Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Continental Drift

Day 372
Geneva, Switzerland to Lavours, France
Time: 4:52:00
Distance: 78.5
Avg Speed: 16.2
Terrain: Rolling
Location: 45˚ 49’ 0.33” N, 5˚ 46’ 58.11” E

Continental Drift is defined as “a theory that explains the formation, alteration, and extremely slow movement of the continents across the Earth's crust. The continents are thought to have been formed from one large landmass that split, drifted apart, and in places collided again.”
Today we changed the definition to: a theory that explains the route formation, route alternation, and extremely slow pedaling of the Kehmeiers across Europe…
Our departure from Switzerland was slow. The days are shorter, the mornings colder, and we didn’t find any good bike route maps to find the best way into France. We did, however, find a good road map. I procrastinated until this morning to line out a descent route. Really, I was just hoping to find enough bicycle lanes to get us into France and onto the country roads. It worked – sort of. We zig zagged through Geneva while trying to avoid major thoroughfares. We stopped many times to consult the map. The rest of the time I relied on my internal compass.
By late morning we were on the outskirts of the city and quickly approaching the border. We had some Swiss Francs to burn and decided to spend the money with a café stop. We found a little cafeteria next to the supermarket and proceeded directly to the dessert and coffee zone. After paying for the slices of carrot cake torte and café au laits, Chris announced “we can go through the line two more times!”
After the second trip through Chris decided it might be better to spend the money on future sustenance and wandered off to the store. Meanwhile, I had a delightful conversation with a Swiss couple. The man struck up a conversation with me in French. When I asked him if he spoke English he said no and continued talking. He said “English?” I said “No, United States.” He stumbled backwards in amazement as he looked at our bicycles outside the window. I then explained to him where we had traveled from and he just shook his head. About that time his wife sidled up next to him. He repeated my story (in French of course), her eyes lit up, and she then continued the conversation. We actually chatted for quite some time. I learned that she knew of some other folks that had done some bicycle touring and that she once met another man who was taller than Chris. It’s amazing what you can figure out with some voice inflections, hand gestures and a few key words.
So now we are in France. The transition was pretty seamless as there were no border agents and the language is still the same. We’re still traveling through the lovely countryside and the Rhone River is still our guide. I’m sure there are other similarities, but there are also some big differences. France is over ten times the size of Switzerland and it is Western Europe’s largest country. It’s definitely not land locked and borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. France also boasts the highest peak in Europe -Mont Blanc at 4,807 m. The multi-cultured French number over 60 million. According to statistics, they are moving into the suburbs and rural areas and away from the Paris region.
We’ll be “drifting” south toward Perpignan and the border of Spain. We should get a good feel for this country’s passion and beauty.

Vive la France,

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