Saturday, May 23, 2020

Sightseeing in Southern France

I'm feeling a pressing need to get out and show the sights to Grace and Jack since they've been housebound for nine weeks in France.
On our latest outing, they may have wished they were back in their snug bedroom.
In the morning, we took a hike with our friends Jim and Theresa. Jack didn't come along because his knee is out of commission, but Grace joined us.
We were going to hike through an old railroad tunnel that runs under a mountain.

The old railroad tunnel. 
We had some flashlights (thanks, Derrick) and the lights from our phones. At first, the tunnel had a few side exits that let in light. Then as we went farther, the dark became denser. Water dripped from the roof, splashing onto our heads or shirts.

The five of us venturing into the tunnel. 
According to my phone, we had gone about 1.5 kilometers into the tunnel, arriving at the some arches that overlooked the river, when Grace's claustrophobia kicked in. She could not go any farther!
Grace and I told the others to go on and we would walk back to the car.
So their beams of light disappeared and we were alone in the tunnel.
We started walking back toward the beginning of the tunnel. The light faded, the black closed in.
Gone were the lights of Earl and Jim bopping ahead of us as Grace, Theresa and I followed. Now, it was just the two of us.
And as we moved into the blackness, Grace made a break for it back to the arches along the tunnel, the overlooks, gulping in the fresh air.
"We'll just wait for the others to come back," I suggested. So we stood there, watching the river run far below.
After about 15 minutes, we wondered if the others might exit the tunnel on the far side and find another way to return to the car. That would leave us standing in the tunnel forever.
I tried to text Earl and unbeknownst to me, he tried to text me, but our signals were not going through. Obviously, since we were under a mountain.
As the wait stretched to 20 minutes, Grace and I decided we'd have to brave it alone. I suggested we sing a song as we walked, but we couldn't think of any songs we both knew all the words to.
Finally, I came up with the childhood song "This is the song that doesn't end..." We held hands and stepped into the darkness.
As we walked, we looked back and suddenly saw three faint lights moving toward us.
"Here they come!" Grace called.
And we waited for their return before walking out all together.
What a relief!
I can't imagine how exhausted Grace must be from the angst of claustrophobia.
We returned home to muffins and iced tea with Jim and Theresa before dragging Grace and Jack out for an afternoon adventure.  
We wove up mountains and down again on a circuitous route to Gorge de Galamus.
I'd visited there before with friends (Thanks, Kris and Derrick) but we had come in from the south. They assured me the view had more impact coming from the north, which led me to the winding roads.
The problem was, that both Grace and Jack get carsick. This was not the right route for them.
But eventually, an hour later, we arrived at the stream that carved the gorge. We waded a bit then drove on to see the gorge.
The gorge with the snow-capped Pyrenees in the background

View of L'hermitage from the other side of the gorge. It wasn't open on the day we were there. 

Jack, slowly recovering from his carsickness. 
Grace and Jack in front of the gorge
Me in front of the gorge, clutching my dress so it doesn't fly up, I guess. 
We drove home from the south. The drive was a straight shot on a nicely paved road. No mountains, no twists, no turns.
Well, another lesson learned.
They both collapsed into bed when we got home, recovering from their day of French adventure.

3 comments:

Marg said...

I'm not sure I would have done much better in the tunnel.

You do live in a beautiful part of the world.

Mystica said...

The hermitage is it still inhabited?

Just Me said...

Once again you had me on the edge of my seat. My heart goes out to Grace and Jack. Loved the adventure.

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