Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Die Seeßelzwerge

aka my babies

Magnus - 7
Henriette - 5
Johanna - 3
Greta - 23 months
Philippa - 23 months


Sunday, December 16, 2012

English Lessons Part 2

I'd been speaking pretty much all German with the twins, because they understand it and it's a good way to practice since they don't judge me. But, I've been trying to teach them more English recently. I mean, if they have the chance to learn it so easily why not. Plus, they can start going to kindergarten in February and I'll lose my alone time with them. Not that I'm complaining about the mornings I'll have free...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Urlaub im Coyboystaat Texas

This was in the Hannover newspaper a little while ago.

Translation, courtesy of google translate:

Holidays in the State of Texas Cowboy

By Felix Harbart | 
Strong case for a trip to Texas, cowboys, live music and Formula 1 - but especially the Texans.
Occupation of "Trick Roper" Kevin swinging a lasso.
Occupation of "Trick Roper" Kevin swinging a lasso.
© Harbart /

 . Cowboy be used to easily. A few years ago they wanted to revive the traditional horse trek, the leisure Cowboys of Bandera, Texas. The old route to Dodge City riding along again, as did the ancestors. But at the border with Oklahoma did not allow to pass it on the absence of transport security measures, police said, and the Texas Tradition Keepers the fun began to pass away.Then turned on the Texas governor, was brought to flashing lights on the hindquarters of the horse, and it could go further. As has been seen, they're talking about today are reluctant to Bandera. When she got home, decided the Bandera Boys, that was the last memory until further ride to Dodge City.
You could be in the 975-soul village in Central Texas Bandera lamenting the fact that hardly anyone makes a living by driving the cattle as before. That would be so not American, and certainly not Texan. The times have changed. Today the little Bandera living in good part on tourism, from farms have become Lodges. Because they bring the tourists in the traditional line dance, give riding lessons, and for the local color comes by in the evening Kevin Fitzpatrick. Whose official job title is "Trick Roper," which can be translated most closely with art roper. Then Kevin can also cracked his whip and is Texan through and through.
In the U.S., travel plans has mostly German tourists Texas plays a minor role.Here, the Cowboy State has to offer fans of the American way of life a lot - including much, other than the hutüberschatteten stereotype that they maintain in Bandera so painfully. Especially the metropolis südtexanische San Antonio and Austin, the capital have moody, temperamental and extremely liberal sites that would hardly suspect Europeans in Texas. There are so popular with tourists for cheap shopping options, such as the giant Outlet Center in San Marcos. And then there are the Texans themselves, which alone are worth the trip across the Atlantic, when you delve into them.
Mickey Henges for example, was formerly in the military in Rammstein. Exactly until his first heart attack Meanwhile, he has survived six of them, and after all, the last one was already five years ago, says Mickey. Now he is retired and incidentally leads tourists through the four missions of San Antonio. In the 18thCentury Franciscan monks built this fort in order to evangelize the local Indian tribes, and to draw on the side of the Spanish settlers.
Mickey comes soon sweat when he sharpens so with sweeping gestures by the Mission Espada. He told alternately by the Indians in the fort, which is one day by abuse of certain herbs from time to time adopted the "La La Land", and his military service in Rammstein, which ended after heart attack number one military hospital in Landstuhl. Mickey Henges is pleased when he is in charge of German tourists, because they know what he is talking about when he talks about German beer and highways.
