Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Two fun days followed by a few quiet days

Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 December

Saturday was spend as usual with waiting for the baker and doing the weekly shopping, which didn't amount to much, because we had plenty left overs from last week.  We weren't the only ones, apparently, with little shopping to do, because the shops were very quiet.

Back home I worked on my blog and spent the rest of the time reading, because I am right in the middle of a very good book: The Help.  I've seen the movie a while back, and the book is as good if not better.  Just as well, because I have one of my sleepless nights which I pass rather pleasantly (if that's possible at all) reading.

Sunday I am up a bit later then usual and Frank sleeps in, since he's had a bad night too.  In the afternoon there is a knock on the door and when I open it Mireille and Bernard step across the doorstep.  As is the custom in France, we hug and kiss and sit down with a cup of coffee.  I am so glad Bernard speaks a bit English, so we are able to keep the conversation going for a long time.  By seven (!) Mireille says: "Oh, is it seven already?", but they stay on and it's not until close to eight they leave to go home.  They actually came over to invite us for Dessert (?) on New Year's Day.  Now, I haven't got a clue what this means or what kind of custom it is, but we'll be there at 4pm on New Year's Day and find out. :-)  I'll be baking oliebollen according to Dutch custom and bring them over when we go. No use bringing them down on New Year's Eve, because couples without children go out to dance.  That is as much as I have been able to find out about the local custom.

I felt uneasy however on Sunday afternoon, because they stayed so long and I didn't know if they expected anything.  After coffee I asked if they want something else to drink, but they declined, it being too late, but then they stayed for another 3 hours....  I hope they hadn't expected dinner, because I am not a good cook at the best of times and I certainly wouldn't have been able to prepare something so unexpectedly. I don't know, perhaps I don't know enough about local customs to know what the right thing is to do....

Monday 31 December

Today we got up fairly early and since I had already prepared a list for more geocaching Frank makes lunch and I get other stuff ready after which we get into the car to find a few more caches.  We're really hooked now! :-)  However, I have my doubts about this going to be a good day, as preparing the list was wrought with problems and I also had to cut out a few, because they were Etangs (ponds in English) and we didn't want to go to wet areas with all the mud we have already experienced.  Two of the caches are classed '3 stars' for difficulty, and we consider ourselves still mere beginners, and two other caches have pictures of them floating in the water, and messages in the logbooks that the logs are even to wet to write something on!!!  Anyway, we haven't got much to chose from any more so here we go...

On the way to our first cache south of Roybon we drive through the early morning mist:

The cache is close by and is another chapel: La Chapelle de St Jean le Fromental. We're very lucky here, because the cache must have fallen out of its hiding place and is lying out in the open.

Frank has discovered a sundial on the back wall of the chapel,
although it's a bit hard to see because of the shadows thrown by the branches of a nearby tree

The next cache should have been in St Marcellin, but I had made a mistake on the GPS and we ended up at a nearby castle, privately owned and therefore not allowed to be visited.  We can only take a picture from far:

Chateau de Quincivet

Here we look for the cache in vain.  The hint, translated, comes up as touchwood and doesn't make sense to us.  We have to walk along the edge of pastures and forest and the forest's edge is lined with bramble bushes.  It's wet, it's muddy and it's no fun! We're unsuccessful and leave to go to the place we skipped before.

Later, at home, upon pondering what our problem was I feel the it was in the translation of the word Amadouvier so I try a different way and google it, and hey presto! it comes up with pictures of a type of mushroom that grows in semi-cylindrical shape on trees and dead wood.  It so happens that we have seen two of those shapes, but not knowing that they were what we were looking for we sort of ignored them.  One of the shapes can actually be seen in the centre of the picture below.  It's the white bit sticking out from the tree trunk in the centre.  Well, perhaps we may go back and have another look.  It all depends, because while I am writing this it's raining again and the ground was already soaked...

So, we've gone on to the next one: La Promenade de Joud at St Marcellin.  We're in for a bit of exercise again, because the path up to the promenade is terribly steep.  How steep it is can be seen from the stairway going down into a street on the side of the promenade:

As usual the view is worth the climb:

Along the promenade is an animal park with deer, donkeys, goats and a lama

A railway viaduct

The general area where the cache is supposed to be hidden
I mention in the caption that this is where the cache is supposed to be hidden, but...... after some thorough searching we are still not able to locate it.  Again it could be in the translation of the hint, but of that we are not sure.  You can't blame the language all the time! :-)  However, this is one of the '3 star' difficulty caches, so we are not surprised.  After a nice chat with a young couple who were feeding the animals, a walk along the promenade and admiring the beautiful views we give up and move on to the next one.  That's twice in a row we're unsuccessful.  I told you I had a bad feeling about today...

