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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Corsica and the Grand Canyon in France

                              We had to take another ferry to Corsica and came into the town of Bonifacio perched on a cliff. 

Passed a lagoon with kite surfing classes going on

Then stopped at a roadside rotisserie stand and ate an excellent and hearty lunch.



And a whole lot of french fries!

Wished I could have enjoyed some of these veggies instead, it's only the first week and I'm sick of french fries. 

Decided to skip Ajaccio and head into the Corsican Mountains to Corte and through cool and lush forests with turn after turn after turn and hundreds of motorcycles. This island is a motorcycle paradise...even reserved parking for bikes. Everyone here gives the friendly hello wave and half of them are in t-shirts and flip flops.

Excellent tasting natural spring water. I also bought a bottle of Rose here.

We decided to go to the highest peak in Corsica

Found a wonderful campsite by the river with a friendly staff and actually pitched out tents during daylight. I nearly took my head off on a clothing line riding around camp to get an idea of where we might pitch our tents. 

Enjoyed some Corsican rose wine and a simple meal of salami, cheese (that some little critter stole from my bag during the night), tomatoes and bread. He’s gonna be doing the doggie butt sledding we have all seen. I had the remaining chicken breast from lunch and lay down in a clean state and just drifted off to sleep.

One more cursed, awful, noisy, expensive ferry and we are DONE. 

Met this strange little friendly man in the port town who gave me some ripe plums and played a bit of guitar for me.

We disembarked hoping to meet up with Adam, after all, that was his proposed plan but no we went to camp Darby (another well organized, excellent military camp) Now I go off on a tangent. I've really enjoyed riding with someone in the military. I've generally been in full support of the military over the years even when the debates with some of my more liberal friends in San Francisco around military budgets has spiraled out of control like the car that crashed off the highway today. It's easy for a congressman in DC to say, shut down that base in Livorno Italy and we'll save $$$ but as I walked around I could appreciate all the effort that went into making a second home for US military personnel away from home. Right down to a bowling alley and girl and boy scouts clubs. 

If you take 4 day weekends or even *gasp* 2 weeks off a year for vacation, you will never understand what it is to be away from all you know and cherish for an extended period of time.
You spend the first week unwinding and the second week dreading going back....I've looked forward to these two military bases with such yearning and been rewarded in spades. Tonight. A Dutch contractor (who speaks excellent English and French) who handles logistics for the US Army gave us a pork tenderloin, made a salad with all of their left over veggies and on top of that, drove me to the laundry mat when I walked by with a huge bag of stinky clothes.

We agreed to wake early....well all of us, since I always wake up at dawn (Dad you would be proud) to get to Pisa before the hordes of tourists and grumpy old men who direct traffic away from the barricades were there.
I got and email from Dad asking if the tower of Pisa was still up after I finished with it. 

 Then we went to Cinque Terre. It means 5 towns. What made all the hassle in reading a few dozen guidebooks over many a Sunday afternoon to create the trip plan worth the effort, was when Dan (our fearless leader with GPS) said it was one of his best 5 rides ever. For you non-motorcycle riders, it's a big deal and made me brim with happiness.

Love my $500 zoom lens!

The places we've seen today actually made me tear up a couple a times for their sheer beauty and the realization that I was truly here, doing what I envisioned just a year ago and thinking, it's really this easy. Just dream it and do it.

I was also grateful that he shared that sentiment since the road in, was the road out....a big delay in our day but only because the road had caved in and was impassable. Well perhaps not with motorcycles but I had just about enough of dirt roads delaying us and scaring the heebee jeebies out of me on these street tires. 

It was a twisty and I mean TWISTY road that I was doing OK on with Danny's careful warnings but for this one hairpin, uphill turn that would even challenge a car. It was about noon by now and the Hobbit must be fed, much like those Gods of ancient times or suffer their wrath, namely me.

Dan spotted a restaurant on the side of the road with some old timers sitting out front watching the traffic blaze by in 100 degree weather and we struggled to park the bikes as we always do on these narrow, steep, windy roads. What came after was a wizened woman who put up 3 fingers and walked away without so much as a menu and returned with salad dotted with succulent tomatoes and too much salt, whole wheat bread (virtually unheard of here) and a huge (and I do mean huge) plate of spinach fettuccine pasta with homemade tomato meat sauce to die for (33 euro for 3 people). 
Sorry, no photos. Inhaled the food.

Gelato stop

Someone once told me, Monaco is where the Billionaires play.

Loved this lunch spot with parking for 2 wheels.

We are near San Remo and found a camp site that was *as usual* expensive but welcomed. When I rolled up my tent this morning, I noticed some ants and paid it no mind since I knew the heat would kill anything rolled up in my tent. To my chagrin, found a small army of these buggers running about furiously as I pitched camp this afternoon...Yes, that's right, we pitched camp 3 nights in a row in daylight. Since I don't want to jinx my luck I'll just leave it at that. Things however did turn bad. I had a Brazilian meal from the camp cafe that smelled wonderful but did something less than wonderful to my stomach. I am still not sure what woke me, if it was the biblical swarm of ants scurrying all over me or the pain in my tummy. After a brief shriek I got out of my tent, brushed off as many ants as I could from my body and sleeping bag and set up the cot on the ground outside my tent away from the hoard.
I decided this morning when we set out with quite a few more ants rolled up in my tent and now other bedding that I would find a hotel at the end of the day no matter the cost.

Then I planned a route that would take us to the complete opposite in terms of weather, populations and geography through what the French called the Grand Canyon of Verdun. 

Bungee jumping

It was exquisite but hot again. Once we oogled and snapped our photos pulled into a lakeside town for much needed gas, I found a 100 euro a night hotel that put the human back into me. I gave them my sweat soaked gear for washing and proceeded to the pool.

The front desk lady was nice enough to give me a ground floor room that I could park right in front of and I charged everything and caught up on other administrative stuff and removed some dead ants from my things. (snicker)
I can't wait to have a good night sleep and eat a simple soup of veggies to calm my very unhappy stomach and sleep on a soft clean bed without ants.
The mosquitoes have made a 'connect the dots' diagram on my legs and ankles that itch like poison ivy in my hot sweaty boots every day. I hope they aren't here. It's dry and hot and not near the water, wish me luck.

Next stop was a working monastery where you can stay the night if you take a vow of silence and help with the chores. 
A lavender field (with plenty of signs saying not to cut any)

Could have been pretty cool but it was not meant to be, nor was a 15 Euro Prix Fixe menu in town. 

Thankfully we passed through a city and found a local corner cafe/bar that had a 'plat du jour' (dish of the day) of salad, grated carrots, tomatoes, half an egg, slices of ham and scalloped potatoes, all for 7 Euro. It was by far the best meal we've had and the cheapest.

We then rode through some twisty roads in Southern France dotted with Apricot and Apple orchards and finally stopped at a camping near the river with a pool. (That means lots of kids and mosquitoes)  where I had a pizza, wished I'd ordered the a salad, then got into my blessedly ant free tent. It was extremely humid, very close to 100% as we could not seem to cool off unless we stayed absolutely still.

Next stop Carcasonne! And some *fun* with the police!