Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mont Revard. Two Times

Putting on soaking wet orienteering shoes. Eww.
Today we again spent most of our day playing in the forest. We went out orienteering training twice in the forests near where the World Championship races will be in August.

The morning training was very challenging and Sam and I are both looking forward to doing some orienteering in easier terrain again. It's just more fun when it feels like you are doing well.

After lunch we went back into the forests to film a short little video to give people a sense for what the forests are like here. This map especially has very thick forests and so it is quite slow to move forward.

Our second training for the day was on a very nearby piece of forest but we soon discovered that it was quite difficult to drive from one side of the forest to the other. We tried to follow our map, only to discover that the road started to look more and more like a hiking trail. The hikers on that trail gave us funny looks as we put the car in reverse and drove back out and then had to go a long way around. Back over the top of the mountain, down to the valley floor again, before climbing up to our second map.

Our drive over the mountain did give us a chance to take some pictures of the valley to the west of us, and of some very photogenic goats. Every other house up in this part of France is a cheese shop, which keeps these goats busy I suppose.

These goats seem to be enjoying the weather
Back at our auberge, we had a really fantastic dinner of zucchini and cheese soup, fish lasagna (tasted amazing, perhaps not what you'd expect), more cheese, and then chocolate mousse. The owner insisted that the cheese would taste better with some red wine, and Sam was happy to test that theory. Turns out that the red wine was good with the chocolate too!

Sam with Marika and Olli-Markus, our usual mealtime friends
Cheese. Wine. France
Sophie is a friendly and warm host

Tonight is our last night here in France, and we will have one more training in the morning before we drive back to Geneva and then head north to meet Sandra. Yupee!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Good Day for the Ducks

Well, weather is just as fickle here in France as it is everywhere else, and the beautiful warm sunny day that we were hoping for just never appeared. We spent some time being lazy in the morning, and then stopped off at the grocery store and the boulangerie to grab food for a picnic lunch. Then off to our first training of the day, at a map called Forêt du Grand Roc Sud.

Ross in front of Lac D'Annecy
On the way we drove up a very windy road. As we crested the top of the mountain we could glimpse the Lac D'Annecy in the distance.

The roads were very busy with ambitious cyclists climbing to the top, and then speeding down the other side of the mountain. We pulled off to the side of the main road an
d got dressed for orienteering and just as we were heading out the rain started up again. The woods were fast and open but after a hour and a half of getting lost in the woods, we were ready for a lunch break and a change of scenery. So we continued down into the town of Annecy, where we hoped to find some sunny weather so that we could go shopping and do another orienteering training.

Instead of sunny weather we found a neat park along the lake where we could huddle under a tree to stay mostly dry, as we ate our meal of bread, cheese, nutella, and bell pepper. We were quite popular with the local sparrows as all our bread eating was creating quite a few delicious crumbs.
Some of the many boats along the lake in Annecy
The rain didn't show signs of stopping, so we decided to call it a day, and we drove home the flat way. We were very pleased to discover a chocolate shop, Chocolaterie Artisanale des Bauges , just a few minutes from where we are staying, and after much perusing of the options, Sam picked up a bag of assorted chocolates and I picked up a bag of milk chocolate pralines.

We still had enough daylight to get one more training in before dark, so we headed back up to the nearby Pré
poulain for a short orienteering course.

Dinner at the auberge was a much quieter affair, as there are only four of us currently staying here, the Finnish couple across the hall and us. Dinner was as delicious as we have come to expect, and included a dish of some special local sausages that were cooked in a red w
ine so that they looked very purple. Dessert was a compote of apples, rhubarb, and raspberries with most of the ingredients coming from their own garden.

Finally the weather cleared up, so we made the most of the clear skies, and took an evening constitutional down and around the town of Arith. Everything was peaceful and quaint and picturesque, and our shutters were snapping up all the sights. We'll leave you with a couple as we head off to bed. Tomorrow our plan is to head to some maps that we haven't yet visited to the south. We'll pack up a picnic lunch and hope that the good weather finally makes it!

The Church in Arith
We couldn't tell if the water was safe to drink or not
Sam at the fountain

All the local cows have bells and make a great racket

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fruitière et Fromagerie

You aren't in truly in France until you have baguettes.
A wet Sam after the first training in the rain.
Bonjour! We are currently enjoying life in the Savoie Region in France. Lots of running and napping, with some cheese and bread eating on the side. My (Sam) big accomplishment of the day was not falling sleep after the morning training. I think I am finally adjusting to jetlag. This is, of course, after we slept in 75 minutes after our alarms yesterday. So far our first two days have been quite similar. Wake up, enjoy breakfast downstairs, go out training, come back and eat lunch, try not to fall asleep, head out for a second training, then come back for homemade dinner. Unfortunately, the weather hasn't been great - too much rain and around 50-60°F. The first day we set out into the forest we were sitting in the car, listening to the rain fall. Luckily, we met another orienteer here, Marika from Finland, and having someone else was motivation to get out and get wet.

