Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Wearin' Hats In France...

Lovey & Thurston Howell Posted by Hello

Monday, July 26, 2004

The Workaday World...

Having arrived back in the States last Friday evening has given me a few days to observe some of the obvious differences between France and here in the States.  When we drove the 2,500 some kilometers through France to see stages 9-13 of the Tour de France and make our way to Rocamadour, Chartres, Paris and Montmartre, we were able to view some of the most inspiring views I've ever seen in my entire 43 years.

One of the biggest notices there are the lack of billboards, hotels, strip malls, Wal Marts, and ads for lawyers, etc.  They have these 'practically untouched by time villages' with small homes, gardens, and so many, many beautiful croppings of flowers.  It's almost as if they are expecting company, and want the place to look good before you get there.  We had a couple of friends come to visit this past Saturday night and spent most of our day preparing for their visit...  the French farmers seem to keep their yards that way all of the year.  Simple and beautiful.  

The same cannot be said for the cities, however.  They, unfortunately, have many demeaning features that exists in cities here, and some that I simply can't live with at all.  One is smoking.  They do it more than Americans, and they're allowed to do it practically anywhere they want.  I'm so impressed with the laws we've passed here in certain states to allow the smoke-free the ability to breath without second hand smoke.  France could learn a thing or two about that.  Another thing is diesel.  Because of the high price of gasoline, the majority of cars run on diesel fuel, which illicits a diesel smell and pollution, contributing to the haze we saw when we viewed the city from atop the Eiffel Tower and from the steps of the Sacre Coure in Montmartre.

Well, if there were more time I'd happily add a dozen or so photos of the beauty and simplicity that we noted during our visit.  I could easily go back, although I'd likely spend a majority of the time in the country (especially the Pyrenees) and do lots of bicycling (on the road & off), backpacking, camping, and just laying out looking at the stars at night.  The wines, breads, cheeses, fruits, etc., were all fresh, tasty, and of good flavor.  They don't have what I consider to be ideal breakfasts (bread, jelly, juice, coffee), but they do rise early and they do smile when the greet you with 'Bonjour'.  It was a good trip, and we'll be posting many more items as we manage to organize, edit, and spend the time.  Thanks for visiting...

Friday, July 23, 2004

We're back...

It's nice to be back on an English style keyboard... (weird placement of numbers and certain letters, and forget finding certain inserts).  Yes, we're home, and happy to be here.  The rising time for our flight from Paris started at midnight (EST) and didn't end until our late arriving flight from Newark touched down at close to 7 pm, in a torrential downpour.
I have to say, the girls (Kelley included) were real troopers this trip.  We had some heavy packs, and besides the occasional whine from Jaqueline (she's trying very hard to prevail as the baby of the family) there was little complaining the entire trip (relative to carrying things).  The girls both have a long way to go when it comes to eating though.  Besides pizza and Panini Georges' Jambon (ham) sandwiches, they didn't eat a whole lot of variety.  Much less than what they eat here normally.
I suddenly decided (because my eyelids have been open for nearly 23 hours) that I'm tired and don't want to dwell on too much tonight.  We're very happy to be home, and looking forward to a peaceful sleeping in Saturday morning.  I told the girls both that I'd let them sleep until noon if needed... and it might be.  Hope you've enjoyed our trip thus far...  Go USPS - Go Lance !!!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Donuts, do not exist in Paris... pardon moi... in France !!!

Well this is our last night in France... its 11:30 at night and we still haven't packed yet. We covered alot of ground today- visited Notre Dame- climbed 486 stairs x 2  to touch the gargoyles; visited St Chapelle to see the stained glass; shopped, shopped, shopped; climbed the stairs to Sacre Coeur in Montmartre; hung out on the steps overlooking Paris for the sunset; were entertained by a street performer who was harassing the tourist with humor and topped it off with dinner & some ice cream.

We are headed home with lots of photos & video and will be updating the Blog this weekend so tune in for more...

Go Lance!

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Between Breakfast and Dinner...

