Saturday, June 26, 2010

Flood!

We stayed our first few nights in Brignole, between Marseille and Nice, up in the hills, refitting, repairing, de-jet-lagging. Further up, 20-30 miles or so, the torrential rain caused flooding on the evening of the 17th. 25 people died and there was major devastation everywhere. We drove through the area, the Var valley, a couple days later.
Some of the devastation; gendarmes were everywhere;
power was still out, two days after the storms







The main roads were passable, but a mess








The scene everywhere








A mobile home lot; an RV sales lot down the road was
completely washed asunder

Back On The Road, Again, In Europe

And so, just like that, 10 time zones later, courtesy of United and Lufthansa, we were back in Marseilles, hauling luggage, reclaiming the Grey Wanderer, trying to unpack and set up housekeeping and get our bearings. We passed most of the flight watching movies we had intended to see in the States, but didn't--It's Complicated (amusing), Up in the Air (I love dark humor, George Clooney, and read Walter Kirn's novel back in 2001, when he appeared at the Montana Festival of the Book), and Alice in Wonderland (ick)--enjoying the free beverages and OK food, and sleeping. Marseilles was delightfully warm when we arrived, but then it rained, torrents, for the next two days. The Grey Wanderer seems to have weathered our 4 month absence all right (thanks to the nice people at Parka Bateaux) mostly. The water pump leaks, the macerator is not up to par (so to speak), the awning is broken, and, worst of all, we did not pack the power cord for the TomTom. After the initial panic, we located a suitable replacement at the LeClerc, and since have been navigating with our usual efficiency ("turn around, when possible"). 

We have been back for nearly two weeks now, and I have much to account for--Nice, Cote d'Azur, the Route des Grandes Alpes, Annecy, and now Chamonix, where we'll spend a few days. There is free internet at the Chamonix TI, so I'll post a bit more in the next few days.
Interior of the Grey Wanderer during unpacking; the
confusion is worth it, since







You get to camp at places like Savines le Lac, in the
French Alps







Or at the foot of Mont Blanc

Wedding Day For Rebecca and Jeremy

Saturday June 12th Rebecca and Jeremy were wed in Moss Beach. After much work by the wedding couple, Rachel and Will, the Mother and Father of the Bride, and others, it all came to pass, and was indeed the casual but elegant garden wedding we had all looked forward to. And it was a very expressive wedding, personally, for Rebecca and Jeremy, conveying their many mutual interests and much of what we all know and love about them. Many special friends and family attended, and it was indeed a joyous occasion. I took only a few pix, but will add a link to the wedding site (professional photographer) when it is ready.
Earlier in the week, Rebecca and Jeremy at
the reception her Castilleja colleagues,
especially Holly, hosted; it occurred on
our 42nd wedding anniversary, noted
generously by a toast














Wedding Day: the candy table







And the post-card table

The cake--for a bookish couple







Rebecca and Jeremy, following the ceremony; Rebecca
wore Vicki's mantilla








Maid-of-Honor Rachel, Bride Rebecca, Groom Jeremy,
and Best Man Damien












The rose-petal departure

A Day In San Francisco

Wedding Week got into high gear Wednesday with the arrival of Rachel and Will, Stacey, and Carole and Lexi. On Thursday, June 10, Vicki and I and Carole and Lexi and Stacey embarked on a day-long tour of San Francisco highlights.
Our tour started at the, um, interesting house we had rented
in Half Moon Bay
We actually saw and did Lombard Street, but, alas, my
camera malfunctioned much of the day; pictured above, of
course, is Ghiradelli Square, where we had, what else, hot
chocolate
Down the street was the Buena Vista, whose Irish coffee we
eschewed (it being early in the day); but we did later ride the
cable car


And of course we did visit Fishermans' Wha
And saw one Bay Cruise you do not want to take
And The Rock (Alcatraz)
And the seals at Pier 39; and chowder at Boudin's for
some; In and Out burgers for others
Carole and Lexi at the Tomb of the Unknown Seal
Turning the cable car
Transamerica Tower from Chinatown,
where we spent a good bit of time
Rotunda of the downtown shopping center where we
shopped and dined; OK, it's not Galeries Lafayette

The city from the Golden Gate viewing area

And, the Golden Gate; it was now past ten,
actually, past 1 AM for the eastern time
zone crowd, and some were asleep before
we crossed the brige back to town; all in
all, a pretty action-packed and sight-filled
day

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Know You're In California When...

