Thursday, August 21, 2008

Camping - jour 1

My 'parents' decided since they were on vacay that we should take a camping trip to the Loire Valley to hunt for Castles! How terrific is that? Plus, I love camping, so let's do it, right?

First off, camping in France isn't really how I think of camping back home in the Pacific Northwest. When we camp we pack up the tents (some of which may or may not be waterproof), tarps because inevitably it will rain, sleeping bags and blankets because it gets damn cold at night, marshmallows and wieners for the fire, lantern and deck of cards. I would assume anybody else's camping list follows suit basically (unless you are an RV camper. Bah.) Camping in the Pacific Northwest is in the hard core forest. It makes me think of Bear Grylls biting off the heads of snakes and eating raw fish straight from the river. Not that I myself camp like this, but it gives a good visual. The french don't camp like that. We reserved a chalet, which is a fancy french name for a cabin. At least at home we don't call them chalets, I can't speak for the east coast. Our chalet came with two bedrooms, comfy beds, wc, bathroom with hot water shower, kitchen, microwave and all the other daily conveniences camping is supposed to be without. I can't say I didn't mind, especially since it rained a few nights we were there. The 'campground' which I refuse to call it by because it was actually like a 4 star resort did however have some sites where people could pitch tents. I looked at those spots and every single one of them was occupied by some family that wasn't french. Quite a few were Belgian or English. Nope. You didn't see the French in tents. The resort also boasted a heated pool, sauna and nightly entertainment outside the restaurant/lounge. Some camp-ground.

So we hit the road early saturday morning for a some 400 km drive. I slept basically the whole way again. I woke up in time for a pit stop lunch at this cute park with a river view. There were some ducks in the water, but Dominque called them water chickens instead. They looked like ducks to me, but he insisted it was different. There was also a beaver looking creature that he called a river rat. It was too far away to actually see what it was. Then back on the road. Another weird thing in France is that the free-ways aren't free. You have to pay to drive on many of the bigger highways. Luckily our exit was the close so our toll wasn't that expensive. But the further you drive, the more you pay. I'm used to the toll bridge at home, but a toll road? Ew. I'm not a fan and I wasn't even driving.

When we checked in I read the book in the office where people could leave comments when they were checking out. It was interesting to see all of the different countries people came from. There was a note from a couple from California. I don't know if I was from Cali that I would come to France to camp. I realize i'm not from far from california, but I've been living here. They were on vacay. Strange.

I realized that when I unpacked I totally forgot my adapter. Naturally. We went to the grocery store to get some stuff for the week and of course the store had every adapter possible except American. They were out. So was every other store in the general area. I had to be really careful with my cameras and selective when taking pictures so my batteries wouldn't die. Luckily the spares were fully charged. That helped. My ipod died the first night. Excellent.

When we were making the grocery list for the above mentioned trip, they dictated and I wrote. They made fun of me the whole trip because I spelled pastis wrong. They made it sound like pastiche. Whatever.

What blew my mind the most, the first day when we went castle hunting was the acres and acres of sunflower fields. I'm used to seeing corn everywhere with all the farmland around, but the sunflowers are amazing. Just fields of pure yellow. All over. I never got bored staring out at the country side.

Oh, and they don't have campfires. Weird.

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