I have finally escaped... from my school. But now I will face a new challenge: five months with my FAMILY!
  • Day138

    Paris and home!

    June 15, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    The first thing we did in Paris was ride along the Seine on our loaded bikes past almost every great monument.  It was a great way to enter the city.  When we stopped to see Notre Dame Cathedral, (which was amazing and surrounded by throngs of people) we were approached by a woman from Vancouver about to depart on a bike tour with her family and I just happened to ask if she knew someone, and sure enough we both know Marnie and Denise in Vancouver.  It was great to share stories and tips, and it felt as if we were passing the torch. 

    Paris is like a museum. I'm sure the inside of the museums are fabulous, but the outsides, and all the monuments, squares, and old apartment buildings are just as interesting.  Although Paris has 20 times the population density of New York (and that doesn't include the tourists) they have enormous squares like football fields and lots of green space.  We did a day trip on the train to Disneyland and had some good rollercoaster rides, but it did not live up to all the hype, far from it.  We perhaps saw another side of Paris.  We camped in Bois de Bologne, an expansive park only  20 min bike ride from the Eiffle Tower, shopped at the grocery store in the neighborhood across the Seine and rode our bikes all over Paris just looking at everything.   On our trip to find the Catacombs (old limestone quarries now under the streets where 6 million parisian bodies were deposited in the 1800s in order to clean up the cities overcrowded cemeteries)  we came upon a community market that they hold only twice a year and it was 10 blocks long, full of antiques and junk and music and all sorts of people.  Caleb and I loved it, and it drove Marty crazy!  We did not actually go into the Catacombs as the lineup was hours long.  Like I said, the sights of Paris are overcrowded with tourists, and the lineups frightened us away from most places.  We did perservere with the Eiffle Tower, giving up one evening, but returning the next morning. We walked up the stairs to the second level and then went right to the top on the elevator and it was spectacular!  It is 1000 feet tall, and was the tallest building at the time (around 1889).  Mr Eiffle built it for the Paris Expo, and he not only designed it but his factory built it, and he financed it!

    Biking in Paris is quite normal.  Men ride in their fine suits with ties flying behind them, and women in their skirts and heels fly long in the bike lanes (shared with the buses), or on the bike paths. We figured out how to bike everywhere, and to navigate the traffic circles, only resorting to the cross walks on some of the bigger ones, like Arc d'Triumph (I would love to see the last part of the Tour de France when all the bikers come towards the arch with the crowds roaring).  We ate croissants every morning, watched several of the World Cup games, and were excited to be going home. 

    Our last adventure was going to the airport where the cab that we had specially ordered was too small, and so Marty went to the airport with the first cab and our bikes and gear, and the kids and I waited for a second cab.  It was morning rush hour, and there were none available, so we took the shuttle bus, and transfered to the airport bus. After 45 minutes on the bus I was concerned, and checked for the location of CDG airport and couldn't find the "I am here" dot.  Because we were on the wrong bus going to a different airport.  We raced back in a Taxi to the correct airport, but had missed the flight cut off. Marty had been waiting by himself, with no contact, for 3 hours thinking the worst.  Oh dear...  another flight 2 hours later.

    So now we are Ontario bound, for a family visit, then Vancouver and driving home.  It has been quite the journey.  Jorja, loving being with her family, Caleb learning to live within it.  We loved the biking, the old stuff, some of us loved the languages, but it was a long time to be away. We have missed family and friends and our projects and look forward to rejoining our communities and moving forward. 
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    Jo Clifford

    Hey a Jorja! I was on that ride😁😁

    Jo Clifford

    Now that looks like a dress a Jorja would wear❤️

    M M

    Loved your blog and all the pictures! Thank you for taking the time to share your stories, we loved them!

