Saturday, April 19, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Well, here it is, almost March and getting close to the time I will be returning to the Shenandoah and the Saone river valley.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I kept threatening him that I was going to take him to the famous Pigalle so he could sew some wild oats, but not Uncle Tom! Oh no, he had to see the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower and the Seine and all this other touristy stuff! So when we got to Paris we hopped a taxi to our little hotel just behind the Louvre. We got our rooms and headed out. First on the agenda was lunch. Just a block from the hotel we found a nice little place and decided on our game plan. Tom went to the Louvre and I went to find an Orange telephone office to find out why my phone was not working. We agreed to meet where we had lunch that evening. We then both went our separate ways. My afternoon was delightful. After getting my phone problem rectified I sat on a bench and watched the "boy's" play petanque on the gravel surface of a local park. Tom and I met at the designated time and headed for the Place du Bastille and a Mexican restaurant, the El Chihuahua, that I like to go to. Tom and I have always been Mexican food aficionados and when I told him about the place he was more than willing to go. Only problem was that it was too early so I took him for a tour of the Arsenal a yachting basin located nearby on the Canal St. Denis, just off the Seine.
Finally, we headed to the restaurant and proceeded to have a less than memorable Mexican dinner. Seems like that always happens. I have always had a good meal there. This time it was mediocre -- go figure! At least the Coronas were cold and plentiful!
After that it was back to the hotel. It had been a long day and we were both tired.
The next morning we got up early and headed for Notre Dame. We got there around 9:30 and I stayed outside while Tom went in. There was absolutely no line and he was in and out in a flash. While I was waiting for him I did what I love to do -- people watch! There was a group of about forty ladies in some sort of a tour and a man talking to them in sign language, obviously telling them about the famous church. I decided that what I needed was a deaf woman! Forty of them chatting away and not a sound. There is a God!
We then hopped on the water taxi called Batobus and rode downriver to the Eiffel Tower. Now you'd think that that the french have already seen the tower, but since this was a holiday weekend the tower was packed. Lines a mile long to get on the lifts to the top of the tower. So, after a photo op or two we headed for the Metro at the Military Academy on the other side of the mall to catch the tube to go up to Montmartre. On the way a guy stopped us and asked if we would like a tour of the city. He promised a great tour for an hour and a half for sixty euros and he would drop us off at the place of our choosing when it was over. We said OK and headed out. What a great decision! This guide, Abel, spoke perfect English and gave us a tour with more packed into it than I could have ever imagined. I saw a lot of Paris that I didn't even know existed! At the end it started raining heavily and we decided to get dropped off at the hotel rather than Montmartre.
That evening we caught the metro to a seafood restaurant near the Gare du Lyon and had a good seafood dinner. Tom was reluctant to try the oysters without cocktail sauce, but he paid for dinner so that was good too. We had a nice evening after dinner sitting outside a cafe near the hotel watching life go by.
The next morning Tom headed for CDG and I headed back to the boat. It was a wonderful week. I have not ever spent any "one on one" time with Tom that I can remember. We both have had families and lives apart doing whatever brothers do while raising families and making a living. Oh sure, we got together at family functions, etc. but this was really the first opportunity that we have ever taken to spend some time with each other. For me it was a complete joy. Tom may have another opinion. I wish he could have stayed longer.
No trip to Burgundy would be complete without a visit to the vineyards and Beaune. Saturday morning, early, we head west on the A36 to Beaune, arriving at the market about 9:30. I have been there many times, but never that early. The sellers were still setting up their kiosks and nothing had been picked over yet.
Tom and I walked through the indoor market and then the outdoor streets viewing whatever there was being offered. Tom decided we needed some sausages and I saw some nice strawberries and raspberries which we bought. We met a lady at the strawberry table from the US. Her name was Andy Smyser and she told us that she lived in Beaune with her French husband, Alain. She said there were not too many Americans around and she enjoyed speaking "American English" with us. I know what she means!
We walked to a local bistro and had a cup of coffee before proceeding on our tour of Burgundy.
