Author Archives: bbj1969per@aol.com

“Acadia” – and a hike up Cadillac Mountain…

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A view of Bar Harbor, Maine – in the left distance – from the top of Cadillac Mountain…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.” (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well. To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

June 5, 2024 – Next post I’ll get back to last September’s (2023) hike on the Stevenson Trail in France. But I just finished another hiking trip – up to Maine. It included Acadia National Park and several long hikes, including a grueling trek up to the tippy-top of Cadillac Mountain:

If Acadia is the king of the New England coast, then Cadillac Mountain is its crown. The highest peak on the Atlantic coast from New England to Florida at 1,530 feet, its summit rewards hikers with panoramic views of the park’s forested hills, mountains, and scattered islands, with the ocean stretching endlessly beyond. 

(See How to Hike Acadia National Park’s Cadillac Mountain.) But first I had to get there.

I live southwest of Atlanta, and my hiking-venture brother lives in Springfield Massachusetts. Tom’s wife Carol signed up for a “hospitality” seminar near Saco, Maine, and they invited me along. The five-day invite-along included a plan for some hiking at or near Acadia National Park, so I said, “Okay!” The kicker – the surprising or ironic twist – was that I had to be there no later than Monday, May 27, and my great-niece graduated high school on Friday, May 24.

Plus the proud parents were having a graduation party not slated to start until 1:00 Saturday afternoon. That meant instead of a relaxing three-day drive up, it would be more like two days. (From mid-afternoon Saturday to near the same time Monday.) And that was over Memorial Day weekend, so aside from expected heavy interstate traffic, I had to take the precaution of booking rooms for that Saturday and Sunday way ahead of time. But it worked out. Mostly…

I had to shuck and jive around the Atlanta Beltway. (“Notorious for heavy traffic and congestion.”) But once past the US-78 exit to Clarkston, the driving smoothed out. I’d booked a room in Lincolnton, NC, mostly because I always take US 321 instead of going by way of Charlotte. (I find that city’s traffic almost as bad as Atlanta’s.) From there up I-77 to I-81, through Virginia’s beautiful Blue Ridge mountain area, to the Hershey PA exit just past Harrisburg.

There’s an Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar at 7025 Allentown Boulevard. I’ve been there before, and it’s a nice place to relax after a long day’s drive. From there – on Monday – it was just a hoot and a holler‘s drive up to Springfield, and the chance to ride in someone else’s car. We three left the next morning (Tuesday, May 28) and ended up – 360 miles and nine hours later – at Bar Harbor Cottages. Actually in Salisbury Cove, six miles from downtown Bar Harbor.

Next morning we toured Acadia, looking for a place to start the hike up Cadillac Mountain.

Which brings up the difference between walking and “sauntering,” which I do. I’d heard that John Muir came up with the term, but recently found an earlier version, from Thoreau‘s book Walking. (First published as an essay in the Atlantic Monthly after his death in 1862.)

I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who … had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering, which word is beautifully derived “from idle people who roved about the country, in the Middle Ages, and asked charity, under pretense of going à la Sainte Terre,” to the Holy Land, till the children exclaimed, “There goes a ‘Sainte-Terrer,’” a Saunterer, a Holy-Lander… [But] the saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.

We definitely didn’t “saunter” up Cadillac, but here I feel a need to clarify terms. (Voltaire said, “If you wish to converse with me, first define your terms.”) Aside from Thoreau, most other people define sauntering as walking “in a slow, relaxed manner, without hurry or effort,” but that isn’t right either. At least not for me, and not as we trekked up Cadillac Mountain.

Back at home my normal walking pace is a mile in 24 minutes. But according to Dr. Cooper, that doesn’t earn me any aerobic credit at all. To make up for that I normally hike with at least two sets of ankle weights. (Ten pounds total.) Which is what I wore on the trek up Cadillac Mountain. Along with a ten-pound pack, with necessaries including but not limited to water, sunscreen, and a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich for energy.

But that’s enough about my weird exercise system. Back to this latest hiking adventure.

For Cadillac Mountain, we took the North Ridge Trail, starting at a small pull-off with “extremely limited” parking. I didn’t note the time we started, as I usually do on Camino hikes. (A reminder for next September.) But I wrote that it took three hours actual hiking time – keeping track of those almost-aerobic points – not counting rest breaks and a lot of standing stops on the way up. I also wrote that it was a “LONG, steep and rocky hike.” (With those 10 pounds of ankle weights and 10 pound pack.) And by the way, for training hikes in July and August I use the ankle weights plus a 20-pound weight vest. (Or pack.) Then on the Camino I ditch the ankle weights, and without them I feel like I’m “walking on air.” (Relatively speaking anyway.)

Anyway, the view once we got to the top was beautiful, but next day we took it a bit easier.

On Thursday, May 30, we visited Deer Isle – “mysterious, evocative and easy to get lost in” – and its main harbor, Stonington. I’d read about the “isle” – not island – in Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley. At first we were a bit disappointed, but eventually the day turned out well.

We did two hikes early, the first one out to Lookout Rock. (It’s technically near Brooksville, on another of the many islands clustering around “Deer.”) Then a second hike at Scott’s Landing Preserve, near the eastern end of the bridge to Deer Isle. Later that afternoon we spent a pleasant couple of hours at the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, on Atlantic Avenue jutting out into the harbor. (Aka, “Discovery Wharf.”) I’d call it highly recommended, with a lot of detail on Maine’s lobster industry. (Apparently troubled, something I didn’t know.*)

And now a word about our lodging. In Salisbury Cove we stayed at Bar Harbor Cottages and Suites. Then in Saco, officially Old Orchard Beach, Tom and I stayed at Elmwood Motor Court. This was after dropping Carol off Friday afternoon at 4:00, for her two-day Camino “hospitality” seminar. (Where you learn how to manage an albergue in Spain, the equivalent of auberges in France, “small hotels or public houses especially in villages or the countryside.”)

You see a lot of those tiny. two-room cabin-cottages in the area we visited. Cute, but a bit cheek by jowl for three “seniors.” (One bathroom.) The one in Salisbury Cove was “rustic,” with a screened in porch, complete with a wooden rocking chair. And the paint-work was a bit slap-dash. The “Elmwood” was perfect for two, though no porch rocking chair. On the other hand it was right across Saco Avenue from Birdies Grill & Tavern.

On Saturday Tom and I did two hikes, the first a “catch as catch can” on the Eastern Trail starting in Saco. But we found out early on that it wasn’t completed yet, so we turned to a second hike on the Scarborough Marsh Nature Trail. (Two hours and eight minutes of actual hiking time, not counting breaks including one for another PB&J lunch.)

Another note. The weather alternated between hot during the day and a lot chillier at night than what a 72-year-old from Georgia is used to. (In late May and early June.)

And finally, on Sunday before picking up Carol at 4:00, Tom and I visited the Portland Museum of Art. One nice thing? You can spend an hour or two inside, then go out for lunch and come back. I especially enjoyed the number of Impressionist paintings.

From that point a short walk with Carol on “her” nearby but fenced-off beach, then a long drive back to Massachusetts. (Punctuated by a late dinner at a Cracker Barrel.) Those were the highlights, but next post it’s time to get back to that hike on the Stevenson Trail in France. We’d just enjoyed our first day off, no hiking, at a cute hamlet east of Langogne, and were ready to head out again. For a short – mere seven miles – hike to Cheylard-l’Évêque. But the first of six straight days hiking, with a 20 pound pack – but no ankle weights! Stay tuned…

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The upper image is courtesy of Cadillac Mountain Acadia National Park – Image Results. As for “Acadia” being in quotes, the name comes from Greek, with “the extended meanings of ‘refuge’ or ‘idyllic place.'” See Acadia – Wikipedia, adding the name – with an “r” added – comes from the Arcadia district in Greece. “Explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano is credited for originating the designation Acadia on his 16th-century map, where he applied the ancient Greek name “Arcadia” to the entire Atlantic coast north of Virginia.” The article also noted the Acadian diaspora to southern Louisiana, when French inhabitants were forcibly relocated: “People living in Acadia are called Acadians, which in Louisiana changed to Cajuns, the more common, rural American, name of Acadians.”

Re: Shucking and jiving. A term I learned more about doing this post. According to Urban Dictionary, it originally referred to “intentionally misleading words and actions that African-Americans would employ in order to deceive” the White Folk in power. In use by the 1920s if not earlier, it was a “tactic of both survival and resistance. A slave, for instance, could say eagerly, ‘Oh, yes, Master,’ and have no real intention to obey.” (And here I am, a retired old white man using the term to illustrate driving around the ATL.) According to Wikipedia it can refer to “joking and acting evasively in the presence of an authoritative figure,” and can involve “clever lies and impromptu storytelling, to one-up an opponent or avoid punishment.” All of which may be useful skills in the future, depending on the outcome of 2024’s presidential election. But my point here? “I love going down those ‘rabbit trails!'”

Re: Cooper’s definition of aerobics. In his system, to earn a single aerobic point you need to walk a mile in no more than 20 minutes. Being a self-described Sainte-Terrer,” I rely more on the World Health Organization’s definition. See Physical activity – World Health Organization (WHO), which says a man my age should do a maximum of 300 minutes of medium-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobics. At home I do the maximum and the “at least.” (180%.) The week of the Cadillac hike I had 740 minutes credit for medium aerobics, mostly hiking, adding in extra credit for the ankle weights. (It’s complicated, worked out through years of trial and error.)

Re: Maine’s troubled lobster industry. See for example, The Uncertain Future of Lobstering in Maine – Modern Farmer, and The Live Market: Maine’s lobster industry is at a turning point.

The lower image is courtesy of Robert Louis Stevenson Trail – Walking in France.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 72-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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Our first day off, no hiking – and a beer!

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We saw this walking back to Langogne (without packs) – True GR 70 hikers…

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May 21, 2024 – It’s been quite the adventure so far. Talking about getting to Paris for that September 2023 hike in France, then my going on to Lyon and finally down to Le Puy en Velay. That’s where my brother, his wife and I started our 150-mile hike on the Stevenson Trail. (GR 70.) From there the adventures continued: A night without beer or even wine in Monistair, closed down tight for Sunday night. On to Bargettes, then to “Camping Above the Clouds,” with its wide-open freedom-spaces. And finally making it to just east of Langogne for our first day off, after four days’ shakedown hiking. (To be followed by six straight days of hiking.)

Then there was the glitch – covered in the last post – of “losing” my 2023 journal. It had lots of descriptive-detail notes, but I didn’t find it until last May 7. But the long and the short of the hike so far – for me anyway – was I hadn’t had a cold beer – at night – since leaving Le Puy. (Despite defining a Camino hike as, “At the end of each day you look forward to a warm bed, hot shower and a cold beer.”) Then the place east of Langogne turned out to be the Promised Land.

But first we had to get there.

As the last post said, we got to Langogne in good time and hiked through mid-town, then on down Avenue du Gevaudan. Past the southern outskirts and on a bit until we finally realized, “We’re going the wrong way!” Then back to the middle of town, stopping for supplies including a heavy bottle of wine for the night. (For at least two of us.) Langogne was and is full of nice warm places to stay, but we left it all behind to head into a seemingly deserted countryside in the fading daylight. (My thought, “Will we end up sleeping under the stars, out in the country air?”) But we found the lodging, a 40-minute hike east of town, and it was worth the wait.

The destination was actually a cute little hamlet, Brugeyrolles, a mile and a half east of Langogne. A “Gite,” rental apartment. Not MUCH of a hamlet, but there’s a cafe bar right across the lane… And the nice lady owner said she served beer! (I’ve had more than my share of beerless nights, though wine will do in a pinch.)

I didn’t get a beer that night – we had that big heavy bottle of wine – but I did the next night. (And it was great!) But first, about that “Chambres d’hotes, Gite d’etape.”

It’s a big stone building – stone floor, stone walls – with two stories and separate bedrooms upstairs, for Tom and I, along with a full bathroom. Carol opted to take the couch downstairs, in the kitchen-dining-room area, and not for the last time on the hike. (She seemed to like being close to the kitchen.) Dinner in our lodging was subdued that night; we were tired. But there was that promise of sleeping late, and maybe a hike back into town – without packs. Then a nice relaxing afternoon, and even a beer or two at dinner tomorrow night. I felt in heaven…

Next morning Tom and I hiked back the 40 minutes to Langogne, to sightsee a bit and get necessaries for the six straight days hiking coming up. On the way in we saw the cute couple with their own rented “Modestine,” hiking a la Robert Louis Stevenson. It was indeed “cute” but I didn’t envy having to groom and feed the critter, not to mention the added expense.