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  • Day131

    Vezere and Dordogne Rivers

    June 8, 2018 in France ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    We left the beaches and pine forests at Arachon and took the train through Bordeaux to a little town, Le Lardine-St-Lazare, on the Vezere River.  We knew it was an area of limestone, and that there were caves of all sorts there and, liking caves, it seemed a good fit for us.  The Vezere and Dordogne Rivers are steeped in history, starting with Cro-Magnum people from 50,000 years ago.  We went to Montigac and the Lascaux Caves which have been described as the Sistene Chaple of pre-historic art.  They had been sealed off by a slide 17,000 years ago, and were only discovered by 4 boys in 1948.  In the 20 years they were open moisture and Carbon dioxide from visitors took their toll, so they closed the originals and you now visit a brand new reproduction that you would never know you were not the original caves painted 20,000 years ago.  Marty of course spent seveal hours biking around the hills looking for new caves.  On one of our "unloaded rides" we discovered a 1000 year old abbey in St-Amand de Coly.  The dome of the chaple is a hundred feet above you, and the limestone blocks of the floor are uneven and worn by a thousand footsteps.  We didn't think we could see any more stunning buildings, but this one was our favorite.  The Roque St Christophe a bit down the road is a troglodytic site, or a cliff dwelling, that was lived in from 55,000 years ago, and was inhabited in the Middle Ages up to the Rennaissance.  The caves extend for over a kilometer high up on the limestone cliffs above the river, and they were an easy place to keep track of enemies coming up river, like the Vikings.  Scouts could actually hide in cliffs all along the river and call to each other transmitting a message of invaders fourty kilometers in six minutes.  Riding through this area, every turn was another chateau up on a hill, with the medieval villages down below.  It would be an interesting canoe trip to go on for a week.  However, I think it would be nuts in this region in the summer if the number of canoes at the outfitters is any indication.  We rode up a really steep, but short hill to the Chateau de Castelnaud that was built in the 12th century and renovated in the early 70's.  There were displays of Medieval armoury and weapons, complete with real sized trebuches.  We stayed in a campground in Beynac, in the shadow of the cliffs upon which the Castle Beynac was built (where Richard the Lionhearted scaled an impossible wall).  These two castles were on the line defended by the French and English in the Hundred Years War, with Castelnaud changing hands seven times between them.  Joan of Arc came by here, as did many of the other big names, and this is just one small fragment of the history of this region. 

    We balanced out the human history, and took in some natural history at the Gouffre de Proumeyssac.  It is another fun story of discovery where people had used the hole at the surface since the middle ages as a garbage dump and even by bandits to dump bodies.  Finally in 1907 a shaft sinker was lowered in to see what was really there.  I can't imagine going down by candlelight!  We went down in a basket into the 40 m cavern (it is huge) and it was pretty amazing.  There are stalactites and stalagmites all around the edges, and several "waterfalls" of calcium carbonate over the ledges.  They do a funky light show, including turning off all the lights, and they make a ton of cash doing it, but it is well done.  Our camping in this area was pretty delux, with swimming pools, and we managed to sweet talk a table at each site.  The day we passed the sign at Suillac, our last official day of touring, Caleb let out a great shout and we had a party that night.  He was proud of himself, but definitely done with bike touring!  Finally we got on a train in Suillac and headed north to Paris. 
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    Jo Clifford

    I LOVE this photo!

  • Day122

    West Coast Atlantic

    May 30, 2018 in France ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    The Atlantic coast of France is beaches, at least up to Arcachon. We biked downhill (well almost) to the coast as we heard that there can be a band of good weather between the ocean and the rest of France.  So while there were record rainfalls in many other regions of the country, we hugged the coast and were rewarded with dry and often warm and sunny days.  Camping in France, and most of Europe is not provincial park camping like Canada.  You can rent a mobile home, wall tent, or caravan, and there will be a few token spaces for camper vans and the odd tent.  Our kids asked for a pool if we were going to pay for camping, so we saw one in the brochure that was at the beach, and had a pool, with waterslides.  Unwittingly, we signed into France's BEST campground.  Yes the pool was nice, but it had 800 sites (that hosts 7000 people in the summer) which were all crammed together and I'm sure that there might have been 10 of them did not have accomdation already on them!  There are NO picnic tables at the sites (unless it comes with the accomodation) and no shelters, but they do have washroom complexes with sinks for dishwashing and laundry washing.  Marty asked everytime he saw an employee if he could get a table, especially as they advertise themselves as bike friendly, and which biker totes along a table?  People in France are guarenteed 5 weeks of vacation every year.  School lets out for August till mid September, with many factories closing down for this time.  I cannot imagine the Atlantic coast in August!!!