Next we drive to a little village called Murinais.  It's a peaceful little place nestled in a valley and from far we can see the general area of the hiding place: a truly majestic tree next to the church.  The name of the cache is appropriate: Le Wellingtonia de Murinais.  The Wellingtonia or Giant sequioa originates from California where it was named after an Indian chief: See-Quoyah.  The tree in Marinais was planted in 1856 and is ranked among the remarkable trees of  the Isère.  Its circumference is about 10m and its height nearly 30m.

Not only a beautiful spot, but a lucky one as well, because we discovered the cache and could move on again to the next one.  A pity we'd already eaten our lunch, because this would have been a nice, quiet place.

We haven't high hopes for the next one, because it's called: La Tourbierre de Planchettes and generally means that it is a bog area, thus bound to be wet!  We've passed the side on a regular basis and every time we see this parking area full of water.  Not a good start.  We go there anyway, just because it has caught our interest and park the car in the driest corner.  From there on it's actually not too bad.  We discover the entry to the trail and walk the few kilometres all around the bog area to where the cache is supposed to be hidden.  We've seen a picture of it, floating in the water, so we are hoping that we do find it and if we do, that it will be dry.  The trail is okay.  A few damp spots, but on the whole the leaves provide a dry cover and are not too slippery.  If you want to see more pictures than I have provided than click here.

The trail is marked in red and we are where it says: Vous etes ici
We forgot to take a picture of the actual hiding place, but it was at the utmost right of the trail

Frank studying the threatened species information

In the end we discovered the cache, dry enough for us to sign the log and we walked back to the car.  Because it had taken us more than an hour to do this (pleasant enough) walk, we had to keep going if we wanted to finish before dark.  

The last cache of the day (not the last one on the list, but we didn't make it) is also a place that we have been passing every week on the way to the shopping centre: Le Chateau de Bressieux.  

Luckily we can get up the hill halfway with the car, but the other half is still a major exercise.  There are stairs, but the steps are so high that it would have been easier just to climb the steep slope like we did at the Promenade de Joud.  By then it is also the end of a very exercise-filled day, so we are getting pretty knackered.  And, after all this we are hoping that it won't be all in vain, because this is the second '3 star' difficulty cache and also a 'puzzle' cache.  First of all when we get close up to the castle it appears a most busy place.  Everywhere there are parents with children running around.  Not the easiest of tasks to use stealth.  

The last and easiest part of the stairs up to the ruins of the castle

Next we need to climb to the top of the round tower:

It's there where we have to solve the puzzle, and we have to wait quite some time before all the kids have lost interest in the views and have disappeared to play in the grounds of the castle.  The views are magnificent again and we can again see the Mont Blanc from here:

The Mont Blanc in the centre


Finally we get a chance to look for the parts to solve the puzzle.  We have a fair idea what we are looking for, but it still is a challenge.  We're going around and around in circles and finally I see something out of the corner of my eye.  Closer inspection shows that it is what we are looking for. We descend again to the nether regions and work out the coordinates for the cache with the gained information.  If you think that it is getting easier now, think again.  We don't have the GPS with us and I only have the compass on my mobile which in this instance shows where we are, but I cannot enther new coordinates.  What to do?  Eventually it dawns upon me that I indeed do have the coordinates of where we are.  If we walk around with the compass in hand the coordinates change when you change direction, so all we have to do is find out which direction we have to walk to in order for the coordinates to come close to the ones we need for the cache.  Not an easy feat either, but we are getting somewhere.  We know already that we have to walk outside the circumference of the castle itself, so that's what we do.  Murphy's law dictates that we start the wrong we around, so we have to walk all the way to the opposite corner.  No big deal.  Then, when we get close to the point we are stopped by a big(gish) hill, a kind of outside lining of a moat around the castle.  I seem to have come to a dead end, but not so Frank.  We work out where the exact point should be and he climbs the hill and....... after several attempts comes down with our booty.  

Found it!!!
In the meantime it's gotten quite late and after a few more pictures of the castle and the setting sun it's time to go home.  We leave the last cache for what it is, happy to have solved this puzzle!

After dinner, when I get time to log our caches for the day I leave the task with the satisfaction that I know have 41 caches to my name.  Frank only 2 less, because he has taken up the game a bit later.  Who knows, we might even revisit the first two so that he can add them to.  We're ready for a good night's sleep, but since it's new years eve we have to wait a while.  We're not celebrating in a big way, but have a few nice things to eat, have a quiet drink and wait the year out after I have made the 'oliebollen' that I had planned to get ready.  We have a few of those as well and after we have wished each other a happy new year, watch a few of the fire works impressions from around the world up to this side of the globe we go to bed.  It's pretty quite outside.  No fireworks and the neighbours have left for their night out.

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