Fun and Easy Zone

July 1918 World War I; Wikipedia; Google Images
July 1918 World War I; Wikipedia; Google Images

Mara challenged me to keep my Le Tour Adventure fun and easy. Here is an update. I took K2's advice and ordered the Rick Steve's luggage: both the daypack and the roller/backpack. The size forces you to pack light; however, I will not miss the second pair of jeans when I am carrying it from train station to my hotel and back. Still to do: a practice pack and walk around town this week.

My friend Jim narrowed down where Uncle Frank likely died. I will double check on any available websites I can find. The Germans made a big push into France in Spring of 1918 and the French and American forces pushed back in July 2018. He likely died in Chateau Thierry and the Second Battle of the Marne.  When I am in Reims I will be as close as I will get to the area where he likely fell. If time and bus schedules allow I will go to Chateau Thierry. And if they do not, I will light a candle and remember him at the Cathedral in Reims.

Dust in the Las Vegas area kicked my sinuses up. And this weekend I have had tummy troubles. So I have some training to do on Trixie the road bike to regain some form.

Jens Voigt winning a stage after a breakaway.
Jens Voigt winning a stage after a breakaway.

Ray helped me clarify my stake for the trip: Enjoy a once in a life time adventure and meet amazing people.  Some people I would love to meet: Mark Cavendish, Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara, Greg Lemond, and any amazing person Providence puts in my path. Like the Canadians I met in Givors last year who inspired this trip.

I discovered the Imperial War Museum will reopen its galleries with a special exhibit in London July 19. I will make time to visit on my way through London at the end of July. Right after I tour Buckingham Palace's state rooms.

I discovered a great author--Australian John Baxter. He is the author of many books on Paris. A exemplar storyteller, his books are a delight to read. What I really love is he encourages you to be a "flaneur" -- to walk without necessarily any purpose. So instead of making lots of notes while reading Paris at the End of the World, or The Most Beautiful Walk in the World, I am going to let go of an agenda for my free day in Paris.

Bill Reid shooting photos at Ag Art day.
Bill Reid shooting photos at Ag Art day.

Yesterday my friend Bill Reid gave me a photography tutorial during an Ag & Art at Chowdown Farms in Esparto. His help was greatly appreciated after giving up in frustration with the official "Blue Crane Digital" instructional video. It may have well as been in French.  There are also many excellent videos on YouTube. (Hooray YouTube!)

With just a little over a week before I leave, I am getting very excited. I cannot let my mind wander yet! First there is some more consulting work to do and some more prep.

Countdown to Adventure

With some sleep I was able to recover my enthusiasm for my Le Tour Adventure. I am getting ready to launch.  My stake is to enjoy a once in a lifetime adventue and meet amazing people.Tour de France 2014 route Several people have asked where I will be going. Below is my itinerary. Please provide suggestions for what I might want to see or do along the way.  I will not be taking my folding bike, so I will be moving by foot, train and cab/bus. I note the kilometers the Tour de France pros will be riding for each stage.

July 1 - Day One - Flying to London on Air New Zealand

July 2 - Day Two - Arriving in London and taking train to Cambridge; staying at Christ College and walking around town.

July 3 - Day Three - Train to Leeds; meeting up with Trek Travel group at Hotel by 3 p.m. (Now on "Trek Time")

July 4 - Day Four - Riding with Trek Travel; social events

July 5 - Day Five - Riding with Trek; viewing finish of Stage One, 190.5 km, Leeds to Harrogate

July 6 - Day Six - Riding with Trek; viewing race Stage Two, 201 km, York to Sheffield; travel to London

July 7 - Day Seven - Viewing the Stage Three finish in London; 155 km; Last night with Trek Travel

July 8 - Day Eight - Eurostar train to Lille, France for finish of Stage Four; 163.5 km

July 9 - Day Nine - Stage Five; 155.5 km; start in Ypres?? or finish in Arenberg Porte de Haunait??; lodging in Saint-Nicolas

July 10 - Day Ten - Stage Six; Arras to Reims; 194 km; Finish in Reims

July 11 - Day Eleven - Stage Seven; 234.5 km; Finish in Nancy

July 12 - Day Twelve - Stage Eight; 161 km; Start in Tomblaine?? Finish in Gerardmer?? meeting the WatLoves (Harriet Watson, Brian Lovell and girls) in Mulhouse!

July 13 - Day Thirteen - Stage Nine; 170 km; view finish in Mulhouse

July 14 - Day Fourteen - Stage Ten; 161.5 km; view start in Mulhouse; travel to Lyon

July 15 - Day Fifteen - Rest Day for Cyclists and me; meet up with Thomson Tours in Lyon for Alps spectator tour (from here to Paris I'm on "Thomson Time"); travel to Albertville

July 16 - Day Sixteen - Stage Eleven; 187.5 km; View finish in Oyonnax

July 17 - Day Seventeen - Stage Twelve; 185.5 km; Option to visit Chamonix or find Irish pub in Albertville to watch tour on tv and rest

July 18 - Day Eighteen - Stage Thirteen; 197.5 km; Viewing race from the "Col" (on the mountain)

July 19 - Day Nineteen - Stage Fourteen; 177 km; View the finish from the start in Grenoble

July 20 - Day Twenty - Stage Fifteen; 222 km; Travel to Lyon with Thomson Tours and on to St Lary-Soulan (watch on television)

July 21 - Day Twenty-one - Rest Day; Relax and write in St Lary-Soulan and meet Thomson Tours Pyrenees & Paris spectator tour participants