As we say back in Georgia, “Bless their hearts!”

After a light lunch I spent the afternoon curled up in a cozy bed. “At 3:35 this afternoon laying in bed with a comforter against the chill.” The weather so far was much colder than expected and not at all like our earlier Camino hikes. (Stevenson himself went through really cold weather, plus rain, high wind and hale, all while having to camp out many nights in only that 6-by-6-foot sleeping bag.) Anyway, in that cozy bed under the thick comforter – nice and warm – I sipped hot tea, read Kindle books on my tablet, took some notes and pondered the hike so far. One note: “So far little resemblance to RLS’s travels with Modestine.”

Another thought that afternoon, snuggling in the comforter against the chill. “The pack. It weighs you down on the Trail. Holding all your worldly goods for a month in a strange land. All strapped to your back. Then when needed – or when you settle in – it lifts you up. Like when you need to break out the heavy but solid yellow rubber rain jacket.” Among other benefits, that big yellow rain jacket provided a surprising amount of warmth.

And about eating in France: “You eat what you can, when you can. Like yesterday’s three-course lunch in Pradelles. Way too much food! But at the store yesterday afternoon – on the way here – I got a small pre-made packaged salad. That and some wine did me for the night.” Then after a bit of yoga on the stone-cold floor – with the comforter as a yoga mat – I got back in bed. “I’m shifting between laying full down and reading the tablet, or half-sitting up propped by the pillow, or full sitting up in bed as I am now. (Do I hear Tom snoring in the second-floor room down the hall? Carol insisted on the couch downstairs in the kitchen area just by the entrance.”

Then at 4:26 p.m., “after a bathroom break and some more yoga, I read more of Three Months in the Southern States, a PDF file on my tablet.” (Meaning I don’t need internet to read it.) That was an interesting read, there in rural France, written by Captain Arthur Fremantle of the Coldstream Guards, “upon his return to England from his three-month stay” in the Confederate States in the middle of 1863. Talk about an adventure…

And a definite distraction from being 72 years old and about to start hiking the rugged Cévennes Mountains in south-central France. (On the “south-east edge of the Massif Central.”) For another distraction I checked out the place, Les Cremades, One sample: “Everyone needs a place to lay their weary head. For travellers visiting Langogne, Les Cremades is an excellent choice for rest and rejuvenation.” And to that, “I couldn’t agree more.”

Another source of rejuvenation was the chance to finally get a beer at the end of the day. So we crossed the dirt lane to another big stone building, for what turned out to be a dinner with four other hikers, plus the hostess. (The nice lady owner from the night before who said she offered cold beer.) And I was jonesing for a rewarding, day’s-end cold beer.

Entering the lobby I saw there was quite a selection. I chose a Bière La Stevenson (shown below), which seemed highly appropriate. Which brings up the wonderful communal dinner we shared that night. A long, wooden-slat table covered with plastic sheeting. I sit at one end, Carol at my left, the hostess standing to my right, Tom at the other end taking a picture. One “mature” lady hiker to the right of the hostess, with two more sitting on the other side. All three mostly spoke French, and between the two on the other side sat a blonde young man, wearing glasses and sporting hair down to his collar. He spoke fluent French and English, which seemed to happen a lot at those shared dinners that came up later. (“The Camino Will Provide.”)

I don’t remember much about the conversation that night, except that it was pleasant and charming. (With the young man interpreting French to “American” and back again.) And that I only had that one beer before I switched to sharing the two large bottles of wine the nice-lady hostess provided. Which may explain how I wrote in my journal later that night:

“A most enjoyable evening [I think I wrote] across the lane. 4 other hikers. I forgot my tablet [indecipherable]. 4 courses including fromage and coffee at the end. One beer, two types of wine. I’ll be interested to see how this [handwriting] looks in the morning.”

From the looks of that handwriting I think I had a really good time. But I was in France, the real France, away from big cities and among the the salt of the earth, including four fellow Stevenson Trail hikers. (“Clearly called to influence, improve and make the world a better place.”) And besides, in the morning we’d be starting six straight days of hiking…

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My first-ever Bière blonde artisanale La Stevenson..And it tasted great!

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I took the upper photo. I originally FB-posted this caption: “Greetings from Langogne! After four days, a day off from hiking. Our place is east of town. Hiking back in – sans pack – we saw this cute couple doing the REAL Chemin Stevenson thing. Thus the donkey…” And speaking of a first day off, “no hiking,” I define walking as not carrying a 20-pound pack. See also Walking – Wikipedia, on “one of the main gaits of terrestrial locomotion among legged animals.” Then there’s “rucking,” as in A Beginner’s Guide to Rucking – Verywell Fit. “Rucking involves walking or hiking with a weighted backpack and is an exciting way to combine strength, endurance, and the great outdoors.”

The Camino Will Provide.” In this case referring to the 2011 book by David O’Brien: “Learning To Trust the Universe is one man’s journey of body, mind and spirit. The adventure begins with a valiant leap of faith, as the author, David O’Brien, heeds the final words of a dear friend ‘Follow your heart… life is brief’ and embarks on a 500-mile walking pilgrimage across Spain.” (From St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago, not the mere 450 miles from Pamplona.) But we three knew the saying beforehand. (Perhaps as a variation of “The Lord will provide,” spoken by Abraham in Genesis 22:14.)

On mixing beer and wine. Apparently it’s not as bad as some of those old wive’s tales say. See Is Mixing Alcohol Bad? RDs Explain the Wine Before Liquor, and Can You Mix Beer and Wine: Guide to Compatibility. Then there’s that line in the film Midnight in Paris where Scott Fitzgerald tells Ernest Hemingway that he’s been “mixing grape and grava,” or what sounds like “grava.” But I haven’t been able to find any word like that for beer…

Re: Salt of the earth. See What Does “Salt of the Earth” Mean in Matthew 5:13?

The lower image is courtesy of Bière blonde artisanale La Stevenson : vente en ligne.

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We get to our place in ‘Langogne’ – finally!

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We didn’t see any horses, but this gives a clue about the ambience at the place “east of Langogne…

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May 12, 2024 – We had an exciting time just getting to that place east of Langogne, and to our first day off from hiking. But before I get to that, I need to backtrack a bit. It has to do with what I said earlier about not taking enough “descriptive notes,” in Finally, we’re hiking:

Looking back … I didn’t take as many descriptive notes as I should have. But I did take lots of pictures, using a system I’ll describe in the next post. (Another thing Hemingway didn’t have, besides Google Maps; a tablet to take pictures and post them back home.) I’m hoping those photos can jog my memory enough to paint some vivid word pictures…

Actually I did take descriptive notes, but they were mostly in the 2023 journal I somehow mislaid but eventually found, just last Tuesday, May 7. Here’s what happened. I thought I took my regular journal along on the GR-70, but hadn’t seen it since the turn of the year.

In mid-April I went to find it, but it was nowhere to be seen. “Where did I put it?” I searched all over the house, repeatedly, then thought about all those past hikes when I left the journal at home. (Trying not to take up too much pack-space.) I’d take notes on loose leaf paper, then fill in the journal pages back home. (I also went back to some on-the-trail Facebook posts.) Then came the memory lapse, when I thought maybe that’s what I’d done this past September. But there still was that missing 2023 journal. “Where the heck could I have put it?”

At the very least there might be some interesting observations I’d missed. Plus I didn’t want to lose the ’23 version of the journals-in-cursive that I’ve kept since 2014. So I ran around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, wondering where I put that danged thing. As it turned out, I couldn’t find it because I was looking for the wrong book format.

All earlier journals were size 8×10 inch, but somehow – when I ordered one for 2023 – it came in a smaller, six-by-8.5 inches. That’s why I packed it along. I could avoid all the post-hike transcribing. Finally, on a hunch, I checked two smaller black-bound books I use to take notes when space is at a premium – like during that canoe trip back in March. And there it was, my journal for 2023. And the memories came flooding back to me, on that marvelous May 7. 

I really had taken along my regular journal for the hike on the Stevenson Trail. Just smaller.

Since then I’ve been retooling, both on these posts and on the manuscript I’m writing on my “exciting 2023 hike on the Stevenson Trail in France.*” So, now it’s time to catch up on some of those Hemingway-like observations. Plus in the last post I did say I’d write more “about the pleasures and pitfalls of the actual hike later,” and this is a good place to start.

Like with some notes from late Monday, September 18 in Bargettes. I wrote of that day’s hike, “Sometimes sandy, slippery and rocky but some smooth parts mostly at the end. Patches of plowed, rich dark brown volcanic soil. Few places to stop.” As in, places for a cold drink?

Since 2019 we’ve called such places “coffee cups.” That’s because the Brierly Camino Guidebooks use small symbols on their maps, to show what you can expect along the way. A small pink coffee cup signifies a cafe. So looking ahead to a day’s hike one of us might say, “I don’t see any coffee cups along the way. Maybe we should pack some sandwiches.”

Also from Monday the 18th, “Many slippery rock parts of the trail. End of day, ‘Where is this place?'” (Which set a trend.) Then there were the notes I wrote on Tuesday evening, the 19th, while enjoying that Camping Above the Clouds in Arquejols. That’s when I reveled in the wide open freedom, away from the restrictions of the first two nights. “Great view at 6:30 p.m. off to the south,” as I sat on the porch of the kitchen cabin after dinner. “The laundry is chugging away, and hopefully will dry by morning.” (It didn’t, but you deal with it.)

I also noted that the great view made up for no WiFi; “Back to nature, definitely in touch with rural France. Farmland France. Got passed twice today by a giant manure spreader. Rich aroma.” And of hiking into a different kind of country that Tuesday. “Ponderosa pines? Some here look like Christmas trees.” And that despite the campground’s “rough look,” by that evening I’d fallen in love with the place. “Elbow room, fresh air, a wash machine, shower, and a seven-Euro IGP Cevennes Blanc 2021 wine. (A good year.)” And that the wine did indeed help me wax poetic. (In some ways that I shan’t share here.) And that while I prefer to drink beer, the Cevennes Blanc (2021) and the campground ambiance “was a good substitute.”

Next morning, leaving the campground, a lot of my clothes were still wet. (They hadn’t dried on the line.) It was quite chilly, so I put on that sweatshirt I’d packed, and over that the heavy Gorton Fisherman rain jacket that kept me surprisingly warm. Then stuffed some of the wet clothes in the pocket of the rain jacket, and strapped some other wet clothes outside my pack. As the day warmed up I started peeling off layers, first the rain jacket then the sweater, both of which also ended up rolled up and strapped outside my pack.

Back on the Trail we had that nice late lunch in Pradelles, as described in the last post. Which I ended be saying that, back on the Trail, “Langogne was only 3.5 miles away, a short hike, so ‘what could go wrong?’ (Unless it was some more of that ‘gang aft aglay’ stuff.)”

And I’ll be darned if we didn’t have more of that “gang aft aglay.”

We made it to mid-town Langogne – home to some 3,000 souls – in good time. (Considering it took two hours for the great lunch in Pradelles.) But thanks to that “iffy” internet coverage, we ended up hiking all the way down Avenue du Gevaudan, until we finally reached the southeast outskirts. We kept on hiking a bit, then figured out, “Hey, we’re going the wrong way!” Then we had to hike back to the middle of town, and from there east “into the unknown.”

I can say from experience: There are few hiking experiences worse than backtracking, at the end of a day when your feet are swollen and your back is aching. Unless it’s leaving a big town with all those nice warm lodgings, into a pastured cow-country that looks more deserted than you want to think about. “Who wants to sleep under the stars, out in the country air?”

To top it all off we stopped for groceries, including a big bottle of wine, “and it got heavier by the mile.” But eventually we found the road east to our lodging, at what turned out to be a “Chambres d’hotes Gite d-etape.” Officially it’s part of Langogne, but in hiking reality it’s in “Brugeyrolles.” (Another small town – like “Bargettes” – that’s hard to find on your search engine.) We clocked it at a 40-minute hike east of town, but once again, “worth the wait.”

