Tuesday, June 7, 2011

no beard.

Time: 8:29 am… What a peculiar time

Location: sitting on my couch... in my room

Weather: Good lookin’ mornin’, no signs o’ rain

Haut-Alps de Provence
2 june

Well I am back from the mountain and contrary to a joke; I did not come back with a grizzled beard. Ok, pause for a thought: synonyms of “grizzled” are: greyish, greying, salt-and-pepper and grey. Grizzly bears are brown, are they not? Something is not adding up in my mind…

So back to the mountain and the tale that comes with it.
Roxanne got loose

Marwann, Roxanne, Iness and I
Friday was l’Ascension, some kind of holiday here that I had never heard of. I even looked at my calendar which is full of all kinds of holidays from all over the world (even including Quebec) and it was not on there. Everyone was surprised that I had no clue about it, but hey, all I know is that May always feels like the longest month with its ONE long weekend, for Victoria Day. Anyway, teachers and students went to school on Wednesday so that they could get Thursday off, creating one of those legendary FOUR DAY WEEKENDS!! The ones where kids like Marwann tell me that “You know that we have more days off than we have to go to school this week?”
He fits in the cupboard..
Playing Rumikub

Thursday morning we’re all packed up and head out towards Pra-Loup, the rain starting nearly exactly as we closed the car door. Normally a two to two and half hour drive, it took us a solid three hours due to that unrelenting rain. A great sign for the weekend eh?
Double Trouble

En route, we keep crossing this weird winding canal. Finally I ask Sophie what the deal is with this canal. This canal, La Durance, brings water across Southern France. The water springs from a lake right at the base of the mountains (I can’t remember if it was man made or not) and has The Bluest water I have ever seen. Almost to the point where it is green. The South, normally being a hot and dry place has a slight problem with water, so La Durance brings water all across the region all the way down to Marseille.

Sophie's impeccable form

3 june

Another thing I got the facts on was all these tolls on the roads. Somehow, it has come to be that large companies can actually buy the roads here, thus creating tolls so they can reap in millions and millions and probably billions of Euros. The tolls in Southern France are the most expensive in France because of it being a touristy area. The private tolls are really costly, 13 euro to go from Aix to Cannes, but have roads that have higher speed limits and are in far better condition, but also come with much more traffic, especially on long weekends and holidays. It comes down to weighing the pros and cons of your situation, as well as how well you know all these windy little country roads, as well as if you’ve got nerves of steel to drive some of them.

1800 meters above sea level, and surrounded by mountains, we arrive in Pra-Loup. We were instantly welcomed by all the employees, who all know the family really well, as well as by Imed and his brother, Nizar. It was a happy little reunion.
Fam Jam at the bolwing alley

Luckily we made it just in time to grab the last of the day’s lunch at the hotel, and then we got ourselves installed in a room. The rain was still pouring down on us, so we couldn’t do any of the outside activities. Luckily we love Uno, Clue and some number game called Rumikub. We also had an insane cannon ball contest between the three of us (Marwann, Iness and I) in the pool, drenching the whole area from the roof to the windows.

Prairie kid in the mountains:
prepare for a lot of mountainous photos

clouds lookin like smoke

After dinner there was a music game in the commons/lounge area, so Marwann and I teamed up to see if we could win a prize. Sadly neither of us are overly knowledgeable when it comes to TV commercial music, TV series’ tunes, TV shows’ music, film music and Disney songs. I thought that I’d do ok at the Disney songs, but just like all the other songs they played, they were in French and I was absolutely clueless. Except for one, but I answered in English so it did not count… Haha

Friday it rained even more, and after the sixth came of Clue I decided we HAD to do something outside, even if it was raining. Thankfully Sophie came to the rescue with an idea to go down to Barcelonette, the town that is a couple hundred meters below.

