France so far!

We arrived in Paris on Saturday.  Although we left Portland and arrived in Paris at similar times, we took different flights.  Bret went through New York City and I went through Minneapolis because Bret’s flight was booked by his employer and I booked the cheapest similar flight I could find.  Luckily, there were no problems.  The widespread availability of wifi makes communication pretty easy these days.

We jumped on the train and headed to our hotel in downtown Paris.  I highly recommend the Hotel Victoria Chatelet.  It is located in the actual Theatre du Chatelet.  It was relatively inexpensive, the staff were so nice, and the location could not be beat.  Just a few minutes to Notre Dame and the Seine.

We were determined to do better with the jetlag on this trip than we did when we arrived in Ireland (it took us about two weeks to adjust), so we really pushed through the exhaustion to stay awake until after 9pm. Our philosophy was to just keep moving…


So we walked all around our neighborhood, ate some food, walked some more, ate some more. We even had some wine with dinner, although we were worried that it would just put us to sleep… when in Paris 🙂

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The next morning, we actually slept later than we expected.  We grabbed some breakfast, then met up with a family friend, Jo Ann.


We had a lovely morning exploring Paris.  We walked along a beautiful greenway on a converted elevated train track.  We went to a market near the Bastille.  Then we got to see Jo Ann’s home, across from an 11th century church that was converted to a science and technology museum (several centuries ago, but I can’t remember the details exactly).

After a lovely lunch with Jo Ann and her family, we were off to explore again.  I have a strange love for boat tours and the day before I had seen a river boat go by with couch seats in all the windows.  I thought that would be a relaxing way to spend the evening.  Bret and I walked down to the Eiffel Tower along the river, but we could not figure out which boat offered such a cruise.  All the ones we found were really packed in with people or included dinner, which we were not interested in.  Eventually, we gave up on the idea and continued to stroll along the Seine.  We made it to the Statue of Liberty on the Ile aux Cygnes.  It is a 35 ft replica of the original commissioned by some Americans living in Paris.  We started making our way back from there.

Here are some pictures of the Eiffel Tower from every angle.

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and some pictures of how I spent most of the afternoon… watching Bret trying to get the perfect shot (I am sure his pictures will be much better than mine when he posts them).

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and then again after dinner…


We were pretty exhausted when we got back to the hotel… according to my watch, we walked around 17 miles through Paris in all that day!

The next morning, we slept late then got some food before we caught the high speed train to Nantes.


Bret will be in Nantes for the next few weeks, working, while I explore France and visit my cousin in Geneva.

First stop for me, Saulieu in the Parc Naturel Régional du Morvan.  This town looked much smaller when I was booking my hotel, but I have enjoyed my stay here so far.

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The area is very rural and is marketed as a mountain biking destination.  I hiked along a mountain biking trail.  Which was mostly a walk on very quiet country roads and rocky, former roads.  It was very nice!

I also found a beautiful wool shop!  The shop keeper keeps her own herd of Angora goats and makes the most beautiful wool and some hand knit scarfs.  I would have loved to buy everything in the store, but I managed to leave with only a few skeins of soft yarn.

Today, I am off to Geneva on the no tolls route… should be interesting!


Bridge pedal and Garden

We have been pretty busy lately despite trying to lay low before our European adventure.  We headed up to Portland for the weekend, last weekend.  On Friday, we went to a Timbers game and stayed with my Aunt and Uncle.  They have a very nice place right on the river which was very convenient.  We also had a very nice visit with them.  On Saturday we briefly caught up with Kas and Peter, then headed to Chris and Channa’s.  We stayed with them, then headed to the Bridge pedal Sunday morning.  The bridge pedal is a 35 mile bike ride where you get to ride over 11 bridges in Portland.  It was very crowded, but fun for the most part.  We made it over 10 but skipped the most popular one because it was so crowded.  This picture was from the first and southern most bridge.


This next picture was from the Fremont bridge which is normally closed to bicycles.  Aunt Sharon and Uncle Jim’s condo is just above Emily’s left ear.


Mid-week last we had a plumbing problem and an abscess show up on Oval about the same time.  A few hours of work got the plumbing problem fixed and a couple of trips to the vet took care of the abscess.


On Thursday night, we bottled our second beer, Mok’s Porter, named after our second favourite pub in Ireland.  Hope it turns out good!


Emily headed to the coast on Friday and bought some Tuna, fresh off a fishing boat, at the dock.  We BBQ’d some Friday night, made tacos Saturday, and canned the rest.  Today we harvested some roma, cherry, and pear tomatoes.  We dried the small ones and made sauce with the romas.




We then took some squash from the garden and made delicious stuffed squash.
Oval has had a buddy over for the last few days, Opie, which has been fun.  Emily got them to play tug-a-war for a while which I’m pretty sure ended in a draw.
A great couple of weeks!



a quick trip to Colorado!

Bret was nice enough to stay home and watch over the garden and the puppy so I could go to Colorado for  a lovely, long weekend!

I got to stay with my good friends, Kirsten and Matt, at their lovely home just under the Flatirons in Boulder.  We were able to enjoy a beautiful hike in Boulder’s open space right from the back door!  Of course, I forgot to take any pictures.

I also got to revisit many of my favorite places and reconnect with fabulous friends that I have not seen in much too long.

The main event was a trail run in Golden Gate State Park.  We had to get up pretty early to get there in time to take a shuttle about 9 miles from the parking area to the race start. Shuttles were supposed to run every half hour from 5:30am to 8am for runners and spectators, but the first shuttle did not show up until 7:15 (the second one never actually showed up)!  Lucky for us, we got there around 7, so we did not have to wait too long for the shuttle bus. The shuttle bus driver was a pretty adorable old man who had no idea were he was going.  Needless to day, the 8am start time for the race was pushed back about 20 minutes to make sure that all the runners were able to get to the start line.

Kirsten and I before the race.


The race itself was really gorgeous!  It was a little crowed right at the start, since it was about a mile of single track with about 100 other 10k runners.

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The first three miles were pretty tough… about 1100 ft uphill!

Blackhawk 10k course

The last three miles were all downhill though, so I was able to take in the scenery and not just concentrate on breathing the oxygen-deficient air.


I took this selfie.


and a second later, did this


oops… probably should pay attention when running on rocky trails!

After the race, Kirsten and I were happy to sit in the shade for a bit and drink our post-race beer.


We were not quite as happy about the long wait for the shuttle bus to get back to the car.  Turns out the adorable old man bus driver got lost between the parking lot and the trail head (one turn).  Luckily, they started loading up suvs and shuttling people back to their cars.

We finally got back to Kirsten’s car around noon!  A bit of a long day for 10k, but it was worth it.  We were still feeling good, so we drove uphill a little further to Avon, Colorado to have lunch with another friend from my colorado days.  It was a super blue sky day, so the drive was really nice.

Sunday, we had a nice lazy day of brunching, lounging in the shade, and swimming in the pool before I had to head back home.

It was, of course, great to get home to these guys (old pics).

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Dad’s Visit

My Dad came to visit and had a pretty busy schedule visiting my Aunts, Grandmother, and us.  I went to pick him up at Grandmas and we got a game of cribbage in.


We had a project to work on as we needed a new hammock stand.  It kept us busy and was a great project for his visit.


Thanks Dad!



On Sunday we we had a barbeque which was a lot of fun and we had a nice visit.



Oval had a buddy named Tonka come over yesterday to hang out.  Good times.


Made some fridge pickles today.  Garden is starting to really produce!