16 Days in France (Day 8)

Stranded, Day 2

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As you can see, we are on a bus, not a boat.  The boat required repairs of such a nature that an engineer from the generators’ manufacturer in Germany had to be summoned for a “house call.”  Fortunately, Cornelia lined up plenty for us to do until the “patient” was cleared for duty.  We bus adventured to three different sites on this day, and I would think to some extent we did better than the sites we were scheduled to visit but now could not.  Here we’re on the road to Pont du Gard, a World Heritage site, that was worth our delays all by itself.

Pont du Gard

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[Our entry to Pont du Gard, a 2000-year old Roman aqueduct that was an engineering marvel for its time (as it would be today).  It carried water for 50 kilometers, between Uzes and Nimes (Neems), through an elevation drop of only 40 feet over that distance.  You’ll notice The Biddies are backpacked for the long haul.]

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[Our guide points out the map, where we were, where we were suppose to be in a couple hours, and generally released us to attack the undefended aqueduct on our own.  If we were late getting back, no big deal – the boat wasn’t working yet and the trains were on strike.  😉 ]

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[If you double click on this map you should be able to increase it to a useable size.  Or you could go have a cookie.]

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[More of my favorite plane trees – did you notice them lining the street in the top photo?  The first sighting of Pont du Gard through the trees.]

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[Ah, another favorite.  I could eat olives until the cows come home . . . or until any other ruminant comes home as well.  This particular olive tree is over 1,100 years old, making it almost as old as some of my foot callouses.]

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[What  beauty!]

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[The aqueduct comes into full view – built better than some of our bridges we don’t maintain anymore.]

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[It’s a marvel.]

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[Another elderly olive tree.  They are long-lived because they contain . . . olive oil!]

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[As we approached, photos were taken at every 10-degree change in perspective . . . or when we felt like it.]


[Supervisor photo of our guide (OK, she led us this far, now we’re on our own).]

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[We prepared for crossing – no toll booths or passport checks to impede our progress.]

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[A sign.]

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[It spans the Gardon River . . . ]

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[From both sides.]

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[The Biddies appear jubilant . . . despite a dearth of immediate area shopping.]

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[Just like home, school kids were on field trips everywhere we went.  And just like home, they wear the same t-shirts and are huge Sinatra fans (OK, I made up that last part).]

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[We have crossed over . . .]

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[Neanderthals may have been here (OK, that’s just a guess).]

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[Class is now in session – in a bit, you can go put your feet in the river.]

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[Thank you fellow tourist.  We could have searched a better spot, but it was hard enough rounding up all 10 of us here.  Wait a minute, where’s Sharon?  Anyway, it’s good lighting on the aqueduct, but we were stuck in the shade.]

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[OK, releasing who we thought was everybody else, Bill and I prepared for an assault on the summit.]

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[We’re going up . . .]

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[And at the top!  🙂 ]

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[Ooops, we didn’t know Elizabeth and Kay were joining us.  And aside from their jovial banter, they provided some photo perspective.  😉  ]

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[Yup, there it is from above.  Pretty neat!]

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[The above six were all shot by the supervisor.  They were useful for posting to Facebook from her tablet.  And it gave me an opportunity to star on the other side of the camera!]

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[Now we’re in the museum (remember where the map was?) where we were to meet up with our guide again.  I think you can figure out what this is?]

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[And I always thought the bikini was a invented within my lifetime?]

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[I think (we were just catching up to the group) this explained the mathematics of the construction, as this all took place a couple of generations before the iPad.]

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[Where we were in relation to where you’re reading this from.]

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[It helped to have pulley sysems for the construction . . . and probably a few thousand slaves.]

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[We’re on the road again.  I don’t know what this is, but it doesn’t appear to be botanical.]

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[This, is a winery.]

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[This, is a camera selfie.]

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[Back to the boat for lunch.  Then after, the supervisor is at the door on the left, ready to break for it to catch the buses for the afternoon adventure.  We had to wait a while while they re-provisioned the boat.  They had to hand dolly everything down the dirt ramp where we were moored, and then all the crew, including the captain and Cornelia, pitched in to pass the stuff along in chain line.  Do you have any idea how many pallets of bottled water and TP it takes to sustain 250 people on a boat?]

Ardeche Canyon

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[On the road again.  Familiar?  Jackie Kennedy’s town again . . .]

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[Over the bridge . . . ]

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[And into . . .]

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[Pont St. Esprit.]

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[But we were headed to the Ardeche Canyon, the Grand Canyon of France (though a recent article in the Minneapolis StarTribune said it was another canyon east of here?).]

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[It’s about 30 kilometers long carved by the Ardeche River.]

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[And I’m on the wrong side of the bus again.]

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[So, we’ll do the best we can shooting from available windows . . .]

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[Seems a bit like going through Zion National Park here as vehicles wind behind you on the switchbacks.]

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[A tunnel, just in case you weren’t familiar with these holes through rocks things.]

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[A nice canyon view.]

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[Coming upon Pont d’Arc, we’ll be back.]