We went and walked around Barcelonette, looked in some shops, and went bowling. Barcelonette has some kind of deal with Mexico and has a lot of Mexican shops and restaurants. It also has a really big jazz festival each July featuring Al Jarreau, if you know who he is, ‘coz I had no clue. The bowling was really fun, especially since it was ten pin and even with the lightest balls Iness and Marwann still ended up literally throwing them half way towards the pins.
View from a 4th level window in Pra-Loup
Barcelonette is on the right, above the pines
Wicked coloring

Even if the rain had let up a bit in Barcelonette, we were still in the clouds up in Pra-Loup as getting miserably drenched. Although the weather was not the best, I still loved seeing the mountains and just how huge they were. That sounds funny, but I really could have sat in front of a window for an hour or two and just watch the never ending parade of clouds pass up on by.

After dinner the Soirée Dansant did not last too long for the kids, but just long enough for me to learn the French version of the Macarena and realize that I know all the words to the YMCA. Some things are best left unknown.
Two bumps on the left are the
Gendarme's Hat,
and the pointy on the right has something
to do with sugar...

Finally on Saturday there was sunshine. Iness, Marwann and I started off the day with a couple games of petanque then geared up to do some mountain biking. Minutes after we left we were covered in mud, but it was ok. We explored the trails and found a deer crossing as well a number of huts along the way. We got to the end of the trail and took in the amazing view of the mountain valley. We started heading back but came across Sophie walking her bike that had broken somehow. We turned around yet again and continued on foot to go find the source of the sound of some cascading water. Time pressing us to make our 12’noon tennis time plus the fact that we never found the actual water, we headed back for real. Luckily for Sophie, it was downhill the majority of the way back so we weren’t too late. . I was absolutely covered in mud and grease when we got back. After days of rain, it was to be expected, but adding in needing to realign Marwann’s bike, fixing chains and kids that all of a sudden stop right in front of you, right in front of a puddle, yeah, I was dirty. Back at the hotel, Marwann and I played for our remaining 45 minutes on the courts then headed back up to wash up for lunch.
Somebody let me do their hair!!!
Marwann & I

After lunch the rain started up again, so we reclaimed one of our spots down in the lounge and played more Clue and more Uno and more Rumikub, and got all the homework done until it was time for supper. Then we watched TOTAL WIPEOUT back in the room until it was time to sleep.

Sunday we hung out around the hotel until after lunch when we left. It was still raining.
no rain, so we play petanque

Hit the trails!
Ok, I need to say something about the rain. Something weird is going on in France. Normally, as I said, the south is a rather hot and dry place, not too much rain and high risk of fires. Then there are the central and northern areas where they need the rain for the agriculture. Well guess where the huge draught is. On top of that, when it is the holidays, the French seem to swap places; meaning everyone form the South goes up to the north, and the people from the cold north come down to the sunny south. The weather in Paris was great, but those poor people who came down expecting a beach holiday. I don’t know how France is going to feed itself unless they all start living off of even more wine and olives from the south.
we found a hut

So. Intense.
On top of that vegetable crisis, I don’t know if you have heard, but each day there are more and more vegetables being recalled from the stores here!! First there were the Spanish tomatoes that were diseased, and then the cucumbers (also form Spain) that are killing people all the way up in Germany and now SOYA BEANS AND LETTUCE!! I think it’s time for us to all make the personal choice of becoming a meatatarian and boycott all wegetables. Fruits are ok though.
end of the trail

found another hut
heading back with Sophie
It rained all the way home, except for a 10km stretch or so (I missed it because I may have fallen asleep…) and was still raining Sunday night. When we returned home, none of the electricity was working and the house stunk of cheese. It was so rank. Thankfully nothing had actually gone bad, but we still threw out the cheese. It was so rank. Ugh.
Biker family

Also, we speculate that some lightning must have struck really near by and fried the Livebox (internet and telephone boxes here). So now we have no phone and no internet. Thankfully we still have the TV in case another vegetable becomes inedible.
too bad you cant see how dirty I am

9:15 am
Sophie & Iness,
wearing the dandelion chain
I made her

Yes she liked it

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a great family weekend. Lots of activity and fun. Nice to see you having such a good time.