I headed south out of Beaune with an initial destination of Nolay, where a Brit I know lives. Tony is a retired Virgin Air Captain and is married to Gaye, his Dutch wife. They are also boaters. We reached Nolay around noon and found them not at home! So, we turned around and headed north again, stopping for a couple of photo ops at Chateau Rocheport a beautifully restored, fairy-like castle nestled in the wine country.
It was a whirlwind tour, but it was a beautiful day and we got to taste a bit of Burgundy.
The Doubs is a river whose headwaters are somewhere in the hills of France and eventually winds it's way to the Saone River south of where the Shenandoah lives. By the time the Doubs gets to the Saone, it can be a raging river, influenced by every raindrop that falls in that section of France. Mary Ellen and I found that out last fall when we were stuck in a flood on the Doubs in Verdun sur Doubs.
Anyway, a two hour drive got us to the river and we started following its snaking path along the valley. Every bend in the road was a photograph. And trout! All over the place. We saw them from the bridges. We saw them from the banks. And rarely a fisherman. Totally unspoiled fishing as far as we could tell.
We hit the river in the village of Pont de Roide and followed it south to St. Hippolyte where the river turned east.
The Doubs shallowed there and flowed along a narrow, but fertile valley, across the Swiss border, to the village of St. Ursanne, where Tom and I stopped to have some lunch.
We found a delightful place on the bank of the river and settled in for a wonderful French lunch, wine, et al. The prices on the menu look very expensive, until I figured out that they were in Swiss francs and not Euros. So we ordered and had a glass of wine. I could see the look on Tom's worried face when he saw those prices but I explained that the conversion rate was really about five to one and that made that thirtyfive Euro steak only seven Euros. Well, I really had no idea what the conversion rate was but... As it turned out, a delightful meal, in one of the prettiest settings imaginable cost us about $100 -- expensive, but you cannot put a price on a day like that!
After lunch we headed south again, following the Doubes along the Swiss border. The valley got a lot deeper and the countryside really did look "Swiss" with cows with cowbells, and goats with goatbells, and pretty Swiss maidens all in a row.... Well, the Swiss maiden part I made up!
We finally arrived at our original destination, the tiny village of Goumois, which coincidentally was called Goumois on both the French side and the Swiss side of the river. Beautiful classic trout stream passed beneath the bridge connecting the two villages. ...and, as far as we could tell there were only two fishermen, both fly fishing on the Swiss side.
We parked the car and spent a half hour or so spotting trout from the bride. As trout spotting is very exhausting, we stopped at an ice cream place, on the French side for a pick-me-up banana split. I say pick-me-up because after I ate that, someone needed to pick me up!
We then piled into the car and headed back to St. Usage and the boat. It was a long day, with a lot of driving, but the drive was totally worth every minute of it as the scenery and the river were beautiful.
We did some shopping the next day and watched the clouds coming in from the west bringing two days of rain. Tom, swabbie that he was, grabbed the hose, bucket and soap and proceeded to get started to begin to attack the exterior, while I did some much needed sprucing up indoors. The hose is connected to a deck wash pump in the boat. When Tom exclaimed that he could not get the hose to work, I suggested that he try turning the nozzle. Uncle Tom, God love him, is a little hose challenged. The nozzle flew off the end of the hose and into the middle of the canal. Tom had turned the quick disconnect, not the nozzle! Well, we fished the nozzel out and got started. I don't think he realized how big a job it is to clean this boat. It normally takes me two days to do it right and, like anything being washed, you start at the top and work your way down.
Finally, chipping away at the job day by day, Uncle Tom finished about nine at night on the third day!
In reality, with my untested back (which, by the way, became "tested" later on) Tom did a great service for me, never complaining, a real help.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Returned to the Shenandoah on May 14th. after a long absence. Last year I left during the last week of November, stopping for a wonderful Thanksgiving at Julie and Tayfun's in Germany, to return to the USA for the winter and some much needed surgery.