His home town of San Antonio is a real gem among the major U.S. cities. In the South Texas city, the city planners have been able to come to the small San Antonio a formative function monitored. In the City of the metropolis, they have created small, artificial side arms and into her abode established a thriving business and catering area. So does San Antonio wonderfully open walk. A property that for U.S. cities is not necessarily typical.
While San Antonio is based on his Mexican heritage, the capital of Austin sees as the cool, slightly rebellious, almost untexanische under Texas' cities. She has long since given with typical American self-confidence the nickname "Live Music Capital", the live music capital. On key rings and bottle openers Austin advertises for its nightlife, which, very concentrated, on the streets of the city comes up with fresh local for local music struck up. In about 200 mostly rustic bars and pubs can be during the season every night of the week easily partying until the wee hours.Surprisingly complex reveals the brand new Texas State Museum and finally the recently built Formula 1 circuit, the experienced this weekend the first race (see box).
In Bandera, Texas, a day goes with riding, line dancing and hearty food to an end.Before the "Bandera Tavern" is a sign that the 50th Leslie announces a birthday.Whoever comes is invited. Bandera may also accommodate limited the opportunity for cowherds, here in the village pub, they still wear hat, boots and plaid shirt, and they would act in disguise, they would not do it.
Inside farmer told Jeannie, why their town is so special: "We are such a small community that is necessarily a community forms. If someone has a problem, he can be sure that the other breach. Whether your house burned down or your well is dry. "
Then Leslie comes by dancing, and there's an end with a chat. Now on the heels of Jeannie to line dance, in Bandera, Texas, where they tie their horses to the rear turn signals to the good old times' sake.
Formula 1 debut
Al Mays spreads his arms, "this is not just a race." Mays works in the advertising department of the "Circuit of the Americas" in Austin, the youngest member of the racing calendar of Formula? 1st This weekend, it hosts the first race. The good 30-minute drive southeast of the town of Austin track has become just finished.And not only Formula 1 should be here on the road. Soon to follow the Moto GP riders, and they can not imagine much more: On the "Grand Plaza" to some 30 000 spectators to celebrate concerts, they want to get a big tennis tournament on the line, and otherwise is just simply? everything. "We can add here and football fields karting," says Mays.
So hope the investors $ 400 million einzuspielen quickly, they have put in the route. Texas expected to result in which up to 1.2 million visitors a year, 300 permanent jobs and 1,500 dollars, which every visitor will spend on average from out of state. 4.6 days the visitors should remain in the area. 120,000 spectators find the "United States Grand Prix," Formula 1 at the track course. Furthermore, to the operators of meeting rooms, medical facilities for further training of doctors and routes for driver training of police officers.
So can go wrong at the major investment. "No," said Al Mays. "It's a win, win, win -. For everybody" The future will tell.
Flight to Austin or San Antonio, for example, American Airlines via Frankfurt / Main and Dallas. Next to the car. After Bandera there are, with a stop at the outlet mall in San Marcos, Austin made ​​a good three hours, of Bandera San Antonio is some drive an hour.
. in Austin close to the city about the Omni Austin Hotel and Radisson Inn and Suites, San Antonio, for example, at the Hotel Contessa right on the RiverwalkBandera there are several guest ranches as the "Flying L Ranch".