The destination was actually a cute little hamlet, Brugeyrolles, a mile and a half east of Langogne. A “Gite,” rental apartment. Not MUCH of a hamlet, but there’s a cafe bar right across the lane, where we’ll dine tonight. And the nice lady owner said she served beer! (I’ve had more than my share of beerless nights, though wine will do in a pinch.)

I didn’t get a beer that night – we had that big bottle of wine – but I did the next day. (And it was great!) I also spent that afternoon-off curled up in a cozy bed under a thick comforter – the weather so far had been chillier than expected – and pondered the meaning of the past four days hiking. That day off was wonderful, and in the morning it included Tom and I hiking back to town – without packs – where we saw this couple really follow in Stevenson’s footsteps…

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Next post, this and more detail about our first day off from hiking.

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The upper image is courtesy of Les Cremades Langogne – Image Results.

Re: Packing the 2023 journal along. Aside from loose-leaf paper and – in 2023 – that journal, I also take a smaller notebook, 3.5-by-5.5 inches, and less than a quarter-inch thick. I fit that in a pocket in my carry-case, which also holds my tablet. I take the carry-case with me on neighborhood jaunts through big cities like Paris and Lyon, without the backpack. That way I can stop at a sidewalk cafe, enjoy and cafe creme, admire the passing scenery and jot down notes “a la Hemingway.”

Re: My manuscript on the GR-70 hike. For the book I’ll refer to these posts, but mostly put the added notes in chronological order, not “hodgepodge” as herein. Which brings up an independent memory of the hike down to “Camping above the clouds.” We were heading downhill, toward the place, and the wind was gusting. Not for the first time those first few days, the wind blew my hat off. This time it blew it off into a nearby pasture. I had to clamber under some wire barring the way in, awkwardly, pack and all, get into the field, get my hat, clamber back under the wire again, then do some quick-step jog-walking to catch up with Tom and Carol. As I recall they didn’t notice any of this, which could be a sign that I’m “pretty shifty.” As I also recall, we came on the site of the tipi a short time later.

I “sprung for wine” both in Bargettes and at “Camping Above the Clouds.” I’d had no evening beer since leaving Le Puy, but like I said, you learn to deal with it.

A note about our stay at Camping Above the Clouds, finding my 2023 journal, and “waxing poetic” after a bottle of 7-Euro IGP Cevennes Blanc. In that section of the journal I noted a difference between Hemingway’s style of writing and mine. He famously said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” Which never made sense to me, and still doesn’t. But I just found this site, doing this post, What might Hemingway mean by his quest for the ‘one true or perfect sentence. What caught my eye? That Hemingway “sought the perfect sentence to the point of almost obsessive behavior.” Which sounds right, but I remember one photo of him, late in life, standing before a typewriter atop a dresser, bare-chested, only shorts and sandals, unable to find that one true sentence, and so he was stuck. As for myself I revel in today’s word processors. They let you become – as I wrote in that part of the 2023 journal – “more of a word sculptor. Bulk up, pare down, like some body builders do.” (See Bulk Up or Cut Down: Tailoring Your Bodybuilding Approach.) And by the way, I’ll save this rabbit-trail link for future research on how to improve my writing. As in:

Hemingway sought objectivity and succinctness … a sentence that would, through its “cadence” and subtle “culminating word,” unsettle the readers just enough to make them take notice of a different way of saying something.  Hemingway sought to communicate an almost metaphysical experience in a simple, but intimate sentence.

See also Langogne – Tourism, Holidays & Weekends – France Voyage, “a strong green holiday resort with a dynamic commercial fabric and craft with a varied offer to meet all projects… The heart of town, circular form, ‘circulade’ has kept its medieval aspect and visiting spinning Calquières delight the whole family.” Some of which we experienced the following day off.

About the ellipses ending the main text. See How to use ellipses in your writing – Writer: “Think of an ellipsis as a punctuation mark that can be used to cut the fluff out of your writing… However, [it] can also represent a mood shift, thoughts trailing off, hesitation, pause, or suspense.” (As in, “wait ’til the next post to see how we spent that wonderful day off from hiking!”)

I took the lower photo. I captioned it: “Greetings from Langogne! After four days, a day off from hiking. Our place is east of town. Hiking back in – sans pack – we saw this cute couple doing the REAL Chemin Stevenson thing. Thus the donkey…”

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From Monistair to “East of Langogne…”

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A section of the Stevenson Trail, from the first day or two of our September 2023 hike…

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The last post noted that my two fellow travelers and I finally started hiking our 150 miles on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail in France. (From Le Puy en Velay to Le Monistair on September 17, which came after my adventures in Paris and Lyon – two days each – before getting to Le Puy. Also after a first-day-hiking foot blister and a “no beer Sunday” in Monistair. )

Our second day – Monday, September 18 – we hiked 11.5 miles from Le Monistair to Bargettes. (But type that town in a search engine and you invariably get Baguettes, the “long, thin type of bread of French origin.”) But Bargettes is a small town right on the N88 highway, halfway between Goudet and Le Bouchet-Saint-Nicolas. Then on Tuesday we hiked 11 miles from Le Bouchet to “Arquejols,” and on September 20 (Wednesday), 10.5 miles to “east of Langogne.” That totaled up to our first four days hiking, and after we got to “east of Langogne” we got to take our first day off – of two – on the 15-day hike. And we were ready.

Besides, after that one day off we had to go for six straight days of hiking, which included one day of close to 14 miles. (Actually 13.8, but it felt like 14. And BTW: You figure how far to hike in a day according to how far it is to the next available lodging.)

And now for some housekeeping notes, including our normal line of march. Tom takes the lead, since he made the reservations and knows where we’re headed. Then comes Carol, and then I bring up the rear. (That habit is so ingrained since the 2017 Camino that I get nervous if Carol sometimes falls behind; she likes to take pictures of all the exotic doorways we see along the way.) And speaking of pictures, I use my 5.5×8-inch Amazon Fire tablet.

I can take fairly good pictures with it, and then once we settle in for the night I can post the pictures on Facebook, along with some written notes both “to the folks back home” and for later use. (As when writing a travel book.) I carry the tablet always at the ready in my “it’s European” small carry-case. (It only looks like a purse to some unenlightened folk.) With the backpack on I sling the carry-case over my shoulder, hanging just above my waist. In town, without the pack I shorten the strap and wrap it around my waist. (Also for easy access.)

But back to the second day’s hike, from Monistair to Bargettes. From what I remember there was no internet in Bargettes, so I had to wait until Tuesday, September 19, to post this:

Good morning from Le Bouchet St. Nicholas. A nice change of pace, hiking here from Bargettes. Relatively smooth path, for a BIG change. Made good time, maybe two miles an hour, not the usual mile and a half per hour the first two days. Once here, [I had] a cafe creme and tiramisu. (I’ll burn off the calories.)

Which gives you an idea how fast you can expect to go on a Camino hike, if the path is smooth and level, as opposed to steep and strewn with rocks. Also, I find that going down a steep and rock-strewn path is a lot tougher on the knees than going uphill. Which brings up “fear of falling.” Somewhere along an earlier Camino I came up with the idea, “If you do fall, fall backwards. The pack will cushion you.” Which turned out to be a bit of foreshadowing…

For another thing, there aren’t a lot of outside influences to occupy your mind on a Camino. But that’s one of its main charms, for some of us anyway. Back home, all the phone messages to check, projects to complete, people and deadlines to meet. But on a Camino, life is reduced to an utter simplicity. You have lots of time to think, to ponder and to remember, at least when you’re not occupied with planning your next step so you don’t slip and fall. Then there are those awe-inspiring mountain vistas (for which you pay a price). But the highlights tend to be stops along a day’s hike, or the end of a day itself. Like that cafe creme and tiramisu in Le Bouchet, or earlier that day, a late lunch in Goudet. Of “sliced tomatoes, hard salami, along with bread and some gray mystery stuff. I didn’t know what it was, but it didn’t have much flavor.”

Still, I did get to enjoy a beer in Goudet, nestled as it is right next to the headwaters of the Loire River. (Narrow and rock-strewn, before it widens and flows northwest to Orleans, then west to the Atlantic.) I could do that because it was after the noon hour, according to a hard and fast rule I now have; “never have a beer on a Camino hike before the noon hour.” (Possibly because of that incident on the 2017 Camino Frances when – after a before-noon liquid lunch – my mountain bike ran me into a steep-sided ditch with lots of brambles.) But we digress.

One thing I do remember from those first two night-stops was the rules and regulations we had to follow. In Bargettes we had to leave our shoes and packs downstairs, and the lady who ran the place was a “light fanatic.” (I wrote a more spicy term in my notes, but “discretion is the better part of valor.” Plus I might want to go back there some day.) Anyway, you had to turn off all lights when you left your room. I forgot – one time – and Tom got no little grief about that. All of which led to this post on Wednesday morning, September 20, at “Arquejols:”

No restrictions like the [first] two nights. Turn off all lights when you leave a room, leave your pack downstairs, wipe your feet, or [having to] climb four STEEP flights of very narrow stairs, with your 20-pound pack scraping both sides of the stairwell, all on feet and legs sore from hiking all day. Not that I’m complaining mind you! It’s just that I appreciated the wide open space for a change.

Which brings up Arquejols and “camping above the clouds.” One much-appreciated part of that third-night stop was “much room to spread out.” And I well remember how we stumbled on to that place. It was Tuesday afternoon, the 19th, getting near the end of the day’s hike. As always I depended on Tom or Carol or both to guide us in to our lodging, which this night (I’d heard) was some kind of campground. The sun was bright, the day had warmed up nicely, the path was smooth and heading just slightly downhill. There were grasslands on each side of the path, when looking off to my right I saw what looked like a tipi, which seemed out of place. Tom and Carol had hiked on ahead when something clicked in my brain. I’d seen my share of tourist-friendly campgrounds back in the states. I called out to Tom, “Could this be it?” And it was.

From what I can tell there is no town of Arquejols, which doesn’t have a French-to-English translation either. The website for the place is Camping | Camping Au-Delà des Nuages | Rauret. It speaks of eco-camping “beyond the clouds,” along with living in harmony with nature. What I saw was four wide-set-apart cabins, two to sleep in – one for Carol, the other for Tom and I – along with one with a kitchen for meals, and the fourth combining a shower, wash basins, “WC” and a clothes washer. I noted that it was “too primitive for some, but for me the camping spelled ‘freedom.'” Still, I didn’t get the “above the clouds” bit until the next morning.

Wednesday morning, the 20th, was chilly as it had been. (Fortunately that Gorton Fisherman raid jacket provided a lot of warmth.) Then, gearing up and getting ready I stepped outside and looked to the south, where we were ultimately heading. Look south past the dirt path, through the wheat-grassy camping-yard area, all you could see was blue. The distant Cevennes Mountains beckoned, cloaked in deep blue, and in between us and our ultimate mountain-path destination was a thick layer of level clouds. (We were a lot higher-up than I’d thought.)

It was lovely, that morning, being above the clouds as we were, but it was time to get moving along. “Tomorrow we get to take a day off from hiking!” And we were ready.

I’ll write more about the pleasures and pitfalls of the actual hike later, but now it’s time to get on to “East of Langogne.” Incidentally, Google Maps has the distance between “Camping Nature Beyond the Clouds, Arquejols” and Langogne as just a tad over nine miles. And supposedly taking a mere three and a half hours to hike, but I’m not sure that’s the GR-70 way. (When driving I always add 20 percent to Google Map estimates. I figure they figure you’re driving like a bat outta hell and there are no traffic tie-ups.) But we had a very nice lunch on the way.

That highlight-nice lunch was in Pradelles. Of that town Stevenson wrote, “Pradelles stands on a hillside, high above the Allier (river), surrounded by rich meadows.” He experienced an “ungustly smell of hay” the day he passed through, on a “gusty autumn morning.” (Indeed.) He was now “upon the limit of Velay,” the district, and beheld “wild Gevaudan, mountainous, uncultivated, and but recently deforested.” And home to the Beast of Gévaudan, the “Napoleon Bonaparte of wolves.” But we saw no such terrors. (Not yet anyway.)

According to Google Maps, Pradelles is a little over 5.3 miles from the campground and 3.5 miles to Langogne. (Called one of France’s “most beautiful villages” and in fact the only “most beautiful village” along the Chemin de Stevenson.) For a total of 8.8 miles, but Tom calculated the distance at 10.5 miles. Either way, we ended up getting lost and having to backtrack, but that’s a tale for a bit later. First, one of the gastronomic highlights of the hike.

