Art House Summer - and the Tour de France

 So - here we are - in a HOUSE. 
In the south of France.




We bought a house in the south of France. 
A bit - unexpected. 
But - cool.


And - in spite of covid, we've even been able to have family visit. 
Visitors! Family! It's been a LONG time. 
They get to check out the new place.




First, son Erik and his wife Ray arrived from Thailand. 

It wasn't all that easy, between visas and documentation, covid tests and cancelled flights.
Obstacles all the way. Stressful.

But the day they arrived, France opened up a bit more - restaurants and cafes, venues. 

Even the curfew was lifted a week later. 

That meant:
oysters-!


Our best food photos are always taken by Ray

Mussels!




Lunch on the Mediterranean.




Then, Mikey and Noah came from Berlin. 

(Iris stayed in Berlin. She had to work. But she didn't sound too sorry to have the entire place to herself for a while. A good birthday present, she called it.)




The pool - functional, but unfinished -  got LOTS of use.




It definitely looked a bit like old times.







With multiple trips to the grocery stores.





SO GOOD to get together again after so long! 

The last time we were together was in Morocco. 
Christmas - a year and a half ago.




Noah lives in Berlin. 
He's a city boy. 

(He was excited about coming. Counting the "number of sleeps" before the trip.)



So - obviously, we had to build sandcastles. 
Jump waves. Chase the tide.

He even learned how to swim! (kinda) 




Caught REAL fish-!

Even wore shoes - WITHOUT socks. 
In the river.


The River Cesse in Bize. The fish are VERY small. But - we caught some!


Stan kept everything going with great meals. 









Caught wild plums from our plum trees. 
Collected and ate loquats. 


Intrepid explorers, in search of the wild plum...


Went to Maggie May, where Noah got to take the helm.




We don't really have a guest room, but an air mattress on the floor seemed to work out ok.
(We still don't really have our furniture thing together yet.) 




And the neighborhood cat who has adopted us? 
She LOVED all the activity.




She was pretty sad when they left. 
She even slept out in the road where they had parked.

Waiting.


We were sad to see them go, too. 

However - several days later - the Tour de France passed right near our village! 





I went out with 4 fun female friends and we made a day of it. 

We had reserved a spot at a super little restaurant in Aigues-Vives. 
Right on the route. With shade. 

Everyone was all excited about the Big Day. 
Lots of laughter - and plenty of good food. 

Photos: Lynne Garell, Laura Weston, Kate Dunn - and a kindly random diner..


We had to get there HOURS before the race, since the roads were all closed. 

A friend of ours, Lynne Garell, did this blog post on the events of the day. 
It's worth reading - she has great pictures - and does a fine job of describing it. 

(Most of my photos came out like this - with people's hands and arms in them. 
The whole race goes by so quickly!)


I think this was about the best photo I took of the race!


And there you have it.

Summer - in the south of France.

World Wandering - Time for Plan B


HOME - right now - is a boat on a canal in the south of France. 


Maggie May.

25 tons. 15 meters long. Just over 4 meters wide. 

3 cabins, 3 bathrooms. Generous galley. 
Bright, light. Beautiful woodwork. Comfortable. 



An aft deck that has been home to many good evenings with friends. 

Boat Gang evening!

But - she really wasn't supposed to be a full-time residence. 

In New Mexico, we lived in a wonderful old "adobe hacienda" for 20 years. 


It was over a hundred years old. 


In 2018, we sold it. 
Sold or gave away everything inside: 

Antiques from the 1700s, treasures gathered from around the world, old Spanish hand-carved furniture, hand-knotted rugs, art, silver, first-edition books, original paintings, carvings, crystal glassware, pre-Columbian pottery, art guitars, tools, garden sculptures, bicycles, cars, motorcycles - everything. 


We even gave the cat to the neighbors. (I think she was relieved.)




The goal was - Simplicity. Flexibility. 

To be able to take off. 
Hit the road when the mood strikes. 


Travel the world.
Anywhere. 



I had this idea of living a "one-key" life. 

We did it! 
One boat key. 
That's it.



The idea was - a "lock up and leave" base in Europe. 
 No yard. No utilities. No property taxes.

Few obligations. Few responsibilities. 


We talked about  getting down to a "passport and a credit card".
That was the ideal. 
(Okay, that's a bit extreme, but - you get the idea.) 

We wanted the freedom to move easily.


Son Mikey's "Itchy Feet" comic


I love to travel.  
It keeps life exciting - solving puzzles.




Figuring out where to buy food. Where to stay. 
How to get around. 

Or even where to take out the trash. 

Mysteries of trying to speak the language.
Connecting with people who don't think like I do.


It's a challenge.




Each episode is a small adventure in feeling fully alive. 


Cow intestines, Stan?

So now - Maggie May is our base in Europe. 
Just as planned. 

So far, so good.


In one of China's many HUGE cities.


Then - along came a virus. 

Suddenly, travel stopped completely. 

We went into lockdown in France in March. 
Documentation was required to leave the boat.



Borders closed. 
Even regional travel not allowed. 

Plan A - totally derailed. 

Hm.

Yes, things opened up over summer. 
But ah, the cost of being too social! 


 Boat Gang - and our favorite local wine distributor! 

Now France is back in lockdown again. 
Along with a half dozen other European countries. 

It doesn't feel like this will be the last time, either.  

It's not over. 


I'm glad to have made the most of travel while it was possible!
- to maybe - over a hundred countries. 

You never know what the future will bring.
No guarantees. 


But - the world is changing.

Travel has become more complicated.
Less appealing.



It looks like - it's time for Plan B. 



I have no idea what that looks like. 
It's an interesting situation to be in.
(We're already very fortunate with our situation - compared to many.)

But - what did I say about wanting to stay flexible?


So - we'll see. 

Who knows? A change may be just around the corner....

Meanwhile, it's a beautiful November in the south of France.



Even if it's VERY quiet out there.