    We really enjoyed two subsequent nights where we snuck off the bike trail into the forest and found a place of our own behind the dunes.  We swam in the ocean on our own private stretch of white sand that stretched off north and south as far as we could see.  There is no water along the trail, and we had not planned on staying two nights, but we stretched the water and the food, and  sucked the last of the fumes from our stove.  The woods were tinder dry with a huge fuel load, and  we had already gotten in trouble another night from a surfer and policeman for having a fire, so we didn't dare light a fire. The croisants, cafe, and hot milk that we found in a small town were especially good after biking 15km with no food or water on our last morning.  

    We are biking on the Velodyssee, which goes a bike tour from the North of France, all the way to Spain which is about 1250km, and you can do the whole thing on marked and paved trails.  It is easy biking, but it gets a bit boring after a while, as there are no old towns, lots of pine forests, and clearcut forests, and sand.  Not what we thought we were coming to France for.  I did not know there would be logging and pulp mills, and in a super touristy part of France!  We are not unusual here, there are lots of bike tourers, and even the locals of the towns we pass through are not interested in us.  We are enjoying meeting other campers from around Europe the most!!  We stopped at Gaves in the Grand Lacs area and loved the swimming so we camped at a small campsite for Marty's birthday.   There were storm warnings and there was no one else camping, so the camp host let us put up our tent on the porch of one of the mobile homes and we used the picnic table.  Hot showers, recharge, and a table!   We spent some time trying to figure out the platforms on the lake.  All three of these very popular large lakes are connected by canals and connect to the ocean, so we thought perhaps they were for tying boats up to. Then we spotted what looked like an Albertan oil pump on one of the platforms. Turns out there are 30 oil platforms on this beautiful lake and the oil refinery is right down the street.  Go figure. 

    Heading up to Arcachon and Dune du Pilate we stopped at another of the three lakes and Caleb dragged Stacey out onto the huge inflated aquatic park, the kind you see on game shows.  We confirmed that Caleb is still terrified of sharks even in fresh water, and the spills game contestants take are indeed the cause of whiplash.  Owww.  Dune du Pilate, should be called Dune du Pilote as there are at least 30 paragliders at any one time in the air, and still many more learning how to take off.  You can stand on the dune about 100 feet above the beach, and the paragliders will go right by in front of you.  Marty now as another plan about what to do in his retirement. 

    We have decided to head inland, despite the continued rain forecast.  We will try and take a train, and head to the cave area of the Dordogne River and check out some CroMag cave art and rent a house if we have to!!  We are very excited to be heading back to Canada in two weeks.  Hope summer is on its way for all of you!
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  • Day120

    It Rains in France in May

    May 28, 2018 in France ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    We dropped too soon out of the Pyrennes, and wanting to prolong the mountains, rode along in the foothills for a few days.  We were regularly passed by all the Tour de France wannabees, as this is a classic stage of the race.  Actually, we stayed in Arette for two nights, and they have the wall of their town office plastered with photos of all the locals who have competed (and won)  the Tour de France.  Caleb was suitably amazed at all the old men who were biking, in their 70's and older with calves of steel.   In Arette, we avoided a campgound and chose to camp on a bar in a creek.  We loved the camping, but it looked like it could rain any minute, every day. Early the second morning, a friendly farmer waded into the river in his gumboots to warn us that a orange grade thunder and hail storm was coming and we could wait it out in his barn (forshadowing...)We checked out two ancient barns, both of which required climbing through manure, and decided to tackle the rain instead.  Several rain showers and beautiful towns latter we groceried up.  There we met an 84 year young man with a bike equally as old and about 30 lbs of groceries, who chatted us up and turned down a glass of wine (only because it would upset his stomach) then started his 2km ride back home.

