The alarm went off at 6:30 AM. Its incessant beeping mingled nicely with the sound of rain falling heavily against our tent. Oh rain. We've been meaning to start earlier for at least a week and today was our first run through. In good spirits we completely ignored the fact that everything is -still- wet as I made crepes for breakfast and Tyler set up the laptop to do a bit of work.
After breakfast I spent the rest of our early morning reading The Return of the King laying on my stomach, glued to the climax of the epic tale, willing Frodo and Sam on to destroy the ring. I couldn't stop until they were finally rescued, and by that time, Tyler had already finished working and was busy rolling up a sleeping mat. I sighed and brushed away a few tears, happy knowing Middle Earth was safe thanks to the determination of two little hobbits.
Our early-rising efforts paid off; we had a relaxing morning complete with a big breakfast and were on the road by 9:30. Not too shabby! Our campsite was right next to the canal so we just rode out the front drive and set off. On the path we met an old man walking his dog who looked at us strangely while informing us that it was raining rather hard. He pointed further down the canal and said that it wasn't looking so good that way either. I smiled and thanked him for the obvious information, then told him that we had really good raincoats. A little further down we met a woman on a canal boat who shouted to us that it really wasn't biking weather. Again, we thanked her for the tip, and she yelled back, "It will be nice out tomorrow!" Tyler's Translation—"Why are you biking in zees weather? Don't you know you're supposed to be taking le nap?"
We cheerily cycled on through sheets of rain while watching four incredibly beautiful, majestic cranes floating in and around the canal all the day. Sadly because of the downpour we couldn't take photos. While we rode I listened to "The Splendid Table," a radio show all about food and cooking. Before we left, Tyler downloaded all of the free podcasts for me! I always feel good listening to The Splendid Table and soaking everything up while I'm doing things that don't require much brain power (canal cycling is slightly boring)—it makes me feel like I'm really making good use of my time.
We stopped a few hours later when I saw a sign for a restaurant that also sold local produce. In hopes of buying some bread or maybe meat or cheese, we wheeled our bikes off of the path and went inside. The bubbly woman we met informed us that they really didn't have much to sell, but she was really curious about our trip when she saw the bikes. I explained what we were up to, and she said "Ooh la la, vous êtes courageux!" As we were leaving, Tyler was giddy. As far as he was concerned, if we had to leave France tomorrow for whatever reason, he would be content because he heard a REAL french lady say "OOOH LA LA!"
We wheeled our bikes under the shelter of some trees and ate leftovers from last night before continuing on under the dark, endlessly rainy sky. After another 30 kilometers or so we stopped for gas and groceries in the large-ish town of Redon, and then rode to the next village in hopes of finding a campsite. Thankfully, when we turned off the canal path in the next village, we instantly found ourselves at their tiny municipal campsite.
We happily shelled out the whopping 3 euros and forty cents (practically a free-camp!) and set up camp in the (still) pouring rain. Tyler then got to work on the bicycles, rinsing all of the mud and grit from the chains while I organized our food panniers, throwing away old bits of leftovers, and washing all of our Tupperware.
We've now retired to the tent for the night, it feels great to finally take our wet shoes and socks off. Now for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hot chocolate, books, and episodes of House!