Day 56, Jalopy riddles and vegetables with magic cheese inside - 9/2
Another morning, another amazing adventure planned. We managed to wake up early again in preparation for our next adventure. We were going to visit Nadia's friends in Granges. We gathered all of our travel belongings and headed to the bus stop. Our first destination was Nadia's aunt's house to pick up a car.
Nadia had asked her cousin if we could borrow her car to get to Granges. Her cousin said "Sure, if he can he drive it." Nadia said "Of course he can". I knew how to drive a stick so of course I can drive her car, right?
We arrived at Nadia's aunt's house with pastries in hand. We sat down and ate breakfast with Nadia's aunt and cousin. We chatted and found out that even Nadia's extended family is cool. After we vanquished the croissants and pastries we headed out to the driveway to see the vehicle that I would be driving. Sitting in the driveway was a 1960's Citroen 2CV (see photo: VW Thing makes love to a VW Beetle).
As we loaded all of our gear into the car I examined the cockpit and all the pedals, lights, switches, and dials that were displayed. It was indeed a stick shift, but the gear shifter was sticking out right underneath the dash instead of sitting on the floor. I thought "Ok. Same thing, different place". There was no gear tree written on the stick shift, but instead it was hand written underneath the speedometer (along with with a hand written gas and hand written speeds on the speedometer). Awesome. I now knew where all the gears were. I pushed in the clutch and tried to move it into first gear. No luck. The shifter didn't move up and down and side to side like all other cars, but it moved in and out and twists a bit... I have yet to come across this in my driving experience. Keeping my cool demeanor I found first gear, I thought. I started the car, it fired right up, and then it died. Nadia's aunt casually said, "That happens all the time." Cool. That put my mind at ease. I would have asked her how to drive the car, but Nadia said that her aunt didn't know either. We were all for me driving around the block a few times so I could get the hang of the car. For first gear you pulled the shifter out toward you and cocked it to the left. We rumbled forward. Sweet, I could get the car moving. As we rumbled down the street I shifted again, into second gear, I thought. The car wanted to sputter and die, but eventually got enough gas to continue to go. Second gear didn't seem right (cocking from left to right). It felt like the car was going to die. We stopped at a dead end so I could find reverse (just in case we needed it at some point). For reverse I figured out you had to push the shifter all the way in and to the left. Cool, as long as we didn't need to go more than fifteen kilometers an hour we'd be ok. I looked at the hand drawn tree again and figured out that for second gear you pushed the shifter in all the way, but straight. To get to third gear you pulled the shifter out straight and for forth you pushed the shifter in and turned it to the right (that's what she said). Hell yes. Another driving riddle solved. Once I conquered the Citroen 2CV I got that feeling you get when you figure how to unclasp a bra for the first time, like you're the king of everything and nothing can stop you... except parents coming home early. After I had figured out the secrets of the Citroen 2CV it was off to Granges. Taking the scenic route of course.
To get to the scenic part of the drive we had to take the highway for a little bit, which was kind of terrifying when your vehicle's max speed is eighty and the speed limit was one-ten. The back roads were by far a better drive and a slower one at that. We arrived at Nadia's friend's Grandparent's house just in time for lunch.
We were greeted by Nadia's friend Alexia. She was very nice and we made our way into the old house. We were told the house had been in the family since the twenties. She used to go there in the summer and the home is still in the family for anyone who would like to take a holiday or just a quiet weekend. We walked out to the back to meet all of the other friends who were staying there as well. There was Vincent (Alexia's partner), Laure, Pricilla, and Tristan I apologize for any mis-spelling of names). We all sat in the back and swapped stories. Lunch came shortly after.
Alexia was so nice and considerate of Shana's condition (vegetarianism) that she made Shana her own special lunch. Shana had her own tomato pastry dish while the rest of us feasted on egg-meat-cheese-quiche. We had all possessed the required energy for swimming in the river and napping in the sand. First stop, however was the local cheese shop.
The shop sold all kinds of cheese and at a spectacularly low price. They were able to do this because they produced all the cheese onsite and used their own cows to do so (also on site). mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm nom nom nom nom nom nom.