    Marty, using his nearly unfailing campsite finding skills (forshadowing) quickly led us to an elevated river bar downstream from Mauleon-Licharre on the Saison Gave (which means river that comes from the Pyrenesse) not unlike the bars we are familiar with in BC.  Green pool drop rapids, beautiful forest, rocks and sand.  We set up camp as it started to rain.  Although it seemed unlikely our bar site could be flooded, we used Caleb's knife to hack down some greenery, and made a platform higher up on the bank.  Unfortuantely, bees started coming out of what we thought was a birdhouse (french people put their beehives in trees, research to follow), so we were back on the bar.  A couple litres of cheap Rose put us at ease even as the thunderstorm raged for the next three hours, with Marty sleeping peacefully.  Caleb hunkered under a tarp tent and made us dinner.  When it was fully dark, we noticed that the level on our water stick had changed by about two feet and water was starting to flow over our bar.  Thankfully we had made our highwater tent pad, and the dark had calmed the bees, so we moved to the riverbank, with headlamps, as everything is easier in the dark.  About twenty minutes later, brown water was flowing in the channel between the bar and the bank.  It seemed highly unlikely that the river could come up more, so we went to sleep.  We were wrong.  When Marty woke for a pee at 3am, the bank channel seemed far too quiet, and when he turned on his light to see if the river had gone down, the river was calmly flowing inside our tent beside Jorja.  We carried Jorja, in her soaking bag,  up to the farmers field, and then moved all our gear for the third time that night by lifting our tent over the farmer's fence.  Then surprisingly, we slept till 8. We feel fortunate to still be learning the lessons that you are meant to wrap up in your twenties. 

    The next few days were character building.  We rode in and out of rain, hiding out when we could, and biked downhill to the coast.  There were beautiful churches in out of the way towns, we biked through a corner of Pays de Basque, where the language looks like Icelandic, and we saw fields of ducks and geese for fois de grasse (fatty pate...).  Turns out the storms have been intense throughout France with record lightning strikes, flooding in towns, and closed airports. So we count ourselves lucky that we have made it to the coast, and are for the most part sheltered from the rains in the rest of France.  We many not see much of history, but we will stay dry!!
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    Jo Clifford

    Oh Jorja Papa Jim loves this picture❤️

  • Day113

    The Pyrenees

    May 21, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    We could have used a geography lesson from Simon before we left, to fully understand the elevation involved in crossing the Pyrenees.  Somehow I missed the fact that they were bonfide mountains akin to the Alps and the Rockies (taller than, says Marty).  Ski resorts are built right in the mountain passes, and the highways come up from both France and Spain to cross the mountains.  We started up from Sabinanigo after staying in a bungalow at a campround and kept going up for the next two days. The route was a mix of low grade highway, except when it wasn't, and rural roads through farms.  We love Google Maps, where we select your start and finish and then choose "bike" and it plots a route for you using side roads, single track, and the necessary car roads.  It will even do an elevation profile for you! 

    We had a goal in mind, to get to the campsite in Escarrilla and we knew there were sites available, but when we arrived they wouldn't rent a bungalow to us for just one night, no matter what we said.  Grrr...  it took some time, and a bit of frustration, but we did find a great apartment (in an old building up in an attic, where we had a great view of the mountains for half the price!) just that it was 4 km back down the road in Tramacastilla de Tena.  It was actually uuuupppp a steep hill first, and then level.  Sigh.  The whole area up to the pass is villages that are built up with fancy stone apartments and duplexes for the winter season. 