Finally, in January my back surgery was performed. Weeks of physical therapy followed along with a comparably minor eye surgery and I was ready to return to France by the end of April.
A scheduled week at my friend John's in Naples, Florida, turned into three as the sun and sand and the ability to do a lot of therapeutic walking outweighed any real need to leave.
Finally, it was time to get back to the Shenandoah. I had spent all winter in Toledo, staying with my mother and sisters. The extended visit was great, but...
While talking with my brother Tom, I casually asked if he would like to accompany me on my return to France. He, of course, said “no!” About five minutes later, he called back and said “yes” he would go! Linda, his wife, had obviously given him permission.
So, on the 13th we boarded an AA flight in TOL to ORD and from there, to CDG arriving on the morning of the 14th. Tom had not checked any bags, but I had checked one, so after collecting the bag we headed for a taxi to the Gare du Lyon, in Paris for our train ride to Dijon. I had turned on my US cell phone after we landed and as we were walking to the taxi, it rang! I had done what I had diligently, over the years, tried to never do – taken someone else's bag. The baggage service representative at AA had found my phone number on my bag and called it to tell me that my bag was still there and I had taken someone else's bag! In five minutes, the bags were exchanged, apologies extended and we were on our way.
Uncle Tom had never been to France, or for that matter Europe, save a Greek sailing cruise with his wife a few years back. I think he may have been a little overwhelmed. Anyway, we cabbed it to the train station where I bought two tickets to Dijon. It became readily apparent that I was going to be the banker on this trip which actually worked out pretty well.
The train trip, which I slept through, was uneventful and we got to Dijon where the Hertz rental car I had reserved was waiting for us. Well, sort of, anyway. It was located on the top floor of the new parking garage at the station, not outside Hertz where it had usually been in all my previous rentals. We finally found it nestled among the rest of the cars parked in the garage and headed south to the Shenandoah for a week of cleaning, touring, eating and drinking.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Time to move from my existing mooring to another in the area.
There being so few options that are this conveniently located, I decided to try to simply move across the canal, next to Capt. Bruce and the Onyx. Bruce was all for it, so I approached David Blanquart, "waterlord" of this section of the east side of the basin.
David was agreeable.
So, on the 1st. of July, I reeled in my water hoses, coiled my shore power lines, collected the clothes line Mary Ellen had put on the boat next-door, moved my fenders to the other side of the Shenandoah, untied and moved directly across the basin. Transit time - five minutes.
The really great thing is that now I don't have to crawl across three boats (very tricky at night or anytime with slippery decks) to get to the Shenandoah. Bruce even put up a beautiful ramp, so there is no “crawling” involved at all for Captain Dave and guests
One more nice thing is that there are live people here. Not that the people on the other side of the canal were not alive... Captains Jean-Luc, Adam, and Bruce are permanently ensconced, and being the party animals that they are, there is never a dull moment.
I am now wondering if my liver will take it!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Finally got back to France and the Shenandoah last week. Of course, things were pretty much a mess after having left her for six months. The decks and hull were covered in a reddish muck that was the result of a sirocco that blew in a few weeks ago off the deserts of north Africa.
It is great to be back with the Bourgogne Yacht & Grumpy Old Mens' Club - Captains Bruce, Jean-Luc, Adam, and Andy. Arrrrghhh!
Spent a whole day just getting the crud hosed and brushed off so at least we could walk on the decks without picking up red mud and tracking it in.
Julie and Tayfun, my daughter and her husband who now live in Germany, drove down for the weekend from Landstuhl. They brought their cat, Benjamin, who loved grandpa's boat. He spent hours in the wheelhouse observing nature.
On Saturday we drove through Burgundy wine country to the medieval castle at Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, west of Dijon.
We spent a quiet weekend catching up on events of the past few months.
Tayfun who comes from Ismir, Turkey became a naturalized citizen of the United States two weeks ago. Way to go, Tayfun!
On Sunday, Julie and Tayfun fixed one of my favorite meals – Mexican food. The components are readily available for them at the military commissary at Ramstein AFB. Enchiladas, guacamole, margaritas and all the fixin's! She also brought a supply for the pantry. Thanks Julie!