It is Jaqueline and JD at the keyboard now.  Kelley and Jannelle are at the hotel, feet up, watching the Tour.  We are making this quick so we can join them.  We are hoping to see Lance in the yellow jersey today (Maillot Jaune).
I wish this were a standard style keyboard... yes, they are a little different and it impedes typing.  We left out many things on yesterday's post.  One of the biggest was our soaking ride through the streets of Paris, on bicycle.  Sure we mentioned the biking, just forgot the soaking.  It was nearly a storm. But, it was extroardinary and the lights on the river are fantastic whether our video ca,era agrees or not.
We viewed some extraordinary views in Rocomadour.  It's a village built on a cliff with an awesome religious heritage, a beautiful Notre Dame (there are several of these in France) and Kelley and I managed to view the area from atop the cliffs by climbing up a rather steep trail to the Chappelle area.  One of the most amazing things was watching the people drive into the valley and stop their cars to take a picture.  It's immediately inspiring, and causes you to stop, get out, and take it all in.
We have many things yet to do in Paris, including viewing of the next three stages, thee Notre Dame, Champs Elysees (rode it in a taxi last night), Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and several other museums. We rode the Metro out to the cemetary where Jim Morrison of the Doors is laid... that was an enormous and huge place.  We're headed to the patisserie now for a crepe, tart, and maybe something else too.  The French water is programmed to illicit much activity from those affected by sweet tooth's... au revoir for today !

Monday, July 19, 2004

Late, but better than never...

Yes, it’s been some time since we’ve been able to update.  So much that we’ve done and wished to post here.  There have been no cyber café’s anywhere that we’ve been since our last posting.  The weather has been somewhat interesting the past few days, with mixed beauties and some real snarling rain squalls, everywhere from the stage on Saturday to now. 
The start in St. Flour was very, very positive.  We have video of a conversation with Bobby Julich (Team CSC).  The girls got team hats from Credit Agricole, CSC, and Ileas Balears.  Bobby and Jacob Piil, Ivan Basso (currently number 3 in the GC), and big Magnus Bakstedt.  It was a very exciting start, and it would have been better still had we seen the finish, but we had to head on south to our hotel near the Col d’Aspin (an unbelievably beautiful place).  We stayed there for two nights.  Our drive in netted us a Tour de France arrow sign (yeah!), perfect for mounting in the upcoming guest bathroom, cycling montage.
We managed to see the riders on TV at our hotel on Saturday, then we hurried down the mountain to our road intersection to capture sub-two-minutes of the Rabobank rider and Richard Virenque, who were later caught by the peloton.  At that time, Lance and the others were making chase at speeds (downhill on wet roads) that was faster than the cars and motorcycles, it seemed.  They were 9 minutes back at that point, and reeled past the second peloton by nearly fifteen minutes… wow ! They were flying.
Tonight, we’re in Paris, and I wish we had more time to post to our Blog all that we’ve been up to.  We did the Fat Tire Bike Tour from the sud (French for south) end of the Eiffel Tower.  It was a four hour tour that included a stop for ice cream and an extensive boat ride up and down the river Seine.  Kelley did a lot of video taping of the boat tour, and it will make for some fantastic memories.  The view of the tower at night is really quite amazing.  We wish we could post some pictures, but there have been some technical difficulties that have arisen due to differences in formatting here and in the US.
We should be able to post a few more things here before we leave on Friday to return.  We’re staying at the Hotel Tonic in the Les Halles region near the Louvre.  It’s really incredible to see all of this.  Wish you all could be here.  Blog you soon !!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Howell's do Gueret... Posted by Hello

Tuesday July 13-St Leonard de Noblat to Gueret...

Our accommodations in Montelang near St Moreil are wonderful! It is operated by Noud + his wife-small B+B in an enchanted forest. No phones, no traffic, no pollution- just beautiful country roads. The food (bread of course)is tres bien! We arrived at the start in St Leonard early to see the riders sign in and to catch the entire caravan (pre race parade a la disney-esque). We picked up lots of free goodies + bartered for others. Our yellow shirts, hats + Postal flags drew much attention from the photographers- especially the girls who were perched up on a wall with prime spot.

St Leonard is the home to Raymond Poulidor who shares the same fame as Jan Ullrich for coming in second 5 years in a row to Anquetil in the 60's. We were a few feet away from Bernard Hinault as they were getting ready to leave. We met alot of Americans who were doing the same thing as us- cheering on Lance-some from Austin, Atlanta.

After the start we jumped in the car + stopped by our hotel. Nord gave us an escorted ride through the back country roads to get to the main road to the finish in Guret. We walked about 4 miles to the actual finish + podium. We saw Phil Liggett from OLN and got alot of photos + video. Robby McEwen is in the Green Jersey again + the Posties are looking good. We are staying in Montelang for one more night and must leave for dinner now. We are off to St Flour in the AM to see the finish. More to come when we can find another Cyber Cafe...