There are no pictures for one part of this post because my camera was doing a weird thing where it had lines across the image. Kind of as if they were being taken by a surveillance camera. It seemed to go away after I charged it more, though, so I hope that my good digital Canon friend is not dying on me.
On Saturday, assistant friends Kat, Leslie, Jamie, and Gearoid journeyed by train from their villages and towns to Valence. I showed off our sprawling park and its deer and exotic bird inhabitants, our kiosque, our giant church, our Maison des Tetes (House of the Heads) covered in stone faces, our blue-hued pastries, our Suisses, our charming streets, and…well, that was Valence. So since they were in the area for the day we took the train to Tain l’Hermitage and I basically recreated the tour seen in this post, with the additional of a surreal moment with a man on a unicycle and another with a funeral. We ate chocolate at the Valrhona shop, walked across the river to Tournon, and then attempted some hiking in the vineyards overlooking Tain. However, I didn’t learn my lesson from last time and ended up leading us on some wrong turns and along some dangerous precipices. The grape plants are still dormant and looked like grasping skeleton hands coming out of the ground.
It was a lovely day and made me wish that I saw more of the assistants outside the Drôme/Ardèche area. Not that I don’t enjoy the company of the Valence metro area assistants; they are awesome. I just feel like I should make more of an effort to see the other cool people I’ve met in France. It’s astounding that I came to Valence knowing absolutely no one in the area and have ended up meeting all these interesting and unique people. I hope I will be able to stay in touch when I go back to the States.
On Sunday, I caught an early bus to Deux Alpes with Canadian assistant/super good snowboarder Lauren. The weather was beautiful: sunny and warm. We started out on some tame blue slopes before heading over to the bigger area of the mountain. Unlike last time I went to Deux Alpes, there was no ice and the snow was thick like frosting on a cake.
I think I did pretty well, with only a few dramatic falls. Most of these were coming off the lift. I’m convinced the lifts were running faster than last time and practically swept me off my feet while getting on them and threw me on my face down a steep incline at the end. Maybe I am exaggerating. There was a bigger crowd than last time and the internationals were out in force. I heard a lot of English accents and German. I think they were on winter break. This was nice in a way because I was far from being the worst person on the slopes. Then again, people were crashing and careening wildly all over the place, so it was a little scary at times.
I though about how it was to go skiing on Spring Break in the States in New Mexico with the hordes from Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, most sporting sweatshirts from their respective universities. Everyone is generally bad or average, except for a few standouts (I think my brother Tim is usually speeding along pretty well). I miss it, though. I fit in well with the average skiers and snowboarders. I know it’s weird, but I’m never really concerned with going fast. This is contrary to the whole reason for snowboarding I guess, but I really just like the feeling of turning the board through the snow, the sound of the edges, and the mountains stretched out in front of me.
I should mention that the sandwich I packed for lunch was delicious . I made it on something called a “1900″ bread with Tomme Blanche cheese and tomatoes. We sat on a ledge overlooking the Alps (don’t worry, it was a short drop) and I thought about how much I’m going to miss being two hours from snow covered mountains and being able to buy amazing cheese and bread. Then again, I’m ready for a new adventure. France is beautiful and I love it, but I’m actually getting more excited than nervous about going back to the States and looking for a job. It might and will probably be hard, yet I love discovering new places and people and can’t wait to see where my life takes me next.
I had a well-earned beer at the bottom of the station in the town of Deux Alpes and then got on the bus back to Valence. The scenery on the way back was stunning, like something out of a Thomas Moran painting.
The weather is getting warmer and I’m sure I’ll be on more adventures soon. I might be going to Marseille this month and will certainly try to work in more snowboarding.