In Pradelles we stumbled on a mom and pop restaurant, Brasserie du Musée. A lot of locals go there, but the day we were there there was “only one poor lady waitress.” We had to wait a half hour, but it turned out worth the wait. If I remember right the first course was a salad, but the second course was rice and something like pork loin. Carol talked to the waitress and learned the dish was called: “Araignee de pore sauce tomate.” Otherwise known as: “Pork spider marinated in thyme, lemon and fresh green pepper & sautéed tomatoes and onion.” (There’s a link in the Notes.) I thought that was delicious, but then came the dessert course. I noted, “As often happens this trip, not sure what it was, but tasted GOOOOD!” But then Carol talked to the waitress, who indicated it was something like “pate apricot crème sucre???”

Carol said the second course and dessert were both authentic regional dishes, and I believed it. “That’s why we ‘hike for many days in a strange land!’ The challenge, the adventure, the food.”

But then it was time to get back on the trail. Langogne was only 3.5 miles away, a short hike, so “what could go wrong?” (Unless it was some more of that “gang aft aglay” stuff.)

But that’s a story for next time…

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https://tmrichmond3dotnet.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/picture1_0.png
Is this what we headed to, “east of Langogne,” away from all apparent civilization?

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The upper image is courtesy of my Kindle tablet. (I took the picture.)

The “East of Langogne” in the title is a nod of sorts to the Steinbeck novel, East of Eden. Which is appropriate because that day off in Brugeyrolles really was “heavenly,” like the Garden of Eden.  

Re: “It’s European.” From an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry has a carry case that New Yorkers keep saying looks like a woman’s purse.

Back in Le Puy to Monistair – finally, we’re hiking. I wrote there that, “Looking back on the hike I didn’t take as many descriptive notes as I should have.” Actually I did, but those notes were in a journal I just discovered, on or about May 7, 2024. I had been running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, wondering where I put my journal for 2023 journal. As it turned out, I couldn’t find it because I was looking for the wrong book format. All my earlier yearly journals have been 8×10 inches, but somehow – when I ordered one for 2023 – it came in a smaller format, six-by-eight-and-a-half inches. That’s why I opted to carry it along in my pack, rather than writing things in a smaller notebook, then transcribing all that into the regular journal once I got home. And as it also turns out, I did write a lot of usable notes in the smaller journal. The long and short of all this is that I’ll have to update that “Le Puy to Monistair” post, and also go back into the Stevenson Trail book I’m writing up for Christmas, adding in all the interesting details from the journal that I left out before finding it.

The Loire is the longest river in France, according to Wikipedia.

On the plus at Bargettes, “Dinner was good and filling. 3 courses. Salad. Pork loin and veggie dish, saucy and good. And fruit cup. BIG fruit cup.”

Pradelles stands on a hillside.” From page 18 of my Kindle PDF of the Stevenson book. Back on page 14 Stevenson wrote that the “auberge of Bouchet St. Nicholas was among the least pretentious I have ever visited, but I saw many more of the like on my journey.” A two-story cottage, “cheek by jowl” (my phrase, meaning crowded with people), a sleeping-room with two beds; he slept in one and “a young man and his wife and child” slept in the other. (Or as in “positioned very close together.”)

See Pradelles (Chemin de Stevenson) – I Love Walking In France. The “pork spider” link, cookpad.com/…/15462173-araignee-de-porc-marinee. The dessert link, lacuisinedegeraldine.fr/en/apricot-tart-almond-cream.

The full title in French for the place we stayed east of Langogne was “Les Cremades Chambres d’hotes Gite d’etape.” And “Brugeyrolles” is not to be confused with Brugairolles, a commune in the way-south of France. Wikipedia. But that comes up in the next post…

The lower image is courtesy of tmrichmond3.net/2014/02/07/here-be-dragonsa blog with one sub-title, “Reflections of a Tamed Cynic,” including this thought:

Sailing into uncertain waters was dangerous, and not everyone who set out came back. Mutinies were not unusual, and interactions with the locals was sometimes fatal. But the worst part was moving ahead, and not really knowing where you were going.

(Emphasis added.) Which BTW is how I felt after leaving Langogne – later that afternoon, after lunching in Pradelles – and heading somewhere into the unknown, seemingly uninhabited “east…”

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Le Puy to Monistair – finally, we’re hiking!

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Stone church with a flower topped water fountain
Le Monastier – the goal for our first day’s hike, and where Stevenson started his hike…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite. That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden. Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.” (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well. To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Just to review, lately I’ve been posting mostly about the 15-day, 150-mile hike I did on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail last September. (In 2023, in the Cévennes mountains of south-central France, described in his 1879 book, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes.) The early posts dealt with flying over to Paris, taking a train down to Lyon, and finally getting to the town where I met up with my hiking companions – brother and his wife – coming up from Spain.

That is, the last post saw me finally get to Le Puy en Velay, where we started our long hike down to St. Jean du Gard on the what the French call the Chemin de Stevenson. (15 days including two well-earned days off.) And of finding out that on the weekend we arrived, Le Puy had scheduled a massive Renaissance Fair. That explained why the town was so packed with people, and why one bus wasn’t enough to bring all the visitors on my train down from Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux station. (And why half of us had to ride in cabs to Le Puy, three at a time.)

So, the Saturday before we left Le Puy, I found a 4×8.25″ pamphlet at a tourist office, “Travels in the Cevennes on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail.” I used that pamphlet to “get stamped” at various stops along the hike. I did that because I didn’t have an official credencial like the ones you get on a Camino in Spain. (One of the first stamps was from the BRASSERIE DU MUSEE bar and restaurant in Pradelles, but that comes later.) The pamphlet called Stevenson an “avant garde” hiker – a pioneer, first of his kind to go “hiking and camping for fun” – and it included useful tips for the hike. (Including how to hire a donkey to really follow in his footsteps.)

The pamphlet also had a lot of useful maps-on-paper. That’s why I kept it handy in the right side-pocket of my tan Magellan quick-dry, water-repellent pants. And which finally brings us to Stevenson’s book, and some differences between his hike and ours. For one thing, while we started in Le Puy, he started in Le Monastier-sur-Gazelle. (Where he got his donkey “Modestine,” mostly because his 6×6-foot sleeping bag was too big for him to carry on his own.)

On the other hand, his first chapter in the book is titled “Velay,” which needs some explaining. It doesn’t refer to the town of Le Puy. As Stevenson used the term, Velay referred to the larger “historical area of France situated in the east Haute-Loire département and southeast of Massif Central. No longer a separate district, it now forms part of the department of Haute-Loire.”

In other words, Velay used to be an autonomous administrative district, but after the French Revolution it got “disassembled,” blended into a whole ‘nother French department. So as fully translated into English (and maybe “legalese’) the term Le Puy en Velay would translate to something like “the town near that volcanic hill in the district of Velay.”

But back to Monistair: Stevenson described the town as being in a “pleasant highland valley fifteen miles from Le Puy.” (Tom’s calculations had it as 12 miles.) Stevenson said the town was notable for “the making of lace, for drunkenness, for freedom of language, and for unparalelled political dissension.” I found it notable mostly for its “iffy” WiFi and the fact that we suffered a “dry” Sunday. (“No beer!” So much for Stevenson’s “drunkenness” problem.)

That is, we started hiking on the 17th – a Sunday – and covered the 12 miles to Le Monastier. (Verified by Carol’s step-counter.) We ended up at a “Files de chamber,” at 25 Rue St. Pierre, and I remember the town – “even to this day” – because by the time we got there Le Monastier was closed down. Or “closed up tight.” After dinner Tom and I went out to find someplace to get a beer, but couldn’t find a single place open. Which is rare on a Camino, but there was still that “warm bed and hot shower” part of the equation. Besides, I figured the discipline was good for my soul. Then too there was no internet. Which explains my Facebook note-entry at the end of the day on September 18, after we had hiked the 11.5 miles to Bargettes:

Sorry about the two-day incommunicado, but WiFi here in France is iffy at best. And we now have two hiking days under our belts, with me only developing one big blister yesterday, on the ball of my left foot. Thanks in large part to hiking over slippery-rock trails… And today, tip-toeing – not through tulips – but trying to NOT step down hard on that one blister-foot.

I also noted – not the last time – that the scenery we saw was spectacular, “full of awesome vistas, but you paid a price to see them.” I also remember – about the place we stayed that night – that the “lady at the mom and pop b&b insisted we leave our shoes and packs downstairs.” That meant we could only take “essentials” up to our second-floor rooms. (“But if everything you own is in a 20-pound pack, how many non-essentials are there?”) On the other hand, the evening dinner that “mom and pop” served up was delicious. (Even without beer.)

But I’m getting ahead of myself. To be a good travel writer “a la Hemingway” I need to add some vivid descriptions of that first day’s hike, and that brings up a problem. Looking back on the hike I didn’t take as many descriptive notes as I should have. But I did take lots of pictures, using a system I’ll describe in the next post. (Another thing Hemingway didn’t have, besides Google Maps; a tablet to take pictures and post them back home.) I’m hoping those photos can jog my memory enough to paint some vivid word pictures, so here goes.

But first, here’s what some other hikers have said. One said the first day’s hike features a “short and relatively steep descent into the Upper Loire Valley,” then through “charming hamlets and across volcanic plateau.” Another said you hike through forests and farmlands, the “quintessential rural France, dotted with small towns and farming communities.”

I took six pictures of that first day’s hike. The first one shows a path strewn with large rocks, intermingled with fallen leaves, which could – I could foresee – turn very slippery if we got any rain. There’s a waist-high rock wall to the left, and more rocks – “unorganized” and tumbledown – on the right. Trees shade each side. The climb is steep. The second shows the trail narrowing, with a few less rocks but crowded in on each side with thick underbrush, along with thick trees and a small patch of blue sky ahead. Much the same in the third picture, but much steeper and with bigger rocks clogging the trail, which is a bit wider.

In the fourth picture we finally hit a wide smooth trail, with more blue sky and taller trees. Much the same in the fifth photo; though the trail is not as wide, the trees seem taller and there’s less blue sky. Finally, the last picture shows a return to a steeper, boulder-strewn path that looks – and often was – slick and slippery. And quite a struggle to clamber up.

Which seemed to set the pattern for the whole hike. At the end of each day, when you were most tired, footsore, and thinking “where the hell is this place…” That’s when we seemed to hit the rockiest, steepest, slipperiest part of the path. But you kept on, knowing that fairly soon you should find that warm bed, hot shower and cold beer. (Unless you hit Monistair on a Sunday.)

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So, that first day’s hike was pretty much a shakedown cruise, both in terms of the hike itself and in what I’ve been able to write about it. (That is, a preliminary activity that serves as a test or trial for how something will work on a larger scale or under more rigorous conditions.) But at least I and my two hiking companions are finally on the Trail, and on the way to more adventures. (And with my first-day blister out of the way.) Coming up, an “interesting” lunch in Goudet, then on to Bargettes and in time, “camping above the clouds.” Next time…

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A Credencial, like you get on the Camino de Santiago, with stamps…

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The upper image is courtesy of Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille (Chemin de Stevenson) – I Love Walking in France. See also Le Monastier-sur-Gazeille – Wikipedia.

More about the district of Velay, from Wikipedia:

At the beginning of the 16th century, Velay was wealthy, but the religious wars ruined the country. Le Puy was ardently catholic but the extreme south east of Velay was deeply Protestant. It is still nowadays the most Protestant area of France… Velay ceased to exist after the French Revolution… The department of Haute-Loire was created from the former county of Velay, on top of it a portion of AuvergneGévaudan and Vivarais are added.

According to Departments of France – Wikipedia, a “department” is an administrative district, of which there are 96 in metropolitan France, “further subdivided into 333 arrondissements.”

Re: Shakedown cruise. Also called a sea trial, which according to Wikipedia is a testing phase that can last “from a few hours to many days.” Which explains that first-day blister.

