Hi, again

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 bubble 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  'aires de services camping cars'  such as those because in France a camping car is considered to be a car, and you can stop overnight in any parking place, anywhere.  France is an incredibly friendly camping car country. 

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 out 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 do!

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