July 22 - Day Twenty-two - Stage Sixteen; 237 km; View finish in Bagneres de Luchon

July 23 - Day Twenty-three - Stage Seventeen; 124.5 km; view from St Lary-Soulan or take cable car to finish

July 24 - Day Twenty-four - Stage Eighteen; 145.5 km; View on mountain at Hautacam

July 25 - Day Twenty-five - Stage Nineteen; 208.5 km; View start in Maubourguet

July 26 - Day Twenty-six - Stage Twenty; 54 km; Watch time trial on television; travel to Paris

July 27 - Day Twenty-seven - Stage Twenty-one; 137.5 km; Watch finish on Champs-Elysees in Paris; dinner cruise on River Seine

July 28 - Day Twenty-eight - Rest day in Paris

July 29 - Day Twenty-nine - Travel to London on Eurostar; stay at Ampersand Hotel

July 30 - Day Thirty - Quick trip to Imperial War Museum to see new WW1 exhibit (if time permits) and then to Heathrow to fly home

I have ordered a new Rick Steve's roller bag/backpack and I am borrowing Tevis' backpack. I will try out both while shopping in Davis and decide which one to take. I bought two excellent Michelin maps in Washington DC. I will take up UK Sarah's offer to go over the logistics with me. (She speaks French!)

Looking forward to your pointers!



July 14 - Day Fourteen - Stage Ten; 161.5 km; Start in Mulhouse

Live Now and Save Just Enough

With bff Harriet and our dogs at Trinidad State Beach. I returned to my exciting and challenging assignment with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and tunneling project on Monday.  After a lovely break in Trinidad, CA and visit with Harriet and family, I actually enjoyed getting back into what serves as my routine as a consultant.  Every Tuesday I look forward to an all morning meeting with "my engineers." They are an assortment of brilliant tunneling experts and water infrastructure engineers. Unfortunately one of our numbers died over the holiday break. Arnold Sanchez was in his mid-40s and the picture of health. We still are not sure on the details on the cause of death (maybe flu related), but knowing would not lessen the shock.  I shared this dreadful news with my friend Petrea as we walked our dogs and we both agreed that this was a good reminder that we do not know how long we have on this earth and we should live as fully as we can while we can.

This came up again when we talked about financial advice we have both been receiving--while we value saving, we also value enjoying and experiencing life now. Petrea said it best: Live now and save just enough.

I have been wondering what applications this maxim can have (other than retirement savings).  Recently I have started giving myself permission to leave unfinished books I have started. In the past I would only stop reading if I was within the first 50-100 pages; anymore investment than that and I felt I had to finish. Just before Christmas I started The Bolter a biography of Idina Sackville by Frances Osborne.  It was recommended, sort of, in the End of Life Book Club and I started it with some optimism. Then I found it so depressing. The amount of shame that women were made to feel at the turn of the Century was not what I wanted to be reading at the holidays. So I stopped.

It does not matter that it is highly esteemed by others; I am putting it down if I am not getting a kick out of it. Life is too short to read an unenjoyable book.

I have gone on a jag of reading about Paris (in anticipation of the Tour de France) and so was probably inevitable that I would achieve Paris reading burn-out. The Paris Wife was terrific. This prompted me to track down and read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Then I must have responded to an Amazon suggestion: if you ordered that book then you will like this book. Paris Was Ours is a collection of 32 essays on various experiences of Paris.  I typically enjoy travel essays both from the vicarious thrill and from a technical writerly perspective. After 25 essays I cannot stand another. Paris is terrible if you are poor and live in a garrett and eat at the student cafeteria. Paris is an education. Paris is where I discovered who I really am... blah, blah, blah. After a few essays it all is much of a muchness.

Since I track what I read in my journal, I have adopted a new word to really let go of my compulsion to keep reading. I now enter "abandoned" and the date next to the title. I make a little note of why I took this drastic step and where I was in the book.  Then I reward myself by picking out a new book to read from my shelf or Kindle.

Life is just too darn short, no matter how long a person's span on this earth. Please share with me how you complete this sentence: life is too short to...

Happy Holiday: Good Book to Read

One of the blessings of vacation is more time to read. On this holiday I have mainly been reading about Norway and the Tour de France. Monday was a much needed "rest day" for both me and the Tour. I began Kate Atkinson's newest book, Life After Life. Life After Life thumbnail

What a treat! One of my Sisters in Crime raved and she is right. I will have to drag myself away to go see Paris knitting stores while shops are still open.

Here are a few samples to whet your appetite:

Maurice turned up on a Saturday morning, this time with only Howie in tow and no sign of Gilbert, who had been sent down for "an indiscretion." When Pamela said, "What indiscretion?" Sylvie said that it was the definition of an indiscretion that you didn't speak of it afterward."

Again, not love, more like the feelings you would have for a favorite dog (and, no, she would never have said such a thing to him. Some people, a lot of people, didn't understand how attached one could be to a dog).

This passage comes closest to describing the theme of the book:

"If just one small thing had been changed, in the past, I mean. If Hitler had died at birth, or if someone had kidnapped him as a baby and brought him up in--I don't know, a Quaker household--surely things would be different."

"Do you think Quakers would kidnap a baby?" Ralph asked mildly.

"Well, if they knew what was going to happen they might."

-- Recommended read.

Leaving my fifth floor garret (romanticizing a shabby hotel) to see Paris. Plenty of novel left to read on flight home. And lots more Kate Atkinson to read in the future. Happy thought.

Kate Atkinson

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