Let's just face facts. We never get on the road before 10:00 AM. Okay, not never, but rarely. Even in the sweltering hot summertime, when it is prudent to get moving early to save ourselves from the brutal afternoon sun, we still stay up late working and subsequently sleep in, kicking ourselves for it later.
Luckily today was an easy one. Our 11:00 AM departure didn't seem to matter once we were on the road. With no hills, few potholes, no headwinds, and very little traffic, we were able to swiftly accomplish our self-imposed minimum distance of 50km for the day without difficulty.
After a few emotionally intense, physically challenging days, it was nice to have a flat, easy, uneventful one. It was almost like we were regular people out for an afternoon bike ride; the strange pattern of our days finally matched up to a conventional schedule: it was Saturday. A brilliantly sunny, breezy, beautiful weekend afternoon.
To cap off our short ride, I was holding out hope for a great free-camp where I could putter around, enjoying every single hour of daylight. Honestly, what I really wanted was a French municipal campsite. A nice, cheap shady pitch that came with the peace of mind that the earth we were on was ours for the night. But alas, campsites are no longer an option.
When we spotted a bridge, we wheeled off the road to explore the possibilities of camping underneath it by a river. It would have been fine, but it wasn't quite as private as I would have liked. A little further down the riverbank, a shady plot covered in nettles was slightly more secluded. Just right!
Then, as he often does, Tyler took a good idea and improved upon it. A little poking around further down the path, up a small hill along the riverbank led us to a very secluded dandelion-filled grove with sunlight dappling through the leaves, and a loud chorus of frogs. Perfection!
It wasn't so long ago when we'd have to start looking for a place to camp around 3:30 if we wanted to have any daylight at camp whatsoever. Now, with FOUR whole hours of sun before me, I made sure to appreciate the lengthening days, relishing each golden moment. With our tent in "shade mode" for the first time this year, I lounged around reading a real book, possibly for the first time this year too! Heaven.
While I read, Tyler wandered around doing his current favorite thing: photographing bugs. Here's one guy chowing on a leaf like it's corn-on-the-cob.
Om nom nom nom nom.
In addition to his daily dose of insects, Tyler captured an LBB (little brown bird) and a beaver as well! I can't wait 'till we're old, and we're endearingly geeky birders wandering around the swamp in Tilley hats, whispering, "get the binoculars, honey, it's a rare Fluffy-Backed Tit Babbler!"
During his wildlife photography mission, I put down my book and began to make dinner. Chili was on the menu tonight: a simple stew of ground pork, a can of beans, a can of tomatoes, and plenty of flavorful spices.
Once dinner was made and consumed, we heated some water and took time to bathe, rinsing away the sweat of the day. Feeling clean and refreshed, it was my turn to wander and take photos, enjoying the golden hour which is no longer at 4:00 but is now more like 8:00. I liked playing around with the sun, purposefully creating riotous colors and sunflares on the photo.
When the sun went down, the world seemed to come to life in a great Saturday night party. Frogs belched louder than ever, dogs took to barking at the nearly full moon, and houses in the nearby village played music late, late into the night. Happy weekend!