last july climb

This morning offered a beautiful clear sky and mild temperature for the last long climb up the Jura before our August race. We enjoyed gorgeous views once we reached above the trees. It would have been great to spend the day above the valley, but after taking in the view for a few breaths, it's time to turn around and have fun hurtling down, finishing the up and back in a little under three hours. One more two hour trail, and then taper. Yes, time to taper right after taking a 2 week break in the US. I'm just glad we could still make it up here after those two flat weeks.



Today I joined friends for a summery trip to the tiny wine-making village of Cerdon. Just an hour away, it made for a lovely day trip. We picnicked up on a vineyard slope overlooking the town, and the kids had a fun time racing, downhill, between the vine rows.

I noticed that I am missing any photos of our tastings- must have been distracted by the wine.  Cerdon (named for where it is made) is sweet and pink and bubbly. Served chilled, it is perfect for hot summer days. We wandered between small tasting rooms ringing doorbells for entry to the makers' caves or workshops. Time to stock up, Maura, since we haven't found it in America. 

Our last stop, after coffees and ice cream, was to the hilltop church for a view over the valley.


hiking: refuge de plan glacier (2730m)

Skip ahead...and we are back after two wonderful weeks with friends and family. (More on that once I sort through the bajillion photos of our adorable goddaughter). 

After arriving back in France yesterday, we picked up the cat, some food, unpacked, went for a walk, and got a little sleep so that we could get back on the mountains this morning. Jet lag can't keep us down. We started at La Gruvaz for the steady climb passing through Col du Tricot and up to Refuge de Plan Glacier, at 2730m. It's the highest we've been able to get this summer thanks to warm temperatures finally melting the snow.

The climb to Miage passed quickly, then a bit more trudgingly up to Col du Tricot. Our legs and lungs are starting to remember what altitude feels like. From Tricot, we passed through the stone archway for  a few more hours climb, some scrambling, snow traversal, and cable guides to reach our destination.

Time for a snack while enjoying the view.

We arrived at the refuge, wedged into the side of the mountain, just before 5 pm, where we encountered a handful of serious trail runners and a few multi-day hikers settled-in for the evening. No time to dally, we ate some snow, and turned back for the long descent, passing waterfalls and crossing rushing streams. 

It was a long, steep drop back down to Miage, but we were able to fill our bottles from a fountain and make quick time from there back down to the start. We couldn't ask for a more beautiful day, or better scenery for shocking our legs and feet back into mountain mode.


in the middle

We are back from two weeks in the Midwest, mostly spent in our home towns in Illinois, but with a few stops in Michigan and Indiana. Two beautiful weekends separated by sultry weekdays, but swimming kept us cool on some humid days. Looking back, I didn't have my camera out as much as I'd like, but I guess we were just a bit too busy for that. We spent most of our time visiting with family and friends, BBQs, and catching up on all that is new back home. I did manage to get quite a few shots, chasing around a curly-haired cutie. Settle in for a super-long two-week summary.


After our first couple days with family, we rented a car to drive up to Grand Rapids, Michigan for a wedding. It was wonderful to see our DeKalb family and celebrate such a special day for a beautiful friend and her gorgeous wife. The evening was perfect - every detail - right down to the weather. 

Congratulations Michele and Becky!

Next stop, Ann Arbor. The next morning we drove east to meet our friend Justin for brunch in his new town. I ate the best vegan club ever (with toasted coconut, aioli, tofurky, avocado, a side of sweet potato fries and cherry cider). If you go to Seva, please mail me another! After I quit raving about my sandwich, we spent the afternoon exploring the downtown, swanky eateries, searching for fairy doors, and soaking in some Bastille Day pride. The day passed too quickly and we had to hit the road again for one more stop, visiting my Grandma.

We arrived in Shipshewana, Indiana for a late dinner and an evening sitting on the back patio. After a visit with grandma, we made the final, exhausted drive back to Illinois...a lot of driving for one day, GR-AA-Shipshe-Shorewood, about two and a half hours each.

We made a trip to Beecher during the week and swam and visited with my three godparents and some cousins. My "little" cousins are adults, and when you're way for a while, it's fun to come back and meet new family- these two cuties.

We had a lovely visit with Grandma Strom, full of strength and insight at 94!

And we met Theodon (Teddy), a new nephew, and baby brother to our goddaughter Rika. He's a handsome, laid-back guy.

 Swimming, swimming in the swimming pool:

And then there's Rika.

Amber and Brandon had the family at their new house for a dinner and some time playing outside with the animals.

Rika loves the kitty, and the kitty takes it pretty well.

Tyler and his girlfriend have started an exciting venture growing organic vegetables on the farm and setting up a stand in Elburn. If you're nearby and want some delicious veggies check out Strom Family Farm to find out what's fresh.

I like to think we helped out while we were there, but I'm not sure eating what we pick really counts. We couldn't have planned our trip home much better- everything was ripening as we were there...but we missed sweet corn- should be ready in just another week.

Next stop, visiting the prairie - growing strong. We saw bluebirds nested again!

There's so much I missed in photos: a big family pool party, a BBQ and backyard games with college friends, and some splendid evenings sharing amazing dinners with more...and the best vegan-raw key lime pie that there ever could be!

Our last morning on the farm, we walked with Rika. Ate some tomatoes and snap peas, visited the prairie, and chased butterflies in the hoop house, before going out for an ice cream covered good-bye.

Thank you to our family and friends who shared lots of laughter, made us fantastic meals, let us crash their wedding, played trains and basketball and kubb and swam, opened moët to celebrate our being together, went for walks, gave us vegan goodies and hugs and rides and a place to sleep between adventures. Bisous!