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[And again.]

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[Parking for water access, a great place to be on this yet another close to 100-degree day.]

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[Yup, we came back, parked, and got out.]

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[And this is Pont d’Arc, a natural bridge that is effectively one end of the canyon.]

Natural Bridge by Harper’s Chord:

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[The viewers . . . ]

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[The viewees.]

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[Kay and Bert]

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[Bert and Anne]

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[The road that’s so fun to navigate in a large bus.]

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[Well, if she’s going to model?]

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[Back on the bus, Gus, and heading back down and out.]

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[Did you notice, this time I was on the “correct” side of the bus.]

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[Bill, and if you’re wondering how we came to be on now three cruises together . . .]


[This is Bill, in his former life at the Department of Labor.  His office just happened to have a view of the U.S. Capitol out his window.  I believe this was taken on my last day of work, some time in August 2001, but we began many a work day with a cup of coffee in his office.]

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[Meanwhile, back in the Ardeche Canyon.]

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[Contrary to earlier reports, that is NOT me in the unbuttoned shirt!  Back at the other end of the canyon.]


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[And then it was on to “Lavender Fields Forever.”  Lavender is grown all over this area, and we’re stopping at a museum here.  This plant is technically lavendin, a hybrid of wild (or natural) lavender, and is distilled into a variety of products for its aroma.]

OK, just substitute “lavender” for “gold”:

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[Bees!!  We could use some of these guys around here.]

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[More Fields of Lavender.]

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[The distillery.]

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[The museum . . . it was hot and we were getting a little antsy from the long day.]

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[The owner on the left, our guide (a Pennsylvanian, as I recall) on the right.]

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[Viewing the distillation.]

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[Burt, Kathy, and Elizabeth on the right, the “model” and her “photographer” on the left.]

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[Bee bar for the thirsty!]

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[Our final stop, the boat is alive and coming to pick us up.  The supervisor captures Sharon and Bert in the moment.  This outdoor restaurant on the river had to love four bus loads of tourists dropping in on them (I think they called in help).]

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[Pizza and beer for all!!]

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[Here comes our boat.  Hooray!!  And here’s where I need help from the cast . . . what town was this?  (Bert subsequently advised we were back in Viviers.  Thanks!)  Anyway, we couldn’t board immediately.  An ambulance met the boat – one of our servers, a young woman, apparently had succumbed to the heat.  They took her to the local hospital, we presume.  We later heard she was OK.]

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[But we were on the road again . . .]

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[Well, the river road!]

There is only one cure for grey hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.  ~  P.G. Wodehouse

A comment:

I’ve had wine on the boat to Nyon,

On Le Lac at the start of the Rhone,

Put my feet in the Rhone headwaters in Geneva,

and drank Chateau Neuf De Pape in Lyon,

but never have I been stranded on the Rhone

on the way to Avianyone….  ~  Marcus  (who as a big time NOAA guy often went to Geneva on official gubberment bidness)


Up next:  Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.

About tomobert63

The Journey Begins Thanks for joining me! This is the follow-up to the original, “alexandriacardinals.wordpress.com,” which overwhelmed the system’s ability to handle it any more. Thus, this is “Part 2.” As the original was initially described: 10-26-07-4 “It all began in a 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California” . . . wait a minute, that was Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Let’s see . . . oh yeah, it all began in 2003 when retirees, i.e., old people, in Alexandria, Minnesota, who had no desire to become snow birds, went looking for mid-winter entertainment here in the frozen tundra of West Central Minnesota. We discovered girls’ high school hockey, fell in love immediately, and it remains our favorite spectator sport to this day. Initially, and for several years, reports on these games were e-mailed to those who were actually snowbirds but wanted to keep abreast of things “back home.” It was ultimately decided a blog would be more efficient, and it evolved into a personal diary of many things that attracts tens of readers on occasion. It remains a source of personal mental therapy and has yet to elicit any lawsuits. ~ The Editor, May 9, 2014 p.s. The photo border around the blog is the Cardinal girls’ hockey team after just beating Breck for the state championship in 2008. It’s of the all-tournament team. The visible Breck player on the left is Milica McMillen, then an 8th-grader – she is now an All-American for the Gophers. The Roseau player in the stocking cap I believe is Mary Loken, who went on to play for UND; and the Cardinal player on the right, No. 3, is Abby Williams, the player we blame most for making us girls’ hockey fans who went on to play for Bemidji State. *********************************************************************************** Photos contained herein are available for personal use. All you have to do is double click on any of the photos and they will become full screen size. You can then save them into your personal “My Pictures” file. They make lovely parting or hostess gifts, or holiday gifts for such as Uncle Ernie who wants to see how his grand niece is doing on the hockey team. If any are sold for personal profit, however, to, for example, the Audubon Society, National Geographic, Sven’s Home Workshop Monthly, Curling By The Numbers, or the World Wrestling Federation, I only request that you make a donation to the charitable organization of your choice. You have two hours and fifteen minutes. Pencils ready? Begin! **********************************************************************************
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