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The Higher Road

by Tara

This morning we had a satisfying breakfast (the first one, it seems, in days) of cooked muesli, jazzed up with cinnamon and sugar. Afterwards, as we were packing we got to talking with our campsite neighbors—a family from the Brittany region of France! Our slow progress yesterday had Tyler eager to leave camp this morning and I could tell he was anxious to go but I reminded him that meeting people from around the world was practically the point of our trip!

Danielle, Philippe, and their two teenage daughters asked us all kinds of questions and even invited us over for breakfast! Mid-bread and butter, Tyler's tension about leaving abated and we enjoyed a leisurely half an hour chatting with our generous guests. When it was finally time to go, Danielle loaded us up with the rest of their bread, a box of granola bars, and a jar of her homemade raspberry jam, straight from their own garden! People's kindness is truly astounding sometimes. Thank you so much you guys! It was wonderful to meet you!

French Family

With our newfound bounty, we now had a cushion of food to tide us over until we happened upon a grocery store. To neither of our surprise, now that we weren't quite so desperate, we found one almost as soon as we hit the road. We still needed more than just granola bars and jam, so we pulled off at a Denner and headed inside with our plastic shopping bag.

On our way out a kind older man who was stocking shelves came to ask us about our bikes and our trip. He spoke no English or French and we don't speak any German outside of a patchy (please excuse the AWFUL spelling here) "Vo ist ein campingplatz?" and "Ich spreghchugh kine doitch" but we had a nice little conversation involving lots of hand gestures. It really is sort of fun bumbling around with a huge smile and terrible language skills! We left him with one of our cards, I hope he is able to at least look at our pictures!

Our GPS often tries to route us along tiny secondary roads becuase they are just a tad bit shorter. What it doesn't tell us in the process, however, is the terrain of those roads. In order to save us just one kilometer, it might route us up a mountain and back down the other side. Suffice to say, it can be a bit of a gamble at times. Today was one of those days: continue along our current flat route, or follow the GPS up that hill over there and save 7km?

After a bit of deliberation we decided to brave the secondary road. What followed was a insanely steep hill which led to a series of switchbacks that both of us refused to give up and turn around on. Little by little, we went up the "hill"—an understatement if there ever was one. This bugger was STEEP and seemed to go on forever, up, up, up. It was fun though, making little goals for ourselves, like "just to that wood pile," "just to that bend in the road!," or "just till the end of the guard rail."

Hill-Climbing View Tara Climbing Curvy Ascent

And then, all of the sudden, it hit me. My hands started to shake and I was filled with an irrational rage and urge to throw things. I had become a two year old. It was obviously time for lunch. On a trip like this, you really get to know at a most basic level, what food is really for. Sustaining brain function, muscle function, keeping people sane. We stopped in a patch of shade and I made a sandwich when Tyler realized he had left his water bottle on a park bench at the bottom of the hill. He silently trudged off in the high noon sun to go retrieve it.

Tyler Walking Back Up

After lunch, I no longer felt like a toddler and we happily continued pushing up the hill. When we finally completed the last switchback we felt like we'd conquered the world, all of our hard work had paid off big time! At the top we enjoyed a stunning view, a fountain of cold, fresh drinking water, and a downhill ride as far as the eye could see.

Hilltop View Fountain Tyler Resting

Cows grazed and jangled on the picturesque hillsides as we filled our bottles in the fountain. As Tyler was filling one, he brushed a wire that turned out to be an electric fence. He already had a headache and wasn't feeling very well; being electrocuted didn't help the situation any! We laid down in the grass and I massaged his temples and scratched his head while we were resting.

Cows Cows Cows @ the Fountain

We were about to begin our descent when a fellow picture-taker came over to talk to us. Hans, a soft spoken and friendly man from Luzern asked us many questions and told us that he was visiting his friend in the countryside. At his request, we promised we would think of him when we arrived in his city. It was nice to meet you Hans!

Our swift downhill left us with an easy (and flat!) 16 kilometer stretch to Luzern. We made quick work of our remaining ride and settled in at the lakeside campsite for 34 francs a night(ugH!). Now we're holed up in our tent watching Lost. A few minutes ago there was a movie-like crack of thunder and immediately after the skies opened up and rain began pouring down. Thank heavens for our great tent!

Birdies on Walkstool

Here are even more photos of the beautiful scenery today:

Elaborate Fountain Flowery House Marigolds Bumble Bee
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Hahahaha you guys are too funny! My father (who is a regular reader) expressed how your blog/diary of your excursion really envelops him to believe he's right there with you guys. I'd say that sums up my feelings as well. I enjoy reading about your triumphs, and your mistakes. Keep it up! I am living vicariously through you two!

Posted by FireWolf on August 19th, 2009 at 1:20 AM
I agree. Your writing should be made into a book with some of the pictures. The great way you both write it would make a great book. Something like one of those huge "coffee table" books. I really enjoy reading your blog and looking at your beautiful pictures. Keep safe and keep up with your writing. God Bless you both.
Posted by Dale on August 19th, 2009 at 2:47 PM
Me too! It is like reading a book in serial form and if you don't post for a few days, I get impatient! And the photos make my day! I only stumbled across your blog but am so glad I did - I am having a wonderful trip! I share "our" travel with my kids, telling them "we" climbed a steep mountain today!" LOL!!!
Posted by YvetteDownunder on August 20th, 2009 at 5:50 PM
Thanks so much you guys! You have no idea what a world of good comments like that do for our morale!

Yvette-- You seriously just made me crack up. We have a long day of serious mountain climbing ahead of us tomorrow, Yvette. I hope you'll be ready bright and early!

Dale-- Thank you. Maybe someday we will make a book, if we make it to SE Asia! :-)

Dave-- thanks man, we miss you! Do a few carenzas for us. :-)
Posted by Tara on August 21st, 2009 at 11:05 AM
I visited your site today for the first time. Wow, what a wonderful experience maybe not so much going downhill. Me and my husband live in Bunker Hill, IL. We do work for Don and Jeane from time to time. They were talking about your trip and suggested we visit your site. I am going to be a frequent flyer now. Ill be stopping in from time to time to check on your travels. Be carefull and enjoy Europe.


Jessica Turney
Posted by Jessica Turney on September 2nd, 2009 at 4:57 PM