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Johanna's Story of the Day

Yesterday when we were playing, Johanna came up with this story on the spot.

My name was Anna Sophie, I was in 2nd grade, and all of a sudden I had a sister named Angelina who was dead.
as told by Johanna:
She was shot. By the police. The ones that ride on horses. But wait, she's alive again! She has to go to the hospital really fast. We better call an ambulance. "Hello? The sister is dead. She needs an ambulance. She was shot. But we didn't do it!" Don't worry, they've already been driving for half an hour. They'll be here right away!
They shot her in the head so she had a hole but it's not there anymore. She also lost her thumb. But they found a new one. Now she's all better!

I'm sure there was more. That child has the craziest imagination. She comes up with these kind of things all the time and she's only 3!

In other news, Philippa has been announcing to the world when she farts. She'll stop what she's doing, give a little grin and say "Pups!" She even told me when Greta farted. "Pups! Greta!"
She calls me Zizzie and it's the greatest thing ever. She says it so funny.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

6 Weeks!

I've officially been here 6 weeks. Yes, I still do things wrong, and it's still a bit lonely sometimes and I have emotional moments, but mostly I'm feeling more settled in. The kids are actually starting to listen to me and I kind of know what's going on amidst the chaos.

Recent happenings -

Philippa and me

  • I went bowling with Rachel, her boyfriend Max, and his German friends. It was fun! They were all nice, and hopefully I'll get to meet up with them more. It'll be nice to have some German friends. We have plans for karaoke soon...
  • Last Sunday was Erntedankfest, a harvest fest or a kind of thanksgiving, and it was hosted here on the farm for the 4 villages that are nearby. I didn't know anybody, but a couple nice people talked to me. I met a girl who was an au pair in Pennsylvania, and she offered to meet up with me sometime. I hope she does because it'd be nice to have friends nearby! I also met a woman who studied abroad in Seattle. 
  • Benther Berg
  • This week the kids have been behaving a little better. Johanna even told me one day she was going to be nice to me. But then the next day she yelled at me and asked why I was always so mean because I told her to stop hitting her sister. Then yesterday she told me I talked funny. You can't always win.
  • Thursday I met with another au pair whose family has kids in the Walldorf school Magnus goes to. She's Hungarian, and there were 2 Brazilian girls there too. It was nice to meet someone during the week, and it's so much easier for me to speak German with other foreigners! They were all very nice and we've already been making travel plans. Maybe Berlin next weekend?
  • Friday the housekeeper/most amazing person ever had off, so I had to make lunch while I was watching the twins and Henny, who was home sick from school. Let me tell you, those twins cannot be left alone for 2 seconds. When they were in the kitchen, they somehow found all the knives and opened every drawer and pulled everything out in the length of time it took me to peel a carrot. They finally went to the tv room where Henny was, and I was so glad to have a couple minutes of quiet. But then I went in there and every magazine was torn apart, their moms knitting was unravelled, all the DVD cases were open and on the floor and the blankes and pillows were thrown everywhere. And Henny was still staring at the tv. 

front of the house - I live upstairs on the right but it's all connected
  • Last night I was supposed to babysit, but the parents called 5 minutes before I was supposed to start from the birthday party they were at and said they didn't need me after all. Luckily, Rachel sent me a text at the exact same time. I met with her, Max, a friend who was visiting from Australia, a Polish au pair who's new to Hannover, and a girl who's been an au pair in a town near me since Rachel got here and her boyfriend. It was nice to just talk to all of them! We ended up staying way later than we expected and I was one again grateful to do something where Max could drive me home. The whole streetcar bike combination at 4am when it may or may not be raining and freezing cold is not fun. Especially when the streetcars start running every hour or even less. 
  • Today I was putting my shoes on to leave, and Philippa just came up to me and sat on my leg even though I was kneeling and there was nowhere to sit. She's a weirdo.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Oktoberfest... Hannover

Sorry it's been so long! Here's some updates from the last couple of weeks

  • I went to my host mom's brother's wedding with the family, and babysat the twins the next weekend when they had another one. They're wedding'd out for a while.
  • The screen to my new iPod mysteriously cracked. I blame Greta's foot. And then the next week my camera broke. This year has not been good for my electronics.
  • I met up with my new friend Meagan, another au pair from Portland, at the Oktoberfest in Hannover last weekend when it opened. Apparently it's the 3rd biggest in the world - after Munich and one that's in China. The next day I went again with new people from a facebook group for English speakers in Hannover. There were 8 of us that ended up going, and we were all around the same age. There were 2 other au pairs, one from England and one from Finland, but it's nice to meet other people who are doing other things too.
  • October 3rd was a holiday - Tag der Deutschen Einheits! I went into the city, wandered around and got coffee, then I hung out with the family. Rachel, the girl who au paired here before me, came over with her boyfriend Max. It was also a month since my first day of work!
Rachel reassured me that the kids started acting out when she first got here too. They have really been bad - even their parents are fed up with it. The other day, Johanna, the 3-year-old, asked me for something to drink. I got her water, then she started screaming that she didn't want it and ripped the buttons off my sweater. And this is completely normal. It's worse with me but she does it with everyone. They take forever to get ready or do anything and it's so frustrating because I don't want to always be yelling at them. But I think it's getting better.

The twins have already changed so much in the time I've been here. Philippa is saying words like crazy, and I've noticed Greta starting to say more too. Philippa also recognizes that there are two words for things. It's fun to see them changing so fast. Whenever they would see their reflection in the mirror, they would either say "baby!" or think it was the other twin. But just a couple days ago, Philippa finally recognized it was herself! They're certainly a challenge, but usually I like being with them. It's so much easier to talk to people who can only say one word at a time.