Now, its time to settle in to life in France again. Although, I will be making a trip or two back to the States. My son, Pete, and his wife, Sharon are expecting my first grandchild sometime around the end of July. Need to get back for that glorious event.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Beaufort Gazette ad, that Sunday morning, in “Items Less Than $100,” read “Beautiful Great Dane Puppy, $100, 843-XXX-XXXX.”
I read the ad and filed it away in my mind till the following Sunday when I saw the ad again. This time I mentioned it to Mary Ellen. Well, Mary Ellen, queen of the downtrodden and savior of all things needing saving, decided we had to go and at least have a look at the dog.
We dialed the number and made an appointment that morning to see exactly what was being offered. The address was given to us and, as we drove up to the doublewide mobile home, we saw the “Great Dane Puppy.” BIG he was, but Great Dane he wasn't. Our guess is that he is part Great Dane and part Black Lab – he does have webbed feet. We prefer to call him a "Lesser Dane," when asked.
The owner explained that the elderly parents he had left his dog with couldn't keep the dog anymore and that, if a home wasn't found, he was going to shoot the animal.
The dog had never lived indoors, never had seen a vet, and had been left to fend for himself, probably from the beginning of his life. Now, at eleven months, nobody wanted him and he was going to be destroyed.
Well, that settled it for Mary Ellen. We went home and talked about it for a while and then she decided to go back and get the dog. Maybe, if we couldn't keep him, we could at least find him a good home.
That is how Duke came to MarshSong.
As stated earlier, he had never seen a vet. He was covered from nose to tail with tick bites, skinny and his coat was dirty. But, he was the most loving dog that I had ever seen. We made an appointment with the local vet and took him. He weighed 83# and had about every sort of worm imaginable, including heartworm. He had obviously been totally neglected health wise.
The doctor advised us that the heartworm treatments would either cure him, or kill him, as the injections were a form of arsenic and the treatment regime was very difficult. In addition, Duke had to be kept quiet for six weeks as any activity could cause the heart worms to break loose and migrate to his lungs and kill him.
Well, "in for a dime, in for a dollar," we had no choice but proceed with his treatments. They were not easy, either on Duke nor on us. He had to be walked on a leash and kept from any over excitement. He developed a hacking, almost choking, cough which was terrible to listen to as well as witness. But, four weeks went by and more tests and then his final treatment. Seven weeks after he started the series he was declared heart worm free and was alive!
He started gaining weight, his coat turned a beautiful, satiny black that reflects the light like black chrome. His tick bites healed and he started acting like the puppy that he had never been. He has gained about thirty pounds since the day we got him and is still growing.
His “puppyhood” had obviously not had any restrictions so he liked to wander and would disappear for an hour or two, always coming back, mostly chasing the Jeep we used to round him up, but none-the-less worrisome to us. He loves to ride in cars and would get into the UPS and FEDEX trucks when they made deliveries. We didn't want to have him stolen by someone. Finally, we had an electronic fence installed that gives him about two acres to roam unrestricted. He honors the boundaries of the fence.
We also decided to have him neutered. He went to the vet one day and came home two days later, his bark a little higher pitched than before. We are still waiting for the effects of that procedure to take effect because he seems to be as interested in dogs of the female persuasion as he ever was.
All in all, getting him heathy and feeling secure has been a very rewarding journey for us.
The other night, Mary Ellen said that he was truly a “gift!”
I agree, he is a gift.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Well, the much anticipated visit of Aunts Carol, Anita and Uncle Dick added to the highlights of this years cruising adventures.
Mary Ellen and I took the Shenandoah north, up the Canal du Bourgogne, to Dijon to meet them when they arrived from Paris.
They arrived on the TGV on Friday morning. Uncle Dick commented in passing on the speed of the train and how the cars they passed en-route seemed to be “standing still.” When I told him that the cruising speed of a TGV in France was around 300 km/hr (180 m/hr) he was mightily impressed. Now understand, impressing uncle Dick is no mean feat. But, the train to Dijon-Ville did!
