the deep blue of the atlantic or even the aqua greens of the taiwan straight and the east china sea. it/s this ever-changing hue, so brilliant it washes out the sky.

we stopped at a bakery & butchery & market to get some supplies for lunch.

from sete to agde the road hugs the coast. a small, two-lane highway with moderate traffic & moderate wind. we decided to stop for lunch. & i decided to dip my toes in the sea. i wanted to swim but it was a tad bit too-effing-cold.

chaco pride.

from sete we faced headwinds to agde, then headed inland toward béziers. the road system in france is multi-faceted. looking at a map, one can generally decipher the level of traffic to be faced on said road. A-xxx designates "l'autoroute" (the freeway), roads that extend all across europe, through various countries, but which is illegal for bicycles (& thank god for that. it/s ugly & crowded & french people drive a million km/h.). N-xxx designates "la route nationale" or the main highways that are maintained by france as a nation. and D-xxx means it is "departmental", or that it is within each department (of which there are 100 in france; a department is much like a county in the states, and is about 3 times the size of the average county just to give you an idea) to take care of the roads. this means that D is for desirable & A is to be avoided. N is never predictable. it/s always hit or miss.

anyway, we followed the N112 inland toward béziers & quickly discovered it was a miss. there was MUCH too much traffic, too many ginormous semis for anyone/s liking, and we were still facing the evil headwind, an unwelcome friend which we soon came to call voldemort. (every time rémy mentioned that there was no wind, the wind started up again, more vicious than before. so he started saying "you-know-who isn/t here anymore" instead. which then naturally lead to voldemort. anyway...)

traveling on a road you hate means taking any excuse to get away from it for a bit.

so we took a snack break in a vineyard.

when we finally arrived in béziers, we were exhausted & trying to decide whether to push on to the countryside & find a place to camp or not. a stop at the tourist office for some maps lead us to a trail following the canal that might provide a camp site.

béziers is beautiful. it is currently my favourite city in france. well organized. untouristy. it sits atop a large bluff overlooking the river orb. it/s only about 10km from the sea & it is here that the famed canal du midi starts, making it/s way all the way south west to toulouse. i/m not really sure why i love this city so much, but i do. we debated staying an extra day or two here to soak it all in, but we had to change trains here on the way back, and figured we could spend a few hours dinking around then.

nothing like a good cold beer at the end of a day in the saddle. definitely went to my head quicker than expected. a nice little rest in the fading evening light before finding the canal.

the path that follows the canal is beautiful. and it was here that we met our own personal guide (while asking where the trail was) who followed us a ways, giving us our own personal tour of the city.

the river orb. in the distance is a chain of mountains (which is not the pyrénées) the name of which eludes me, featuring what appears to be the face of a woman. on the hill to the right is the main cathedral which overlooks the city.

this was our enthusiastic tour guide. i never caught his name, and his ridiculous southern accent caused me to miss about half of what he was saying, but he was super nice & super eager to share all that he knew about the city with us.

part of which being the "fonseranes", otherwise known as the "neuf écluses" (the nine locks). apparently back in the day the city constructed a series of nine (yes, count them, nine) locks, as in the ballard locks, to transport boats from the river orb all the way up to the newly constructed canal du midi (which he actually informed us starts all the way in sete; in fact, the city was founded there for that very reason - to be the mediterranean port at the end of the canal). the canal is pretty high up; if you look at where the cathedral is, it/s closer to that height than to the height of the river. so this complex series of locks was designed to slowly transport a ship from the river all the way up the canal. all in all, a boat traveling from start to finish will travel 312m of length and is transfered 25m (about 82 feet) higher than the river. think about it; that/s at least a six or seven story building. pretty wicked.

(the above picture is half way up, looking up towards the canal du midi.
the picture below is half way up, looking down towards the river orb.)

the problem is that going through nine locks takes a helluva long time. so the city more recently (as in, sometime in the XIX or XX century) decided to build one giant locks, that can transport the ships directly from the river to the canal and vice versa. however, with 25m (82ft) from river to canal, they had nothing but problems keeping the water from leaking. this became a costly issue, and they realized that the neuf écluses was actually the way to go.

it is this system that is used today.

we followed the canal into the country on our way to the small village of colombiers where we heard we might find a campground.

the canal was beautiful. obviously no traffic. the occasional pedestrian. fading evening light. ducks & frogs. i would have loved to follow this canal all the way to toulouse.