Next on the agenda was the river. There was a small beach for people to chill on and a roped off swimming area. Shana wasn't a big fan of the water because there was algae floating about and some small fishes swimming around. Nadia asked Shana to come a little closer so she could help her in the water and then she grabbed Shana and dragged her into the deeper part of the river where she then had to swim to the floating dock we were posted on. Did I mention how cool Nadia was yet? Shana swam as fast as her doggie paddle would take her to the floating dock. She made it to the dock and we all took turns jumping off and taking Go Pro action pictures of ourselves doing so (see photos: taking long walks off short docks). Swimming proceeded after action shots and then beach chilling. After awhile we noticed our cheese powered fuel tanks were running low so we decided to go back to the house.
When we got back to the house and changed, Vincent wanted to give us a walking tour of the small village and share some history. We passed by the church and learned that it was built on the highest part of the town so that if the water level rose it would be ok. We went inside and saw a beautiful shrine with enough gold leaf to pitty the fool. Vincent had told us there is no exact history of how the town had acquired the shrine. The folklore behind said shrine was that a king had been passing through the village and had fallen off his horse into the water. The town people saw that he was in trouble and they had come to his rescue. The king had given the town the shrine as a gift for saving his life. We exited the church and passed along the water and through the square with Vincent dropping knowledge all along the way. Vincent was a great tour guide. We headed back to the house to help prepare dinner.
MMMMMMMM Dinner. Alexia had prepared some small pumpkin squash stuffed with magic cheese, delicious bread whammies, and thick cut BACON pieces. Alexia, once again being the super awesome person she was, made Shana her own squash minus BACON plus smoked tofu. Vincent (also a super awesome person) even carved an S into the squash to make sure Shana got the one that was specially made for her. After the delicious and thoughtful dinner we all sat around the table outside and Shana gave crochet lessons. Alexia played some guitar and everyone (minus us) sang songs in French. We were then introduced to a an alcohol made locally, called Armagnac. It was a very tasty and very potent brandy (forty eight percent). Vincent also gave us a shot of an alcohol he had made. His concoction tasted like atomic fireballs soaked in lava, with a lovely honey finish (very, very tasty). We continued to hang out until roughly two-ish in the morning. We could hear our bed calling our names so we said goodnight to everyone, thanked them for everything and crawled into our bed for some much needed slumber.
Day 57, Grandma's top comes off at eighty eight kilometers an hour. GREAT SCOTT!!! - 9/3
Nadia's friends were nice enough to let us sleep in until the sun had burned its way through the window cracks into our room. The food plan for the morning was that Shana would make pancakes from scratch and Alexia would make crepes, also from scratch. Shana had all the scratch she needed except for baking powder. Vincent (being the gentleman and overall cool person he his) offered to retrieve some baking powder from the store. Once Vincent returned the breakfasting had begun. There were a variety of spreads: homemade Nutella-like-spread, homemade rhubarb jelly, banana-strawberry jam, vanilla-hazelnut spread, and honey hazelnut spread. Once Shana finished her pancakes (now referred to as wonderful homemade awesome breakfast mouth discs or W.H.A.B.M.D.s for short) they were placed in the oven to incubate and Alexia proceeded to make crepes. Once the crepes were piled high enough, the discs were fished from the oven and CREPOCALYPSE PANCAKE-MANIA HAD COMMENCED!!!!!!
Among the madness you could see smiles, laughing, and overall appreciation of the great food and great friends amongst the table. Everyone was really cool. We enjoyed everyone's company and we hoped they all enjoyed ours. We sadly had to say goodbye to Pricilla and Tristan. They had to work the next day. We wished them safe travels and thanked them for sharing their radicalness with us.
The bones of the crepes and pancakes were scrapped clean and the newly cleaned dishes had been put away. We all gathered back around the table and broke out the arts and crafts. Alexia and Laure worked with leather. They cut, sewed, and stitched their leather creations. Nadia worked on finishing her crochet headband Shana had slave driven her to make the previous night. Shana had worked on her drawing skills. Vincent took photos and I wrote. Some time had passed and we decided to go back to the river for some much needed elsewhere chilling. Before we left Alexia had secretly crafted us a beautiful leather keychain coin holder of amazingness and handed it to us.