    We had a day off of touring, and we took advantage of Grandpa wanting a non biking day to leave Jorja with Gramps, and the rest of us headed off on a little jaunt up into the mountains.  It was a route that  Marty selected, and we did a 25km loop that went up to 1750 meters on a graveled road.  As per usual when travelling with Marty it is good to go prepared.  Food, check.  Lighter, check.  Footware suitable for snow, hmmm, nope, sandals.  And so, freezing feet as we pushed our bikes through the snow in the rain that happened to fall at the same time.  Thank goodness for the alpine emergency shelter and the dry wood that was just after the snow. 

    So after our "day off" we headed up up up for our second day of heading towards the pass.  We followed the old A-136 route that had only one short tunnel, and it was a quieter road with a consistent grind for twenty kilometers, alongside the river and two resevoirs, mooing at the cows, checking out the ski resorts in the alpine and waiting out a rainstorm under the eves. We kept looking for more gears on our bikes, but finally made it to the "Col du Pourtalet" at 1794m where we passed from the Vallee de Tena in Spain to the Vallee d'Ossau in France.  A magnificent pass, and we were sad that we were so tired, and couldn't dream of hiking, and that there were rain clouds threatening and we felt that we should get down to Laruns.  In retrospect, after all that work, I would recommend staying at the pass and truly enjoying its magnificance.  The 30km decent to Laruns was nuts.  Laruns is at around 500m and Sabinanigo was at 780, but it is half the distance from the pass to Laruns.  Fast, wet, and it looked like we were decending into west coast forest as we dropped out of the pass.  Aparently crazy cyclists do bike UP from Laruns to the pass.  The tour de france is ending a stage in Laruns this summer. Some people!!  We arrived in Laruns, and suddenly everyone was speaking French.  Just like that.  And after six weeks of getting by in Spanish and Portugese, Marty and Caleb think French might just be OK. 
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    Greg Brown

    Looks amazing. Brings back memories of cycling in the alps.

  • Day108

    Foothills of the Pyrenese

    May 16, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Touring with the grandparents was a new experience: apartments and hotels, bungalows in campgrounds, actually planning where we were going, remembering to shower, not being the last biker.  I biked with my parents in Europe 28 years ago, and what a treat for them to be able, at 70 (shhhh), to be able to bike with their grandkids!

    Huesca is in the foothills of the Pyrenes that rise slowly from the arid plains of Spain.  In fact, having not looked at pictures of the Pyrenes, I did not actually expect big mountains (ha ha ha).  Marty found Huesca polluted by tourism, I looked for all the charms of the town, and Caleb and Jorja enjoyed the spoils of travelling with grandparents.  We headed off biking to the west to Castillo de Loarre, which is a spectacular castle rising out of the rock hills that overlooks the plains, and guards the foothills.  It was built as a castle in 1071 on the frontier of Christian and Muslim lands, and was also used as a monastary.  It was not in use for a few hundred years, and the location lost its strategic importance so it is really well preserved. We did go on the same day as several busloads of school kids from France and Spain so it was as busy as it was when it was in action.  We stayed at a campground, and it was still 2 km uphill to get to the castle.  Some crazy dude was drifting his long board around corners preparing for a race, on the same hill that we were zooming down on our bikes, which have brakes!   Caleb climbed the trees in our campsite, and we finally figured out what the orchards of small fuzzy fruits were - almonds!!  He tossed bundles of nuts down and we cracked them with rocks and they were delicious!  Many people told us we were visiting at the best time, before the summer travellers, and while everything was still green. 

    We must have been refreshed after a few days of hanging out in Salamanca and train travel, as our biking days with grandparents were getting longer.  We started following the Rio Gallego, and the change of scenery through canyons, and between mountains was refreshing.  There are crazy river diversions for crops through aquaducts, old and new, and pipelines that are pulling water from way upstream to run hydro plants.  There was an old dam built of limestone blocks, that made me think of the scene in Superman, where he holds the dam together, that is still holding back thousands of litres of lake water. Sometimes, we thought we had planned ahead for where to stay, but it didn't always go smoothly.  We arrived in Anzanigo, after biking 50km, with only rice and mustard and tea left, and the "town" was dead.  Eventually we found a man painting some windows, and he told us that the cafe owner was indeed in town, and would open after siesta, which would be sometime after five.  We waited, and waited, and knocked, and waited, and finally after asking a few more times, the painter came at six and banged on the door yelling "Carlos!".  Eventually Carlos came to the door.  He had rooms upstairs in the old stone inn, and he cooked up a feast of salad, lamb and french fries that we ate in the bar.  Close call!!  Since then we have been carting around a bit of extra food, and Grandma has sworn to never leave home without her sleeping bag and bivy sac. 

