The vacation in August was a great time to reunite the family and friends. I enjoyed the times hanging out around Houston, and then I took my biannual trip to the Hole in the Wall area of Wyoming. This was the third trip I've made with Jack Schaffner and my faithful border collie, Mick. We went up and over the fabled Hole in the Wall Pass again, and also explored Buffalo Creek Canyon. Each afternoon, we would sit in the shade of the Jeep (outside of the Jeep in very comfortable folding camping chairs), much like the two brothers in the movie "Secondhand Lions" and watch a literal kaleidoscope of color interplay between the setting sun and the scenery all around us. It was one of the most fascinating interplays of light and nature I have ever seen. You can view pictures and video; I shot a lot of video this time since we have so many pictures from the previous two trips, at this link.
Up until the time I left for vacation in August, the weather in France have been very cloudy, even during the summer months. I love sunshine. Winter and early spring are tolerable when I know that sunshine is coming in the late spring and the summer months, but when the sunshine does not return, it is difficult. By the time I took vacation in August, Texas was experiencing drought conditions and temperatures over 100°F. I was probably the only guy in Texas happy to see both of these things; not the drought necessarily, but the sunshine and the heat. I drove across Texas in my open-air Jeep on my way to Denver and the Hole in the Wall. When Mick and I arrived outside of Amarillo at 11 o'clock at night, we found our campsite, threw a sleeping bag down beside the Jeep, and Mick and I slept under the stars. Too hot and tired to pitch a tent, and the big star filled Texas sky told me there was no reason to worry about rain that night. We packed up early the next morning and finished our journey to Denver.
I was told when I got here that even if June, July, and August are cloudy, which they often can be, September is always perfect. I guess "always" finished in 2011. It was cloudy when I returned, and I found myself quickly missing the sun and heat of Texas and the Rocky Mountains. I knew, however, that I could find sunshine in France. I made a little weekend trip back to the South of France, staying on the Mediterranean Sea just east of the city of Perpignan. The sun was indeed shining, and the Mediterranean its beautiful deep blue. I visited Collioure again, a small, storybook town famous for its small fishing boats and their sails. I also traveled to Figueras, Spain, home of the artist Salvador Dali. I could have traveled onward to Barcelona, it was only 45 min. further, but one can only do so much in a weekend. I also visited the town of Cucugnan, a small village in a rather steep valley. If you look it up on Google Earth, it will note some of the key attractions of the area. It is a place to which I expect I will return.
Here is the latest update on the cheese journey (41 to date):
Vache qui Rit
Chausee aux Moines
Crottin de Chevre
Crottin de Chavignol
Fromage pur chevre
Bleu de brebis (blue sheep cheese)
Le Montagnard des Voges
Chevre de Palet
Fromage de Brebis Corsica
That is all for now, thanks for coming along.