They're laughing not crying... and I swear the twins always fall down on purpose

Henriette and Johanna after swimming

The weather's gotten pretty chilly and rainy, and the leaves are changing. Fall really is my favorite time of year! I could do with a little less rain, because the kids start to go stir crazy if they have to stay inside, but I think October will be a good month. Supposedly it takes 6 weeks to get accustomed to a new life!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

English Lessons

Sorry it's been so long! I promise I'll write a real post soon! But for now here's a little example of what my mornings with the twins are like, when one or both of them aren't screaming. Except now I don't really speak English with them anymore. Philippa's learning more and more words every day and even putting them together, even though she's not quite to real sentences yet. And she doesn't say baby when she sees herself in a mirror anymore - she says all 3 syllables of Philippa, not just Pipa! This is from a week and a half ago

Saturday, September 15, 2012

"Nächste Woche wird's richtig herbstlich"

...according to the weather report at the streetcar station. Summer's gone and Fall is here! Monday it was hot and we went swimming outside but then it got cold and rainy

hangin with Philippa on the tractor
Slowly but surely I'm getting the hang of how things work. I know what the kids will eat, where it is in the kitchen, and where to put (at least some) things away. The kids get excited to see me when I return from Hannover or wherever in my free time, and ask where I was. And they actually want to play with me!

Greta on the tractor. Best day of her life
On Tuesday I went to the language school, which took an hour to get to, and had to wait for 2 hours to take a "test" to see which level I should be in. I really just talked to a lady for about 5 minutes. She said there wasn't really a class for me, since my speaking is way ahead of my grammar. As in, I don't know grammar. So I have to buy a book and study before the class which starts October 22nd. Apparently there have been a couple other people like me who had German parents but grew up somewhere else or something, and they all gave up and didn't get anything from the class.

I went swimming alone with Magnus on Thursday - Thursday afternoons are when I'm going to take the oldest 3 kids on outings, but this past week the girls had a play group. It was good to spend some time with him because he tends to like to play alone, and when he wants to play with me I'm always interrupted by the twins waking up from their nap or eating stones or throwing food all over the floor.

I'm so glad they like the stroller and the swings! I can only chase after them so much
finally some quiet 
Friday night I did a Nachtlauf in Hannover. I didn't decide to do it till Thursday night but I got a free shirt and I'll be getting a personalized medal with my name and time in the mail out of it! It had been raining all night including on my way there and back, but stopped for the actual run. And the temperature was perfect for running. I picked it up a little from the leisurely pace I've been going on all my runs, but it was still very comfortable. I definitely didn't feel like I was going to die like I normally do during races. Plus I drank a cup of tea before I went and even though I used the porta potty 2 minutes before the race started, of course I had to pee the whole time My time was 26:12, which is right at what I expected. I haven't actually known how fast I run since last fall, so it's good to know! We got alcohol free beer, apples and tomatoes. It was fun to run around the city!

10. Nachtlauf Hannover

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Hills are Alive...

I've survived my first week as an au pair in Germany. With 5 children. Yes I know, everyone has let me know that my life is now the Sound of Music. Which is pretty much my favorite movie ever so I'm embracing it. I even sing to the kids sometimes!

the view of the backyard from my window
Magnus is 7, likes being in charge of things and likes to play with his tractors by himself and see what his dad is doing around the farm. Henny turns 5 in December, taught herself how to write her name (Henriette) and wants to wear a skirt every day. She also manages to make everything take forever. Eating, getting dressed, whatever. It takes 5 times longer than it should. Johanna is 3, and she's hilarious. She comes up with the craziest words and sayings and has an extremely active imagination. She wants to do everything by herself but she's still figuring it all out, so it makes if frustrating when we're trying to get things done! Greta and Philippa are 19-month-old twins. I've spent a lot of time with them in the mornings while the older kids are at Kindergarten and school. They love tractors, cars and airplanes. Trekker and Auto and their favorite words in the whole world. And Max, the dog. They like to wave and scream "Hallo!!" at everyone who passes. They quickly go from being extremely adorable to little monsters. And when one screams, the other feels left out and has to join in.

my bed - it finally looks like my room!
elephants make everything beter
My first 2 days were extremely overwhelming. I didn't know what was going on, the family had just gotten back from vacation and school was starting. I was jetlagged and exhausted, and out of practice with German. I couldn't really understand that much. The kids didn't know me, and the twins decided to just cry and cry for no reason when I was alone with them. There are lots of people around here, and I was introduced to everyone as they stopped by but I didn't know who they were. I still don't really. Once I meet someone for the third time I usually remember their name...

