Today it is dangerous to be me. I crawled out of bed to boil some water for coffee. That’s when it started. First Carmen broke every Bruce rule in an attempt to create a fog of confusion. Questions, questions phrased as statements, statements with a rising tone at the end… she tries it all. Then, refusing to make me baguettes for breakfast, I was driven to the bathroom for a shower. But rather than clearing my head, her and Leslie’s careful pacing was designed to leave me stunned but with an air of confidence that I had somehow gained control.
And then they struck. Since they were ‘busy’ I still had to make make my own baguette, butter and jam and they had carefully arranged the crust to catch in my throat. I immediately began to cough and choke. And hack. My nose ran, my eyes teared and they just watched with a mild look of interest in their eyes. I figure they were just wondering where I would finally collapse and how far they would have to haul the body.
Eventually after drinking copious amounts of water (which I had to fetch), smacking my own back and hurling myself against the wall to try and self-Hemlich myself, I finally caught my wind and — despite the look of disappointment in the girls eyes — settled into the rest of breakfast.
We unshipped the bikes and packed a lunch (that’s the excuse the girls had used to ignore my imminent death), and headed up to Haut Barr. This was ‘supposed’ to be a leisurely 90 minute walk, but turned out to be phase 2 of ‘someone’s’ evil plan to do away with Bruce.
So there we were, walking our bikes. Uphill. After a solid diet of wine. And you think they didn’t plan the gallons of sweat and heaving lungs? I tell ya, if it wouldn’t have given them satisfaction I would have collapsed there right in the
Middle of that forest. Oh yes, you heard me right, they lured me deep into the woods to watch me expire. That way they could just roll me into the underbrush.
Anyway, just to spite them, I made it through to reach the top. And you know what they were concerned about? My complete dehydration? My exhaustion? The oxygen deprivation, poison oak or even the danger of being consumed by rabid pigeons… No it was all about Carmen’s weak ankles. Ankles… PAH!
Still in the end we made it to the ruins of Chateau Haut Barr which are high upon the first edge of the Vosges and overlook the plains of Alsace. We could almost see Strasbourg. It is a cloudy day so not too hot. We started our visit with a Panaché regardless. Priorities are priorities and Leslie had her second beer (with lemonade).
The fortified chateau was first started in the 1100s and built up largely in the 1500s. It was partially destroyed in the 1600s as a result of a treaty, although construction continued through the 1800s. It has some stunning views and awesome architectural elements.
After a quick lunch we meander around. The touristes seem to be on a schedule as they are racing through at a prodigious rate. On our way out we checked out the baby pigs and bunnies and greeted the ass.
Unlocking the bikes we took a short pedal over to the telegraph tower. This was a system of signal towers set every 15km or so that the French used as a telecommunication network in the 18th and 19th century. It’s more of a giant semaphore tower with telescopes than anything else. Still and all, pretty ingenious.
Downhill was pretty damn easy. Whoever suggested we haul the bikes up was a genius. About an hour uphill between my dramatic pauses and the girls evil cackles but less than 10 minutes down. It would have been quicker if I had a bigger bike and trusted my brakes more.
At the boat we changed shoes, did our eyes and headed out to the Chateau de Rohan. We hope to check in with the Riders and see if Gondor was still an issue but apparently they were out for the weekend. So we went to the museum there instead.
Inside there was displays about local architecture and history. Even a few pics of chapels with Ossuaries. Just what is an ossuary for anyway? Were the cemeteries full? Did they need a room to attract ghosts and scare small children?
Later in the chateau there was a huge section dedicated to Louise Weiss. Apparently she was an early 20th century intellectual, radical and -ist. She created a pan-European magazine, believed in a European Union, rallied for peace between the Wars, worked for women’s suffrage (which didn’t come about in France until after the 30s). All in all a very interesting woman and worth some more research.
Upon exit we learned that Carmen won’t eat cone. Seems her evil, invisible twin sister once told her that food (in this case waffle cones) had calories and that ice cream was completely guilt free. And since Carmen had only ascended 200m that day she had to forgo the waffle. Girls. Huh.
In any case I had a Fraise Balsamic, and it had parsley in it… Mmmmmm.
Back to the boat and some quiet time. Around 7:30 Carmen insisted I do nothing while she prepared our repast. What could I do but acquiesce? Dinner was delicious. French toast, but this time with pain instead of baguette; a nice change. But we did keep the tomato salad on the recipe… it was Roma tomatoes though…
Carmen chose another Grand Cru and made a face. Turned out Grand Cru’s around here are sweet, sweet, sweet. At least it wasn’t creme floofie…pah!
Tonight is at least a two bottle (we’re on a Pinot Gris right now) night but I’m hoping to make it three. We’re behind and I’m worried about post boat. We need to put some in the bank.
Sunset, the couple down the path have let their smoky BBQ burn down and I need to work on the boozers.
Another anemic Alsation Pinot Noir, some sheet lighting coming in and a lovely end to the evening