Sources detailing the hike include Robert Louis Stevenson Trail GR70 – The Enlightened Traveller®. It said you start from Le Puy “with a short and relatively steep descent into the Upper Loire Valley. Then climb over 400 metres, through charming hamlets and across volcanic plateau before arriving at Stevenson’s first overnight stop,” Le Bouchet, not Le Monistair. Another, Walking the GR70 Chemin de Stevenson – I Love Walking In France, said this:

For the first few days, the GR 70 passes through forests and farmlands and the countryside appears deceptively gentle (although your leg muscles will likely disagree!). This is quintessential rural France, dotted with small towns and farming communities. The clanging of cow bells heralds the beginning and end of each working day and cattle choke the quiet country roads as they make their way to and from the milking sheds. Life here feels productive and purposeful—and relaxed!

I’ll be referring to those two sites in later posts, as I did before and during the hike.

The lower image is courtesy of Credencial Stamped Camino – Image Results. See also The credential and Compostela – Way of Saint James in Galicia.

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden grew up in the Jewish ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved to Charlotte, North Carolina.  Thus the “Carolina Israelite.”  I on the other hand am a “classic 72-year-old “WASP” – White Anglo-Saxon Protestant – and live in north Georgia.  Thus the “Georgia Wasp.”    

Anyway, in North Carolina Harry wrote and published the “israelite” from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (He told good stories.) That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

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I finally made it to Le Puy en Velay!

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18057488-diaporama
They were having a “Fetes Renaissance” in Le Puy en Velay – but first I had to get there…

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Back in October 2023, I posted Dreams … and reality – hiking in France. It told of my planning last September’s 15-day hike on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail. (In the Cévennes mountains of south-central France, as described in his 1879 book, Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes.) Next – on November 29, 2023 – I posted “The last time I saw Paris?”

That post told of my first day – of two – in Paris. After that came posts on some adventures that followed; both in the “City of Lights” and later my two days in Lyon. I got as far as A full day in Lyon – and beyond? That told of getting to Lyon-Part-Dieu station on my last day in Lyon. (Friday afternoon, September 15, 2023.) I got there with time to spare, enough for a “leisurely brunch at one of the shaded outdoor tables” in nearby park. Then I just had to board the train:

All I had to do was get on the train for a 45-minute down to Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux, find the bus station in 15 minutes, then ride [that bus] for an hour and 20 minutes. What could go wrong? I was on my way to Le Puy en Velay – and beyond!

But then came that canoe-trip reprise, about the adventure my brother Tom and I shared at the end of March 2024, from the 17th to the 23d. (According to plan, we’d paddle ten miles off the coast of Mississippi for five days.) I did a first post on planning that, then a second one about how that adventure really turned out. But now it’s time to get back to hiking in France.

We left off with me worrying about not having “one of those square things with the squiggly lines inside,” either on my tablet or a piece of paper. (What I later learned is called a “QR Square.”) But my concern worked out, mostly because a “tall attractive brunette in a red vest” ran into me – literally – inside the Part Dieu station. Her red vest signified that she worked for the train company, and she guided me to a little nook off the main drag where I got that piece of paper with the squiggly lines, meaning I could now board the train to St. Etienne.

It turned out to be a pleasant 45-minute ride. My assigned seat was by the window. Directly across from me sat two lovely young French lasses. Another sat beside me, and two more sat right across the aisle. (“A thorn among five roses.”) Then we got to the Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux Gare-Routiere at 2:45, to find more of that “gang aft aglay.”

Way too many people started heading over to the one bus a-waiting, a five-minute walk from the train. To make a long story short, that bus could only take half the people going to Le Puy. (Which – on the way down – some locals pronounced “le pew,” like Pepé Le Pew, the oversexed cartoon skunk?) And I was among the second half, people who had to wait, mostly because I make it a point not to be seen rushing around like the usual pushy, touristy Americano.

But it worked out. In the fullness of time “they” got us all cabs, three passengers at a time, instead of another bus. I was one of the last, and on the long ride to Le Puy wondered about the protocol. Would the driver charge us? Should I tip him? When we got to the Gare du Puy-en-Velay I reached in my pocket to get some money, but the driver shook his head, “No, no!”

From there at the station my printed maps and comments worked out well.

Tom and Carol wouldn’t arrive until 7:00 or so, so I had time to kill. But before leaving home I’d checked L’Adélaïde Crêperie Café, and it turned out to be a six-minute walk from the station. Down Avenue Charles Dupuy, past a convergence of main drags – Boulevard de la Republique and Faubourg St. Jean – with an asphalt-and-concrete “island” between the two. The apartment Tom rented was on Faubourg St. Jean, but for some reason I didn’t know the street number. Theoretically I could have buzzed whichever entrance-door it might be, identified myself as Tom’s brother and asked if I could get in early, but at the time it seemed like a lot of trouble.

Aside from that, L’Adelaide was right across the street. (92 feet if you go up to the crosswalk and back down, like you’re supposed to.) It had some nice sidewalk tables with a view of passersby, young and old, and I was ready for a beer. And so there I sat, a la Hemingway, but instead of jotting in my small pocket notebook I posted this on Facebook:

Greetings from Le Puy en Velay… A challenging day [but] it worked out. Once I got here I found Le Adelaide cafe, five minutes from the station[, and got an early dinner.] First course, a wrap with some kind of sausage inside, plus the famous “lentils of Le Puy.” (You can Google them yourself.) A plat du jour which included a second Heineken. Second course, a dessert crepe, covered with chocolate. And a Cafe American. (Lest I get too sloshed.) As I write this it’s 6:20, and I meet my hiking partners at 7:10 at the station, five minutes from here.

That was certainly a highlight, and for the rest of the two-evenings-and-a-day, coming and going from the apartment, I’d wave over to the waiter. (We’d gotten to know each other during my Friday afternoon hours of enjoyment.) But I never could convince Tom and Carol to go there and sit at a sidewalk table for hours like I had done. Too many other places to see I guess…

And speaking of Tom and Carol, just before 7:00 I hiked the five minutes back to the station, still carrying that pack. But as John Steinbeck noted, “here I run into a literary difficulty.” As I said on Facebook that night, “I met my hiking companions at the Le Puy ‘Gare’ (train and bus station), and we are in our lodging for the next two nights. (Before the REAL adventure begins.)”

That family get-together was “good and pleasant,” as was the off day that followed, but all that breaks my narrative continuity. “This is permissible in life but not in writing.” But I’ll give you a few tidbits, mostly about why so many people took the train-and-bus to Le Puy. That weekend they had the equivalent of what we in the states call a big Renaissance fair. That’s why the town was so crowded. As I wrote on Facebook, “there’s some kind of Medieval festival (Renaissance?) going on this weekend, with lots of folk dressed up in REAL old time garb. It promises to be interesting.” And it was, including a sample of the world-famous Le Puy green lentils:

Among other treats we lunched on soup made from the famous local lentils. They’re unique flavor and goodness comes from the volcanic soil, I’m told. Plus a hunk of some “fromage,” kind of mix of Roquefort and “Bleu.” And bread and a jam grilled cake.

All of which (food) was delicious, as was the Cafe Creme, done up the special way they make it in Le Puy. (After “touring the local cathedral.”) That is, “not at all like they made it in Paris or Lyon. ‘Rich and creamy!'” Followed by a note: “Got to carb up for tomorrow’s hike… We start our 15 days of hiking with a 12-mile first jaunt tomorrow.” Which means that we are finally there. “We” are finally ready to start doing some posts on the actual hike itself.

So the next post – finally – should be about how we actually start hiking! Stay tuned…

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The upper image is courtesy of Fêtes renaissances du Roi de l’Oiseau 2023. (The full title.) See also Informations – Roi de l’oiseau. As indicated, in 2023 it ran from September 13th through the 17th. And see also Roi de l’oiseau – Du 13 au 17 septembre 2023.

In the first indent-quote I changed the “emphases added” part.

Re: The rose and thorns. According to Wiktionary, the free dictionary, the usual “humorous” reference is to “A woman situated between two men.” (As in, “A rose between two thorns.”) But often – as in my posing between my daughter and granddaughter – I say that I feel like “a thorn between two roses.” Then there’s Learn English: Idioms and phrases with roses – ABC Education, which said this: “The phrase ‘there is no rose without thorns’ means that in order to enjoy something that is beautiful and pleasurable, you must endure something that is difficult or painful.” The latter being one of those “rabbit trails” that make blogging so fun – and educational.

A fuller version of what Steinbeck wrote, at page 123 of the Penguin Books’ Travels with Charley:

Chicago was a break in my journey, a resumption of my name, identity and happy marital status… I was delighted at the change, back to my known and trusted life – but here I run into a literary difficulty. Chicago broke my continuity. This is permissible in life but not in writing. So I leave Chicago out, because it was off the line, out of drawing. In my travels it was pleasant and good; in writing it would contribute only to disunity.

But note that on pages 116 through 119 Steinbeck spent four pages describing his arrival early at Chicago’s Ambassador East hotel, “in wrinkled hunting clothes, unshaven and lightly crusted with the dirt of travel.” So much so that he was given a room that hadn’t been cleaned yet, which led him into a long account of “Lonesome Charlie,” his name for the previous occupant who left various clues of his stay. (Could that be deemed a “rabbit trail?”)

The lower image is courtesy of Start Of A Long Hike – Image Results.

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“Some kind of bust?” – That canoe trip after-action report…

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Unfortunately we did see some of this wind and wave on our recent offshore canoe trip…

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For starters, I could have called this post, “The canoe trip reprise – that wasn’t!

I’ll explain “some kind of bust” later, but as per the last post, my brother and I planned a five-day canoe trip from last March 17 through the 24th. (Reprising a 2014 trip from the other direction. East to west, not west-east.) The plan: Get to Gulfport (MS) on Sunday the 17th, use Monday preparing to launch in Pascagoula on Tuesday, then paddle back to Gulfport. We figured: First eight miles out to Horn island, and from there the two Ship Islands – East and West – then Cat Island.* From there we’d paddle back to Gulfport, arriving on Saturday, March 23.

That was the plan.

I noted that “as always that depends on the weather,” and the forecast called for two days of rain. (Our last two, Friday and Saturday.) But I didn’t mention wind, which brings up the fact that prevailing winds in that area of the Gulf are mostly east to west. And that in 2014 we paddled west to east; mostly  against the prevailing winds. But this time – we figured – because we’d paddle with the prevailing winds at our backs, we should have an easier time. “Should have.” Which brings up a factor I mentioned in those posts on France last September, hiking the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail. As applied to my two days in Paris and another two in Lyon, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, gang aft agley!” More on that later.

Another difference: For 2014 Tom rigged up an outrigger – of PVC pipe – for my smaller canoe, but it seemed to slow me down. A lot. This time I went without the outrigger. One last difference: This time we planned a shorter trip, five days instead of eight, and from Pascagoula to Gulfport. But there was also this: Before leaving home I checked and saw that Biloxi is two-thirds of the way from Pascagoula to Gulfport, “so we may end our trip there.*”

I ended the reprise post saying I’d “do an after action report once we get back” – and here it is:

For starters we met up and drove down from Peachtree City in Georgia on Sunday, March 17. A cloudy and overcast drive, with rain, sometimes heavy. (On the plus side we “gained an extra hour,” crossing into Alabama and the Central Time Zone.) We stopped off in Pascagoula to check out the closest place to put in, then had dinner at Tay’s BBQ, at 2318 Ingalls Avenue. (Ingalls Shipbuilding is a big deal in Pascagoula; a “leading producer of ships for the U.S. Navy.” We passed one of its massive shipyards paddling out on Tuesday, March 19.)

At Tay’s I ate light. I had a “Pig Sundae,” a 16-ounce styrofoam cup layered with pulled pork (at the bottom), topped by their special cole slaw, along with barbecue sauce and pickles. My verdict? “Not bad actually.” From there we drove on to Gulfport.

Heading through downtown on the way to the marina I had a strange feeling of “deja vu all over again.” It all looked familiar, and in time I recalled that before the 2014 canoe trip I’d come down to Gulfport and taken the Ferry out to (West) Ship Island, to scope things out.

Anyway, from the Gulfport marina we looked out on the Gulf itself; “calm, just a little chop.” Way off to the south we could just make out Cat Island, where we hoped to end our venture the following Saturday, “six days hence.” And speculated that maybe – with the prevailing winds behind us – we just might finish in four days, not five. “But we’ll see.” After stopping off to shop for breakfast things the next morning, we settled in at the cozy two bedroom Airbnb at 1610 30th Avenue. (And for that night and maybe the next, a four-pack of Rolling Rock beer.)