I wandered around Hannover on Wednesday afternoon and walked around the Altstadt. It was nice to leave the gates of the hof (where I live - it's a big old farmhouse and farm store and then lots of fields surround it). On Thursday, I walked into the closest town, Gehrden, to get passport photos for my visa. There's a nice little pedestrian downtown area. I got ice cream, of course. And then Friday, the previous au pair, Rachel, came to visit with the 2 boys from the new family she's with. It was nice to meet someone! They're moving even closer to us so hopefully we'll be able to do things together with our kids. I met up with another American au pair that evening in Hannover. Germany was playing in the city so the streets were crowded and all the TVs were on! I live about 13 or 14km outside Hannover, but it's a little complicated to get back with the bus, especially late at night. Between waiting for the streetcar and then walking from a nearby town because waiting for the bus would have taken even longer, it took me at least 1:30 to get home. 

Auto!! Trekker!! Flugzeug!!
The weekend was a little less stressful. My weekends should be mostly free, but I had to watch the twins Saturday morning because Magnus and all the 2nd graders put on a play for the new first grade. We went to the school for a picnic lunch afterwards and the kids played for a while. I went for my first run in Germany, which generally makes life better. There's a couple little bergs (hill things) around here that have paths and are nice to run on. Then we grilled in the backyard with a friend who's staying here for a month and her boyfriend. It was nice - I'm starting to understand a lot more even when everyone's talking so fast! At first I was speaking English with the parents but we're slowly switching. I'd say we're up to 90% German. I understand pretty much everything they say to me, because they try to speak a little more slowly and clearly, but it's still frustrating to not be able to say what I want to. I should be able to start language classes soon so hopefully I'll increase my vocabulary... I think I'm at Johanna's level right now. We understand each other.

Today, I went with the family (except Henny and Johanna, who took a trip with their grandparents for the weekend to visit family. It was amazing how quiet it was with 'only' 3 kids!) to this place where there's lots of heather (Heide). It blooms purple for only a couple weeks of the year. On the way back we stopped at the uncle's blueberry farm and had cake, coffee, and ice cream and chatted with more people who I have no idea who they were. The girls and the grandparents were there too, so we picked them up. 

And now it's time for a new week! I have an actual schedule now, but we'll see how much we stick to it. Everything happens spur of the moment over here - it has to with so many kids. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

1000 Things to do Before you Die: Complete my own Tour de France

Completed: August 16th, 2012

You get full credit no matter what. Extra credit for going through any mountains

We've been back in the US of A for several days now - sorry it took me so long to finish this! After we left Geneva, we were in the Jura mountains for 2 days before we had a steep descent and then suddenly we were in Bourgogne. Not that there weren't any more hills after that...
We took a little more time to do some sight-seeing in Bourgogne and saw many impressive churches, towns, cities, and of course beautiful scenery and lots of vineyards!
A couple days before we reached Paris we were able to stay with a family Dave stayed with when he was in college in Montargis. Jacques, Josée and their granddaughter Emma fed us lots of delicious food, wine, and showed us the city of Montargis.
Once we got close to Paris, we were able to visit Judy in Montévrain (right next to Euro Disney!) and stay in a campground that was about an hour away from her. It was better for disassembling our bikes than the place we had stayed when we first arrived. And no stolen tents - just lots of stolen bungee cords! The day of our flight home, we woke up at 3am so we could make our 3 trips to the airport. And we all made it home with our bikes! Except Judy, whose new release date right now is September 30th.

Here's the rest of our itinerary:

  • Col de la Faucille
  • St. Claude
  • Moirans-en-Montagne
  • Lons-le-Saunier
  • Louhans
  • Tournus

Hôtel Dieu in Beaune

  • Chardonnay
  • Cluny
  • Taizé
  • Cormatin
  • Chalon-sur-Saône
  • Beaune

lunch on the Route des Grands Crus between Beaune and Dijon

  • Clos de Vougeot
  • Fixin
  • Dijon
  • Sombernon - we ate lunch on the continental divide!
  • Montbard
  • Abbaye de Fontenay
  • Montréal
  • Avallon
  • St. Père
  • Vézeley

view of Vézeley

  • Auxerre
  • La Ferté-Loupière
  • Montargis

Auxerre in the morning

Jacques, Josée, Emma and their neighbors

  • Montigny-sur-Loing
  • Fontainebleau
  • Pontcarré
  • Montévrain
  • Annet-sur-Marne
  • the airport!

