Gone Away / Journeys

South of France 2019

The long journey home from Montpellier is underway

The long journey home from Montpellier is underway

— After fifteen days in Montpellier, France, our long journey home to Phoenix is underway. The upside of getting an early start is not having to rush. The downside is a lot of time spent waiting. We unwittingly arrived at the airport an hour before check-in was scheduled to begin for our flight to Paris. We used the time to enjoy a coffee and the sandwiches Kathryn made us last night from food we otherwise would have had to throw out.
If you’ve ever struggled with the gender of French nouns, take heart!

If you’ve ever struggled with the gender of French nouns, take heart!

— Last Saturday around midday, Kathryn and I were at the zoo here in Montpellier, and we found ourselves looking at the giraffes next to a French couple and their young children. I overheard the father saying to his children, “Les girafes sont beaux!” As soon as the words finished leaving his mouth, the mother corrected him, “Belles.” “Hein?” he grunted. “C’est une girafe,” she insisted. “Eh, ouais,” he said, now recognizing his grammatical error.
I’m way behind on my posts, so here’s a brief status update from Montpellier

I’m way behind on my posts, so here’s a brief status update from Montpellier

— I was doing so well at publishing a blog post at least once a day, and then when we got back from Lourdes it kind of fizzled out. Well, have no fear, we’re doing well here in Montpellier. Yesterday I finally posted about our road trip to Sommières, which happened last Thursday. Last Friday we went on our highly anticipated hike up Pic St. Loup, along with a little bit of beach time before returning the rental car.
Another road trip from Montpellier, this one to Sommières

Another road trip from Montpellier, this one to Sommières

— Since we’d reserved a rental car for four days, I felt a certain obligation to make the most use of it. Thursday morning, after lingering a little too long over breakfast, we got in the car to visit Uzès, an ancient walled village that dates back to pre-medieval times, about a 90-minute drive from Montpellier. However, after all the driving I’d done Tuesday and Wednesday, I wasn’t on the autoroute for more than a few minutes when I started formulating for an escape plan.
Last-minute road trip to Lourdes for Mass with Cardinal Burke

Last-minute road trip to Lourdes for Mass with Cardinal Burke

— One advantage of not over-planning a vacation is that you leave yourself open to opportunities that arise. This week, we changed our planned daytrip to Lourdes on Saturday to an overnight trip on Tuesday and Wednesday. At Sunday Mass here in Montpellier, we learned that an American cardinal, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke, would be celebrating a Pontifical High Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Lourdes on Wednesday morning at 10 am.
We’re back in Montpellier after a whirlwind side trip to Lourdes

We’re back in Montpellier after a whirlwind side trip to Lourdes

— Kathryn and I just got back to Montpellier after a whirlwind 30-hour side trip to Lourdes. This is just a quick update because the last two days have been somewhat exhausting. I’m really happy we didn’t do this as a day trip as we’d originally planned. Four hours driving a rental car I’m not familiar with, on roads I’m not familiar with, took more out of me than I expected. Now I can’t imagine doing eight hours without getting some sleep in between.
We eventually made it to Lourdes

We eventually made it to Lourdes

— It took us a longer than planned to get our rental car in Montpellier, and then the drive took longer than planned, but eventually we arrived in Lourdes well before sunset. The hotel is not bad, and the manager was amenable to letting us leave two hours late tomorrow. We arrived in Lourdes quite hungry because of all our delays, but as we headed out to dinner, we realized we were about to miss the best light of the day, so we turned around and headed to the shrine.
In Paris, waiting for our flight to Montpellier

In Paris, waiting for our flight to Montpellier

— I planned to write a brief status update as we took our seats on the flight from Detroit to Paris, but somehow we ended up in an AT&T dead zone, so I had no access to the internet. The flight was uneventful, other than a bit of turbulence leaving Detroit. Kathryn and I both got a reasonable amount of sleep. The food was edible, a feature of flying Air France. Dinner was chicken with a cream sauce served with polenta something or other.

Cookies and our breaking points

— If you’re reading this, we’ve safely landed in Detroit. I’ve never been to this airport before, but I hear it’s nice. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to look around. In the past, I’ve had a difficult time sleeping on airplanes. However, on the flight from Phoenix, I was asleep before we pushed back from the gate. I slept for well over an hour. I woke up feeling great, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the two tall beers I had at the airport.

Bags packed, ready to go

— Kathryn and I were up and at ’em early this morning to start our long trip from Phoenix to Montpellier, although compared to our normal weekday schedules, it was like we slept in. Even after a couple leisurely cups of coffee, we finished our last minute chores way ahead of schedule. We’ll leave for the airport in about two hours, giving Kathryn extra time to say goodbye to the cat. We’ve arranged a petsitter who will be here the entire time we’re gone, so the cat will be well cared for.