After our late start and awful heat yesterday we made sure to get moving early today. The alarm went off at 5:30 and by 6:30 we were up and packing. At 7:30 we rolled out of camp and managed to cycle an easy 40 kilometers in the blissful cool of the early morning. The roads were quiet except for a few crazy old farmers driving like madmen. It felt amazing to be comfortably cool for once and not sweating like crazy out in the unrelenting heat.
It was only 10:30 when we saw signs for a Lidl grocery store—one of our top three most inexpensive places to shop. We followed the signs, parked our bikes outside, and proceeded to stock up on food in the surprisingly air-conditioned building. Not many places here are air-conditioned and it feels a little like Christmas when you happen upon one.
On our way out we saw signs for McDonalds. At first we were going to pass it by to "make hay" while the sun was behind some clouds. I really had to pee though, and we were woefully behind in our journal posting, so we decided to stop and get caught up using their free wifi. We'd have another hot afternoon to look forward to, but at least we could feel accomplished and eat ice cream in an another air conditioned building.
Tyler and I were not fans of McDonalds before we left on our trip. As a general rule, I am fairly opposed to the poor quality of their bastardized version of food and their slow takeover of the world. That being said, however, Tyler and I have come to love McDonalds on our trip. Free, fast internet access, air conditioning, space to spread out… luxuries that almost every coffee shop and book store in America provide, are almost solely offered in France from McDonalds.
No wonder the place was packed with families when 12:00 rolled around. They can make themselves at home, and their children can run around creating havoc without receiving haughty, disapproving looks. They have space to set bags and backpacks without feeling cramped in little cafe chairs. They don't have to feel gauche if they don't order a "menu", complete with appetizer, entree, dessert, and coffee. Sometimes you just want a burger. Sometimes you don't want a waiter to serve you—you want to take care of your own garbage.
And so, once again, we spent hours in the cool, brightly colored, electricity- and internet-giving haven, posting journals and getting caught up with friends and family. While Tyler posted our backlog of entries, I wrote postcards. Photos uploaded, journals posted and emails replied to we left McDonalds under a sky that was surprisingly swathed in dark clouds, protecting us from the sun. We spent the rest of the afternoon riding briskly along, enjoying our unexpected refuge from the heat.
Just as we were starting to look for campsites we rolled by another one of our air-conditioned, discount store favorites: Netto. We stopped to buy ice cream and several boxes of breakfast bars, our current on-the-road snack. Just shortly down the highway we stopped again, this time to buy incredibly inexpensive fruit from a local farm stand just inches away from the trees where it grew. While making our purchase I asked if there were any campsites nearby and received directions to one just a short jaunt away.
Arriving in camp we found that it was (apparently) an internationally renown hang-gliding center! Almost everyone in camp had a massive nylon sheathed tube, presumably with a hang glider inside, stashed somewhere near their tent or camper. We set up next to a pear tree, and watched as more dark clouds moved our way. The 'bad' weather we had all day couldn't have been more welcome. It felt delightfully crisp, almost like fall. All at once, my mind was flooded with autumn memories: getting brand-new, pink erasers for school, making apple pie, knitting hats with girlfriends, raking leaves, etc. Giddy and shivering I ran to pull my hoodie out of my clothing pannier to snuggle up in its soft folds. Then I remembered it was still July. It was wonderful to have a glimpse of fall knowing we had a lot of summer left to ride through. I cozied up, comfy in my fleece hoodie, and set about making a hearty, warming dinner of mashed potatoes and chicken with gravy.
Here are some photos Tyler took of me enjoying my favorite snack, JUICE: