Jour Dix: Improvising - France on a roll -- depending on charm - CycleBlaze

June 20, 2011

Jour Dix: Improvising

Today was kind of like 2 days, in a way. First off, I changed the plan a little on the fly. Instead of continuing west in the rain I decided to do indoor things and headed to Bayeux to see the famous tapestry of the Norman invasion of England in 1066.

I'm glad I saw it; it was magnificent; and to think it was made almost 1000 years ago! Amazing! Still, I was disappointed that that is all it was. I mean, they described the scenes but there was explanation on who made it, or even who they think made it? Who had it all this time? Was it stored in a giant shoe box and buried in some guy's attic or did some king have it hanging on his wall in his "man cave"? I'm guessing not, but how about a little more info for my entry fee? I wasn't the only one who thought that. I met a couple from Delaware at a nearby restaurant and they thought the same thing. Still, like I said, it was an amazing work.

From there it was on to bigger and better things, which basically mean this I have been riding in rain and fighting headwinds since Honfleur. I can't control the rain but I can control the wind. How you may ask? Simple, with a train ticket west. :-) My first train ride of the trip. I hopped on and 40 or so minutes later I was in a town west of Sainte Mere Eglise.

From there I rode towards the coast, with the wind at my back! WOO-HOOO! It was still drizzling a bit but I was enjoying the ride, when out of the mist rolled a couple of touring cyclists on folding bikes coming in the opposite direction.

Steve and Penny are from the Lake District in England and we talked for what seemed like an hour, though maybe it wasn't that long. We talked about all sorts of the usual things touring cyclists talk about standing on the side of the road in rural France, and then added some other things, like their daughter, who is currently on business in Las Vegas (another small world moment). They also invited me to stay at their house if I'm ever in the Lake District. So, that's two invites in that area of the country in two days! I only need to meet a few more people from England and I can make a week of it.

By the time we stopped talking the rain had stopped, though it was still overcast. From there the ride was lovely. I LOVE the Norman countryside in this area! The tiny villages and old stone buildings and churches. And the cows looks like they started out white, only to have first graders assigned to paint them with dark brown paint, kind of splotchy like. So cool!

It wasn't long until I reached to coast and Quineville and my first D-day museum. It was a museum showing how the people of France lived and coped under Nazi occupation. I found it really interesting and moving. It's one thing to see movies about that sort of thing back in California, but for some reason, seeing the manicans in real German uniforms and equipment made it feel real and scary. It must have been an awful time.

From there I rode east towards Utah Beach area. The funny thing was, I was suddenly glad it was NOT sunny and perfect conditions. It seemed rather somber and like the conditions I imagine on D-Day. Very few people were around

...the people here have erected markers naming the roads after specific men who would killed on, or around D-day. The first one I saw I choked up some. From there until Utah Beach, where I camped for the night, I continued to feel pretty emotional about it. Along the coast were German bunkers left behind, lots of them. What a mess it must have been around here in 1944.

Tonight I'm camping in a really nice campground near Utah Beach. When I arrived the restaurant was closed but, I think, upon seeing my despicable condition the woman offered to cook for me. "Steak-Frittes?" Said. 'Merci' I relied gratefully.

It was there I met two little kids, Allison, who was about 6, and her slightly older brother Louis. I gave them each a French/American flag lapel pin and let them each pick out one of the U.S. coins I brought as extras for such an occasion. They were so excited and showing them to anyone who would listen, multiple times. :-)

Tomorrow I head to Utah Beach and some other places. I will let you know what I see when I see what I see myself.

Until then...

Bayeux
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My first train ride. Fast, on time, efficient, and they run every hour
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Steve and Penny from the Lake District of England
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Typical Norman Village
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...and when you leave they post a sign like this
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Norman cows
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Though this one was giving me the evil eye
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One of the exhibits at the museum I visited. The uniforms are not costumes. They are the real deal. Seeing them felt scary/weird. What a terrible time that must have been in Europe.
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A replica town of that period
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Wooden bike tires when rubber could not be used
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Trust me, I am the LAST person to criticize someone's English when my French totally, well, SUCKS--for that matter, my spelling in English, well, SUCKS too! Still, I got a little chuckle out of the spelling...well, see if you can find it.
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...and now I was riding along the coast
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This is when I started to get choked up
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German Bunkers
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...and more bunkers
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An average looking house with an American flag
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Today's ride: 48 km (30 miles)
Total: 305 km (189 miles)

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