No internet at all right now . . . Writing this blog in notes . . .  Wow!

So.   Today is a day of stories!   😀.    

We had dinner last night in this amazing little place right outside the medieval city.     Very small.  It was full – with one gentleman, our party of seven (seated at two tables) and another party of ten, also seated at two tables!   That was it!   One cook.  One waiter.   He had asked us if we’d come after 8:00 as the other big party was coming at 7:00.   Fine with us – just a longer happy hour!   😀.    Maybe the happy hour was too long because we broke one glass (fortunately empty) and spilled a second one. . .  😳

The menu had three choices for appetizers and three for dinner.    Our favorite choice for first appetizer was an amazing portabella mushroom soup with foil gras.    Outstanding!    Main courses were rabbit, sea bass, and this delicious lamb meal of chunks of lamb, mixed with barley and diced veggies, covered with a flaky pastry crust!   All so good!    One bottle of wine per table and we were good!    Dessert at our table was a flamed creme brûlée.   

Flaming hot!

We had fun with the other big party.   Clearly, they were Americans!   😀.   They were all neighbors, living in Philadelphia.  Turns out one couple had lived in Waterville for a year.   These folks had one child who went to Bowdoin and another who had gone to Williams.   Pretty neat!   They were on a walking tour . . .  Sometimes, the world seems pretty darn small . . . .

Dave is still struggling to sleep but the rest of us are doing better. . .  Maybe tonight for the D. . . .     😖.   Breakfast was at 8:00.   Croissants, rolls, lots of fruit, cereal, homemade yogurt, coffee (not the best . .).     A really good breakfast but not the best in terms of staying power for cyclists . . .    No protein . . Oh well . . .

Then – it was off to the famous Vaison-la-Romaine market!   Biggest market in all of Provence!     This thing was amazing!   Stretched across the Main Street of town and meandered off to the side streets as well . .   Hundreds of people.  Booths displaying jewelry, olives, linens, pocketbooks, literally anything anybody might want to buy!   We bought a few things and then got done with all the hubbub.   Time to get off on the bikes!

Lots of soap here in Provence. Colette is choosing five soaps for 7 euros!
Awesome jewelry here! Had to get one for ourselves and one for a gift! 😀

So – back to the B and B –  on with the bike clothes, and down many sets of narrow steps to the storage spot for our bikes.     It took all of us several trips back and forth between our rooms and the outside bike storage area to get ourselves ready to roll . . And with all of that, jojo forgot her water bottle – probably the most important article of all!   😖.     Some of us walked our bikes over the cobblestone walkways, in and around other people – steep down!    Some of us attempted to ride down.   Mostly the men!   😀.    As Dave reached the bottom, he heard a loud noise – like a gunshot!  Flat tire!    Oh no!   And we hadn’t even begun our ride!   😢. 

Flat tire number one!     Sending info to our randonee contact. 😀

  So Tom went to work changing the flat tire.  With lots of help from Dave and John. .   As he blew the tube up – crack. Another gunshot noise, scaring everybody in the vicinity!   😙.    Another flat!   Uggg!    So . . .  We decided it would be foolhardy to ride off into the rural countryside without extra spare tubes.   Dave walked back up to our hotel, over the cobblestones in his bike shoes (not the easiest on his bad knee . .).   And he hurried because we were all waiting patiently . . .    Now the tire is back on the bike (tube number 3).  John decided to do the honors this time – maybe he would be more patient than Tom.  As the air was flowing into this tire, John could see this brand new tube oozing out through the sidewalk of the tire!   Thus this photo!   

Had to describe to Randonnee what exactly the problem was . . . 😏

Clearly this self guided business was not going all that well . . .  😩.    And we have three quality bike mechanics in our midst!     We called our Randonnee contact – then decided that we had to get a new tire for that bike.  It was clearly not safe to ride!          So you all must picture this scene…   seven of us walking our bikes through the mobs of people strolling through this crazy market.  Us in our bike clothes, which includes walking in bike shoes – clearly not meant for strolling around in a crowded market  .. . Making our way through hundreds of shoppers – children in strollers – dogs – elderly folks using canes – booth owners trying to make a sale . .   Crazy!    And of course, we got separated.   Colette and I had no idea how to find the bike shop and we lost the rest of our group – eventually decided to go back to the place where Dave’s tubes kept bursting and wait there.    

Finally – we were on the road by noonish.    Certainly – not our usual.   I was a bit worried about my bike because there is some play in the handlebars.   Not supposed to have any play in them at all.    They are safe (we think).     Just a little annoying.   Cyndy has different shifting than she’s used to.     She did fine!    So.   We managed fine with the bikes.   Only Dave – had to refrain from using his back brake as our resident mechanics decided that his perpetual flat tires were caused from an issue with that back brake rubbing against his tire – causing the tire to fray at the seam …    yikes to all of that!  

Reassessing the situation. Talking with our friend from Randonee. We really need to fix this bike! 😢

Fortunately, the roads were super quiet and we honestly had a lovely ride – through vineyards with hill surrounding us all the way.    We stopped around 2:00 for lunch.   It had been a long time since breakfast and we were all getting mighty hungry!   We found a great little cafe in the town of Mollons.   We stopped, parked our bikes along the wall and pretty soon, this lovely lady peaked out the kitchen window asking us if we’d like to have some lunch!   Of course, we aswered and soon we were seated across the street at three tables pushed together!   She took drink orders and then brought over a menu – on a slate, as we’ve discovered is often the case over here.

Audrey from Mollons shared herself and her talents with us today. She was special!

So – for eleven euros, we had salad and chicken curry or chicken with wild mushrooms over spagetti!  We were so hungry that we could hardly wait!   Audrey, was a stitch!   She sang to us!  She took our order with such a sense of humor that you couldn’t help but smile!   She cooked our meal!   Served it with a smile!   Washed the dishes!   And when I went in to use the restroom, she was sitting at the piano, playing and singing!   I had to ask for her picture!   How special was that to spend an hour or so with someone who so loves life and who shares that joy with her customers!    So thankful that we weren’t in a rush to head off on our bikes . . But could just enjoy that time with this special woman!   😀    In Provence!    😀

Scenes along the way . .

Had pizza tonight at a local place.   Easy and pretty quick.    Tomorrow we’re going to make an attempt at Mt. Ventoux!    Some of us that is    . .    This is a famous climb on the Tour de France.    Long and steep and hard!     Some of us are going to see what it looks like and head back down . . .  We’ll see . . .


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