Tuesday, March 18 was busy. First off, pick up the 18-foot U-Haul truck, then drive it and the car-and-trailer-with-two-canoes to a separate U-Haul storage at 1132 Pass Rd. There, transfer canoes and everything you planned to take canoeing into the truck, leaving what remains in the car. (Including at least one set of clean clothes for when you get back to Mainland.) From there, we visited – again – nearby Ocean Springs and the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

The Anderson Museum gave me lots of inspiration for my own artwork back home. I also learned about Horn Island, and how in World War II it served as a dumping ground for the military. (A fact Anderson vehemently protested.) After that we had lunch – also in Ocean Springs – at Bacchus On The Bayou. They had a Monday special, a pork chop with collard greens and jalapeno cornbread that the locals love. “It’s why the place is so crowded today!” Since I wasn’t driving I had a local IPA (9% BAC), that looked thick like orange juice but had a very tangy taste. Later on – after some final pre-trip preparation – we checked in at the Best Western in Moss Pointe, just at the I-10 exit. (A little over eight miles to Dock Street in Pascagoula.) In the fullness of time, dinner at the Hacienda San Miguel: House of Tequila, within walking distance.

As always the night before such an adventure, last-minute thoughts came. Like, “Do I really want to do this? Leave the comforts of civilization?” The thing I remember most about that night was the nice big spread-em-out bed, with five or six soft warm pillows. Morning came too soon.

It took some time Tuesday morning to get started. Drive the U-Haul to the Dock Street put-in, unload the canoes and all the gear. Wait for Tom to return the truck and then get an Uber back. Another long laborious process loading the two canoes, then once we got into the water, a bit of small panic. Tom saw water gathering in his canoe. Was it leaking? If so, how bad? Would we have to cancel the whole trip? It turned out his half-gallon water container sprung a leak; the one he’s had for years. (Not one of three five-gallon water containers for the five days.)

We paddled out the channel past the big Ingalls shipyard, then took a shortcut through a shallow lagoon inside some breakwaters. (My paddle kept digging into mud with each stroke until I learned to “paddle shallow.”) Finally, we got out into the Gulf itself. Smooth paddling in the morning, and we could see Round Island off in the distance. The plan was to stop there for a break on the way out to Horn Island, but I learned again that in such offshore waters, distances are deceiving. The island that seems so near never seems to get closer.

I also discovered that just west of Round Island there’s another, uncharted island. (Of sorts.) A long narrow sandspit – did Tom say a dumping ground? – with some scrub bush and bramble. (So it seemed, from a distance.) There also seemed to be some question of what point on that sandspit should we head for. Through the narrow channel that seemed to be between Round Island and its “extension?” Or over toward the sandspit’s west end, and so closer to the mid-point of Horn Island’s 10-or-11-mile stretch? (And maybe cut some time off the planned five days? That plan called for canoeing the full length of Horn Island.)

Finally we landed on that sandy long stretch of beach west of Round Island, and had lunch. Tom had some of our usual canoe-trip mid-day fare; crackers, cheese and summer sausage. I had the leftover half of the Victoria Bowl I’d saved from last night’s dinner at Hacienda San Miguel. Then we hit the water again and paddled west along the long uncharted sandspit island.

Then came that Tuesday afternoon…

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I kept a 5×7-inch journal for the trip. The entry for Wednesday, March 20, was short and written at 11:20 p.m. It began, “It’s over. More details tomorrow.” Which is being interpreted: That Wednesday morning I woke wanting to get moving so maybe I could warm up a bit. Stepping outside my tent I saw a bit of blue off in the distant scrub. The wind had blown away the big blue umbrella-like thing that protected our cooking gear from that self-same wind. But the tide hadn’t risen and spirited the canoes away; they were safe, just where we’d anchored them.

Those were just some of the things I worried about during what turned out to be the longest, coldest night I’ve spent in a long time. I hadn’t been that cold even while canoeing the Yukon River in 2016. And I was cold even inside that Arctic-style mummy-shape sleeping bag I’d gotten for that way-far-north 12-day Yukon River canoe adventure.

So why was it all over? What happened? But the better question is, “What didn’t?”

Things went well right after lunch that fine early-afternoon Tuesday. That is, until we paddled around the tip of that long stretch of sand and scrub west of Round Island. The wind and waves started picking up, and “against the wind” the going was slow; the winds came from the southwest, right where we were trying to head. The waves started picking up too and the day kept getting later and later. We decided to land and consider the situation.

Landing ashore Tom got dunked by cresting waves. (Which led to my comment above, “Unfortunately we did see some of this wind and wave…”) Having seen his misfortune, I came in at a different angle and didn’t get quite so wet. Once on dry land Tom started reconnoitering the area, in large part to judge what we’d be up against trying to reach Horn Island that day, and also if the place was suitable for camping. Finally we decided to set up there, then get an early start next morning to make up for it. (And got back to thinking it might take a full five days.)

We set up camp and Tom made a dinner of hot dogs and baked beans, cooking behind that big blue umbrella-like thing he brought along just for such blustery days. Then came my “slooshing” and washing the dishes. First off you “sloosh” to get the really nasty stick-to-the-plates-and-pan stuff. (And that baked bean sauce is especially clingy.) Normally you’d do that by a nice calm river, as in past canoe trips, but here I had just had my Scrubzz Rinse Free sponge bath before dinner. I was nice and dry and wearing my good walk-around-camp shoes. (Not the Gulf-soaked water shoes I’d been wearing all day.) And the waves were building up even more on the Gulf side, so I opted to sloosh the dishes in a nearby semi-stagnant backwater.

Then it started getting windy and cold as the sun started setting. And that pot of water that was supposed to come to a boil? It didn’t, maybe because the wind blew over and around that big blue umbrella-like thing I huddled behind. Normally the water would come to a boil, I’d scrub the slooshed dishes with a soapy sponge, then sanitize them by rinsing with the just-boiled water. But there, as the sun set and my teeth started chattering, I fudged. I just rinsed the dishes with the not-quite-boiling water – no soap – then dried them. Then retired nice and quick into my tent and into the Arctic-style mummy sleeping bag I thought would finally get me warm.

But like I said, I ended up having the longest, coldest night in a long time. And part of it came from worrying. Would the tide rise like it did on the Columbia River trip and nearly swamp our camp site? Would the canoes get “washed away,” like on the 2020 Missouri River canoe trip. And to top it off, a new worry: Would my sloppy dish-washing “fudge” end up giving both of us severe gastritis a day or two later? So severe that we’d be immobilized? Stuck out there?

In the meantime… In the meantime, about 8:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, just as I started my long cold night of worry, Tom was listening to the marine weather reports. (On his special offshore device powered by a hand crank.) The weather report said high winds in the next day or two – up to 20 miles per hour one day – plus rain, much of it heavy, most of it Friday. That and his ongoing shoulder problems led him to think maybe it would be best to head back in the morning. Meaning a lot of my worries that night were unnecessary, but when he “checked with me” in the morning I gave a quick “okay!” And felt relieved – and a bit sorry. (We hate to give up.)

Still, we lingered a bit, wanting to make sure we really wanted to give up the effort, then started breaking camp. (Which happened pretty quick, all things considered.) The paddle back to Pascagoula also went smooth, except for some confusion finding the channel leading to where we’d put in. We ended up landing on a sandy beach, near the channel entrance, with a 20-yard hike to a nearby pavilion and no close place to park the U-Haul Tom would be getting.

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And yes, this post is getting way too long. Longer than I normally like. But I figure it will make a great opening chapter of my next book, on a “slew of canoe trips,” with some mention of how I’m still at it at age 72. (The one I’ll start after I finish the book on the Stevenson Trail hike. And BTW, I’ll be 73 this July.) Meanwhile, back in Pascagoula at the end of two days’ canoeing…

First the long process of getting the canoes and gear from the beach to the pavilion, then Tom calling an Uber, getting another U-Haul truck, getting back and loading up. Then, on the way back to Gulfport, we stopped for a late-lunch-early-dinner at The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint, 7501 Highway 57, just off I-10. (17 miles from Pascagoula and 28 miles to Gulfport.) I noted, “I highly recommend The Shed BBQ place… Very ‘eclectic‘ if that’s the right word.” It was, as meaning “including many different styles or methods.” As I also noted: We there had “an early celebration of a weather-shortened canoe trip… Instead of balmy sun and favorable prevailing breezes, the forecast looks like this: Winds 13 MPH [Thursday], 19 mph [Friday], 22 mph Saturday. And seven hours of rain [on Friday], 7 AM to 2 PM.”

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So that was it for the proposed canoe trip. Two days canoeing instead of five, which should count for something, but what now? After we loaded up the U-Haul, Tom booked a nice condo at 828 Oakleigh Avenue in Gulfport. A nice big kitchen, TV room with a comfy couch and two bedrooms, one a loft with a steep set of stairs to get up too. (That’s the one I got.) And Tom had booked it for the next three nights, to which – once again – I said, “Okay!” We’d still get home a day early, Saturday instead of Sunday, meaning I could make the Palm Sunday service. In the meantime one option was to get out to West Ship Island, but by way of that Ferry out from Gulfport. The same one I’d taken before the 2014 canoe trip.

Alas, that “aft aglay” thing hit again, but that’s a story for Friday morning.

Thursday morning we slept a bit later. Once again I luxuriated in nice “spread-em-out bed, with five or six soft warm pillows.” That morning we unloaded the canoes and equipment from the U-Haul and back onto the trailer and car. (Quite a chore.) Then we visited the Ohr-O’Keefe art museum, another place we’d seen during the 2014 adventure. Later that evening we sauntered through the Beau Rivage and Hard Rock casinos, which was not unlike Margaret Meade exploring strange and exotic “foreign” sub-cultures. (Like lots of older folk gambling away their limited Social Security, and even two nuns and what looked like a Monsignor.) At the Hard Rock we even saw Frank Zappa’s famous (or infamous) “Panty Quilt.” It’s made entirely of “underpants and bras” thrown on stage during some of his stage appearances.

Friday morning we drove out to catch the 9:30 boat to West Ship Island, only to find out the weather had intervened, again. As I wrote shortly after, “the bad weather, heavy rain and high winds were so bad that even that big-ass boat” – the one shown below – refused to go out today.” I added, sarcastically, “Geez, what kind of moron would want to be out there in a canoe!” So we opted for a Plan B that day, the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi:

…this place turned out to be well worth a visit. In fact it’s a different kind of overwhelming. Too much good stuff to see in one day.The verdict? Overall a wonderful mini-adventure. Two days canoeing in the Gulf, some good touristy stuff, and lots of good food. Even with all that “gang aft galaxy.” We’ll be heading home tomorrow.

Which I suppose is as good a way to end this already-too-long-post as any. Except to note that the post-title refers to a Leslie Nielsen bit from Police Squad, where an exotic dancer asks the detectives who’ve just come into her dressing room, “Is this some kind of a bust?” Nielsen answers, noting her chest, “very impressive, but we’d just like to ask you a few questions.”

As it turned out, this canoe adventure was’t a bust. It just didn’t turn out how we expected. Not unlike my visits to Paris and Lyon, which included getting on the train out of Lyon and down to Le Puy en Velay. That’s a subject I hope to take up in the next post, so stay tuned!

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Imagine canoeing out in weather so bad even this big boat “feared to tread…”

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As noted in the last post, the upper image is courtesy of Offshore Canoeing Image – Image Results. It came with a page, “Can Canoes Go in the Ocean?” The answer? “YES, If You’re Careful.” Another hint: “most canoes can be used in the ocean but only if the weather is calm and you stay close to the shoreline.” (Hmmm.) Also, “Outrigger canoes fair much better in ocean conditions than other types of canoe simply because they have extra buoyancy and stability.” As it turned out, the weather wasn’t calm – and threatened to get worse – and we were five miles away from the “shoreline.”

Re: Cat Island. The early French explorers called it that because they didn’t have a word for all the raccoons they saw there.

Re: “Best laid plans.” See, ‘The best laid schemes of mice and men’ – the meaning and origin, The best laid plans of mice and men – Wiktionary, and for the quote’s author, Robert Burns – Wikipedia.

Re: “We may end our trip there.” This and similar quoted passages are generally from my journal, unless otherwise noted herein.