Then it was off to the Hertz office to pick up the rental car. Errrrr...except for the fact that Aunt Carol had missed that she was supposed to have reserved a car. “Oh, was I supposed to do that?” she asked. In France, or for that matter, most places other than in the USA, you just do not simply walk up to a rental car office and tell them you want a car. This is stuff that has to be “arranged,” well beforehand, requiring security clearances, embassy permissions, volumes of paperwork and the promise that you will give them your first born son! I have found that Hertz requires a minimum of this sort of thing.
“C'est ne pas problem,” said my friend, the Hertz lady, “We have a Golf Plus zat you can 'ave and we will geeve you zee special weekend rate!” She likes me because I only give them about twelve thousand dollars worth of business a year. I am seriously thinking about buying a car...
A Volkswagen Golf Plus is, let me tell you, anything but a “Plus.” But, beggars cannot be choosers so we loaded up and headed out.
The girls decided to stop off at the Saturday outdoor Dijon market, so uncle Dick and I headed back to the Shenandoah to unload baggage. I was so proud of my sisters, only one bag each. Each bag weighed about 600 pounds! Of course, the single-edged razor blades, Lawry's Seasoning salt, jalopeno peppers, flip-flops and other sundry items unavailable here were included in those suitcases.
After lugging the suitcases onboard, quai-side, uncle Dick and I headed back to town to meet up with the girls for a leisurely lunch. We decided on an outdoor restaurant in a quaint little square and had one of our favorite French meals – pizza!
We woke the next morning to a drifting ship. The overly rambunctious local youth decided sometime during the night that a single mooring line was sufficient for the Shenandoah and untied the aft line allowing the ship to drift into the mainstream of the canal.
No harm done, we headed to Beaune for market, lunch and shopping. Then back to the ship for dinner onboard and our own version of a Burgundy wine tasting.
...found us in the miserable little Golf Plus again, but this time cruising the back roads through Burgundy. A friend recommended that we stop at the Château de Gevrey-Chambertin which we did and had a great time with the son of the current owner. He explained their small operation and the care they took to produce the small quantities of good wine every year.
A nine o'clock lock time for the journey back to St. Usage.
(The statement, "nine o'clock lock time," makes me think of times friends and relatives have mentioned that they had a "tee time" they had to meet. I have never been a golfer, and to me the mere mention of the sport puts me to sleep immediately. So, I guess, instead of a nine o'clock tee time with a Ping driver, I have a nine o'clock lock time with an eighty ton boat - different strokes for different folks.)
The day started out a little foggy,
but quickly turned into one of those beautiful fall days that you remember as a kid. It's twenty-one locks back to home port and too much to do in one day.
Aunt Nita and Aunt Carol decided to do a little walking while the ship proceeded southward. It's pretty amazing, but you can actually walk faster from point A to point B on the canals than you can ride in a boat. This, of course, is due to the locks and having to slow, stop, go up, or go down, etc.
The aunts were able to get some good shots of the Shenandoah from the banks of the canals.
Although I have always encouraged nude barging, Uncle Dick was my first taker.
Hurray for Uncle Dick!
We decided to overnight at Longecourt, one of our favorite stops along this route, and get an early start the next morning.
Dinner onboard and waaaaaay toooooo much wine. But, as the sun set slowly in the west the evening took on an enchanted glow, perhaps again because of the wine!
Arrived in St. Usage just after lunch. After a walking tour of the thriving metropolis of St. Jean de Losne and an aperitif in a quaint little river side cafe, we headed back to the ship for the final evenings festivities with the aunts...and one uncle.
We were sorry to see them leave the next morning when we put them in a taxi for Dijon and their train to Paris. Their visit with us was much too short and there were many more things we wanted to share with them here in our beautiful part of the Earth. Maybe next time...
I did notice that the wine futures on the New York Stock Exchange rose dramatically during the aunts visit. Was there any connection?