the lady who ran the campground was incredibly nice & cut us a deal for pitching just a tent, considering we had no car, no camper, no mobile home. this was rare, however. why pitching a tent should cost more than 5-10 euros is beyond me. quite ridiculous & nothing like camping back home. but here we only paid 9 euros for the two of us. & warm showers & a place to do dishes was quite welcome.

day four:
wednesday, april 16, 2008
bike from camp site at colombiers --> follow the canal du midi --> D-37 --> capestang --> D-16 to narbonne --> another trail following the canal --> nice lady/s vineyard
trip distance: 38.15km
trip time 3:02:17
average speed: 12.56 km/h
max speed: 32.75 km/h
total odometer: 217.51 km

this campground was pretty standard for campgrounds in france, which are incredibly different from campgrounds in the states (at least the ones i am familiar with) & let me tell you why. in france, a campground always, ALWAYS has the following elements: flush toilets, warm showers, sinks to wash dishes, mirrors, drinking water, a room for laundry with washing machines & sometimes dryers, and hook-ups for people who need electricity. sometimes there are other added bonuses like restaurants & bars & grocery stores, or heated pools & child care & gift shops. most of them have guest houses or empty mobile homes that people rent out, and the majority of guests are elderly people in their campers.

maybe i/m missing something in the definition of camping, but it seems to me that it is impossible to find a campground solely intended for pitching a tent. campgrounds are for tourists. who can/t not shower or be away from a hair dryer for prolonged periods of time. well-off travelers. meaning that camping is expensive. even when all you have is a tent.

anyway, the first campground here in colombiers was average. no pool or restaurant/bar, but a warm shower was nice. however, that night the storms started a brewing & the temperature dropped & was so ridiculously cold we could hardly sleep. causing us to sleep in much longer than we had originally planned.

when we finally headed out (around noon!!) we followed the canal not 4 km until...

our first (and miraculously only) flat of the trip.

getting a flat is never the end of the world, it/s just a pain in the ass to have to unload & then reload a fully loaded bicycle.

plus we had some problems because the frame for my wheel does not fit standard tubes, only special ones with special valves you can/t fill up at the gas station. and we had assumed that, even though my tube had been fancy shmancy before, that we could replace it with a standard one. this was not the case. and we only had a patched tube with a fancy valve, which made me nervous. not really desiring multiple flats in a day. luckily it was never again a problem.

we found a road that ran alongside the canal & decided to follow it (our logic being it was better to stick to roads until we could find a store & buy another tube just in case). turned out to be a great idea. there was almost no traffic & it wound through vineyards & passed by castles & cathedrals. truly beautiful.

we found the canal again on our way into narbonnes. we stopped by the tourist office for some maps, found a sports store to buy a new tube & then followed the canal out of the city.

it was beautiful, but it was evident that the brewing storm was finally going to reach us.

i was suffering from the afternoon nausea that had become a daily thing at this point, and had a hard time appreciating the scenery. it was quite pretty, however. very green. (although i guess that/s to be expected on a cloudy day...)

we ran into a lady sitting by the side of the canal & asked her if she knew a place where it was safe to pitch our tent, or a campground nearby. she said she was friends with the lady who owned the land we were on; all the buildings & the vineyards & the pastures. she said if we found a spot we could stay as long as we wanted. she was very very nice.

we found a spot next to the vineyard behind this building & set up camp. with me feeling ill, rémy was forced to play chef, a role which he soon came to love.

rémy used my crocs while he was cooking & thus began an obsession that has ceased to lessen even the slightest bit. he wants a pair of his own but they don/t sell them in france. anywhere. which is ironic because they were EVERYWHERE in spain, but we were on a budget so decided to look when we came back. so funny. anyway. his whole family used to make serious fun of me for these shoes, and now he/s obsessed. oh, irony. i suppose we/ll end up buying them online (in the states, since they/re twice the cost on the european website) but he can/t make up his mind on a colour. decisions decisions...

the chef concocting a mixture of the random food we had.

it looks nasty, but it/s actually bitchin. rice with some mediterranean sauce, mixed with brie. very good.

taking a hint from the night before, we decided to fight the cold by wearing almost every item of clothing we own. we should invest in those sleeping bags that can zip into each other, is really what we should do. but our effort seemed to work out okay.