The beach was just what the group needed. We were bummed however to find the floating dock had been put away for the season. The day before we had seen some kids on the other side of the river jumping off the concrete bank. It looked like they were having a blast. I love me some blasts as well so we swam across the river. We hadn't planned on the river's current and had to fight it as to not overshoot our rendezvous point. We arrived tired and had to catch our breath before we enjoyed some blast. It turns out everyone is a dirty ass liar and the grass
was much greener on the other side. Our breath had returned to us and we proceeded to jump off the bank. Nadia had almost hit the bottom and warned us to keep the jumps short. The blasts we had tired us out and we needed to rest up. The current was much nicer to us for the return trip to the not so green grass side. The day had grown shorter and we had one more stop before we left for home. We said goodbye to the beach and loaded all our our stuff into "Grandma" (nickname for the car we were driving).
Our last stop was Laparade. The road to Laparade was uphill, twisted, and all sorts of fun. Grandma barged the road, rally car style. We rode that old lady hard and she loved us for it (see photo: there is no photo for this. It's not that kind of blog you sicko. Tell your friends though). We arrived in Laparade and saw a variety of food stations, tables, beer and wine stations, and the town's people enjoying each other's company. We were informed that they did this every Tuesday. I even saw a much older gentleman with a sport coat and shorts and bottles of wine sticking out of each sport coat pocket. This kept his hands free for eating. Well played sir. Well played. Shana and I got a slice of locally made apple square pastry as a starter and Vincent got cooked snails. He was kind enough to offer me one. I had never eaten one straight out of the shell before. They were legit. Real good. Nadia asked if I wanted to try some fries fried in duck fat. What? Thats a thing? Of course I want those! The answer to that would always be yes. I grabbed a table and held it down so everyone could get some food. They all had returned with their dish of choice and Shana even found some fries fried in vegetable oil. Duck fat fries did not disappoint. We all tried Shana fries and we all admitted that hers were, surprisingly, a little bit better. Just a little. Shana: one, Duck fat fries: infinity minus one. As the fries found their way into our arteries and the sun took its slow stroll into the country side we said our farewells. Even though we had only hung out for less than thirty-six hours it felt like we were saying goodbye to friends we had known forever. We walked back to find Grandma topless. Just how we left her. We snapped her top back on and we were off.
Thirty minutes into our return trip Grandma decided that tops were for babies and she needed to let her sweater dogs go for a run... at about eighty kilometers an hour. The sudden shock of the top peeling back put that sheer panic/terror/fun/scary smile on our faces. We had pulled to the side of the road to figure out what was going on. We put the top back on, clipped it into place and proceeded back on our journey. Grandma was a stubborn wench and wanted that top to be off. Nadia saw the top creeping off and held it on with her hands. There wasn't a safe place to pull over and she held Grandma's top on for roughly ten minutes. We pulled to the side again and tried to figure out what had gone wrong. It appeared that the clips weren't holding the top on properly. After we messed with the top for a hot one we decided that we were going to travel the rest of the way home with the titties out. As we rolled the top back I noticed a hidden bar frame. I lifted the frame and figured out the top fit onto the bar frame, the frame folded forward, and the clips held the frame that held the top. Grandma had given me one last riddle to solve. We secured Grandma's top back on and hit the road.
We decided to take a little detour which lead us through some really scary towns with small populations where secrets could be kept. I went over the eighties slasher film checklist in my head: Pretty girls, check. Small town, check. Lack of street lights, check. Old car that sometimes dies and/or won't start, check. We saw a man hitchhiking and decided to give him a lift. And by lift I mean drove real fast past him not making eye contact while hoping he was big enough to feed a family of five or six. We passed small dark town after small dark town. This lasted for about thirty five minutes. Nadia and I were plotting out horror film scenarios for each town we passed through. We were lucky it was trash day and all of the bins were full of human remains and couldn't take on anymore until the next morning. Nadia and I were laughing and realized we hadn't seen a single soul in a while and out of nowhere a man appears alongside the road and scared the feces out of us. The next town had a man standing on his decrepit front porch with a dim light behind him and no shirt on. This wouldn't have been weird if there was a dog running in the front yard or something. He just stood there and watched us slowly drive through his scary ass town. We broke out the map and figured out how many miles until the next big town and then to home.
We made it back safely. We dropped Grandma off and said our thank you's and goodbyes. We fast walked to the bus stop and made it just in time catch the midnight bus back to the flat. Sleep was found upon our return.