visiting Judy!

some new friends

Odometer stats:
My wheel size was set wrong, so multiply everything by 1.234. The end result was about 1807km, or 1130 miles. Plus ~130km, according to google maps, for the first two days when I didn't have the odometer set up.

starting when we left our campground near Nice:

Day 1: ? (est. 30km)

Day 2: ? (est.100km)

Day 3:
Time: 3:57:10
Avs: 6.4 km/h
Max: 23.2
Dist: 25.42

Day 4: 
Time: 5:19:17
Avs: 10.0 km/h
Max: 43.1 km/h
Dist: 53.24 km

Day 5:
Time: 4:15:05
Avs: 11.3
Max: 47.3
Dist: 48.15

Day 6:
Time: 5:57:36
Avs: 10
Max: 47.0
Dist: 59.79

Day 7:
Time: 3:34:57
Avs: 10.6
Max: 44.7
Dist: 38.27

Day 8 (unloaded climb):
Time: 4:25:04
Avs: 9.6
Max: 46.0
Dist: 42.71

Day 9:
Time: 6:20:06
Avs: 9.1
Max: 49.2
Dist: 58.12

Day 10:
Time: 4:21:11
Avs: 10.2
Dist: 44.81

Day 11:
Time: 6:20:34
Avs: 10.5
Max: 47.3
Dist: 67.23

Day 12 (unloaded climb):
Time: 2:37:31
Max: 41
Dist: 28.10

Day 13:
Time: 7:25:05
Avs: 8.1
Max: 45.6
Dist: 60.23

Day 14:
Time: 5:03:15
Avs: 11.0
Max: 39.9
Dist: 55.82

Day 15 (Chamonix):
Time: 0:56:11
Avs: 8.9
Max: 26.9
Dist: 8.36

Day 16:
Time: 3:29:40
Avs: 10.7
Max: 50.2
Dist: 37.52

Day 17:
Time: 6:29.32
Avs: 13.0 (13.9 before we ate raclette for dinner....)
Max: 39.6
Dist: 84.58

Day 18:
Time: 2:37:17
Avs: 13.3
Max: 34.8
Dist: 35.08

Day 19:
Time: 5:43:48
Avs: 10.5
Max: 40.5
Dist: 60.72

Day 20:
Time: 5:40:34
Avs: 14.5
Max: 58.6
Dist: 82.31

Day 21:
Time: 4:23:51
Avs: 11
Max: 36.2
Dist: 48.46

Day 22:
Time: 5:13:54
Avs: 13.3
Max: 36.1
Dist: 69.61

Day 23:
Time: 4:00:40
Avs: 11.3
Max: 36.9
Dist: 45.60

Day 24 (Dijon):
Time: 0:41:59
Avs: 11.1
Max: 24.4
Dist: 7.82

Day 25:
Time: 5:11:13
Avs: 13.4
Max: 32.5
Dist: 69.56

Day 26:
Time: 4:13:33
Avs: 13.6
Max: 49.6
Dist: 57.83

Day 27:
Time: 5:08:21
Avs: 12.2
Max: 40.4
Dist: 63.11

Day 28:
Time: 4:40:03
Avs: 14.3
Max: 36.6
Dist: 67.17

Day 29:
Time: 2:30:48
Avs: 14.1
MAx: 38.0
Dist: 35.67

Day 30:
Time: 7:27:59
Avs: 14.6
Max: 39.5
Dist: 109.03

Friday, August 3, 2012

Detour through Switzerland

As we left Bourg D'Oisans, we saw them doing a triathlon - 2k swim,
115k bike, 22k run. There was a short one and a long one, and lots of
foreign athletes were there for it. We've had some pretty steep climbs
over passes and have passed our highest point of the trip! 2770m - so
I guess it's all downhill from there! Although we might have wasted it
in the 50km of downhill we had to our next campsite, Bourg St Maurice.
We had 2 unlaoded climbs planned there, but it stormed so Matt and I went to an internet cafe in the morning and joined Dave for the 2nd climb. Of course it still poured on us. But other than that, we've had pretty good weather!

