After lunch we carried on. More stupendous views. Which, as always,
look like nothing on a photo.
I took the photo above through the front windscreen. Note the small
wrapped packet on the left. That's my GPS. Later I hung it on top,
through the sunroof, where it seemed to work better.
Here we are approaching the Gorges of Tarn.
This is Sainte Eminie.
Years ago, as today, I used to make trips around France in my van. It
was rather more basic then as far as living amenities went. I had a
mattress on the floor, cardboard boxes to hold clothes, and that was
about it. Dinners I took in restaurants, lunches were always a picnic,
and morning wash, etc, I took in a cafe, along with a coffee. One
trip, in 2002, was for 6 weeks, but just now I'm thinking back to an
earlier journey, a shorter trip, in 2000.
I remembered driving up the Tarn Gorge, climbing high up the side out
of the Gorge to find a parking spot for the night, then in the morning
I had this memory of calling at a hotel for morning coffee etc. In
the mornings the "etc" is of course quite important! I could generally
get a decent wash etc along with the coffee. Anyway I was
interested to find if I correctly remembered the hotel and I was
pleased to find it was there, just as I remembered it.
I planned to go to an overnight parking for camping cars at Ispagnac
but found it had been changed fee paying camp site, so I continued on
to Florac which was also listed as an overnight parking place for
camping cars. It's not really that critical to find one of these
de services camping cars' such as those because in France a camping
is considered to be a car, and you can stop overnight in any parking
place, anywhere. France is an incredibly friendly camping car
Of course our camping cars are not the size of some of those giant RVs
that you find in the USA, partly due to the cost of fuel, some 3 or 4
times the cost compared to the US, and partly due to the size of many
of our roads which are very limiting to large vehicles. So camping
cars will generally be 20-25 ft in length. The aires de services
camping cars will generally have toilets, supplies of fresh water and
sewage disposal facilities. Most of them are free, some will have mains
electricity supplies but often for a small fee.
I easily found my chosen parking in Florac. There were probably over 50
camping cars there, it was getting close to being full, even towards
the end of September, and well past the main holiday season.
It rained heavily during the night, so it was lucky I was here, on a
surfaced site. My van does not have a lot of traction, and if I'd been
on grass I'd probably have been stuck. I chatted a little to an English
couple, in France for a month, then got myself ready to move off.
Catastrophe! My GPS was not working. I discovered it wasn't being
recognised by the computer. I tried in in different USB ports, and got
several error messages. One was 'USB port overload'. I wondered if
there was a short somewhere. I had noticed
Kitten trying to chew at the cable before I stopped him so I examined
the cable. Yep. It had chew marks on it. He's tried chewing at my
mouse cable at home, but hadn't done any damage there. Anyway I cut
the piece of cable with chew marks, about 2 ft, (nothing to lose!), and
set about joining
the ends. It is not a simple task without the right tools, they are
tiny little wires, it took
most of the morning, and the few tools I carry are for fixing the van,
not for delicate electrical work.. Eventually though, I got it all
joined up, and it
was working again.
My sun roof leaks. Water collects up there. Each time I turned a
corner about half a pint of water spilled down on me. It was very wet
and very cold. Eventually though, it dried out.
I continued down the Gorges of Tarn.
Since there is an almost vertical drop of around 2,000 ft after the
sign, it's probably best to make that turn.
Just about finished the climb out.
I was passing by Florac again but didn't really want to enjoy the
sight of all those camping cars parked almost wheel to wheel, so
carried on south to the next part of my route, the Corniche des
Cevennes (made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson and his ‘Travels
with a donkey'). I stopped at the first viewpoint, and parked
hidden behind a big rock. Kitten had a run around.
In case you are not aware of it, sadly nothing has so far been found
relating to the two missing
Americans, Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis, in the
Gordon Bennett gas balloon race, and the search has been called off.
My thoughts are with their families.
On a lighter note Janet Folkes has
made a video of her flight, and her landing. Wow! What a landing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ7fMQUr-UQ
I have been asked to mention, by Tom Donnelly, that Colin has made
longer distance flights than his flight this year, but that was when
when he was flying as second pilot to Tom. (Haha. Tom had to get that
in!) Tom has flown the Gordon Bennett I think 3 times, I'm sure he'll
correct me if I'm wrong, and Sam Edward's daughter Cheri has flown it
about the same number of times. (Sam is on this list) Greg Winker, on
this list too, has I believe not flown the Gordon Bennett but flown the
Americas Cup 4 times - the Americas Cup is a similar competition to the
Gordon Bennett. Shane Robinson has flown the Gordon Bennett at least
once. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. To fly gas balloons, in such
competitions, requires a very high level of enthusiasm and knowledge.
I am very impressed by all their flights.
Whilst listing people I must include Don Piccard, who first flew a gas
balloon in 1947, and who was responsible for getting hot air ballooning
into the air, so to speak, and who has done almost everything connected
with ballooning, but whom I think has managed to avoid entering the
Gordon Bennett at any time. Thanks Don for all the stuff that you DID
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