Re: “Scrubzz sponge bath.” The second link is to the web article, How to Take a Sponge Bath * The Homesteading Hippy. It turned out to be an interesting read, with such notes as “Globally, only 1 in 3 people has access to clean, piped water.” And that in South Africa for example, “The majority of homes are situated in large townships where three to four homes (with many occupants) share access to 1 outhouse toilet.” And that accordingly water conservation has become a global hot topic. “With climate change, we are seeing more and more droughts than ever before. Areas that once were lush are slowly turning into arid deserts.” As to the first link:

SCRUBZZ NO RINSE BATHING SPONGE is a unique bathing product designed to give you that CLEAN and FRESH feeling whenever and wherever you may need it! Simply put a little water on the “FEATHER LITE” sponge, work into a lather, cleanse, and dry! NO NEED TO RINSE!

All of which is one big reason I love writing these blog posts. They’re a way to keep learning and keep your mind active. Plus, “I love exploring those rabbit trails!”

Re: The Walter Anderson Museum. We visited it the first time back before the 2014 canoe trip.

As to the “some kind of bust,” see for example, 11 Hilarious Moments from Police Squad | Mental Floss. Number 3: “Drebin and Hocken barge into the dressing room of an exotic dancer: Mimi Du Jour: ‘Is this some kind of bust?’ Frank Drebin: ‘Yes it’s very impressive,” etc. For a full video see Is this some kind of bust? CLASSIC COMEDY MOMENT … – YouTube.

The lower image is courtesy of Ferry To Ship Island MS Image – Image Results.

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A canoe-trip reprise – 2024

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Hopefully I won’t face this kind of wind and wave on our upcoming offshore canoe trip…

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The last five or six posts described my last-September (2023) hike on the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail in France. They included a primer on preparation, and got me up to my last day in Lyon, before meeting up with my hiking companions in Le Puy-en-Velay. But it’s time to take a break, mostly because I have another canoe-trip adventure coming up next week.

It’s actually a reprise of a canoe-trip my brother Tom and I took in November 2014. I described that one in Canoeing 12 miles offshore, from May 2015. It tells of our eight days of paddling out to some offshore islands in the Gulf of Mexico. Those islands – 10 or 12 miles offshore – included Half-moon Island, Cat Island and the Ship Islands. A side note: “Ship Islands” is plural because in 1969 Hurricane Camille split what had been one island into two separate islands, East and West. West Ship Island is in the foreground above left.

But this reprise will be different. For one thing, in 2014 we paddled from west to east, against the prevailing winds. This time we’ll be paddling east to west, which means the prevailing winds will be at our backs, helping us make faster progress. Another difference? Tom rigged up an outrigger – made of PVC pipe – for my smaller canoe, but it seemed to slow me down. This time I’ll try ocean-canoeing without an outrigger. One final difference: This time we’re planning a shorter trip, five days, from Pascagoula to Gulfport Mississippi. But as always that depends on the weather, and the forecast for the last day or two calls for rain.

The good news with that is that Biloxi is some two-thirds of the way from Pascagoula to Gulfport, so we may end our trip there. And that would be a bit of karmic closure, because that’s where we ended the 2014 trip. (Albeit under less that perfect conditions.)

I’ll do an after action report once we get back, but here are a few clues as to what to expect. For starters, in 2014 It took us eight day to get through the Rigolets (“pronounced “RIG-uh-leez”), out to the Gulf islands noted above, and back to Biloxi. (Formerly known as “Fort Maurepas.” See Rigolets and Fort Maurepas – Wikipedia.) And on the last day – from East Ship Island – we got up at 2:00 a.m. and hit the water at 3:00 a.m. That was to avoid a storm said to be coming in later that day. As for stumbling around in the dark, we had those “camper lights” that attach to the bill of a baseball cap. And this trip I made sure to pack a newer, brighter one.

Our goal that day was to reach the Beau Rivage Casino and Hotel.  We could see it shimmering brightly on the horizon to the north, nine miles away over the open water. (At 3:00 in the morning.) But alas, we never got there. At least not on our own. We did get to Biloxi, but only with the “help” of the Biloxi Marine Patrol. (Which miffed me a bit. “Hey, I know where I’m going!”)

It’s an exciting story, one you can read via links in the notes. But for now I’ll review some journal-notes from when I got back. Starting with putting in at Slidell (LA) and paddling through the Rigolets. That first day, with the drag of the outrigger, “I fell behind early and often.” And it took several hours to get the outrigger positioned so it wouldn’t interfere with my paddling.

And of making Lighthouse Point, and next morning heading south – in pre-dawn dark – down to Half-Moon Island. Which let me know how Columbus’ sailors felt about falling off the edge of the world. And problems with gnats but also but dolphins cavorting just off our campsite on one of many salt marshes between Half-Moon Island and Cat Island. And of routinely getting up at 3:00 in the morning to get our day’s paddling done before the afternoon heat roiled up the waters. And reaching Cat Island “after bypassing Isle Au Pitre in the pre-dawn darkness.” Which makes me wonder if this time we’ll renew the ritual of getting up at 3:00 in the morning.

And speaking of rituals, I have one just before heading out on an adventure like this. Or like heading over to Europe for a 15-day hike. I always watch The Longest Day movie. I just got into the habit, maybe because it tells of another expeditionary adventure that turned out well. I especially like the part at the end, where Robert Mitchum’s character looks at the carnage around him, but having overcome all the obstacles the day presented. As a fitting end he tells his driver, “Okay son, run me up the hill.” It just seems to bring a sense of good karma.

Tom and I have our own ritual for the end of a long canoe trip. After packing up and washing up at the hotel, we have a nice steak dinner and an icey-old beer. And that first beer tastes great after five days without. Here’s hoping for just such a successful celebration in a week or so…

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A good end of a hard day on Omaha Beach… “Run me up the hill, son.”

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The upper image is courtesy of Offshore Canoeing Image – Image Results. It comes with a page, “Can Canoes Go in the Ocean?” The answer? “YES, If You’re Careful.” Another hint: “most canoes can be used in the ocean but only if the weather is calm and you stay close to the shoreline.” (Hmmm.) Also, “Outrigger canoes fair much better in ocean conditions than other types of canoe simply because they have extra buoyancy and stability.”

For this post I borrowed from a companion blog, On achieving closure, and On achieving closure – Part II, both from February 2015. They included a link to Home from a pilgrimage, from November 2014. As for other canoe trip, see – in chronological order – My “new” Missouri River canoe trip, from July 2020; From March 15, 2023, I paddled across the Okefenokee – finally! And from March 26, 2023, The Okefenokee – “Haven of Serenity” or Deadly Swamp?

Re: “After-action report.” I first thought of using the term post-mortem, but as used herein that would generally refer to “an examination of something that has recently happenedespecially something that has failed or gone wrong.” And I didn’t want to jinx the trip.

Re: Isle au Pitre. See also For Pitre’s Sake! – Mississippi Sportsman, which has a map giving an idea of the many islands (and such) off the coast of Mississippi.

The lower image is courtesy of Longest Day – Image Results. See also Longest Day (film) – Wikipedia.

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On preparing for a Camino hike…

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Getting ready for a hike on the Camino de Santiago? Here are some useful tips…

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The last five posts talked about my trip to France last-September, to hike the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail. Now I’m taking those posts and turning them into chapters of a new book about the adventure. So far I’ve gotten through the first two days in Paris, then another two days in Lyon. I finally got onto the train out of Lyon, and from there heading down “to Le Puy-en-Velay and beyond!” To meet my hiking partners, brother Tom and his wife Carol.

But I’ve hit a sticking point. Among other things, I’ve done five “Camino hikes*” so far – going back to 2017 – and the early chapter on “Getting ready” for such a hike is turning out to be a pain. Plus, with my experience I figure I can offer some good advice to people thinking about doing such a hike. Good advice on things like training and about what to pack before heading overseas. And more important, what not to pack. So, after the early chapters on Paris and Lyon, I’l have the book move to a chapter on gearing up and preparation. And this will be it.

The thing is, I figure the average reader today has the attention span of a gerbil, so I’ll have to ease them into the book. I’ll try to grab their attention with details about the good stuff first, all about my exciting adventures in Paris and Lyon. Then I’ll put in the Gearing Up chapter, but with it a warning: “Those of you not thinking about doing a Camino hike will probably find this chapter boring, so you may want to skip ahead to the next chapter.”

I did a post in May 2023, Gearing up for the Stevenson Trail, but it didn’t have much advice for a prospective hiker. It was more about Stevenson’s book and sluts and things I wanted to do and see in Paris. (And Lyon.) So here’s what will become that future chapter on getting ready for a Camino hike. And first of all, “packing” brings up the biggest question, “What type of pack?”

For the first three Camino hikes I had a cheap low-hanging pack from a local “Yuppie Goodwill.*” But Tom and Carol got tired of seeing the pack hanging so low – and it was uncomfortable – so when we got back to Rome in 2022, they sprung for a better one. A Forclaz Men’s MT100 Easyfit 50 L (50 Liter) backpack from one of many Decathlon sporting-goods store in Rome. 

It made a world of difference on the GR-70. As a matter of fact, because of that extra comfort I could violate a fundamental rule for such hikes. The experts say your pack – including a full bottle of water (or two) – should weigh no more than ten percent of your body weight. In my case that meant 15 pounds, but for 2023 I opted for 20 pounds. That meant carrying extra weight both on the Trail and on those training hikes in August, before leaving home. But it was worth it. Among other things I could pack a full-cover “Gorton fisherman” rain jacket, mostly because the forecast was for heavy rain both when I got to Paris and later to Lyon

As for what to put in the pack, by 2023 I had a pretty good idea what to bring, and not to bring. First of all, quick dry clothes. For the hike in 2017 I wore blue jeans for the flight over to Madrid and back. The rest of the time I just hauled them all over northern Spain. They added weight and took up pack space. And don’t scrimp on socks. I take three pair of nylon socks and three pair of heavy wool socks. The nylon socks go on first, because I can easily wash them in a sink at night. The wool socks give a good cushion and you don’t have to wash them each night.

“Quick-dry” goes for other clothes too. I finally found some good quick-dry underwear, three pair of Adidas “Aeroready.” For outerwear, two pair of Columbia long pants and one pair of Magellan shorts. (The long pants for daytime long hours of sun, the shorts for the evening.) Up top, one tan long sleeve Magellan shirt with roll-up sleeves, along with two quick-dry long sleeve t-shirts and one short sleeve. (Long-sleeve for the day, short-sleeve for evenings.)

One of those long-sleeve tee-types is a black turtleneck. It says “Rocky” inside the back collar, but that’s all I can read; I can’t say what brand it is. But it’s been a favorite of mine for some time now; for those five Camino hikes and before that on multi-day canoe trips, probably starting with that eight-day, primitive-camping trip we made 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi.*

On the other hand, Camino purists say to limit your clothes to two sets. That way you have one set of day-clothes for hiking, and at night – after your shower – you put on the second set. But that means that every night you have to wash the other set, or get it washed.

There were lots of places on the Camino hikes in 2017 and 2019 where you could get your wash done at your lodging. Usually ten dollars to wash and dry, which between three people is not too bad. But the COVID cut into that. After 2020 there were both fewer places to stop during the day, and fewer places that offered washing at night.

For that and other reasons I prefer three sets of clothes, “purists be darned.” I like the option of not having to wash a set every night, and with three sets you can vary the combinations for “spice,” a change of pace. And speaking of nightly clothes washing, I’m not crazy about washing anything larger than an “under garment” or socks in a sink. You’re usually done with your shower, but then washing pants and shirts in a sink you end up splashing water all over yourself and also the floor. I found a better way – of necessity – back in Jerusalem in 2019.

The tour group I was in took a bus up to Nazareth for two nights. The luggage had to be stowed in the compartment underneath. I had the Yuppie Goodwill backpack and a duffel bag – with handles and a shoulder strap. But I also had a Piggly-Wiggly bag full of my dirty clothes. When we got to Nazareth I found the duffel and pack, but my Piggly-Wiggly bag of dirty clothes was nowhere to be seen. So there and back in Jerusalem I took to washing what clothes I had left in the day’s-end shower. I’d stomp extra soap into the clothes and and then rinse them – and myself – off later. Fortunately all the showers I’ve seen so far had that long extension hose.

Back in Jerusalem I’d then take the newly-clean clothes up to the rooftop terrace of the St. George’s Pilgrim Guesthouse and hand them on the lines up there. The nice thing about Israel, Spain and most other Mediterranean countries is that clothes on a line dry fast.