The woods were... challenging. You seriously have to have a death wish in order to run quickly. There were large holes and crevices that you could fall down if you weren't paying attention or if you slipped. Running was out of the question for the most part, so Ross and I just hiked along mostly. Navigation didn't seem so bad, but that was mostly because we were moving so slowly and stopping frequently. Luckily, we have since run on maps that don't require constant vigilance to ensure you don't fall down a 7 foot hole lined with cliffs.

The place where we are staying, La Fruitière d'Arith, is great. We have breakfast every morning and home cooked dinner every evening. The first night there was a fantastic plate of cheese.
We couldn't get a picture before it was mostly gone!
We heard that the cheese was made in Lescheraines, right down the road. Today we set out to visit our first fromagerie. After a few wrong turns (which you realize right away because there are a limited number of road up here), we found Cooperative Laitiere de Lescheraines. There were many varieties of cheeses inside and it was hard to choose - especially when the woman working there didn't speak english. In broken french we ordered two types of cheese, indicating with hand gestures that we wanted small amount. We ended up with a delicious bit of Tome de Chèvre and Gruyère le Margériaz.
Tome de Chèvre
Gruyère - The wheel this came off of was ginormous.

The days have been chilly and rainy, although we had a pleasant afternoon today. We ran 20 minutes up a trail to beautiful woods and a short sprint course, where I think we may have broken 10m/k (I'll have to load my garmin to check). Granted, it was a 1.9k wood sprint on a 1:5000 map so I could actually read the contour detail. When it's not cloudy the views here are fantastic. Very much French mountain towns.

Tomorrow we head to a new map further north and then we plan to spend the afternoon in Annecy, the tourist town by the lake. We even have a sprint map there, so we may get to do some actual running (instead of hiking).

Au revoir!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Settling In

We made it through our first full day in Sweden. Tomorrow morning we leave to fly to Geneva, where we will be training in WOC relevant terrain in France. I don't know if we have internet where we are staying, so it may be awhile until the next update.

We slept well through the night, although Ross wishes that his Thermarest would actually hold air. Despite his best efforts at duct taping it up, the air escapes. In the morning we went for a morning jog around town, past where Ross will work (1.5k away), up a hill to a statue that has no name (that we can find), past the art museum, and through the botanical gardens. It was about 20°C with on and off showers. Nice for running, but I miss yesterday's weather, which was warm and sunny.

After the morning run we headed out to do some grocery shopping at the local grocery store (yes, we shop in the woods :))

And we filled up our pantry...

Then it was off again for round two in Nåsten. Ross and I headed out together with one of the maps Mari brought over and we traded off legs. Ross was speeding through the woods and bobbling the controls. Sam went slowly and found the controls. If only we could combine our powers! We did see another orienteer, permenant controls, streamers, an old control stand made from tree branches, and actual controls with epunching! One of them was even at one of our features. Maybe there was a training set up for the day or week?

We came home and started dinner. Actually, Ross made dinner while Sam skyped with Sandra :)

The elbow macaroni only needed to be cooked for 4 minutes and was left on for much longer. We ended up with fairly mushy pasta, but we don't believe in wasting food :) Then we could enjoy it while sitting on a makeshift seat.

Now we are packing things up for traveling again tomorrow - this time we have to take public transport to the airport. Our final excursion for the evening will be a walk to the clubhouse to return Mari's internet and a stop to check the bus schedule for the stop down the street.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We get by with a little help from our friends

The journey has begun! It all started with packing up the apartment. Becky and Rob came about a week and a half ago and took all of our large furniture, leaving our apartment looking like this:
Then we had to pack the rest into boxes with the intent of moving it all to the Saeger household. It soon became evident, though, that despite giving lots away, we had too much for one house. So we rented a storage locker for the year.
(We eventually did fill it up!)
  On Monday, after a fantastic dinner at Al Wadi, Mom and Dad drive us to the airport and super friend Neil picked us up from the Sotckholm Airport in the traditional Swedish Volvo (Irish style)
And he drove us to pick up our keys and then to our new home!
 We arrived at our very empty, unfurnished apartment!
Living Room





After dragging everything inside, Neil revealed that he also had maps for the place right outside our door. We changed into orienteering gear and headed out, each doing our own thing. The woods here are so different than home, and Sam was quite proud of herself for finding her "controls" when there were no streamers out. Of course, she was mostly walking and taking circuitous routes. Neil eventually bumped into her and forced her to run faster. 
After a quick shower, it was time for dinner and Mari, the other super fantastic friend of the day, showed up with kanelbulle, which Sam loves.
She also loaned us her wireless usb thingy for the evening and following day, which is fantastic. She even said we could probably borrow it again when she returns from O-Ringen. We can keep this blog going! The four of us headed out to dinner at a local Ethiopian restaurant to eat with our fingers. Lots of sharing and yumminess.
We chatted about Swedish life and joining OK Linné. Multitalented Mari showed us a mini o-top that she made for a new family member!
After dinner we made a quick stop at the grocery store to pick up breakfast and toilet paper, and headed back to the apartment. Now, very tired, we are setting up our "beds." Unfortunately, Ross's thermarest received irreversible damage while flying and has a chunk taken out of it. Extra padding and lack of sleep will get him through the night. Tomorrow we plan to buy important things like trash bags and a shower curtain (we essentially washed the entire bathroom today) and will go for round two on Nåsten, our local map.