Sunday, July 11, 2010

She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

We're back after a week's drive through France...via car, not train...all 1960 miles!
This is a model train (HO scale) from the Dortrecht Steam Festival we attended back in May and is a welcome back from traveling...and my way to also say it's my turn again at Vision and Verb.

My job is now cut out for go through my 1,000 photos and pare them down to half that number and then get them into collages. It was such an incredible experience to see France apart from Paris. It's like seeing Holland apart from Amsterdam. Seeing the real countryside and how the smaller villages look. I can tell you this: there's a huge difference between France and The Netherlands by landscape alone. I didn't expect, for instance, so much stone in the architecture of normal houses. Or so many hills and valleys. You'll see.

What maybe surprised me more than anything, however, is the proximity of France to Holland!

It was 50 km (31 mi) from our house south to the Belgium border, another 154 km (96 mi) through Belgium to the French border, and another 220 km (137 mi) to Paris. Pinch me: that's 424 km (263 mi) or 5.5 hours from our house to Paris! I'm still in shock. It's nothing for people here to drive to Paris for a long weekend! One day...maybe when you come to visit us.

Speaking of driving, that Granny Towanda sure knows what she's doing. Next trip I'll make a point of highlighting her a bit more. She deserves all the attention she can get!
(Top) our first B&B, in Thenioux. (Middle) at a small cemetery. (Bottom) at another cemetery.
(NO. That is not an omen. She is not ready to give up the ghost!)

Just a taste of a few activities in which Astrid is showcased. We saw more sunflowers than you can shake a stick at...raised for it's oil more than for its seeds. Our Dutch friends have their own spring-fed swimming hole, good for skinny-dipping. Yup. The Normandy coast was a must, in honor of those who came before us. And Mont St. Michel....
[Click on any collage and then on an individual image to enlarge.]

This was what we wanted to see more than anything else...and this is the first picture I took from several kilometers away. We arrived at 6:30 p.m., late in the day because we intended to stay till dark for time-lapsed images.

This was the last photo of Mont St. Michel, 11:15 p.m. In between photos, we walked all the way to the Abbey on top.

Next post I'll start being more specific about the entire experience. For now, this is the appetizer. The taste to whet your appetite. Or maybe to whet mine and get me in gear to tackle all my photos this week. I will love it.

It's summer vacation for school but I am allowed to still go to the Learning Center as long as it's open this coming week...followed by 3 weeks when the school is totally closed, and then another 3 weeks of Learning Center before school is back to full operation at the end of August. It's a 3-day schedule instead of the typical 4 days, but at least it will keep me up on things. I'm committed to maintaining my momentum.

A reminder again that it's my turn at Vision and Verb today.


  1. Ginnie, there so much to comment on in this post I didn't know where to start...until I got to that last photo.
    Oh. My. God. It's stunning. Absolutely gorgeous!!!!

    I've never been to Mont St Michel but haven't rules it out. When I think that I used to live just west of Paris and was so close (relatively) to it, but never made it, well, that's what happens when you just get tied up with kids and making the effort to go somewhere feels like work.

    And yes, isn't the smallness of Europe wonderful? I am only a 7-hour drive from Rome, which I did do with daughter once she was all grown up. It's incredible for anyone who has grown up with the vast distances of North America.
    We can go to Ventimigllia, just across the border, for the morning market (not that we ever do) but we have gone to Italy for the day.

    Your culling task will be fun, I hope, and I really look forward to seeing the results. Nearly 2000 miles is a LOT of travelling - a photo every 2 miles. Not bad!

    Now I'll go and find you at V&V.

  2. Your photos are so amazing as always and yes it is hard to know where to start...

    I remember loving looking at the fields of sunflowers. I never took enough photos, mostly maybe I was without my camera? I still love sunflowers, my fav flower!

    And the collage of things you did! You gals are so busy. You'd think you are a born again teenager again with how much you gals fit in into the day.

    And the visit to mont st michel, simply stunning! Yup, well worth staying there late! I just need the buddy to stay there with me to do that.. ;-)

    And 5.5 hours, yeah that is great to get to Paris for visitors (and I want to be one of your visitors!!!). I heard someone recently realize that Prague was only 3.5 hrs from Munich! Sometimes you are so close and you do not realize it...