day five:
thursday, april 17, 2008
bike from nice lady/s vineyard --> ile de saint lucie --> port la nouvelle --> POURING RAIN --> sigéan --> cheap hotel in perpignan
trip distance: 75.48 km
trip time: 6:08:57
average speed: 12.27 km/h
max speed: 38.93 km/h
total odometer: 292.99 km

i woke to coffee & a wildflower.
i am pretty lucky...

the nice lady/s vineyard.

we were a bit worried that it would pour all day. we had been warned since the beginning that thursday was not going to be nice, weather-wise. but all the scary-looking clouds seemed to be heading diagonally northwest from the sea over to narbonnes, which we had already passed through. we debated waiting it out, but decided that we/d rather make progress as long as it wasn/t raining & if it was necessary we/d stop later in the day.

what we didn/t take into account was the headwind. the canal at this point basically hugged the coast, with only a tiny strip of land (the trail we were following) separating it and the ocean. this meant that there was NOTHING to block the wind. we faced fierce headwinds all day, and at times intense sidewinds as well.

at one point the winds were so strong that they knocked my favourite north face gloves out of my pocket & swept them somewhere unknown. these are my favourite gloves that i literally use every day. rémy was a sweetie & went back quite a ways to look for them for me, even when it meant he had to come all the way back in the same headwinds, but to no avail. they were gone forever. this is my sad i-just-lost-my-favourite-gloves-and-it/s-really-fucking-windy face.

as we neared the "ile de saint lucie" the flora became more and more exotic. unlike any trees & flowers & foliage i have ever seen.

the nice lady had told us that the island was a must-see. apparently it/s a little treasure of flora & fauna. she says it could easily be mistaken for somewhere on the island of martinique. i/ve never been there, so i can/t tell you whether or not her description was accurate, and it was really cloudy & grey, so it/s probably a lot different when it/s nice out, but it was definitely something else.

i swear the trees were baobabs and the paysage in general was what i could only describe as african. beautiful.

we reached the coastal town of port la nouvelle where we stopped so rémy could use the facilities.

sleepy little port town, doesn/t look like it gets many visitors, but pretty to look at.

this, for some reason, reminded me too much of charith cutestory the maritime lawyer.

the coastal route we had planned was literally impossible. with voldemort coming at us straight on we could literally not get above 6 or 7 km/h, which is pretty damn slow. we still had quite a ways to perpignan, which we was the city we had planned to bypass by the afternoon, and i got incredibly frustrated & pissy. rémy tried to calm me down & just when i was ready to hop back in the saddle (following a busier, but less windy inland route) it began to rain. sprinkles at first, but the kind of sprinkle where the drops are ginormous & you just know it/s going to pour. we stopped & made sure our gear was covered, put on our ponchos & braved it, but it wasn/t super fun. heading inland meant less wind but more hills. coming from clermont (and further back bellingham) hills aren/t a big deal, but when it/s pouring rain & you/ve been facing headwinds all morning it can get old fast.

the last 15km into perpignan were on a national highway, meaning multiple lanes and heavy traffic, in pouring rain. the kind of pouring rain where you can/t see more than a few meters in front of yourself.

when we got to perpignan we were soaking through & through. the tourist office was closed (we got there at 6:05, when it closed at 6, of course) and no one we asked knew anything about campsites in the area. we decided to check into the city/s only hostel to give us some space to dry all our gear & maybe take a warm shower. unfortunately the hostel was part of the official global hostel association, with membership a strict requirement if you want to stay. one of us would have to become a member, pay dues & the other would have to pay a special tax for not being a member. all in all it came to 50 euros, which was NOT in our budget. the lady pointed us in the direction of cheap hotels near the train station & we found a sweet room for two people with a shower AND a balcony for about 30 euros.

the room was quickly a disaster, with all of our wet gear strewn about to dry. it was nice to be in a bed. we slept well & we slept late. again.

day six:
friday, april 18, 2008
bike from hotel in perpignan --> cabestany --> saleilles --> saint cyprien --> argeles --> beautiful camping site on the coast, just outside of collioure
trip distance: 37.05 km
trip time: 3:12:31
average speed: 11.54 km/h
max speed: 34.18 km/h
total odometer: 330.04 km

once again we got a late start. we weren/t sure whether or not to continue all the way to spain (as we had originally planned) or to find somewhere just out of time to wait out the rain. not because we can/t deal with rain, but because we wanted to ride along the coast into spain because it/s especially beautiful, and riding in the pouring rain tends to take the aesthetic pleasure out of your surroundings.

