Three years ago I quit driving my car and started walking everywhere. (Happy anniversary, feet.) It started as an experiment- I wanted to see what it would be like living in rural/suburban Midwestern American without a car. This was interesting from the start since our subdivision didn't have a sidewalk leading out. Originally, I was searching for a sense of place, narrowing the otherwise overwhelming task of understanding/knowing a community to the area which I could travel on foot. This is how I'd always chosen to see a place when traveling somewhere new, so I applied it to where I lived. After a year of daily walking in DeKalb, Illinois (my final year of grad school), we moved to France, and it's how I've learned the landscpe here (if not the language). Up until this past March, Derek also managed by bike and bus, until he needed to make frequent, anytime day-or-night trips to a further work facility. Which, okay, I'll admit I benefit from a ride home from the grocery store (but I'm still not driving and make the 6 mile walk to get there). It's not quite the same as my previous independence, but I don't think I'll go back to owning a car or driving. Three years, and walking over 10,000 kilometers has given me lots of thinking time and has reached into all parts of daily life (it's also worn the soles off several pairs of shoes). I could babble endlessly on what walking has taught me about distance, about values (American and French), about spacial relationships, about weather, about myself, but here's something someone else said, and I like it:
I've got some catching up to do...but first, I wanted to share these little house martins that live just beneath our roof on the side of the house. It's been fun to watch the parents diving and gliding and listening to their happy chatter outside our bedroom window. They should fledge any day now.
A surprise holiday in France, Whit Monday, so we headed out for and afternoon hike near Saint Gervais in the Alps.
Colorful wildflowers and quaint chalets.
Dramatic clouds and not too distant rain.
Wading through cows and goats on the way up. Happy Whit Monday to you too.
Today was my first trip to the other side of the lake, the French side of Lac Lemon. After the morning market, we packed our picnic basket and headed out. The medieval walled town of Yvoire was really pretty with stone buildings and flowers and mountain views, but terribly crowded which shouldn't be surprising for a gorgeous June Sunday. We walked around a bit, but looked for a quieter spot along the lakefront for our picnic lunch.
We found a second grassy spot to enjoy a little more sunshine before starting toward home, and detoured for an Ethiopian dinner while passing through Geneva. Feels like summertime.
I still love the hike up to Le Reculet every time. This time, Jess, Brad, and I made the trek for the last day of their trip. Tired legs will make the long flight home a little easier, so up we went. We saw a few chamoix on the ridge and Mt. Blanc made an early, subtle appearance, but was soon swallowed by clouds.
Narderans photo op.
The final ascent...looking pretty steep.
A hazy view from the top, but cleared a bit while we took a long lunch at the summit.
We heard the bells long before seeing the cows when the cloud-cover passed. We made a quick trip down to get ready for a final dinner together joining with other friends of theirs who just happen to have moved from St. Louis to a town just a few miles away.
With lots of visitors this spring, we've made several trips to Chamonix. This time Derek and I went hiking instead of riding the telecabine. We've been wanting to hike these trails for a while and it was a good opportunity while our friends made the trip to the top. Too bad the clouds didn't cooperate for them, but it was the best chance for clear skies this week, so we had to go for it.
Our friends Jess and Brad our visiting us from St. Louis. For their first visit to Europe, they saw just about everything in Paris and Rome, and are relaxing with us in quiet Challex, walking in the countryside, and picnicking in the vineyards. And let's not forget the CERN tour. After a brief stroll through Geneva, Derek gave us a tour of CERN. I usually sit this out, but neither of us had yet been to the Globe's Universe of Particles exhibition.
I was impressed. The exhibition was understandable, interactive, and made me really proud of my husband's research. I guess if I have to share so much of him, at least all his time is going to something really awesome. Get excited about science: find out more about the exhibition and download the brochure.
I've been wanting to hike more on the ridge of the Jura. We often go up and come right back down. Late this afternoon we decided the rain would hold off and there would be enough daylight to do a little exploring. So instead of the usual trail, we started out near Farges and spent some time on the ridge line.
It was beautiful. Lots of dramatic fog and a patch of snow left from our June snowfall (provided some needed hydration at just the right time).