    Can't wait to hear more!

  3. It is amazing that the pictures of the signs entering the country came out that good, while driving at least 70 miles an hour.
    We had a wonderful vacation, we drove a lot, saw a lot.
    Mont Saint Michel was fabulous and yes we made it to the top, you are a trooper!!!! they all know what they miss.....skinny dipping.....grin...that was fun and refreshing.
    Thanks for being my Soul Mate on vacation.

  4. Deborah: I've said it before and surely I'll say it again: I always eat up your comments which inspire and build me up to no end. Thank you, thank you.

    ET: It was hard to sit still but we actually did that a bit, Jen, and enjoyed our trip in every way, balancing the doing and going with the sitting around. Lots of good philosophical talking with our friends...something I haven't done in a long time. I needed that. Your time will come, I know...maybe here as our visitors.

    Astrid: I was very pleased by almost all the photos taken from the car through the front windshield. Totally amazing to me, too. How fun. We make good short AND long-distance car travelers. Now we know that for sure. And we both make good pilots and co-pilots. I love that we both can read maps well! :) We'll do it again soon, I'm sure. We ARE soul mates on vacation...and everywhere.

  5. Yes, a good appetite whetter!

    To think that Paris is just a little further from you than Chicago is from us makes me crazy . . . and ecstatic! We do also want to wander the countryside as you did. I hope we can one day. I look forward to more photos and experiences.

    Now over to V & V . . .

  6. WOW what a great holiday! I've driven all around France with my 2 sons about 5 years ago, it's so nice to get out of Paris and see the real France, but Paris is gorgeous too! You've had a wonderful holiday. Next time, I'm coming too!!!!

  7. Oh dear friend ... from your keyboard to the Goddesses ears, let me be the "you" that comes to visit one day, please!!

    I am amazed and excited to see and learn more of your adventure. Such fun and beauty - all around!

    Your final photo of Mont St. Michel took and continues to take my breath away - truly magnificent!

    Thank you for sharing!

    love and aloha to you and your soul mate as well.

  8. Your photos of Mont St Michel are so beautiful. When I was a teenager my mother and I rented a studio on the Mont St Michel for a week. There were not that many people there then and now I would be afraid to go back and see how it has changed.
    I know what you mean about the close proximity of all these countries and all their differences. Here when we drive 9 hours to Columbus, Ohio, at the bottom of my daughter’s street there is a CVS drugstore, just like the one at the end of my road - with the same merchandise and everything is in English! This is what I miss a lot. The USA is a beautiful country but apart from some of the landscape, so much is alike, the food is alike and I just read an article that from a poll taken among western industrialized countries the US were some of the most conformists people (wear the same type of clothes, eat the same types of food,) they gave many examples and the results were also from the way the people had answered. But then again some people prefer it that way, it is more reassuring.

  9. Looks like you had a great time. Some day my wife and I must get to Europe.

  10. Ruth: I knew you'd be crazy about Paris almost in our backyard. I still don't fathom it. One day maybe you can roam around France like we did. I saw so much of it through your eyes!

    Sham: So YOU know what we saw. I love that you did the same thing. It was important to me to see the real France...just like seeing Holland apart from Amsterdam. Next time, there will be room for you. :)

    Linda: If YOU could come some day, that would be heaven, Linda! Just say WHEN! It was such a wonderful, soulful trip.

    Vagabonde: What an adventure on Mont St. Michel as a teenager. It blows me away to think of that memory for you. You are so right about how much is different about the countries right next door to us, not like the States. You notice it most, of course, by the different languages as you cross the borders. I was very lucky that Astrid manages quite well with basic French, so we got along just fine, everywhere we went.

    Tim: Maybe you can plan a 5-year anniversary gift to yourselves! Start saving your nickles and dimes and just do it!

  11. I do miss the proximity to Paris and other European destinations. When I fly cross country, I am still amazed at the vastness of the United States and its sparse development in relation to Europe's.

    Once again I loved riding in the back seat of Granny T with you and Astrid as my tour guide.

    Skinny dipping, ooh la la! I'm afraid my bashful Chinese genes trump my Dutch genes in this regard :)

    Haven't been to Mont St. Michel yet, but it's on my bucket list.