You're driving down El Camino Real somewhere near Palo
Alto, and the Google Maps Mobile is right in front of you;
actually, there were several; we followed them for a mile or
two, smiling, saying "cheese" all the way, and snapping a
few pix of our own

Thanks, Bob and Beth

Bob and Beth's place, on the Pond d'Oreille River, our
headquarters the past two months









Vicki, Bob, and Beth

Beth fixing Chicken Adobo, part of a Filipino
feast for us, neighbors and friends; too petite
to be a nurse, she became an MD instead and
worked many years for Kaiser Permanente

















Adieu, Idaho; hello, California










Descending over SF into San Jose
  






Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nordwand

In less than two weeks, we'll be back in Europe (volcanos and other things willing...), and our minds are turning now to the places we will visit for the next six months...basically north and east from Marseille, across the whole of the Alps, side trips to Munich, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, etc., and then down through Romania into Turkey.
Great climbing film




















Just to get into the mood, we saw a screening of the 2008 German film Nordwand (North Face) at the Panida theater in Sandpoint. I thought it was going to be about the triumphant 1938 first ascent of the Eiger north face, which celebrated Germany's "annexation" of Austria (a German team and an Austrian team joined forces). However, it was about the 1936 Hinterstroisser/Kurz attempt. Various liberties were taken with what is known of the story--an imagined romantic angle actually ties it all together, effectively, I thought--but the depiction of 1936 Germany, of climbing in the 1930s, of the characters, all had the ring of truth. These were the days when it was thought unsporting to attack the mountain anywhere but at its strength (hence "north face" climbing), when climbers forged their own pitons and wove their own manila ropes. No camming devices nor perlon nor goretex nor polartec. It was also the time when the Reich was determined to demonstrate the superiority of its athletes--never mind Jesse Owens in the Berlin Olympics--and everything else. The film's climbing and mountain photography were stunning, the story utterly gripping, the last hour a cardio thump-fest. The theater emptied in a hush, no one humming "Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles." A great movie if you are interested in such things; or just a good work-out for your adrenal and circulatory systems.
Eiger north face




















Anyhow, we'll be visiting Lauterbrunnen, Grindelwald, Kleine Scheidegg, maybe even riding the Jungfraubahn past the Eigernordwand balcony to the Jungfraujoch, as we did in 1989. Some day hikes. But no roped climbing for me, not anymore.
On the north face

Sagle Scenes

A flotilla of ducks paddles down the river early every
morning; "flotilla" is not the right word; for ducks, unlike
a geese gaggle, you have to choose among a badling or a
waddling or a paddling or a team, a flush, a raft or a flock,
none of which works for me; I propose a quackilla of ducks







Outside the Ace in Albeni, ID; unfortunately (like the iPad)
you can't actually make a call from the cell phone stun gun











The give-away bin at the Dufort Road trash dump in Sagle
--the best-organized trash and recycling center I have yet
seen, anywhere; seriously; plus, they have a sense of humor










Just down the road from Bob and Beth's place; I'm sure
these neighbors are really very nice people, once you get
to know them, perhaps while they're re-loading; perhaps
they have a sense of humor, too









The Library at Sandpoint, where I hung out a bit; nice
collection, very ample technology, friendly, helpful staff,
free wifi everywhere, always crowded











Among my less successful projects in Sagle
was home-brewing some ginger beer from a
kit Vicki had bought in the UK of GB; the
plastic beer bottles I used didn't explode,
but they did expand considerably; when
opened, about half the mixture fizzed away;
the rest was undrinkable sediment-laden
ginger-flavored glop; I'll stick to store-
bought in the future


















But the hummingbirds liked it (it's heavily sugared);
strangely, they all went away after I started using Splenda
(that's a joke, son)







Me modeling wedding suits at our storage unit back in
Missoula (thanks again Tammi, Bruce, and Luke); it's a
long story, and no, we were not having fun yet








Sagle is just a few miles up the road from the very popular
Silverwood amusement park, in Athol ("that's a myth";
"yeth?")