No one has ever praised me for my athletic ability. I detested physical education class in high school, getting sweaty and ruining my hairstyle. Later, I enjoyed camping with husband Jim and the children, cooking out with a campfire in the Smoky Mountains, but no extreme sports. Jim played a little high school football, but he would never be mistaken for a former NFL star. So, how did the two of us land in the middle of a group of mountaineers in France? (I hope the mountain pictures are not too fuzzy since I didn’t have the tripod in the car with me to steady my camera.)Do you see the climber just below the trees on left side?
Jim had spotted a sign pointing to a fort when he was driving in the heavy fog on our way to Lourmarin a few days past. I’m the self-appointed travel planner and Jim usually follows the agenda without too much fuss and even less suggestions. If he volunteers an idea of his own, first of all I’m shocked, but at least if it’s a failure he can’t blame me. CLICK photos below for larger view.
I couldn’t find any information in the guidebooks about a fort in the area, but I was game to search for it since I could see that his little boy memories of playing in a fort were kickin’ in. He was thinking that a big fort in the mountains would be more fun than looking at French knick-knacks, especially in any town where finding a parking space was an issue. He imagined that he had a fool-proof man’s plan for the day. Sure enough, we found that sign pointing to a fort and took a left on a typical road. The easy, uneventful beginning was misleading since it led to a narrow, winding road where we were praying that we would not meet any cars. Trees blocked most of the side views, but occasionally I saw quick glimpses of mountains with one spectacular peak in the distance. I gasped and told Jim, “There’s an incredible site to your left, but don’t take your eyes off the road! It’s like the Devil Mountain dropped down in France. And, to think, we wouldn’t be here unless you made this suggestion.” Jim didn’t say anything as we kept going in this Jurassic Park landscape.
Oh, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, the foliage wasn’t palm trees and tree ferns, but it was wild and exotic compared to anything we had encountered, so far. Finally, we found a place to pull over and that is where we found the mountaineers. The average age of the young, muscular, athletic folks sticking their heads out of campers and climbing the rock face of the mountains was a huge dip below ours. Somehow, I didn’t think that any of them qualified for an AARP discount on their hotel rates. They probably wondered what brought us to this neck of the woods where we were the old dinosaurs of the pack.
They were friendly and didn’t mind my camera. Only Jim got upset when I was at the edge of the narrow road, kneeling on the moist ground to take a picture of a mushroom. A truck rumbled along and stopped, waiting patiently until Jim jerked me out of the way. The French have a healthy respect for mushrooms, more than Jim, apparently. I didn’t know my backside was taking up so much room that a truck couldn’t pass me. Pardon! After a moment of dusting my dirty knees and readjusting my bruised dignity, I realized that Jim was only concerned for my personal safety when he pushed me from the road with the ferocity of an Auburn linebacker.
Now about that fort attraction that Jim had his heart set on, a huge gate crossed the pathway and a sign stated that it was CLOSED, or French words to that effect. Jim was disappointed. I pointed out some colorful glass on the utility poles, amazed that electric poles were to be found in the Jurassic Park with a Devil’s Mountain. Jim wasn’t interested, but the cute young ladies climbing the mountains consoled his disappointment.
We went to Buoux on our return and enjoyed the petite community with its old community laundry. Buoux was the setting where two of the characters in Peter Mayle’s book “Anything Considered” hid their loot – a million dollars – in a sack in a borie! We didn’t find the borie, or any money. But I found an adorable cottage at the edge of the road and a colorful character walked past the ancient buildings in perfect timing for my camera.
Thanks Jim, for a beautiful day! You may not be a sports hero, but you are my hero! Thanks for all of the wonderful years together since we married on July 22nd on a hot day in the deep south of Alabama. I hope we travel many more years together. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, Jim!Please come and ramble around with us again. This is short story without much in-depth information. I hope you will excuse me while I party a little with my guy. Take care! Thank you kindly.
Perhaps you would like to read the book CLICK “A French Opportunity” and enjoy seeing how it all began with the Alabama dinosaurs. This is the 4th anniversary for the blog which started in July, 2012!!