    Biking to Sabinanigo, we found the smallest roads, but found a village that actually had people, and it was the day that the grocery truck came to town.  We came ripping around a corner on our bikes, and there it was:  a big white truck that was set up as a fish store, pulling a trailer that was open on both sides selling fruit and veggies.  There was even a baker just down the street, where there was no store, you just walked right into his workshop, and bought the bread off the counter.  He opened his wood burning oven for us that was rotating the pans, and Caleb tried his hand at lifting the pans with the long wooded handled lifter.  The same baker honked when he passed us later the same day delivering his bread to a bakery in Sabinanigo.
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    Suzanne Wernli-Roy

    Wow! You guys are so lucky to be able to do this 3 generations bike trip! I love the photos you posted too. Do you speak Spanish?

    Suzanne Wernli-Roy

    Bonjour Jorja et grand-maman 👋🏻

  • Day104


    May 12, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 10 °C

    Salamanca may be one of our few european cities that we visit, and it was beautiful. Salamanca is over 2000 years old and started out in the first Iron Age, and went through all the major players of spanish history (Celtic, Carthaginian - think Hannibal and 40 elephants, Roman, Moors, Germanic, French, and then Spanish).  The roman bridge over the Tormes is beautiful, the cathedrals are stunning works of sculputure that look like they have had icing dripped from each of the many spires, and the multitudes of buildings that make up the old city and the university (established in 12th century) make it impossible to put down your camera. 

    We went into the new and old cathedral, and were suitably awe struck.  Caleb kept seeing people way up high (70 feet) on a hanging stone walkway, which didn't seem possible, and then we found our way to the small door, where for another fee you can scale the stairs up to the rooftop.  The sprial stone staircase that goes up several stories, was so narrow that there were timed traffic lights so you didn't stuck going up when someone was coming down.   The cathedral is sandstone, and there are several mentions of the Lisboa earthquake of 1755 and the damage that occured.  So when we took Marty out on the walkway, he was hestiant and kept looking at the 3-4 inch cracks causing breaks in the banister, and overhanging keystone rocks that were shimmed with chucks of plywood, basically wedging a several hundred pound rock over your head. On walkways on the  outside, there were incredible views over the city and out into the coutryside, and close ups of the carvings on the steeples.  There were however, several stone bell towers stories high leaning percariously far off their plumb line so Marty stayed away from the edges and quivered his appendages at the sight of fearless Jorja peering over.  Caleb made it up to the bell tower just in time to be deafened by the six bells that marked the half hour.

    We did a trip to the Decathalon store, where you can buy alpine hiking gear, dance shoes, guns, and sadles, and stocked up our bike gear.  We told the CTT (portugal post) to send our glasses back to Canada (unbelievable bureaucracy over an old scratched up pair of glasses) and Marty bought another pair of reading glasses with clip on sunglasses. Our camping spot was in an actual campground, where we paid money, used hot water to wash dishes and ourselves, and did a load of laundry.  There was a trail into town along the river, lots of established bike trails and parks in Salamanca.  It was full of retirees, mostly Dutch, camping in their trailers that they pull behind small cars.  It was surrounded by a huge chain link fence, which despite the ambiance, meant we felt safe leaving our tent and gear.  I think we talked less to people in the campground, as people appeared akward about what language to use in greeting!  Jorja of course was off looking around and scoped out all the cute little dogs that she could take for walks, and charmed their owners before we could get our tent set up.  We were lucky to make contact with a family from Warm Showers (an online community of bike tourers) and shared an evening of their wine, advice, an insight into spanish life, and a delicious dinner.  Thanks Ivan and Angelica! 