Then there’s protection from the sun. This trip I wore a wide-brim wool-felt Dorfman Pacific hat. In earlier trips I had a neck gaiter – the kind that came out during COVID – that I pulled up over my Atlanta Braves ball cap. That combo covered well, but made me look like a terrorist. I still took the ball cap, but that was for evenings. I also brought a pair of light gloves, and with that and the long-sleeves and long pants I was well protected. Still, I needed some sunscreen and few weeks before leaving home, at a Kroger, I saw a small .47-ounce roll-up, Simple Truth Kids’ Sunscreen on sale, SPF 50. That was enough to shield the back of my neck, nose and cheeks, and wasn’t all that greasy to spread on. I still have it for the next Camino hike.

The same goes for mouthwash. At home I like generic Original Listerine, the kind that tastes so bad you know it has to be good. But they don’t sell that kind in Europe, or Israel either. Then, in the same Fayetteville Kroger travel section, just before the GR-70, I found a small bottle of concentrate. Mint-flavored, not original, but it’s better than nothing and weight-efficient. I used it at least twice a day for 30 days in France, and still have half left over for that next hike in 2024.

Then there’s good old duct tape. It’s good for preventing new blisters or protecting old ones.

And finally, training. Starting mid-July and into August 2023, I took practice hikes at The Ridge Nature Center in Fayetteville, GA. At first I wore a 20-pound weight vest, plus ten pounds of ankle weights. Later on I added the pack, adding a little extra weight each week. That and past experience paid off. On the GR-70 itself I only got one blister, that first day out of Lyon, and with a touch of duct tape the next day, that was it. Except for falling, twice, on the last day of the hike, despite all my mental precautions. But that’s a story for a later chapter.

Happy hiking!!!

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The upper image is courtesy of Preparing For A Camino Hike Image – Image Results.

Re: “Camino hike.” I define that as any hike where at the end of each day you can look forward to a warm bed, hot shower and a cold beer.

“Yuppie Goodwill.” It’s actually the “Clothes Less Traveled” store in Peachtree City GA. And by the way, I ditched that low-hanging pack on the sidewalk, by a series of recycle bins, just outside our last lodging in Rome, at Viale Angelico 38. (A half-hour mile-and-a-half walk up from Vatican City.) On a similar note, after the Stevenson hike I left the Gorton Fisherman rain jacket at a clothing recycle bin in St. Jean du Gard, just down from out lodging at “Aux Fumades – Los castanhs.” (It’s listed as a lodge, at 195 Chemin de Luc in St. Jean du Gard.) By that time the jacket had a large rip beneath the left armpit, plus it took up a lot of space in my pack.

On that canoe trip 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi, see On canoeing 12 miles offshore from 2015, and Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi. The second one had some stuff on the 2017 Camino hike and on the Stevenson Trail. (Mostly on “Why?”)

The book chapter on Gearing Up will include using a Kindle tablet for taking photos, then being able to post them on Facebook. (Pending good enough “free” WiFi.) Plus you don’t have to turn it on and off to take such pictures, as I thought in 2017.

Also, for future reference and possible use in new posts, On visiting Paris and Lyon in 2023, from July 24, 2023. Also a preview, The Stevenson Trail – from Le Puy to La Bastide-Puylaurent, from September 3, 2023, a week before I flew over. Also, a “reasons why” post on July 11, 2023, Still pushing the envelope, at “ripe old” 72.

The lower image is courtesy of Happy Hiking Images – Image Results.

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A full day in Lyon – and beyond?

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The Rhone River in Lyon – viewing the Ponte de l’Universite and Ponte de la Guillotière

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In the last post I finally managed to get out of Paris, onto the train at Gare de Lyon, then ride on down to Lyon. (Later than planned; my 9:30 a.m. train got switched to 2:30.) There was also a bit of a hubbub involving Lyon’s two train stations. That resulted in me wandering around in the rain awhile before finding my luxurious lodging at HO36 Hostel, at 36 Rue Montesquieu. 

First thing next morning – Thursday, September 14 – I checked Google Maps for a laundromat. (Ho36 had good WiFi.) I found one and hiked down Rue Bechevelin, then took a short left to 43 Rue Chevreul. I washed and dried the wet sweaty clothes from the day before, at Promoclean Laverie Chevreul. (Laverie is French for “laundromat.”) While waiting on that I crossed the street for a cafe creme and sweet treat at Cafe Suzette, and posted this on Facebook:

“For breakfast [I had] this flan, in the shape of a pie slice. Delish, and you [can] eat it with your hands. Along with a cafe creme, while your hot sweaty laundry from yesterday is at the lavendaria across the street.”

(My mistake. I later learned “lavendaria” means something totally different.*)

I also posted that “Tomorrow I head for Le Puy en Velay,” and that my tablet’s autocorrect had a fit with such names. “It’s going to be a long month.” Which it was, with me constantly correcting autocorrect. (Which can’t stand either “creative writing” or foreign names.) But back to Thursday morning. After dropping off my clean laundry at Ho36, I started my city tour.

I planned to head over to the twin rivers, cross the bridges and get to Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière. It’s atop a high hill, like the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Paris. And like “Sacred Heart” it’s said to offer a splendid panorama of the city. But somehow, maybe still reeling from yesterday’s confused late-afternoon hike in the rain, I turned left on Rue Marseille. It was a nice walk, for a while, but by and by I got the feeling I’d made a wrong turn. “I should have gotten to the river by now!” As it turned out, Rue Marseille runs parallel to the Rhone River. (Three blocks away.) What I I should have done is stay on Rue Montesquieu and head west(ish) over to Quai Claude Bernard. From there I could head up to Pont de la Guillotière and cross over the Rhone. As it was, I ended up hiking parallel to the river and away from “Guillotière” bridge.

I ended up hikiing past Rue Raoul Servant, and thus past all those train multi-tracks that lead to a tunnel under the Rhone and on to Gare de Lyon-Perrache. (One of two train stations in the city.) And ended up hiking on to where Rue Marseille turns into Boulevard Yves Farge. By this time I’d hiked a half hour, and eventually reached “Vocational High School Louise Labé.”

Along the way I stopped at the first sidewalk wine store I saw. I’d heard so much about the Beaujolais nouveau the city is famous for, and wanted to try some. (A unique local wine and highly-prized regional specialty.) I went inside and asked if they had any. But the man just looked at me funny and said, with a deep French accent, “Noh-VAHM-brrr.” (Rolling his eyes, if only in his mind.) From the tone of his voice I gathered that was French for “dumbass!” I also gathered that Beaujolais nouveau doesn’t keep for long. Another “gang aft aglay!”

Back on the street – refreshed at least from a break in hiking – I tried a different tack. I turned right, and after a block of so saw what I’d been looking for. The heights of the city, topped by several buildings with steeples. Two blocks more and I found the Rhone River, then headed up to what looked like the highest steepled building. I kept walking toward Pont de la Guillotière, making sure to memory-mark where I’d turn to get back to Rue Montesquieu – and “home!” I crossed over to and through the Presqu’île heart of the city, which looked interesting, full of bustling young people, pilgrims and young romantics of all kinds. (“I wish I had more time.”)

I originally planned to hike all the way up the hill to the Basilica, but the route wasn’t at all clear. (No “direct way.”) And by this time I was getting tired from more hiking than I expected. Plus there was a funiculaire, and it was reasonably priced, so I took it instead. And the view just from the top of the hill was spectacular, by itself, but that was as good as it got.

Just like in Paris I’d hoped to climb to the top of the Basilica tower in Lyon. Then came another surprise. (Another “aft aglay.”) It turns out that to climb the tower you have to join a tour group. But aside from the expense, to me that meant standing around in a group of strangers, trying to feign interest in a lot of touristy questions. In other words, wasting time and money, to which I said, “No thanks!” Still, the view – even just from the top of the hill – was spectacular:

The highlight of the day today, hiking around Lyon, France. Two views of the city from high atop the hill where stands the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourvielle. “Mission Accomplished!” I planned to climb up, but I must confess – I do not deny, but confess – that I took the funicular up. I was worn out by then, by the walking today and trials and tribulations of yesterday.

I posted that on Facebook, with the pictures, then hiked back to my lodging at Ho36. I took a shower, did some yoga and in due course wandered down to the bar-slash-community-room for a bite of dinner and a beer or two. Before leaving home I’d downloaded the Manybooks.net version of Travels with a Donkey, as a file so I could read it anywhere. (Even without internet.) And there in that big Ho36 dining-room-slash-bar I started re-reading Travels in earnest. I wanted to know what to expect, and we’d be starting the long hike in three days.

But first I had to get to Le Puy.

Sitting among all the fellow hostelers, sipping on an ice cold beer and reading Stevenson’s account of the adventure again, I thought about tomorrow’s transportation. Back home I’d bought a ticket for a 1:30 train and bus to Le Puy, however

When I got to Part Dieu Wednesday afternoon, and before starting the hike to Ho36, I took some time to just stand and scope out the situation. (The vast station.) Mostly I wanted to familiarize myself with how to get out of Lyon and on to the train to Le Puy. I watched people boarding, and saw that they all had one of those square things with the squiggly lines inside, either on their phones or on a piece of paper. (What I later learned was a “QR Square.”) And I didn’t have either one. So I planned to get there early next morning and figure something out.

Before retiring for the night I set the alarm for 8:-00 – the train left at 1:30 – but woke up at 6:30. I went through my morning ablutions and packed up. Then, figuring I had a little time to relax, I lay down for a bit – but “danged if I didn’t fall asleep again.” (And had really weird dream to boot.) Still with some time to go I left Ho36, hiked up Rue Marseille to the McDonald’s where I’d stopped to get my bearings on Wednesday. I’d checked Google Maps for a simpler route, so from the McDonald’s I hiked straight up Rue Paul Bert and followed it all the way. I got to Part Dieu in 22 minutes, at least half the time it took on Wednesday to get to the hostel.

I got to the station and went inside. Crowded, noisy and vast, and amid all the chaos I got run into, literally, by a tall attractive brunette in a red vest. Which I really appreciated; she was one of the station’s staff. After some mumbled apologies I asked her for help. She may have thought I was one of those “angels unawares,” but at any rate she directed me to the nook off to the side of the station – out of the main drag – where I could get a paper pass. The line was short, I got my paper with the squiggly square and – with plenty of time to spare – took a hike.

Out through the exit and over the six tracks east of the station, through the Parc Jeanne Jugan and up Rue d’Avigny for a ways. Then back to the Parc where I stopped at the Hotel-Restaurant Campanile Lyon, for a leisurely brunch at one of the shaded outdoor tables. And that was that. All I had to do was get on the train for a 45-minute down to Saint-Étienne-Châteaucreux, find the bus station in 15 minutes, then ride for an hour and 20 minutes.

What could go wrong? I was on my way to Le Puy en Velay – and beyond!

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More like, “to Le Puy-en-Velay and beyond…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Lyon France Images – Image Results. It goes with a a page, “Lyon in pictures – the mysterious food capital of France.” And aside from the Ponte de l’Universite and Ponte de la Guillotière, you can see the Basilica “Fourviere” at the far upper left.

“The last post:” More “gang aft aglay” – and luxury in Lyon!

A note about clothes washing on an overseas hiking journey to Europe. Sometimes while taking my end-of-day shower – and as necessary – I can wash my sweat-damp clothes by stomping soap into them and then rinsing with the shower hose. (A quick trick I had to learn in Jerusalem, when my Piggly-Wiggly bag full of dirty clothes got lost on the bus-ride to Nazareth.) And incidentally, the French word for laundromat is “laverie,” as in the Promoclean title. “Lavanderia” is apparently something to eat. See for example French Lavanderia Recipe – Image Results.

Re: The Lyon Beaujolais. “The wine is marketed to be drunk in November, only a few months after the grapes were on the vines.”

“Angels unawares.” See Hebrews 13:2 – Bible Hub, in the KJV, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (The attractive young lady in the red vest certainly got my vote for a nice berth in heaven…)

The lower image is courtesy of Infinity And Beyond – Image Results, referring to sayings by Buzz Lightyear, the “fictional main character in DisneyPixar‘s Toy Story franchise.” See also To Infinity and Beyond: A Journey of Cosmic Discovery, on the 2023 book by Tyson and Walker.

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