we decided to play it by ear. go as long as we wanted to.

this is why cars suck.
the scariest part isn/t even the car, though, it/s the scary-ass clouds that are exactly where we were heading. seriously it seemed every time the clouds changed, the signs telling us where the city we wanted to go to was changed, too.

rémy stopped to prepare himself for the rain again.

we decided these lampposts must have been designed by either a) someone on serious drugs, b) a misdirected artist or c) a misdirected artist on serious drugs.

i think rémy being prepared this time made the sun come out.

we watched black clouds roll towards us until one was kind enough to release all of its rain on us. so we checked in to the only campsite in the area, a three star campsite, which was more classy than any hotel i/ve ever stayed in. (this would be the campsite that had a bar, and a restaurant, and a heated pool, etc etc.)

our neighbors were a BEAUTIFUL family of explorers. an absolutely beautiful young-ish french man and his three beautiful sons & what we decided had to be his mother (although in reality i think she was actually his wife because the kids kept calling her mom... but she was so... old! and just not as beautiful as the others & didn/t seem to really enjoy being outdoors... it was weird) who did nothing but things i want to do with my husband and children.

when we got there they were preparing to go scuba diving. the youngest kid was absolutely adorable in his wet suit, especially when trying to climb stairs. it was like watching a penguin try to climb stairs. an aqua green penguin with beautiful curly hair.

the beautiful patriarch.
i swear, if he wasn/t married with three kids, and if i wasn/t madly in love with rémy...

rémy is a big fan of putting cream on everything. like, on pasta, or pizza, or rice, or anything really. we had stopped by the store that afternoon & rémy had picked up some cream to make dinner, without really looking at it. when i saw that he was pouring unwhipped whipped cream into our pasta i burst out laughing.

but then later when we showed his mom the pictures she said that/s the same cream they normally use. so i guess the joke/s on me. i wonder how much fatty mcfatterson cream i/ve consumed since being in france.

it was a damn good meal, though.

compliments to the chef.

after dinner we decided to check out the extensive series of paths that overlook the water & the private beaches that are all boasted as perks of this camp site. we had initially just checked in because it was pouring, but the weather cleared after dinner & we watched a beautiful sunset on the coast.

one of the private beaches.

i explored. it was glorious.

i belong somewhere near the ocean.

found a cave. it was pretty groovy.


as night came, the clouds rolled in once more. pretty ominous.

we spent the evening listening to the rain & perfecting our shadow puppets. i/m getting pretty damn good at foxes & rabbits. rémy/s good at bears, which is fitting since with his hair as long as it is he practically is one. he also got creative with the tp. cute, bibi, cute.

day seven:
saturday, april 19, 2008
bike from camp near collioure --> port vendres --> banyuls sur mer --> cerbere --> SPAIN!!! --> portbou --> llanca --> failed attempt at the GR92 --> camping at port de la selva
trip distance: 53.68km
trip time: 4:40:29
average speed: 11.48 km/h
max speed: 49.37 km/h
total odometer: 383.72 km

luckily when we woke the next morning the skies were clear & it appeared the storm had passed. we headed south, knowing we would touch spain sometime in the afternoon. it was a day of mountains, as we would be passing through the coastal pyrénées that divide france from spain. the climbs were pretty steep, but we already had our road legs and the views were magnificent.

stop for photo opp.

i thought this was fake until i got closer to take a picture & it flew off, nearly giving me a heart attack.

the mountains were incredible. i LOVE climbing. especially on a day like this. sun, but not too hot. mediterranean sea to my left. pyrénées to my right. wind in my hair. and climbing means descending, which is the closest to flying i/ve ever gotten.

it was a beautiful morning.

almost at the border, this is france (above picture)
and this is spain in the distance (picture below).

me looking gross & not at all amused, just before the border.

this was taken right before our very last (and most intense) 6km climb to the border. steep, unforgiving, with breathtaking views. literally every car that passed had at least one gaping jaw. fully loaded touring cyclists are not the norm on this route, but to anyone touring, i highly recommend this route.

we said goodbye to france, we hopped in the saddle & we climbed on towards spain...

[to be continued]