The alarm sounded at 6:30 AM and Tara bounded out into our 'stealth camp' to start the day. Ever concerned about someone showing up and saying "You can't be here", she wanted to make it look like we'd just stopped for breakfast as early as possible. I didn't help the process much as I stayed in the tent groggily trying to get some sleep on her side of the sleeping bag (I slept terribly last night). After basically tearing camp down around me I reluctantly joined her by packing the tent and sleeping bag.
Tara's Note: Actually, I put the tent away :p. As I was quickly shoving the ground cloth into our dry sack, I felt my thumb penetrate some sort of slimy skin followed by the most disgusting SQUISHY feeling I have ever experienced. I screamed and jumped away, finding that I had shoved my thumb into a huge, red, "jabba the hutt"-like slug. I dribbled a bit of the only water we had left onto my slimy finger and shivered replaying the "traumatic" experience as I tried to wipe it clean. I made Tyler finish putting the rain fly away and he tried to help, saying our favorite phrase lately: "It's just nature!"
After a simple egg breakfast with bread and jam we hit the road. Our plan was to cycle a short 30 kilometers into Pornic, a coast town just south of Brittany. From there we'd find a suitable campsite to take a few rest days. Niether of us could believe it as we tried to recount how many days it had been since our last 'off' day and realized it'd already been a week. It is insane how fast time goes by out here.
We cruised down the road at nearly 30kph almost the entire way. I am often a terrible pace setter but we're learning to work with each other. I was amazed today by how well Tara kept up with me. Riding that pace for ten minutes was an impossible feat when we first set out on our trip. Our legs are getting so strong I bet we could outdo Maestro Kurt (one of our Arnis instructors) in lunges handily by now ;).
About halfway to Pornic Tara stopped to pick up a tartlet and a bottle of water from one of the ubiquitous local patisseries. Our new budgeting system has been incredibly helpful for knowing when we can treat ourselves to snacks. As long as we don't have any big emergencies we've built up a big enough surplus that we should be able to stop for random roadside goodies any time we want!
Following our snack we stopped at another McDonald's to catch up on a week of emails (to our amazement they are still pouring in from the contact form) and upload some photos. With our inboxes in check and ice cream in our tummies we headed to the local supermarket to pick up a deck of cards and snacks for the night. We set out under the sweltering afternoon sun with another frozen pizza in search of a coastal campsite.
Just outside of Pornic we found three campsites packed together in the middle of what I guess you'd have to call French suburbia. We passed by street after street, full of row after row of identical houses. They even had the requisite multiple cars in each driveway and people vacuuming them while the kids ran amuck. If it hadn't been for the Mediterranean style of housing I would have sworn we were passing a housing development at home.
The campsites nestled in suburbia were crowded and overpriced so we continued down the coast along a wonderful bike trail until we found
We went for our first swim in the ocean since our trip to North Carolina almost a year ago. The tide was out so it was very shallow but it felt wonderful to swim again. We had been very sweaty and grimy and so we cleaned ourselves as best we could in the refreshing, if only waist-high, salt water. After our dip in the the sea, we walked back to the campsite to check out the pools there.
We joined an insane amount of French parents and their kids at the site's indoor water park. The outdoor pools were far too packed, but we made ourselves at home with slightly smaller crowd inside. Fountains gushed suddenly out of nowhere, slides wound around making loops outside the before plunging into the water, and an entire side of the pool wall was full of seats with massaging jets!
We quickly settled on the massaging seats and watched as little kids decked out in goggles, floaties, and swim caps shouted "look mom!" before bravely jumping into the water. Parents of all shapes and sizes wearing speedos and bikinis watched their kids shoot out of the water slide and come splashing into the pool. It was so much fun, it felt like we were on vacation! We even tried the slides out, they were great :)
Though we eventually got into the groove of the bustling holiday park, I'm not sure if we'll spend another night. We'd like to find somewhere a bit less busy, but we'll see!