Last night while we were settled in at camp, a big group of cycle tourists rolled in. A whole family of them! The father pulling a giant trailer behind him, the mother fully loaded with an adorable little blond girl in a seat on the back. We watched with envy—how nice it would be to sit and relax while someone else pedaled for you! Our envious thoughts were quickly halted and replaced with surprise when another, slightly older blond girl rolled in followed by two more, each a little older than the last!
The four glowing girl cyclists (ranging from about ages three to twelve) and their parents began unloading their gear and setting up camp, a huge process which by comparison made ours look like a quick and easy affair. The girls soon lost interest in making camp, leaving a sprawling, colorful mess behind them as they began frolicking around while their parents took care of the grunt work. The amount of organization and energy required for family trip like this seemed unfathomably large to us but they all seemed quite relaxed!
As the sun went down and they settled in for the night, we exchanged many smiles and laughed with joy at the adorable antics of the girls, rolling in the grass, inventing games to play, and taking particularly good care of their littlest sister. Before we even met them we were smitten and filled with admiration for this closely-knit, loving and clearly very adventurous family.
After packing up this morning, we padded over into a cyclone of activity to meet our neighbors. Lena, Louise, Perrine and Naelle all greeted us with smiles and their parents Philippe & Anne-Cecile were all too happy to answer our questions. Philippe explained that they've been cycle touring every year as a family ever since their first daughter was born. Once a year they leave their home in France and head to a campsite where they park their car and cycle a small, flat loop for a few days. This particular vacation was four days of cycling following the Rhone river!
We felt very much like most of the people who talk to us, asking wasn't that trailer heavy with all the gear stowed away in huge plastic storage bins? (YES, it was very heavy). Isn't it hard to muster the level of organization and energy needed to do a trip like this? (YES, but it is a LOT of fun, and a very rewarding way to travel as a family. They all love it!) Louise chimed in saying they loved it SO much they were going to bike ALL THE WAY to the BLACK SEA! Her dad let out a surprised cough and a big sigh, and said "someday… when you're older…when you can carry more gear on your bike!" That would take a lot more planning.
The girls were outgoing and fun, peppering us with questions and promising to follow our trip on our website. The precocious Louise (who reminded us remarkably of Tyler's eight-year-old sister Vivian) piped up again and asked if you could just stick our card in the computer to see the website. Everyone laughed and said no, that wasn't how the internet worked. Before we said our goodbyes and cycled off, they invited to stay with them the next time we bike through France! Thanks guys!
The rest of the day passed uneventfully but very well with our spirits lifted by our friendly encounter. We rode 70 flat valley kilometers to the town of Turtig, just outside Visp. On the way we drenched ourselves in one of many public fountains, and made heaping sandwiches filled with lettuce and cucumber that Natalie gave us. The campsite we found was ridiculously expensive at a whopping 33 francs. Staying in budget here is definitely going to be a challenge!