    Our last morning we brushed frost off our tent and froze our toes on our half hour ride to the train station where after a few warming cups of leche caliente and donut sticks we boarded the train for Madrid.  What an easy way to bite off 200km!  An overnight in Madrid in a cheap apartment near the train station, but unfortunately the big futbol game had been the night before!  Then we took an early train up to Huesca in northern Spain and who should get on at the second stop, but Grandma Cheryl and Grandpa Terry with their bikes!  Surprise!!  So in two days, we covered the same distance as we did in 4 weeks on our bikes through Portugal and reached the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenese. 
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  • Day99

    Roman Bridge (Caleb!)

    May 7, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Finally we are in Spain.  I thought we would never make it!  Portugal was nice, but after eleven days of ghost towns with no kids, biking up and down mountains, giving up over and over, Spain was a nice break. The border was remote,with a little bridge (not one car passed us on the whole road) with barely any water flowing underneath it.  We ate lunch and I took some pictures of the little olive trees that are in all of Spain.  Earlier that week, my dad had researched an old roman bridge down in a canyon.  When we asked the locals how to get there they said we were crazy to go down in the canyon with our bikes, so we turned to google earth for some help. As we started our decent we found we were somewhat crazy.  First of all, the road was not a road, secondly we dropped a 100 meters, but at the bottom there was a very old roman bridge. It was a little raised in the center because the arch was so big, and it was as wide as a car.  On the other side, there was a large rock house that we were told we could stay in, the ceiling was arched, but were still made out of stone.  There was no power (duh), but I had already downloaded something to watch (cuz I'm smart). Read more

    Greg Brown

    Classic Marty.

  • Day98

    Last days in Portugal

    May 6, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Castelo Mendo was a beautiful place. Very quiet with a few farmers tilling the fields, and taking their goats out every morning. Marty fixed an old guys chainsaw when we first arrived and his wife brought us a huge bag of walnuts that she had gathered from the trees around the village. The village was as usual mostly deserted, a few old people, one younger guy with a new puppy who said he worked in the fields. We were luckily there on the day when the bread truck and the “store” truck came by as even the little cafe didn’t sell any groceries out back. Caleb would regularly run up to the clock tower where Marty had discovered an outlet where we could charge our devices. Most of he bell towers in the small towns have resorted to amplifying bell songs to announce the hours ( or in some unfortunate cases the quarter hour!). Marty took off for a bike ride to the giant bridge in the distance and stopped in at a town for a drink with the old guys who were amused at his descriptions of what he was doing in Portugal. The kids and I played a lot of cards, followed the donkeys, and did some homework. It was a restful place where we felt welcomed. We rode to Almeida, an old village and then fort where I think the portugese fought off the French for the third time (they don’t share a border so I’m not sure about this, but I know Napoleons army came through here). Camped on get outskirts of a village last night and are headed off to Spain today. Portugal has been good to us.Read more

  • Day96


    May 4, 2018 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    I am sitting on top of a wall that was built in the 12 hundreds ( like 1200 just after portugal became a country). From the wall I am looking at a medieval castle. If I look around the outside of the castle and it’s walls it is fully surrounded by modern windmills. We camped right beside the defending wall. My favourite thing about the castle is that there is no one to tell you what to do. I can climb wherever I want. First I climbed over the defending wall, luckily there was no one to defend it. I walked down the stairs on the other side (rocks overhanging the gulch of doom). Then I went and climbed up the part of the castle that has the flag (the fortress). Napoleon knocked down part of the wall when the french tried to invade.

    We were at another castle where no one else was there. Mom made me do my math in the courtyard.
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    David Brown

    Looks like a tough pedal. Good job! The castles look like fun too.

    Anne Donaldson

    Pretty sweet camping spot. Keep on having fun Caleb!

    Ted Moes

    Hey Stacey Marty and family. Love your posts. Lots

    4 more comments

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