Here's where we've been since the last post:
on the way to Charmonix
  • Bourg d'Oisans
  • Le Rivier-d'Allemont
  • Col du Glandon
  • Col de la Croix de Fer - we watched the Tour de France go over this
  • when we were in a cafe on our way to Paris the first day!
  • St Jean-de-Maurienne
  • Modane
  • Bramans
  • Sollières-Sardières
  • Lanslebourg
  • Bessans
  • Bonneval-sur-Arc
  • Col de L'Iserans - our highest climb! 14km, up to 10% grade for the
  • last couple km. We got to the top, and the temperature dropped 25° and
  • it started pouring, so we put on our rain gear and made our way down
  • Val-d'Isère
  • Bourg St Maurice
  • Les Arcs (unloaded climb)
  • Cormet de Roselend (19km climb)
  • Beaufort
  • Les Saisies
  • Col de Saisies (15km climb)
  • Notre Dame de Bellecombe
  • Praz-sur-Arly
  • Megève
  • Servoz - We met an Italian man named Joseph who lives here who showed us the way to get to Chamonix by bicycle, and then he made us spaghetti and let us use his internet and left us alone in his house while he went to the dentist!
  • Saint Gervais les Bains
  • Les Houches
  • Chomonix Mont Blanc - we spent 2 nights here and hiked up to the Glacier and some ice caves with our day off
  • Col des Montets
  • and then we crossed into Switzerland!
  • Col de Forclaz
  • Martigny - we met 2 Americans who we happened to camp net to who were going from Amsterdam to Nice, and one of them graduated from Colby! The other one was 16, and they were both named Brian. We ate Swiss chocolate with them and watched all the fireworks going off for the Fête Nationale de Suisse. Then it turned into a real thunderstorm
  • Èvian les Bains - where the original spring for Evian water is
  • Excenevex
  • Yvoire - we ate Raclette in the old medieval city
  • Geneva
And now we're right outside Geneva, back in France, stayin with Dave and Judy's friend Veronique for the night! I'm not gonna lie, I'm excited to sleep inside for a night. We're going to go see some modern yodeling in a few minutes!

Its hard to believe we only have 2 weeks left!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We're in the Alps!

We've been riding for a little over a week, and we made it from the Cote d'Azur to the high Alps. I was a little surprised on the first day when we had, in Dave's words, a "monstous but relatively short" climb to get out of Opio, where Matt lived and I visited him in 1996. Little did I know that relatively short meant 45 minutes. But by now I've gotten used to the long, slow, several hours long climbs. I almost enjoy them? don't tell anyone.

l'Alpe d'Huez

At the top of l'Alpe d'Huez!
Today we climbed l'Alpe d'Huez, with 21 switchbacks. Then we decided it wasn't time for lunch yet, so we dropped down and climbed even more over a pass, before a 15% grade drop down on a narrow gravelly road. Matt and Dave climbed les 2 Alpes, but I came back.
Intense M&M's and Intense cidre. the beginning of an intense trip

Here's our route so far. The places in bold are where we camped, and everywhere else we stopped in or I just remembered going through.

Le Pylone Camping
Sophia Antipolise
Bar sur Loup (Gorge sur Loup)
Saint Auban ( and la clue de St Auban - it was really cool!)
Brian çonnet
Val du Roure
le Col de St. Raphael
Puget Théniers
Camping du Brec
Le Col de la Colle de St Michel
La Colle de St Michel - we stayed on a farm with a beautiful view! By far my favorite place we've camped
Colmars des Alpes
La Foux d'Allos
Le Col d'Allos - our highest climb so far! 20 km, and the last 6 were steep. The ride down was amazing too!
Matt and I hiked up above the Col d'Allos - our first glimpse of the real Alps!
around the Lac de Serre-Ponçon
le Sauze du Lac
Col de Manse
St Bonnet
Les Egats

and now we're in Bourg D'Oisans! We're spending 2 nights here so we could do the climbs unloaded, but tomorrow we're continuing on! The Alps are really beautiful. There are lots of flowers and waterfalls, little towns and villages, cows, sheep, goats, beautiful gardens, and mountains of course. And it's not 100° anymore.

riding beyond l'Alpe d'Huez