July 17 – Monday

Bright daylight an hour before the sun cleared the mountain to the northeast. Sunrise just after 7 – mist rising on the lake, tent and everything around soaking wet. Packed up what I could – stretched out the rest to dry. As soon as the sun shone over the mountain it heated up and things started to dry.

The only thing still wet when I did the final pack was the tent fly – put it in the large waterproof bag and loaded everything into the campervan. Sent a quick email to siblings so they wouldn’t worry if they don’t hear from me for a few days – doubt if I’ll have internet until Thursday or so.
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They have signs up on all of the roads that are going to be closed for the Tour.
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Drove east then north thru beautiful Alps – lots of pretty villages in beautiful narrow valleys. Stopped in Bourg d’Oisans for groceries – shocked by the total bill – the most I’ve spent since I left home, I think. I’ve become used to cheap food and wine, although they do have apple cider which I haven’t found before now. Saw a car in the parking lot with a Cdn flag in the back window – first other maple leaf flag I’ve seen over here. Then not far out of town we saw a cyclist with a Cdn jersey on – two from home in one day!

Passed many cyclists on the way – part of the route is going to be Wednesday’s Tour stage, although cycling in general seems to be very big here. There were signs everywhere advising what roads would be closed on Wednesday. Turned left (north) to the Col du Galibier – kept looking for a place to pull over but couldn’t find one – all the best places seemed to have been taken. Then we saw a field with several campervans and a lot of cars – even a cafe/restaurant. The parking lot was crowded with cars – we think they were hikers rather than Tour fans.

Colin managed to wind the van through the parked throng onto the field, which wasn’t easy – I thought we were going to side-swipe somebody a couple of times, but Colin knows his van well and is an excellent driver. We tied a rope from the canopy over to a pole next to the road so no one could come beside us on the right and impede our view of the road that the race will be on.

Had lunch right away as we were both very hungry, then setup my tent. Went to the cafe for tea (for me) and coffee (for Colin) – most expensive yet, even for France. Back at the van to read for awhile and watch other campers try to negotiate the rocky, hilly parking lot to get in and settled – who needs tv when you have slightly incompetent drivers to watch?

Colin put up the flags he had brought – two long poles with three flags each on them – very impressive – I’ll have to figure out how to get my little maple leafs visible.
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A bunch of cars pulled in across the road and setup several tents. They have set some logs upright and are burning a couple – don’t know what for.

Colin looked up the mountain to the north and said ‘do you see the sheep’? Sure enough there were hundreds on the very steep hill, with one man and 3 or 4 dogs.

A fellow from the next campervan over came and said hi – he saw the flags and asked (in French) where we were from. One of the folks with him was American and came of to chat and interpret a bit. They’ve been here since yesterday – I’m glad we didn’t wait any longer to get here, it’s obvious that many people are still to come. We’re in a really good spot – part way up a horrible mountain climb, and right near the road, although we likely won’t stay at our campsite very long once the riders start coming thru.
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Looked up the mountain (not the one in the picture above) again to see what the sheep were up to and they weren’t there – they were on the move down and at a fairly speedy pace. They slowed down a bit and headed over the hill away from us with the one guy and the dogs urging them on.

More vans going up and down the hill – the grassy field we’re in is filling up slowly. The fire-logs across the road are for cooking food. The folks have three fairly large tents put together to make one large eating area with tables and chairs. I went over to say hi – they’re all French, although one lady did speak a tiny bit of English. They seemed pretty impressed that I’m on a six month trip to see the Grand Tours. They were cooking sausages on top of one log and baking potatoes in foil in a split partway down the log. Other logs had various other kinds of meat, and people were feasting inside the tents. She told me they would have music and dancing later, but I didn’t stay. I did hear some music and voices, but they weren’t loud and shut it down early.
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It’s so quiet – all you can hear is the creek and the wind – not sure if it ever stops blowing.
nit

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