Monday, January 21, 2008

Standing alone my senses reeled

Let me see, how was my weekend. Friday I had the day off, so I drove around for a bit, trying to find out where the trail starts to climb the mountain. (Montaigne Sainte Victoire) After a bit of me doing circles (I wasn't lost, I knew where I was...just wasn't where I wanted to be!), stopping at a little town called Tholonet; I managed to get back to Aix on the opposite side of town and then found the right road up the back side of the mountain. Then, all by blind luck, I found the little road that went to the dam and the start of all the trails. So I wandered around some of the forest service roads, taking pictures of the mountain and the scenery. That took about 2.5 hours of the day, all in 18C sunny weather. Not bad for January. =)

Saturday, I got a phone call from Jerome, asking if I wanted to hike to the top of the mountain with Bo, Bo's friend Shawn and himself. I had said the day before that I was going to wait a bit to get in better shape, but I also wasn't going to miss a chance to go. So we drove up there, and started hiking a bit later in the day than we should have. This was bad, but it was also very good.

The climb started off on the service roads again, but my legs were NOT happy about having to work two days in a row. I had horrible cramps and pain in my calves and around my shins. Jerome stayed with me and I stretched and stretched until they started to loosen up a bit. The first real tough part was a scramble using hands and feet up a fairly steep face. Poor Shawn is afraid of heights, and she had a hard time with this part. I was just hurting and my cardio was also complaining at me. But we made that part, and for the next bit it was a fairly easy go.

Soon though, we started to climb again, and although we stopped often to catch out breath, I was hurting. Jerome got a ways ahead of us, Bo stayed with Shawn since she was struggling too, and I was in the back, gasping and ready to collapse. Eventually though, through a lot of stubbornness on my part, I made it to the little monastery at the top of the mountain.

What a view! Those monks really know how to pick real estate!

A short hike after that was the big cross on the top. The base of the cross is 1010m up, and we had covered about 5 or 6 km (maybe more) to get there. It was worth every stab of pain, every gasp, every pounding heart beat in my chest. What a view. The Sun was getting lower, and with all the pollution, the light was turning golden.

On the way down (which I was nearly running because it is down, easy part), the Sun kept sinking, making the colour of the rocks change, and the sky became very golden in colour. We stopped a little ways down to watch a para-glider floating along on the updraft's from the mountain. I got a couple of amazing shots of him, with the light just perfect.

But we couldn't stay there long,the Sun was just about below the horizon, and we were barely a third of the way. At about two thirds of the way down, we watched the Sun disappear and we made haste in the growing twilight. In the end, we made the hard part in some light, and followed the service roads through near dark...other than the near full moon and the blood red sky for light. I should have stopped and taken a photo of the sunset through the trees. Blood red sky with black trees. It was very beautiful, as well as a bit creepy looking.

Sunday, well I stayed home and gave the legs a break. The calves are a bit stiff still, but not bad. Only time that they hurt me today was when I tried to jump up and look into the engine intake for debris.

I also got something else today to make my life a bit nice. A brace for my sore arm. Jerome went with me to the pharmacy, and after three tries to explain to the lady what I wanted, I got just the perfect thing. Now, I have support for the arm (still hurts, but at least I am not doing more damage) so that it can start healing itself.

BTW, there are a bunch of new photos on my Flickr page, go check them out!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Long Way Round

Christmas is now officially over here in Aix, the town is taking down all of the lights. I just need to say "doh!" here since I never got around to taking photos of them. That is just my laziness. It was very pretty, and I find it sad that they don't leave them up all winter while the leaves are gone from the trees.

New Years was quiet, I stayed home and got happy with a bottle of champagne. Most of the guys were out of town; Martin was here but he had his friend Fleming and Fleming's kids visiting, so I didn't have any plans. At the last minute, just as I was getting settled into chatting with friends online and playing WoW, they showed up wanting to go into town. By this time, I was happy just to sit here and play so I stayed home. I think that next year if I am here, I am going to try and get to Paris to party under the Eiffel Tower for New Years.

We are all back to work again, slowly ramping up to being busy again. We have to change all the propellers and send them one at a time up to England for overhaul. We get one spare propeller, assemble it, swap it with one on a plane, take the swapped one, disassemble it, send it to England for overhaul, get it back, swap the overhauled one for the loaner, then repeat for the other three props. This should last over a month or more, depending on how fast they ship and overhaul the props. It will be nice to get a bit of overtime too.

One of the guys, Jerome, has this DVD that is a documentary of Ewan McGreggor and Charlie Boorman riding BMW motorcycles around the world, that he is sharing with all of us to watch. This has gotten the guys all excited about doing a road trip around Spain on their bikes, and me wanting badly to get my bike license. Getting the license might not happen for a bit, but if I come home in the spring, I might try and get one done if I have time. If I don't get one done, I might follow the guys as a support team, carrying extra supplies for them in a rented car. At least that way I can be with them and I would have air conditioning. =) If you are interested in the rides that Ewan and Charlie do (they recently road from Scotland down to Cape Town, South Africa), check out their website. (or click the title of this article)

Even if you are not a motorcycle nut, it is an amazing journey where you get to see some amazing sights and you get to learn about things that we just don't know about. The documentary is only 10 hours long, but they had over 800 hours of tape (wow!) that they had to go through. I would love to see some of the other footage that never made it to the show. It is pretty powerful stuff.

(BTW, I am now starting my fourth year with this blog! I find that amazing!)