Day 2173 Monday 26th September
Got camped by three in Bidart, right on the ocean. Gonna give the tent another try. Stupid huh?! Having repaired it as best I could, the poles are well and truly rooted. I put it up and had a mug of wine and a lump of cheese in respective hands, trying to blend in with all the French happy campers. That was when the rain and wind started, it blew like a wolf, and the tent was ok, though it is not as exposed as last night. I sit writing this and watch the rain coming through the fabric of the stoap roof, it has surely passed it prime, I just wanted to maybe see how bad. And hopefully dry it out. It has done the whole trip and seen thirty six countries, been pitched on rocky ground and gravel. for a tent probably designed to last a few years and be used twice a year it has done really well!
Having been trying to learn a little Spanish over the last few years, being here is a shock, I never spoke French and now I can’t hardly remember anything! Riding to the border I was struggling to remember how to say please, thank you, hello. How daft is that?
Well waking at four and trying to sleep was not easy. As I thought it might rain and wet the mat and sleeping bag I tried to sleep in lumpy bike gear!
I plotted a route on maps, and then went for a walk on the beach in the pre dawn gloom.
The day look grim, however it turned into a fantastic riding day, sunny, warm and after enduring Bidart / Bayonne commuter traffic for an hour the route led into maple tree lined back road avenues with pasture and crops all around. The sun getting stronger and the clouds higher. Managing to stay in utopia till Bordeaux then had to get on sixty three north, and pay a little to the French government for its good roads.
At a gas station a couple of guys were very interested in the trip, looking at the maps and flags from all over. As they continued to look at the bike I gased up and went to pay. On my return one guys asked how much was the fill, I said twenty five, he said here is three twenties, have a great dinner on me! Arn’t folks just NICE?
From there I took a detour to La Rochelle, so many people have said it’s a nice ocean front town with good food. I have passed it many times before, I rode for an hour looking for the usual frequent camping signs, found two closed ones! I could admire the buildings and churches from the road, however failing to find an open camp ground I grumpily headed out north. Where I got camped twenty clicks out of town, in a municipal site, nice grass, not wet sand, and dried out my soggy gear, in the sunlight, perfect.
I walked to Super U, where I bought a quarter kilo of big shrimp, and quarter kilo of scallops, two big tomatoes and onion. Boiling the toms and onion for stock then adding the fish to slow cook, a little hot pepper made it perfect soup.
Day 2174 Tuesday 27th September
I managed to stay off the freeway today! There was good signage on the national roads so got to Rouen for free!! The down side was it took eight hours to cover five hundred and fifty clicks. However padding through old villages and having a coffee here and there in the sunshine was heaps and more heaps better than pounding the freeway!
Some very nice towns with beautiful old gothic churches, a lot with two towers, flying buttresses. Be nice to redo this road and take a couple of weeks and look at them all.
On the negative side, it’s kinda now, same old story, how many beautiful beaches can I look at, the churches are different, however, obviously with a theme, if I’m traveled out, I’m sure time will bring the yearning back.
Not planning to get this far I had no clue where to go after. Three clicks before a major intersection I thought that’s not helpful, no east west south or north signage. Just numbers and names which meant nothing to me. Then a gas station popped up, that was helpful! I stopped and got my location and picked a route.
Got a five buck camp north of Rouen, it looked fantastic, beech hedges, deep pile lovely grass, no need for a mat here for comfort! It looked like an old farm, nice stone build buildings, the toilets and shop all looked like barns, very picturesque. It is two hundred clicks from Calais, I should probably book a passage, however the farm does not have wifi. If I had bought the passage in advance it is a lot cheaper, one pays way more on arrival.
Day 2175 Wednesday 28th September
Woke at three thirty, tried to doze, a few minutes later I looked again half five! Still as black as a hat. Had a few minutes of very light rain, hope no more as it makes the tent heaps heavier when wet.
Thinking of driving this road in the future that’s when the trailer would be ‘ideal’, not as ideal as a caravan type trailer, however I know I can’t tow that behind my van, would look awful if you know what I mean. If I used a box trailer then the bike could come with me and I would be able to have a weatherproof sleeping compartment and be able to ride when the weather was good.
The large food stores don’t mind folks stopping in their parking lots as they realize you’ll probably purchase from them, they have toilets and frequently showers as well.
Stopping in Boulogne at a tourist information the nice man booked my passage across the channel, and yes I truly paid for it, about double I reckon.
The ride over the sand dunes bought back memories of distant day visits here. The rolling green pasture looked very familiar.
I was really taken aback at Calais at the number of dark skinned south eastern European and western African looking faces. apparently a make shift camp had recently been demolished, the faces I saw did not look welcoming or happy
While waiting in line for customs I took off the Australian rego plate and went through the cameras on my English one. No problems there.
The one thirty ferry had been cancelled due to maintenance, so I waited in the cold wind chatting to a guy from Switzerland (Thomas), who was having a vacation in Scotland, of all places! I gently mentioned in the conversation that it may be a little damp up there, he did not seem to be concerned.
I rode up the loading ramp feeling very much like my trip was going to be on hold for a few months, maybe more. Sat on the ferry watching France get smaller I wondered what lay in store for me, would I get working, find a person to share my life with, get entangled in ‘normal’ life that would stop me, or even make me want to stand still again. Might be nice, I might even enjoy it. At the moment it just made blood run cold. Catching my first sight of Britain also chilled me, sounds odd huh. Those people that I met in the eastern states and Europe were saying how fantastic the trip must have been as it was awesome. They wished they could do something similar. I said be careful of what you wish for, it does change you and your outlook on life.